By Dr. Elizabeth Duenas
Our children were blessed to have received a Catholic education imbued with Carmelite spirituality. One of the most memorable moments was when our eldest daughter was in first grade at a school administered by the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. Susie came home with a picture she had drawn of a monstrance on an altar. Pointing to the monstrance, we asked her who that was. Susie answered with a resounding “Jesus.” Early on in their education, the Carmelites taught our daughters about the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Despite being raised Catholic and attending Mass on a weekly basis, my husband and I were in our 30s when we came to understand the True Presence, thanks to EWTN Catholic Radio. Thanks to a solid Catholic education by the beloved Carmelites, our daughters knew from a very young age where Jesus was present- Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. This solid foundation has been such a blessing!
Susie: I feel so humbled and blessed to have been given the opportunity to know the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of LA for almost 20 years now. During this time, I have been privileged to experience their ministry through the education I received as a child, and through the friendship that has carried on since. Being able to interact with them closely and witness the generosity, love, and joy for everything they do, has inspired and influenced me greatly. The Carmelites also taught me valuable lessons regarding my faith and helped me to understand how I could use my talents for the Glory of God. Being a follower of Christ means using whatever talents the Lord has given you to bring others closer to the Kingdom. I believe that their guidance, support, and prayers since my early years have given me the stepping stone to discern and prepare for my future as an artist.
Therese: Thanks to my grandmother, I was blessed to have met the Carmelites before I started school at St. Philomena, where the Sisters were my teachers. Throughout my time at St. Philomena, every year on her feast day, the Carmelites would dress me up as St. Therese of Lisieux, the Carmelite nun I was named after. I would reenact scenes from her life. These experiences with the Carmelites have brought me to be the faith-filled young woman I am today, and I am grateful for every minute of it. Thanks to them, I was exposed to the Monstrance and Eucharist at an early age. This really helped develop my love for Christ to the extent of what it is right now.
Gianna: The Carmelite Sisters have impacted me by teaching me more about God. I like that when I was in Kindergarten, we used to go to the convent to pray in front of the monstrance. We would get little rugs to sit on, and we learned about what a decade of the rosary meant. Every time I went, I would feel closer to God, even if it was just through prayer.