Three years ago, the tree-line farmland in Fairfield held vision and promises for the Discalced Carmelite nuns eager to build their new Carmel in Adams County.
Now, the once-empty field overlooking vistas into northern Maryland undoubtedly shows the results of hard labor, dedication, faith and the goodwill of benefactors, all of which are building a monastery to stand the test of time.
The latest building to go up is the largest thus far: a three-story structure for the nuns’ workrooms and recreation area. More impressive than the beautiful site of the building’s architecture is the fact that it was built by hand.
Skilled labors, volunteers and the nuns themselves are building the Carmel of Jesus Mary and Joseph, brick by brick, stone by stone and beam by beam.
To mark the milestone of progress, Bishop Ronald Gainer celebrated Mass for the nuns and their supporters on Oct. 3 in the monastery’s chapel – which he blessed two years ago – before blessing the new building. The nuns will live temporarily in the three-story building while construction continues.
The blueprints for the monastery farmstead require authentic materials and craftsmanship for a chapel, a refectory (dining hall), a novitiate, a building for the professed, a caretaker’s home, chaplain’s quarters and a guest cottage.
The nuns trace their roots to 16th century Spain and 17th century Mexico and live out the rule of their founders, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Living a life of solitude, prayer, and sacrifice while hidden from the world, the nuns’ primary mission is to pray for the Church and its priests.
For information about the Discalced Carmelite nuns, the progress of the monastery in Fairfield, and volunteer efforts, visit www.fairfieldcarmelites.org.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)