Anticipating a milestone anniversary, and in an effort to build interest in vocations, the Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Flemington will host two livestreamed celebrations this October.
The Blessing of Roses will take place on Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m., with Bishop James F. Checchio, Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, presiding. A Mass to begin a Year of Preparation for the community’s 75th anniversary will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Oct. 14, with Bishop Manuel Cruz of the Archdiocese of Newark as the main celebrant and homilist.
Links for the livestreams will be published on the community’s website: flemingtoncarmel.org/livestreaming-events.
The cloistered contemplative nuns – formerly a part of the Diocese of Trenton before the Diocese of Metuchen was formed – still keep the priests of the Diocese of Trenton in their intentions during a Holy Hour for priests. They have begun to livestream some liturgies for friends across the United States, as far as Hawaii.
“We want to make our life known because … there is a tremendous hunger in many people of different or of no religion for a spiritual meaning to their life,” said Discalced Carmelite Sister Gabriela of the Incarnation. “We want to show that to devote oneself to God opens oneself to a life of deep meaning and tremendous joy!”
The Year of Preparation Mass will begin the preparation for celebrating the Carmel of Mary Immaculate and St. Mary Magdalen’s founding in New Brunswick in 1949. The community moved to its first monastery on Leffler Hill in Flemington in 1956, then to its current location in 1972.
The Blessing of Roses, Sister Gabriela explained, honors St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church, also known as “The Little Flower,” whose feast day is Oct. 1.
“Before her death, Therese had promised, ‘My mission — to make God loved — will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses,’” Sister Gabriela said. “In memory of this promise, Carmelite Monasteries around the world honor her with the traditional Blessing of Roses, a liturgy of prayers of thanksgiving to God and Therese, and the distribution of blessed roses or rose petals.”
This popular ceremony, interrupted by the pandemic, is made possible by benefactor Jim Besch, who provides several dozen long-stemmed roses each year.
“People come an hour ahead of time to be sure of a seat, and it is not uncommon for the aisles and corridor to be filled with devotees,” Sister Gabriela said. “Often the sanctuary is filled with priests.”