Carmelite Auxiliary in the 1930's and 1940's
The Carmelite Nuns came to Sacramento on December 22nd, 1935. Many people visited them when they first came. Since they were cloistered, visitors were under the impression that they wished to be apart and that the Diocese was taking care of their temporal needs. Late in 1940, there were rumors of their dire need. It was then that the people of the Diocese learned they lived by charity.
In January 1941, Mrs. Irene Rooney talked with Reverend Mother Seraphine of the Heart of Jesus about the situation. After discussing this with several of her friends, a small group met in Mrs. Rooney’s home and decided to help the Sisters.
There were twelve members in the original group. Each one planned to donate one dollar a month, choose a month of the year when she would take the money, groceries, and perhaps flowers for the altar to the Sisters. Each one promised to interest another person in joining the group. Bishop Armstrong had been consulted about plans for this organization.
By May there were approximately 65 people interested and on May 13th, 1941, the first meeting was held at Stanford Home, where the Auxiliary was organized. Mother Seraphine selected the name, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Auxiliary; Mrs. Rooney was elected President and Eva Miller Secretary-Treasurer. The dues were set at fifty cents per month. The original group members were: Margaret Brady, Isabel Dinelli, Mary Doyle, Sara Doyle, Eva Francis, Hazek Hanford, Katherine Hainer, Frances Keefe, Gladys Latham, Eva Miller, Marian Grubb Powers, and Irene Rooney.
It is interesting to note that at that time we had not heard much of Fatima. It seems providential that May 13th was selected for the first meeting.
The Auxiliary from 1950 to today
The first major undertaking for the Auxiliary was to raise funds for the construction of a new Monastery and chapel for the nuns. In 1952-3, Carl Panettone led the fundraising effort for this construction next to the farmhouse inn which the nuns had been living. The architect was Mary Garden and her husband John Garden was the contractor. From October 26-29, 1953, the Auxiliary hosted an open house of the new convent, and 5,000 people attended and toured the convent during that time.
From 1954-1966, the Auxiliary kept a sewing group that provided everything the nuns needed for the new convent and the new chapel, including draperies, vestments and altar cloths. They also made handmade artifacts for sale in their many fundraising events.
On June 16, 1965, Mother Mary Seraphine celebrated her Golden Jubilee with a Mass concelebrated by bishops and several priests, and attended by hundreds. She received congratulatory telegrams from such dignitaries as Lyndon B. Johnson, Edmund G. Brown, Robert F. Kennedy and the Holy Father through Cardinal Cicognani.
On February 5, 1966, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Auxiliary celebrated their Silver Jubilee with a luncheon at the Dante Club in Sacramento. Father Richard Madden, OCD, was the guest speaker.
In January of 1968 the annual luncheon was replaced by an evening lecture, with noted philosopher Dr. Dietrich Von Hildebrand speaking on "The Nature of Love." In the following year, 1969, the speaker was Helen Beardsley of Carmel, mother of 20 and author of "Who Gets the Drumstick?" and the original model for the heroine played by Lucille Ball in the movie "Yours, Mine, and Ours."
On February 17, 1970, the Auxiliary co-sponsored a lecture by Rev. Fulton J. Sheen at the Memorial Auditorium. This event was followed on February 28, 1970, by the annual luncheon with speaker Fr. Illtud Evans, OP, of St. Albert's College, Oakland, who spoke on the contemplative life. As busy as this spring was, the rest of the '70's were just as busy for the city of Sacramento, as it grew up around the Monastery grounds on Stockton Blvd., bringing noise and traffic to the nuns' quiet grounds.
On January 21, 1980, the Monastery on Stockton Blvd was sold, and the nuns found a temporary home at 8300 King Rd, Loomis. It is unclear exactly what the role of the Auxiliary was in helping the nuns to move, but there were many people helping them to build a new site. By September 11, 1982, the nuns celebrated the blessing of their new Monastery in Georgetown with an outdoor Mass and 200 people in attendance. There were 6 nuns and 2 postulants.
In 1983, work on the new chapel was completed. The artwork inside includes a rare but famous reproduction of the Holy Face of Jesus which had been touched to the Veil of Veronica, to which St. Thérèse was devoted. Other artwork includes a statue of the Holy Family, another of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, and one each of St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross. There is a subtle interplay of grape leaves throughout. Older members of the original Auxiliary were still involved with helping to procure these pieces.
On May 12, 1984, The Carmelites sponsored a "Pilgrimage For Peace" in downtown Sacramento, including a march, Mass in the Cathedral, a reception with a talk by Fr. Twigg-Porter on the message of Fatima, and a Rosary. This was the last public event in which the Auxiliary was involved. From 1985 - 1996, the Auxiliary was on hiatus, when in 1996 it was revived under the auspices of Helen Brock, Arleta Plantz, and Doris Krawczak. After a few years it had to be disbanded again, as the distance of the Monastery from the heart of Sacramento certainly had an effect on the participation in the Auxiliary meetings. In 2015, the Auxiliary came back into being under the direction of Jana Devereux and Patty MacEgan.
To learn more about the Auxiliary today, please view our About Us page.