Rising Sun convent begins construction of hermitage
— The Episcopal Carmel of St. Teresa is supposed to be an order of nuns whose primary job is to pray.
However, the busyness of the daily life of the monastic order was making it hard for the sisters to have that solitary time of prayer deemed necessary by their calling.
“Our job is to pray for the church and the world,” said Sister Teresa Irene, prioress of the order near Rising Sun. “We’re supposed to have three weeks in each year of silence and solitude.”
However, like everyone else, the sisters also have hospitality demands that get in the way, including daily visitors and administrative duties. The sisters also have a three-bedroom guest house on site.
“We’ve gotten busier and busier with a steady stream of activities and visitors,” Irene said.
A generous gift to the order, made last year in honor of Sister Barbara taking her final vows, allowed the Episcopal Carmel of St. Teresa to begin construction of a hermitage behind the convent.
The 500-square-foot cot- tage will provide its occupant the opportunity for that alone time.
“We can be with God in deeper silence and solitude,” Barbara said. “You take the world with you in your silence. No TV, no phones, all the trappings of the world. You meet with God and lift up the cries of the world.”
The plain block building will be simply furnished with a bed, efficiency kitchen and a prayer alcove with a small table and a chair. A screened in porch will face the woods,
away from the main house.
Sister Barbara said the hermitage is like a “tiny house,” referring to the new trend in minimalist housing. According to Sister Teresa, the hermitage links the order with its founders.
“The original Carmelites were in the caves in Mount Carmel,” she said of the roots of the monastic organization. “We felt it was necessary for our spiritual
well-being for us to have this space.”
The house on Little New York Road became the Episcopal Carmel of St. Teresa in 2006 with the blessing of the Catholic Carmelites.
With help from local professional services including Cox Masonry, Michael Cullen, Cedar Hill Quarry, Maryland Materials and Meadows Construction, the sisters have been able to keep the project costs down.
Now the hunt is on for lowcost furnishings including flooring, cabinets, bedding
and lighting. Donations are a big help, Irene said.
“We even got a check from a very nice elderly lady. It’s been amazing to me how generous people have been,” she said.
Donations, which are tax deductible, are still being sought, the sisters noted. The estimated cost of the project was $70,000. Completion is expected in September, at which time the hermitage will be blessed and placed into service. Irene said this will allow them to take turns having that alone time while the main house can continue to
operate, including a daily eucharist service, teaching and other ministries.
But it’s not just for the sisters. The silent retreat center will be open to anyone
in need of the spirit-filled escape.
“We are inviting anyone in the community to come as they wish to share in our spirit of silence,” Bar-
For more information on donations, assistance with construction or to book a silent retreat, call the convent at 410658-6736.
Sister Barbara, a nun at the Episcopal Carmel of St. Teresa near Rising Sun, explains the floor plan of the hermitage being built on the property. The small cottage, away from the main convent and the guest house, will allow for one person to have a silent retreat.
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