The early history of the Sisters of Mount Carmel is rooted in the story of a remarkable woman’s journey. Julie Thérèse Chevrel was blessed with an unswerving sense of God’s call.
Her attempt to respond faithfully to this call, in the midst of events over which she had no control, led to the establishment of the Sisters of Mount Carmel in Louisiana.
In the early 1830’s Sister Thérèse Chevrel and Sister St. Augustin Clerc responded to the invitation of Bishop de Neckere to take over a school for “free young ladies of color,” and to minister among the French-speaking people of South Louisiana. They set sail from France and arrived in New Orleans aboard the Steamship Olympia on November 2, 1833.
Now immigrants, isolated from their past, the two formed a new congregation of women religious, retaining the name they had in France, Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, because of their great devotion to Mary, Mother of Carmel and thus preserving ties to their earlier beginnings. But it would be some forty years before the two sisters were able to make contact with the sisters they had left behind.
The early history of the Sisters of Mount Carmel is characterized by their response to the needs of their times and to requests of the local church.
True to the spirit of Julie Thérèse Chevrel, the Sisters of Mount Carmel today strive to be faithful to God’s call in the reality of changing circumstances and to be responsive to the needs of the local church. Whether it be in the bayou country of South Louisiana, in the heart of New Orleans, in the villages of the poor in the Philippines and Timor Leste, or in a Carmelite office in Illinois, our thrust remains the same: to lovingly serve God’s people, responding to the needs of the time, taking Mary… in her simplicity, zeal and humility… as our model.