by Fr. Donald Kinney, O.C.D.

This February 2, 2021 is a milestone anniversary for the Carmelite Sisters. One hundred years ago in Mexico, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament and her Sisters became officially affiliated with the Order of Discalced Carmelites. They began to live the Carmelite Rule on February 2, 1921 as Carmelite Sisters of the Third Order of Guadalajara.

February 2 is memorable to the Sisters for another reason. On that date in 1983, at the personal decision of St. John Paul II, they became an independent congregation of pontifical right, the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles.

For one hundred years now, Mother Luisita and her spiritual daughters have been building up the Church through education, health care, and retreat ministry. In hard times of religious persecution at their beginnings—having to flee to the United States in 1927—and in our time of pandemic today, the Carmelite Sisters are like the woman working to make bread in the Gospel parable. “She took and mixed yeast with the flour until the whole batch was leavened” (Mt 13:33). All during this century, through their lives of prayer and apostolic works in loving service to the Church, the Carmelite Sisters have nourished and lifted up countless people.

The life of Mother Luisita (1866-1937) is particularly exemplary. We can compare her to St. Teresa of Avila in the sixteenth century. In 1588 her first biographer, Fray Luis de Leon, wrote, “I never knew, or saw, Mother Teresa while she lived on earth,… but now that she lives in heaven I do know her, and I see her almost continuously in two living images she left us in her daughters and in her books.” Those of us who admire the Carmelite Sisters can say the same.

Mother Luisita was declared Venerable on July 1, 2000. The process in Rome is underway for her possible Beatification.