Praying like a Professional: Meeting the Carmelites Carmelites


Praying like a Professional: Meeting the Carmelites -

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By Thomas Palanza, Jr.

You really don’t hear much about the Carmelites, do you?  Not like Franciscans – who doesn’t know at least one person who goes around in Birkenstocks and a brown gown?  And the Archbishop of Boston is one of them too.  Then there are Dominicans: Thomas Aquinas– enough said.  And, despite being the butt end of a great many religious jokes, thousands of students a year…

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A beautiful story about the determination of a Carmelite sister and the rebuilding of Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. 

Another notable piece from the article:

Among all those blessings, one stands out for students, parents, even construction workers: the school’s religious statues all survived intact. “Every statue on our campus survived the flood — and was standing erect when we returned,” Campbell says. “The statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which stands in front of the campus facing Robert E. Lee Boulevard, floated up with the rising water and then back down, erect, right next to its pedestal,” she says solemnly. “And it was still facing Robert E. Lee Boulevard.”

She pauses, then adds for emphasis, “One foot away from her pedestal.”

Simno describes another statue of the Blessed Mother, “one that was light enough for our younger students to carry,” which she says remained on its pedestal, covered in muck and weeds, but unmoved from its perch despite being lightweight. “It was totally submerged in 10 feet of water, yet it never moved,” Simno says. She adds that one of the school’s contractors, a trash hauler from Houston, decided to take the Mt. Carmel job after seeing all the school’s statues right where they belonged shortly after the flood. “He called his wife and said, ‘I have to take this job. There’s something special about this place.’”


WHILE SHOWING A VISITOR AROUND CAMPUS recently, Campbell pauses in front of the school’s coat of arms, which hangs outside the assembly center. Mt. Carmel’s Latin motto, translated, reads, “With zeal am I zealous for the Lord God of Hosts.” As she reaches for a door to enter the building, she turns and says, “This has taken a lot of zeal.”