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Institute of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: 'For the Glory of God and the good of souls'

Sister Kathy having a sing-along with the children in the "barn." Photo courtesy/Sister Annie Augustin, INSC

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We are a Congregation of Carmelite Sisters of contemplative and active life.

Our institute is an international, pontifical, apostolic institute of women religious founded in Italy by Blessed Maria Teresa Scrilli in 1854. The purpose of our institute is of "leading souls to God" through prayers and through the apostolate of educating children from their tender years until their adolescence. Our Sisters respond to their call of following Jesus in the spirit of Carmel.

From her childhood, Blessed Maria had a marked tendency toward prayer and was profoundly connected to Carmelite spirituality from her reading of St. Mary Magdalene de'Pazzi. The spirit of contemplation, total abandonment to the will of God and deep union with the Lord were the characteristics of her spiritual life. Her prayer added the aspect of reparation for offenses inflicted on God, of praise, of joy in Him and of deep faith. She felt the irresistible call of the Lord and, in spite of many obstacles, she overcame them to fulfill her desire to become a Carmelite Sister. As soon as she was enlightened about the aim of her vocation, which was that of "leading souls to God," she abandoned herself to God's Will. Blessed Maria had a great devotion to Our Lady and dedicated the Institute to her.

With the spiritual daughters who followed her, she shared her contemplative and apostolic ardor which she condensed in these words: "The life of our Institute must be contemplative and active: the one must be helped and not of burden to the other". During her lifetime she fully realized this ideal which she expressed in her autobiography with these words: "The sense of the divine Presence had become continuous in me. It was a very pleasant union; I could not resign myself to abandon it if I was not persuaded to leave God for God, that is, to leave God in the contemplation of Mary, so as to find Him again in the duties and cares of Martha. Ceasing, thus to enjoy Him, to go and toil for Him, and then to come back to rest in Him."

A new dimension was added to the apostolate when Co-foundress Sister Maria Mosca, INSC was inspired to serve the Lord through assisting the sick and the aged. In addition to educating children and caring for the sick, the sisters were also called to social work, pastoral ministry, religious education, liturgical and music ministries.

In response to the Church's invitation to spread the Kingdom of God among the nations, the Carmelite Sisters have opened houses in the United States, Canada, Poland, India, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Philippines, Indonesia and Israel in addition to the many houses that continue to operate throughout Italy.

In 1947, by the request of the Father General of the Carmelite Order, the sisters were asked to assist in the domestic work at the Carmelite Junior Seminary in Hamilton. By the mid 1960s the seminary was closed. The sisters established a Novitiate in Peabody in December of 1966 to accommodate new vocations. In September of 1969, the Holy Childhood Nursery and Kindergarten was opened and the sisters resumed the original work of the Institute -- the education of young children.

The sisters continue to live the life of contemplation and apostolic life in the traditions of the Institute based on their talents and needs of the local parishes.

Along with the preschool, they offer various spiritual opportunities, such as, days of retreat for children and various church groups, Advent and Lenten evening prayer for the laity and concerts of faith for the family. They strive to continue to discover and deepen the spirit of their Foundress of serving the Church by doing all things for the "glory of God and the good of souls."

In 2013, the Carmelite Sisters of Peabody released an original 20 song CD entitled: "I Believe" by Sister Kathy Bettencourt, INSC. This CD was created to help children and their families learn some of the basics of the Catholic faith through engaging music. The companion coloring book offers a coloring page for each song and a parent page. The parent page contains a brief explanation of the song, a simple prayer to learn, activities related to the theme, where to find it in the Bible and where to find additional information in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The CD and coloring book are a great resource for faith development of the young child and family.

Sister Kathy Bettencourt, INSC is the local Superior and director of the Holy Childhood Preschool of the Institute of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Peabody. Visit our website: www.carmelitepreschool.com, and Facebook. Cd's are available on iTunes or by contacting: Email: Carmelite@verizon.net or 978-531-4733.

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