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The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm

byMother Mark Louis Randall O.Carm.
4/10/2015

Photo courtesy/Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm

The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm are a congregation of 168 women religious dedicated to the care of the elderly in nursing homes, assisted living and independent living residences in nine states and in Ireland which we sponsor, co-sponsor or where we serve. Our Sisters minister in many capacities such as nursing, social service, pastoral care, administration, activities, food service, medical records and other ancillary services. Our Motherhouse is located at Avila on the Hudson, Germantown, New York.

As women of the Church we respond with faith courage and love to the healing ministry of Christ. We seek to provide dignified, respectful care for our residents in a homelike environment which honors their individuality and the sanctity of their lives. The words of our foundress, Venerable Mary Angeline Teresa, sums up our mission and philosophy:

"Our apostolate is not only to staff and operate up to date homes for the aged, but as religious, it is to bring Christ to every old person under our care. Bringing Christ means giving them His compassion, His interest, His loving care, His warmth morning, noon and night. It means inspiring the lay people who work with us to give the same type of loving care."

Our Congregation was founded on Sept. 3, 1929 in New York City when Mother Angeline Teresa McCrory and six companions left the Little Sisters of the Poor to care for the elderly within the context of the American way of life at the time. Mother identified the spiritual, personal and social needs of the elderly, initiated programs and services for them and encouraged her daughters to keep up with the needs of the time while remaining faithful to the Church and to their vocation as religious. That vision is especially timely in the 21st century when health care reform has created sweeping changes in the way care is rendered and financed and when the value of the life of the elderly is challenged.

In 1988 we created the Avila Institute of Gerontology as the educational arm of the congregation to assist with the continuing education needs of our Sisters and staff. Since then the Institute has branched out into developing a Geriatric Spiritual Care certificate program to train pastoral care staff in nursing homes, dementia care training programs and more recently has inaugurated a palliative care pilot program to promote that very important concept. The institute has also reached out to assist religious congregations in the care of their elderly Sisters through a grant from the NRRO.

In 1999 we founded the Carmelite System to assist our sponsored facilities in mission training and integration, clinical services expertise, strategic planning, financial management, group purchasing and the procuring of health and liability insurance. The system has greatly expanded its services lately, and has helped us navigate through the many challenges and changes in healthcare. In 2010 the McCrory Center office building at St. Teresa's Motherhouse opened to house the Carmelite System staff.

The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm have served in the Archdiocese of Boston since 1953, when we began our service at St. Patrick Manor, formerly on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, and now in Framingham. In 1954, at the request of Cardinal Cushing, our Sisters created a nursing home from the former Carney Hospital in South Boston. In 1995 we added an assisted living residence, Carmel Terrace, to the campus in Framingham. In 2013 we began our service in the Diocese of Springfield by purchasing the former Providence Care Center in Lenox, renaming it Mount Carmel Care Center.

In June of 2012 Mother Angeline was named Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI. Her cause for sainthood continues, and her daughters continue her vision to "clasp the hand of an aged person and give meaning to the autumn of life."

Check out our website -- www.carmelitesisters.com.

Mother Mark Louis Randall, O.Carm. is the Prioress General of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm, Germantown, N.Y.