Our fortieth Anniversary!  Celebrating God's goodness, remembering our friends with  gratitude. Taking time to recall them in prayer and say "Thank you!
Time!  (of which there never seems enough) Time, when given a long span, gathers a trove of treasures. This year we reflect on the time of our foundation, Wednesday, February 23, 1977 in the early afternoon.  At that time (1977) thirteen years had passed since the Promulgation of Pope Paul VI's Decree of the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite. Only now in 2017, as fragments of time gather, coalesce, (as stones of a mosaic, pieces of a puzzle) does a picture emerge: that In 1977 we began a journey eastward on a road with two lanes- Church and Monastery

Most Reverend Michael Dudick, Bishop of  the Ruthenian Byzantine Diocese of Passaic, New Jersey, became our founding  father when we accepted his invitation  "to pray" for his diocese. As Carmelites, prayer is our vocation.

Bishop Michael Dudick
Bishop Thomas Dolinay

We felt Divine providence brought us to the Eparchy of Passaic. Time forged that sentiment into a conviction. To repeat: Our past forty years can be described as  a  two-lane road, Church and Monastery. (Ecclesial and Monastic)

The Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite (1964) mandated that Churches of Eastern Rite "should retain its traditions, whole and entire"; "if they have fallen short, due to contingencies of time and persons, they  should take steps to return to their ancestral traditions".

That the Eastern Rite Catholics are a minority "goes without saying". A minority means there is a majority (Roman Catholic). Majority should not mean superiority - but it can be given that un-truth by both sides, perhaps even, at time, imperceptibly.

This was "in the air" when we came to Sugarloaf.  Bishop Michael appointed the Franciscan Father Anthony and [the then] Father Basil Schott as our mentors, guides and chaplains. We saw less of the Franciscans during the years the Auxiliary Bishops, resident in Conyngham, were our chaplains.

 In 1977 a young, 61 years old, Bishop Dudick wore the garb of the Roman Hierarchy as did his Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Dolinay. We were blessed in their friendship and support, truly an idyllic time. Change came soon.

In 1982 Bishop George Kuzma,  became Auxiliary of the Passaic Eparchy (and our chaplain), succeeding Auxiliary Bishop Pataki (who was appointed  Bishop of Parma; Thomas Dolinay had left Passaic and us  to be Bishop of Van Nuys).  Bishop George, always affable, was generous in support and encouragement. He also expressed strong opinions favoring our implementing Russian monastic customs, namely their dress.

Bishop Pataki was the least "visible" (so to speak) and dare I say it, the most disapproving of us where previous Bishops approved. It seemed to be Carmel. We realized that to be Carmelite was not enough, so to speak. Bishop Pataki refused to accept our Carmelites OCDS (begun about 1978 by Father Michael Griffin, OCD). So Roman Rite Bishop James Timlin of Scranton accepted their request to become a canonical Chapter OCDS) in his jurisdiction.

Bishop George Kuzma
It seems to me personalities (strong or formidable or whatever) clothe our intentions. Perhaps, as years went on, the Eastern Catholics (Bishops) wanted to decline the "good things" from (and perhaps hitherto accepted from) the Roman Church. It makes sense. Recovering one's own treasure means letting go of goods not our own.  We too, Sisters of Holy Annunciation, have experienced this with the Carmelite Order.

Monastic / Ascetic Lane
In 2017 our unexpected conclusion is that the past four decades have been a preparation for (in all sincerity) the Promised Land of a Monastic Order observing the Rule of St Benedict in the contemplative tradition. A Rule, an Order  whose tradition existed  before the Great Schism, when monasteries of East and West shared and respected each other as being of  the same tradition.

However, it was expediency that brought us to the Rule of St. Benedict. On February 23, 1977 the three Carmelites were almost penniless, having each $300 and her personal belongings. To work was a sheer necessity.

The eremitical Rule of Carmel legislated solitude and a common workroom was not permitted. So from day one we were at odds with our Rule. Besides work, we needed time for prayer other than the Divine Liturgy and Liturgy of the Hours, which were assured. But time for reading and private prayer were hard to fit in. Our solution: The Rule of St Benedict, 15 centuries old, was to be trusted. The monastic schedule with nocturnal Vigils and rising at 3:30 AM was adopted.

At about the same time, a dearly loved Carmelite Superior General, introduced the Order to lectio divina as a methodology and tool for study and discussion.  In Sugarloaf we continued with lectio as praying Sacred Scripture. This very Benedictine form of prayer became a wonderful tool for unifying our community of Sisters from all over the world: India, Ukraine, Canada and Slovakia. For St. Benedict Prayer and  lectio Divina  are fused, not disparate. This Scripture based spiritualty united and transformed our community in a marvelous way, that surprised us and was a cause for gratitude.

St. Benedict's Rule situates us in the 1st millennium when the Benedictine west and Basilian East shared one tradition. - The tradition of the Great Undivided Church.

Judson Procyk