Carmelite Nuns Meet in Little Rock
Mary, Queen of Carmel Association
This past October our Little Rock Carmel “hosted” our triannual meeting for Mary, Queen of Carmel Association. “What is that?” you might ask. A short answer is that we are 17 different “Carmels”, or Discalced Carmelite monasteries, who join together for support in our common vocation as Discalced Carmelite Nuns. Most of these Carmels are in the U.S., two are located in Canada. Each community is autonomous, but united under our Association/Federation President and her Council.
Diocese of Little Rock
We had a wonderful gathering right here in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the St. John’s Center where the Diocese of Little Rock is located. Our local bishop, Bishop Anthony Taylor, and the great staff at the Diocese kindly and generously welcomed the nuns to the Center. It was a lovely place to meet and all the nuns enjoyed it.
One of our Discalced Carmelite Friars–Fr. Daniel Chowning, OCD, provincial superior–from the Washington Province was the speaker. He gave very insightful and helpful conferences, not to mention inspiring and spiritual. We were so blessed to have him with us not only because of his extensive experience and knowledge of the Carmelite charism, but he is truly a good friend and brother to all the nuns.
We attended conferences and meetings during the day, but as you can see in the photos, there was ample time for fun and relaxation! On our “free day” without meetings all the nuns caravanned from St. John’s Center to Little Rock Carmel. Fr. Daniel Chowning, OCD celebrated Mass for us in our chapel to begin the day, then the nuns descended upon our little monastery and grounds for a tour. Our sisters at home who could not go to the meeting were so happy to see some old friends and make new ones. Even the dogs and a turtle who hadn’t yet hibernated for winter got to meet some of the nuns (see below)!
Next, we caravanned to Marylake to our Friars’ monastery (hence, the pictures of the lake and hayride!). The friars and their close friends were so generous to feed us all with a cookout and an evening meal, plus the hayride through a small part of the 400 acres of beautiful land. Some sisters got rides on the jeep-like UVs, some on the canoe, and some went on-foot through the trails and across the suspension bridge. We were given a tour of the monastery and even celebrated one of the nuns’ birthday with cake and ice-cream.
John Michael Talbot
Finally, to give the nuns a “little portion” of the musical treasure we have in our very own state of Arkansas, John Michael Talbot came for an evening of sacred song and sharing. Most Catholics at least recognize his name, if they are not big fans of his sacred music and books. John Michael Talbot is also the founder of “Little Portion Hermitage and Monastery” in northwest Arkansas (the Brothers and Sisters of Charity). He gave us a wonderful evening that was both prayerful and light-hearted enjoyment.
As you can see in the photos, there are some faces that are not attached to a brown habit or religious garb of any kind. Those faces belong to very special, saintly people who did so much work behind the scenes to make this event happen. They gave of their very selves to provide delicious, “nun-ly” meals, musical talent, flowers, transportation for the nuns, clean-up and all the work involved in a conference-type gathering. Our local Secular Carmelites also volunteered their efforts. We cannot thank all of them enough. We only hope and believe our Lord does that on our behalf.
There are “rumors” floating around that Little Rock could possibly host the Association Meeting again in the future. We’ll see. Our Carmelite nuns would like that, and so would the good people at the Diocese (we heard!). If so, we’ll be sure to let y’all know! In the meantime, you remain in our prayers, and we ask for yours, also.