Presentation on theme: "Carmel in the Heartland Carmel in the Heart. One day in the year 1888, the Prioress of Baltimore Carmel remarked at the community recreation, “perhaps."— Presentation transcript:
One day in the year 1888, the Prioress of Baltimore Carmel remarked at the community recreation, “perhaps there will one day be a Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa.”
Those simple words became the “bud of a new direction” for Mary Elizabeth Nagle, a young postulant in the group and a native of Dubuque, Iowa.
Soon after that, Sister Clare began to work towards bringing Carmel to the Midwest. She pronounced her vows in Carmel on May 16, 1889, becoming known as Sister Clare of the Blessed Sacrament.
A second midwesterner from Deerfield, Minnesota, Anna Heiker, pronounced her vows in Carmel, May 4, 1893, receiving the name Sister Aloysius of Our Lady of Good Counsel.
Sister Clare and Sister Aloysius were destined to work together in bringing about the foundation in Davenport, Iowa.
It was through the persistence of Joseph Nagle, Sister Clare’s brother, that Bishop James Davis agreed to welcome Carmelites from Baltimore into the diocese of Davenport. Cardinal James Gibbons appointed Mother Clare prioress of the new Carmel and Mother Aloysius sub-prioress.
On the feast of St. Cecilia, November 22, 1911, Mother Clare, Mother Aloysius, sister Gertrude McCarthy, a native New Yorker, and sister Gabriel, a novice who later left the Order, departed from Baltimore escourted by Mother Clare’s brother and sister-in-law, Joseph and Elizabeth (Liz) Nagle. They carried in their hearts the zeal of Elijah, the faith of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the blazing spirit of St.Teresa of Avila, together with their own pioneering spirit.
Arriving in Davenport the following day, November 23, 1911, they were met at the station by Fr. Garrett Nagle and taken to the little Queen Anne cottage on the corner of 15 th and Brady. The next day being the feast of the great Carmelite saint, John of the Cross, November 24, 1911, Holy Mass was offered by Father Garrett Nagle. This officially inaugurated the new monastery.
For three days, open house was held. Such great crowds, descended upon the sisters that there was fear that the floors would give way. When Bishop Davis began the solemn blessing of the house and grounds, it was estimated that at least 5,000 had gathered to witness the event.
The first contemplative monastery in Iowa was now a fact of history Although Midnight Mass on Christmas was the first Mass, the dedication did not take place until February 11, 1913. At the Sister’s request, the chapel became known as the Pater Noster chapel, with its titular feast on Trinity Sunday. At the same time, the monastery itself was named in honor of the holy prophet Elijah. Later the monastery was renamed Regina Coeli, or Queen of heaven, when the Sisters moved to Bettendorf, Iowa.
Unfortunately, 15 th and Brady was less than ideal. The sisters were forced to look elsewhere for their third building. Driving along River Road one day after another fruitless search, Mother Clare addressed her companion and motioned towards Bettendorf: “I feel as though there is a place for us among those hills somewhere.”
Situated on a height of 691 feet overlooking the undulating waters of the mighty Mississippi River surrounded by woods and farmland, this was a perfect setting for a life of prayer far from the noise and bustle of the busy city.
On June 29, 1916, two automobiles drove the little community of nine to their new home in Bettendorf. Realizing that the vehicles would never make it to the crest of the hill on 14 th Street, the Sisters trudged up the perpendicular incline with their luggage, all the while lamenting that horses were no longer at their disposal. The next day, which was the Feast of the Sacred Heart that year, the first Mass was celebrated by Father N. Meinhardt.
Mother Clare did not live to see the brick wall erected. God called her August 18, 1923, leaving Mother Aloysius to guide the community through good times and bad until her death April 24, 1955.
On the sister’s fifth anniversary of their arrival in Davenport, Friday, November 24, 1916, Bishop Davis consecrated the monastery bells before they were hoisted into the bell tower. The large bell was appropriately christened VOX DOMINI (the voice of God), and the small bell, PATER NOSTER (Our Father).
When the sisters moved to Eldridge, the large bell moved with them where it found a welcome space in its own tower overlooking the wide open spaces and verdant fields of Iowa.
Later, the small Alleluia bell also found a home in Eldridge.
Later, three new foundations were made from the Bettendorf Carmel, beginning 1922: Indianapolis, Indiana; Milwaukee, Wisconsin ( now in Pewaukee, Wisconsin ); and Sioux City, Iowa.
Because the physical resources of the remaining Sisters were taxed to the limit maintaining such a large building, a ten-acre piece of Farmland near Eldridge just north of Davenport, and a fifteen minute drive from Bettendorf, was purchased. The new building was ready for occupancy November 24, 1975, coinciding with the opening date of the Davenport monastery in 1911. It seemed just the right thing for a small community and a site which would allow for expansion.
The open farmlands teeming with corn, expanded the human spirit, and the rigors of the changing seasons served as Sister’s life of prayer.
One may ask what does it mean to be a Carmelite nun? As the Carmelite Sisters of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa enter the 21 st century, they know that the mission of Carmel continues to live both in the Heartland and in the human heart. It means to seek God with all one’s heart, and to be at peace.