Today something occurred that is quite out-of-the-ordinary. Describing it is not easy at all. Yet, hoping to share with you as best I can, here I am, sitting at the computer and ready to begin. My fingers move easily from key to key as they form the words which express the feelings of my soul. As the stirrings within my heart flow onto the page, I realize that this is a story that wants to tell itself.

I will let it.

This morning, as the sun emerged slowly through the morning marine layer so well-known to us native southern Californians, our car wound its way along the 210 Freeway. The San Gabriel Mountains were extraordinarily visible and sharply outlined against the sky. Praise God! What beauty! What utter, sheer, glorious beauty!

As we came to our destination, we turned off the motor and then just sat and watched. Cars began arriving from all directions at once, a moving van or two soon joined them, and the people walked along the pathway that led to the new cottage. 

Grandchildren held the hands of grandmothers and granddads, brothers and sisters, other family members and friends all converged as the doors to the Good Shepherd Cottage opened and the Carmelite Sisters welcomed each and every one.

It was moving-in day.

I began to sense that something very special was going on here – a sense of serenity, and joy, love and life – as if the cottage itself was reaching out and pulling all of us into its warm embrace. Yes, this was one truly extraordinary experience.

The two of us got out of the car and began joining the others. We watched. We listened. I began mingling and during a series of random conversations, I suddenly became acutely aware of the fragrance of this cottage. The fragrance of the woodwork was remarkably warm and comforting. How interesting to feel its gentle, discreet contribution to the ambiance of the cottage. “Lord, it is good for us to be here,” I remembered from Scripture, as the words rose easily to my lips.

I spoke with so many of the persons present.  Their words buoyed me into an understanding of the vision of the Carmelite Sisters and staff of Santa Teresita.  What began as an idea segued into a dream, a vision of a neighborhood of care for seniors on the Santa Teresita campus in Duarte, California. That vision became reality today – Moving-In Day – into our first assisted living cottage of The Rose Gardens at Santa Teresita: A Neighborhood of Care.

Betty Martin looked over and quietly told me, “This is an answer to my prayers,” as she gave me one of her winning smiles. “My son found this Good Shepherd Cottage and told me, ‘Mother, I have found the place you have been searching for.’  Yes, it’s true, I want the Catholic atmosphere. I want Mass and Holy Communion – every day.” 

Meandering through the spacious rooms, I came upon Andy from Gentle Transitions who was giving his special touch to hanging special pictures on the walls. He told me, “I like the architecture here. It blends in with the surrounding community. The woodwork here is amazing. I love the woodwork.” Karen Marks, Anne O’Brien’s daughter, added, “These men are priceless. They came and moved everything here so easily. They are the best.”

Around the fountain in the plaza, Frances Bohen shared “I’m from Banning. A friend told me about the cottage. We used to make retreats together at Sacred Heart Retreat House in Alhambra, California. When I heard about the home-cooked meals I thought, that clinches it. That’s where I want to be. Yes, it is definitely the home-cooked meals. For twenty years I was a sister with Mother Seton’s Sisters of Charity, and I want to be back with sisters again at this time of my life.”

“I can’t stop saying wonderful things about everyone here. It’s a whole different world here at Santa Teresita and I love it,” interjected Mary Louise Kubaseks.

Mr. Leon Mott graciously agreed to answer some questions. He told me that what he loves best is the Chapel. “I’ve come here to Mass every day for the past 22 years, and when the time came that I needed some assistance, I chose Santa Teresita. I’ve been waiting for months for this new cottage to open. I’ve lived in many beautiful places during my 80+ years, but this is the very first time I’ve come into a brand new home and I love it!”

Fran Bohen joined in with, “Yes, I’m lovin’ it!”

Soon, the aroma of home-made soup and freshly-baked cookies wafted throughout the cottage. It was time for lunch. All the families came into the dining room. Grace was said. Plates were filled. An atmosphere of content and well-being permeated as we all got to know each other. Beth Basehart, Administrator for Assisted Living, remarked “It is such a tremendous blessing for me to have the opportunity to spread the Carmelite mission as we move into our new home.”

Sister Mary Clare, O.C.D. summed it all up when she explained, “There are no words to express my joy at seeing life in abundance filling this cottage, these families, all of us, with love, with life, and with such happiness.” “Yes,” added Sister Rita Therese, O.C.D. Campus Life Coordinator, “life is at the heart of our mission. We have all come here to experience life, life to the full. That is our mission – to be “At the Service of Your Family for Life.”

Help us spread the word of The Rose Gardens at Santa Teresita: A Neighborhood of Care, a new model of healthcare for seniors in need of assisted living and skilled nursing services.  Learn about the neighborhood we are building. We invite you to help us as we introduce our family-orientated, neighborhood model of senior healthcare on the 12-acre Santa Teresita campus.  Visit us at our web site and watch our neighborhood grow.

  “Today the first cottage…tomorrow, a Neighborhood of Care