Our Lady of Paris

Our thoughts are with the Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the most famous and enduring cathedrals in France, perhaps even all of Europe. The cathedral was begun in 1160 under Bishop Maurice de Sully and largely completed by 1260. Other additions were made later, but the main structure took 100 years to complete. The cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. 2013 marked the 850th anniversary of the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

The Cathedral's flèche or spire, which was destroyed by the fire, was located over the transept and altar. The spire was surrounded by copper statues of the twelve Apostles, in groups of three, one group at each point of the compass. Each of the four groups were preceded by an animal symbolising one of the four evangelists: a steer for Saint Luke, a lion for Saint Mark, an eagle for Saint John and an angel for Saint Matthew. Just days prior to the spire's collapse, all of the statues had been removed for restoration.

The Gothic cathedral was a liber pauperum, a "poor people's book", covered with sculpture vividly illustrating biblical stories. During the early days of the cathedral, the vast majority of parishioners were illiterate. The statues and imagery were used to convey Scripture before the written word was common. One notable tympanum is the illustration of the Last Judgment.

We are grateful and humbled by these religious artifacts, and the legions of faithful it has drawn nearer towards the work of Christ’s church. May the events of this week glorify the Church and bring blessings to his followers around the world.

Just as the cathedral contains timeless treasures, we are building a sanctuary here in Fairfield, Pennsylvania. We are building a simple community, but one with solid foundations. Our little village is being constructed with 14th century building techniques. These huts are being built using raw stone, carefully cut and stacked to form the four walls. These buildings will used for shelter and gatherings, with few modern amenities. Many homes and gathering places built in this way 500 years ago in Europe are still in use today. With providence, we are seeking to finish our community and create a monument that will last for ages.

Our monument is for that of a living gospel, expressed through the deeds and works of the sisters here.

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Construction At The Monastery

Construction has officially begun on the next building at the Fairfield Carmel.

Just a few days after warm weather arrived, BestLine construction equipment arrived at the site on Water Street in Fairfield and earth started to move.

Currently, the site is undergoing a new layout. Construction vehicles moving earth and stone from the site have become a common occurrence.

A HYDREMA Articulated Truck travels in and around large piles of stone, loaded by a Doosan 235 Excavator. A powerful machine, it is capable of moving as much dirt in a single scoop as a worker could dig in a full day.

Jim Baddorf of Bestline

Jim Baddorf of Bestline

Jim Baddorf of Bestline helped workmen reach construction milestones, such as advising the right machines for the job. Having the right tools are essential for meeting the challenges of the project and staying on track.

One of the major milestones will be the new Recreation and Work Rooms (Vestry). 

This construction will pose many challenges before it has been completed.

Jim said. “I’ve never witnessed anything like this before, but it will definitely be a big event.”

“It’s definitely a monumental milestone as they’re building,” he continues. “There’s always a lot of interest when that happens.”

Some four hundred loads were hauled with the Hydrema Truck over several weeks. James Asbury excavated the foundation, as William Johnson drove each load of stone and earth away, relocating the material into an immense pile elsewhere on site.

Doosan 235 Excavator loading a Hydrema truck

Doosan 235 Excavator loading a Hydrema truck

Asbury, who attended the Pennsylvania College of Technology, is the primary Operator on the site.

James Asbury

James Asbury

“I'm very pleased with Bestline, particularly the service they provide.”

Referring to locking himself out of the Large 235 Excavator early one Monday morning, he said, “most salesmen would not make a trip out to bring a key at 7am on a Monday. It was a great help”.

Soon the mud will be drying and the stones will be flying. Another milestone for the Carmel of JMJ is approaching, as this building starts to ascend toward the sky.

Soon the Vestry, with its Recreation and Work Rooms, will be ready to be put to use.

Pictures provided by Jim Hale photography. To view other photos from his collection, enter the password “carmel”.

I Would Do It Again

Ron Neil, a stonemason, about working on the monastery in Fairfield.

Ron is a builder from Massachusetts. He is one of the many capable hands working diligently on this project.

His role is that of an instructor, teaching other stonemasons with his skills and years of experience.

After meeting the Mothers, they asked him if he’d like to stay on the building project. He agreed.

When asked about working with his crew, he mentioned that they all came from different backgrounds and styles of building, yet they all came together for this.

“I would do it again”, he says matter of factly, in his baritone voice.

“I would finish my career here.”

Hear what Ron has to say in this short video…

Emerging into the Sunshine

“What could that be?”, Mass attendance joked, fingers pointing toward the bright orb in the sky. 

“Don't look at it, you may scare it”, they laughed. 

Over the treeline in the East, the sun rose higher in the once hazy skies. Frozen ground turned to mud will soon return to sweet green grass and flowers at the little convent in Fairfield. Once busy workmen plowed snows and slush away from roads before services, now could get to other tasks on the grounds. 

Patrick Lemmon and his crew spent much of the cold months inside the stone Guest Cottage, diligently working away. Now they have emerged into the sunshine like bears after a long winter’s nap. 

The Cold winds may be brutal, but the end is near. Action has begun. Ground for the next building has broken and other building and construction plans are underway. It's Spring at the Monastery. 

Like others in the world, the nuns plan a large garden. Spring plants and seedlings will soon sprout. 
The warm soil will be crawling with earthworms under the spades and plows of busy hands. The goal of the mothers is to create a sustainable farm for self sufficient produce. 

The chickens will be at it - scratching and providing eggs. There is even talk of a cow joining the little community. With so many things to do this year, the mothers would need donations of plants and seeds to establish their small farm. You can find the requests here, at the volunteer sign up page.

Growing organic produce can be a time consuming task. Chemicals and hormones added to the soil are expensive and impractical. The mothers wish to make the most of Spring in a natural way, more connected to the Earth created for us. 

Your contributions are appreciated.

A Calling

Everyone wants to find a calling. We all want to feel we’re making a difference in Christ's church. It's our natural calling. 

When Gina Pecher volunteered to help the mothers Carmel of JMJ, she felt like she had something to offer them. What is her calling? Connecting the many volunteers who bring contributions to the Mothers of JMJ.  Gina operates the signup page where volunteers offer their talents and gifts to JMJ. The signup page is where volunteers can offer to bring food or other supplies to the nuns, as well as the grounds, or help support the workers currently on site.
 
Little did Gina know how much she would receive. When others ask about her calling to volunteer, she responds with a quote from Saint Teresa of Avila.

“Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.”

Gina is one of many servants of the Lord. 

To join them, please visit here

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NOVENA TO ST. THERESE

Please join the Nuns in praying this Novena. It is an original hymn written by the Nuns of Fairfield.

Dear St. Therese, without a doubt we know,

Your favorite work in Heaven is to help us here below.

Then send down, we pray, your flowers from the skies

And send the funding that we need to make these buildings rise.

Search out gen’rous souls. Give hearts a loving prod

To donate all the necessary means to make this monastery -

Help us build this house of Mary

Build this house of God.

True indeed you’ve left us roses: your words and deeds, your life and death,

A rich example of loving God with every breath.

But now that you have power in Heaven and see the Father face to face,

Come visit us with blossoms eternal, with heavenly aid and gifts of grace.

Our Nuns are in the land down under!

Just a few days ago, four of our Elysburg Nuns have made the journey all the way to rural Australia! After a year and a half of fundraising, planning, and approvals, they have officially moved into their new home. The Diocese of Willcania-Forbes welcomed the Nuns with wide open arms - its Bishop was in fact the one who invited them in the first place.

Mother Mariam Joseph of Jesus Crucified OCD, Sister Frances Teresa a Jesu Hostia OCD, Sister Juana Teresa of Jesus OCD and Sister Maria of the Incarnation OCD are the founding members. Two of them are from Australia and are now returning home; but for the other two, this is an exciting new chapter in their lives! They are becoming, in a sense, missionaries for Christ!

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography

On the way, they stopped and visited with the Valparaiso monastery. From there, accompanied by Valparaiso’s chaplain and the Lincoln Diocese Vicar for Religious Life, Monsignor Timothy Thorburn, the four nuns flew into Sydney, Australia. They were greeted by excited family and friends at the airport.

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography

Monsignor Thorburn spoke with The Catholic Weekly and put it so eloquently when he said the Nuns’ presence will bring untold blessing to the diocese and the country.

“They don’t preach from pulpits, they don’t teach in classrooms,” he said. “It may look like they are doing nothing but they are the heart of the Church and do what has to be done in order to keep the Church going.”

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Our 2019 Plans!

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This spring, construction begins on our next building! The Recreation and Work Rooms (Vestry) building is 3750 sq. ft, and will be built in the same style as our guest cottage - using only reclaimed wood and structural stone masonry. It is the largest building so far and should take approximately 12 months to finish. Minimal plumbing and no electricity, the building will be heated by wood burning stoves and have a rain water system. The plastered walls will keep the building cool and in the summer, and warm in the winter. Once the stone work is finished, local craftsmen will handmade the windows and doors, while timber framers will complete the structure, and the interior by Patrick Lemmon, resident Project Manager and owner of Orthodox Masonry.

Floors and fireplaces will be built using Old Carolina Brick - a company which specializes in hand making brick. Each brick is hand moulded using the beautiful and lasting traditions of colonial craftsmanship. The roof will be finished with authentic Virginia slate. The stone masonry will be headed up by master mason, Justin Money, of Irish Rock Art. We are thrilled to have him part of this build as he brings 30 plus years of expertise to our small corner of the world.

As of right now we are completing the land development and excavation begins mid-March. Stone masonry begins in May.

The Nuns are so grateful for everyone’s contributions to this project - monetarily, time, in-kind donations, and prayer! We hope that these gifts will continue to come so that we can see this magnificent project be completed in the next 9 years. We have raised more than half of what is necessary to raise this Recreation and Work Rooms building. Once it is finished, the Nuns will be able to move out of the barn and trailer and into something much more suitable for living. After this building is completed, plans for 2020 will commence. Would you consider making small gift to support us in these efforts? CLICK HERE to make your tax deductible gift!

The smallest building (bottom left) is our woodshed and was completed last summer. The building to its right is the upcoming Recreation and Work rooms building and will be the Nuns’ new home until the rest of the complex is completed.

The smallest building (bottom left) is our woodshed and was completed last summer. The building to its right is the upcoming Recreation and Work rooms building and will be the Nuns’ new home until the rest of the complex is completed.

A visit from Cardinal Burke

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On November 19, the Carmel of JMJ Fairfield was honored and privileged with a visit by the esteemed Raymond Cardinal Burke! Stopping for dinner the night before at the Caretaker’s home, he then celebrated the Veiling ceremony of a newly professed nun in the morning. On a cold, grey, and windy Monday, the Solemn Pontifical High Mass was attended by over 120 faithful.

    Humble and gentle, Cardinal Burke spoke in his sermon on the subject of the Carmelite vocation and its integral link to the Scapular. Later, he sat down for a brief interview with Jim Hale, describing how impactful this ceremony was for him and how it would continue to be a source of inspiration in the months to come.

    “This is a most beautiful moment we see here,” he said, “and may it be for all of us who are privileged to be part of it the occasion to give ourselves more fully to Christ as Sister Jeanne-Marie of the Cross has done.” He goes on to say, "if the whole Church could learn from what happened here today, to take on Christ, to live more fully in Christ, according to each person's vocation and proper gifts, we wouldn't have the terrible crisis that we have right now.”

    Flanked by young seminarians, Carmelite brothers, a Franciscan hermit, the caretakers, the family of Sr. Jeanne-Marie, and by laity - many of whom had traveled hours to be here, Cardinal Burke offered a Tridentine High Mass while the “fairest flowers” - as Cardinal Burke called them - the Carmelites - lifted their voices in song. Afterwards, His Eminence described it as “one of the most beautiful things that a bishop can possibly do.”

    “I will never forget this,” he said, “and it will continue to be a source of great encouragement for me.”

Full transcript available HERE.

Homily available HERE.

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Building Update!

As we celebrate the feasts of our dear Carmelites, Our Holy Mother St. Teresa of Jesus and St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, we rejoice in the blessings sent our way this past summer, to our Carmels of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph here in the diocese of Harrisburg. After a beautiful and moving Holy Mass and enclosure ceremony on July 25th, nine of our Nuns are happily established at their new home in Fairfield. With a lot of hard work and sacrifices from our friends old and new, our families, caretakers, and our construction team, the move went smoothly despite an almost constant downpour. The unseasonal record-breaking rainfall was a sign to us of all the graces that God has and will be pouring over this new little Carmel.

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There has been significant strides forward with the construction. A successful stone laying workshop, followed by a timber-framing workshop has produced a lovely 20 x 30 woodshed. It is particularly monumental in that it is so constructed entirely from stone excavated from our own property. Presently a second stone structure is being built, slowly but surely. Its stone foundation is impressive: three feet thick with the stone at intervals spanning its entire width. The language of the solidity and permanency as well as the humility of the rough stone speaks to our hearts of our precious faith and reminds us of our role in the Holy Mother the Church, silent and hidden below the surface, committed to fidelity until the end.

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In Elysburg, the observance of the monastic life continues with fervor. Young women keep knocking at the door and the community has welcomed two new postulants since the foundation to Fairfield was made in July. Construction is also underway for the building of a new barn, a gift from a very generous benefactor, as well as an enclosure fence which will include the new barn, St. Joseph’s grotto and the pond, now making these areas accessible to the nuns. How grateful we are to God for His many blessings and graces!




May He reward abundantly all of our friends and benefactors. We shall keep each one of you in our prayers, especially during the Novena to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, September 25 - October 3, and St. Teresa of Jesus, October 7 to October 15.

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