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Bishop Athanasius SchneiderMichael Hogan/LifeSiteNews

HIGH SPRINGS, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, blessed ongoing efforts to establish a traditional Carmelite monastery in Florida, independent of any diocese.

The desire of the Sisters is to serve the Holy Roman Catholic Church as an autonomous monastic community for the greater glory of God, the salvation of souls, and the safekeeping of the Traditional Latin Mass,” Schneider wrote in a blessing posted to the building fund project site.

The bishop concluded, “May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit descend upon this work and remain forever!”

Sister Loretta-Maria of the Blessed Trinity and the Rosary, the founding sister and president of the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation for the monastery’s building fund, previously lived in a now-suppressed Carmelite monastery in Savannah, Georgia, founded in 1958. Last year, the Vatican shut down the monastery after claiming that the community did not meet the requirements of its 2018 instruction Cor Orans, which revolutionized women’s contemplative life. The directive centralized religious communities under “federations,” thereby undercutting their individuality and their own charisms. 

Cor Orans cites “the number of nuns” as among the reasons a contemplative religious community may be suppressed. As of the time it was forced to close, the Carmelite monastery in Georgia had three fully professed nuns and two novices. The oldest sisters, including the Mother Superior, were both reportedly told to “find a nursing home” to move to without any direction or assistance from either the order or the diocese. 

Sister Loretta-Maria told LifeSiteNews that the founding of a new independent Carmelite Monastery is necessary, as shown both by the suppression of the Savannah Carmel and by the ongoing suppression of the Traditional Latin Mass, which has been mercilessly enforced around the world following Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis Custodes.

She explained that the newly formed 501(c)(3), called “Habit Forming Sisters Corporation,” “will be solely managed by the members of the new community so that the assets of the monastery will always belong to the nuns.” 

These assets will include, God permitting, what she is currently fundraising toward: Our Lady Co-Redemptrix Carmelite Monastery and Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel in High Springs, where she hopes the sisters will be able to attend the Traditional Latin Mass daily, offered by “traditional Catholic priests in union with Rome.” She has thus far cleared and fenced the 10 acres of land upon which the sisters will build but is in need of funds to construct the chapel and monastic cloister. An engineering team is currently developing the monastery design “according to Saint Teresa of Avila’s vision,” Sister Loretta-Maria told LifeSiteNews. 

Donate to the Our Lady Co-Redemptrix Carmelite Monastery and Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel building fund

The sisters will live out their profession as Discalced Carmelites as permitted by Canon 215 of the Code of Canon Law, which states, “The Christian faithful are at liberty freely to found and direct associations for purposes of charity or piety or for the promotion of the Christian vocation in the world and to hold meetings for the common pursuit of these purposes.”

The building project site’s “About Us” page explains that the sisters will live out the Carmelite Rule and retain the “profession of perpetual solemn vows” of chastity, poverty, and obedience to the Rules and Constitutions of Carmel:

We remain ever faithful to the traditional Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and all traditional sacraments, teachings, discipline, dogma, and doctrine passed on to us by the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We observe and recognize the legitimacy and supremacy of the Pope and the Office of the Papacy from apostolic times to the current pontificate.

We desire to build a new Traditional Carmelite Monastery under the autonomy of the traditional Discalced Carmelite Order founded (by) Saint Teresa of Avila called The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. We seek this autonomy by remaining a non-diocesan private, independent institution while retaining the profession of perpetual solemn vows of the Carmelite Order. 

The site also notes that the community is to be devoted to the 1962 Divine Office as well as the TLM and to be dedicated to a “life of prayer and penance for the Pope, the Bishops and priests of the Universal Church, and the world.”

Sister Loretta-Maria pointed out to LifeSiteNews that the Carmelite apostolate of prayer for the salvation of souls is especially important “while the world is in despair for its future” and it “is harder today than it ever was in the history of the world to be a good, practicing Catholic, and much more so a good priest or bishop.”

“Prayer is necessary to strengthen and to embolden all the priests, the bishops throughout the world, and the Pope every single day,” she added.

Sister Loretta-Maria plans to raise chickens and grow vegetable gardens, but the community will generally rely on alms and in-kind donations for its sustenance and daily necessities. She told LifeSiteNews that the Carmelite monastery project is “greatly in need of funds” and is imploring financial help along with “prayerful support.”

Donations to the building fund can be made online or by checks payable to “Habit Forming Sisters.” Rosaries handmade by Sister Loretta-Maria are also being sold on Etsy.

Spiritual or financial supporters of the Monastery may also subscribe to the “Habit Forming Sisters” mailing list at the bottom of the project homepage.

Bishop Schneider has previously spoken out against the suppression of another traditional Carmelite order in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, after Cor Orans, making it clear that they should remain loyal to their traditional charism. 

In a 2022 interview with LifeSiteNews, he explained that these nuns could say the following to Pope Francis: “Holy Father, we cannot here obey because this will harm Mother Church. Evidently, we cannot collaborate in harming such a great treasure of our holy Mother Church or of our cloistered charism which the Church blessed since Saint Teresa, (for) more than four centuries. We will deprive the Church (if we obey), we will harm the Church, and we cannot collaborate in harming the Church.”

Schneider pointed out to Phil Lawler in another interview about the Fairfield situation that Pope Francis tried to defy “their proper charism to be cloistered” by mandating, via Cor Orans, that they “join so-called federations with the compulsory participation in periodical meetings, information sessions outside the cloister in different places, so that the sisters have to travel and then periodically to go out from the cloister.”

“And so this is a destruction, really, of the precious gift of God for the strict cloistered life,” he said. “I think the sisters have to resist,” he added, saying that because “it is against the entire tradition of the Church” and a “destruction of the cloistered life,” the sisters “cannot obey, even it comes from Rome.”