We hosted our triennial association meeting for St. Teresa’s Association (STA) from November 2 to November 7th in Lafayette. In the United States there are currently 4 canonically established Associations of Discalced Carmelite Nuns. Our Association consists of 9 communities spanning from Carmel, CA to St. Agatha, Ontario, Guam down to the deep south of Louisiana.
On November 1, 2015, the Solemnity of All Saints, we welcomed Fr. Rafal Wilkowski, OCD, Secretary for the Nuns, to our Monastery. Our first “meeting” with him was at the Table of the Lord where he offered a Mass for our Community. Following Mass we invited him in for our evening meal and agape so that he could get to know the Community. The next morning, November 2nd, Father celebrated the Liturgy of the Solemn Commemoration of the Faithful Departed followed by breakfast and a lively animated discussion of our charism as lived today. All too soon, Father had to leave us to go to the Spirituallity Center for the STA meeting. Our Community is studying the conferences Fr. Rafal gave and find them both timely and spiritually enriching. It is time to sink our roots deeply into the charism of Our Holy Mother. As Sr. Madeleine wrote in her book Within the Castle: “like a tree, Carmel can only extend her branches (throughout the Church) when she sinks her roots ever deeper.” This is the only way and the sure way.
The Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau was the prayerful, private and accommodating place chosen for the meeting. The oak trees with the hanging Spanish moss and vast expanse added a typical Louisiana setting. Fr. Rafal Kilowski, OCD was our speaker. He spoke to nuns about various topics from prayer and contemplation, to the necessity of the Association and the questions and difficulties experienced by the nuns generally in our culture today.
Association meetings are always a time of fraternal/sisterly sharing of life that deepens our bonds as Sisters of the same Teresian Family. We are able to discuss together our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and our initiatives.
It is tradition in our Association that one day be set aside in order to introduce the Sisters to the hosting Community as well as to get a taste of the culture of the area. On the last day of our Association meeting, we went on an incredible swamp tour, made doubly enjoyable by our true Cajun guide who accented everything with his quick wit and amusing stories, even to enticing a large alligator to our boat. “Can he jump?” “Ah sure, right into the boat!”
We loved having all of the nuns at the Monastery for lunch and the rest of the evening. It was the climax of a wonderful week of sharing, studying and praying together. All were invited to tour the Monastery and to share our life here in Lafayette Carmel.