Spirit of Carmel: We haven’t seen much of you these past months. Is it true that you are working on a manuscript of a new book?
Sister Timothy Marie: Well, yes and no. Yes, I am writing and, yes, it is on a book, but when you say NEW book it sounds like I’ve written others in the past, but that isn’t the case. This is my very first and it could probably very well be my ONLY book.
S of C: So, can you tell us more about this first and maybe only book?
STM: Yes, I’m actually very happy to, because all of the Carmelite Sisters are working together in a special way in 2017 to make a difference in people’s lives – their spiritual lives that is – and each of us has a part and we are all so excited. This book and the other surprises we have up our sleeve for 2017 have given us a new impetus, a greater momentum, and pretty much all of us together have the same inner understanding that this is God’s timing.
S of C: Can you be a little more specific, Sister. The perfect timing, God’s timing for what? The book?
STM: Yes, the book, that’s included, but it’s more than just the book. It’s the perfecting timing for spreading the message and mission of our foundress. 2017 is the 90th Anniversary of the arrival of the three original Carmelite Sisters who arrived in the United States as immigrants, refugees from the religious persecution in Mexico. The book is our story; rather it’s her story, the story of Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whom everyone has come to know simply as Mother Luisita.
S of C: Why is the timing right for this book?
STM: We need her. Her mission and her message is so powerful and so very much needed by our world today. 90 years ago she arrived in Los Angeles on June 24, 1927 on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart and now, here we are, the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. So, we have dedicated 2017 – the whole year – to celebrating not only her, but the hope her message brings.
S of C: So, what is her mission and message?
STM: Her message is one of God’s providence, mercy and goodness. Her mission is to promote a deeper spiritual life among all God’s people through healthcare, education, and spiritual retreats. And especially to the vulnerable and disadvantaged of our society. One of her sayings which I like very much is “My God within me, I adore you.” To me, this captures the spiritual reality that changes lives.
S of C: Someone told us that she is on the road to sainthood, as they say. Is that true?
STM: Yes. She was declared venerable in 2000. At this time we have been asked by the postulator of her cause to “promote her cause” as they say, but letting people know about her through books and different media sources and receiving people’s reports of graces, favors, and miracles through her intercession. We are doing all of that this year. Thus…the writing of a book about her, among these other things.
S of C: Sister, you are saying that here in the United States your community began with just three Sisters. How many are you now?
STM: We are just under 150 sisters (counting our candidates, postulants and novices). You see, when God gives a special charism (gift of the Holy Spirit) to a founder or foundress of a new community, that charism is a living entity, so to speak, within each member of the community as the future decades and centuries unfold, bringing that charism to God’s people throughout the years. Each generation of the community fulfills this honor, this challenge, this responsibility through the living out of their vocations.
S of C: It sounds very sublime. Bring it down on a practical level. So, what do you Sisters do?
STM: Well, now we are back to the book. Once our original sisters arrived in Los Angeles in 1927, they set up catechetical centers for the thousands of other Mexican refugees who had crossed the border to safeguard their lives and their religious freedom. In 1929, Catholic Social Services of Los Angeles asked them to care for orphaned girls and those who were wards of the court. In 1930, they began healthcare services, again to Spanish-speaking young girls suffering from TB. Yes, that was the beginning.
S of C: And now you have continued these same services?
STM: Yes. But what is absolutely essential to these services is not so much what we do; rather, what we are. That is to say, we wear a religious habit so we can stand out as a signpost pointing to God wherever we are. Like our Mother Luisita used to say, “Look to God, your soul, and eternity. All the rest is just a puff of smoke.”
S of C: You mentioned that many other things are happening this 90th Anniversary Year. What else are you offering?
STM: A one-day Conference that is being given in May by Sister Mary Jeanne and me. We also will have a panel of people who will share the graces, favors, and healings that they have received through the intercession of our Mother Luisita.
S of C: Anything else?
STM: Yes, our community is having a 90th Anniversary celebration of the Sisters serving in Los Angeles, on Saturday, June 17, 2017, with Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. The Celebration begins with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Pasadena at 3:00 p.m. A reception will follow at the Carmelite Sisters’ Motherhouse/Retreat House in Alhambra.
S of C: So, can you tell us something about the book?
STM: Well, it is historical, meaning going back into the early 1900s and even before, AND it is totally current because it addresses issues such as financial insecurity, illness, depression, lack of unity within families. It also addresses the current issue of immigration. I’ll say this. If you begin reading and you’re feeling a little ‘down’, by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be feeling more ‘up’. How’s that?
S of C: You can’t give us one little quote from the book?
STM: Sure! “For greater things you were born!”
Sister Timothy Marie, O.C.D.:
Sister is currently writing the first novel about Mother Luisitia’s life. Sister is originally from Long Beach, California.
She has served in education, healthcare, and retreat work for the Sisters for the past 54 years. Her favorite hobby is telling stories.
You can read more of her stories in the Sisters’ book, Moments of Grace.
Prayer for the Beatification of Mother Luisita
O Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, King and center of all hearts!
Look with merciful love on the petitions we present to You through the intercession of Your servant, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
(Pause and request your petition)
We humbly beseech You to glorify her who was always such a fervent lover of Your Sacred Heart by granting us these favors if they are for Your greater honor and glory.