On the Feast of the Epiphany this year, January 6th, a dear friend of our monastery died. She was a Carmelite nun who had been Prioress of her monastery in Santa Fe for almost fifty years. Her religious name was Mother Rose Teresa of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and she lived her fruitful life to the age of eighty-nine. In fact, she died just two months short of her ninetieth birthday. Though her vocation as a Carmelite contemplative was a life “hidden with Christ in God,” as Saint Paul says in his letter to the Colossians, chapter 3, verse 3, Mother Rose Teresa had many friends, from near and far. Her funeral on January 15th this year attests to the extent of her outreach even from the cloister where she lived and rarely left.
Mother Rose Teresa’s Carmelite community on Mount Carmel Road in Santa Fe was wise in planning that many would come to honor the late Mother Rose Teresa, and arranged for her funeral to be at the parish church of Cristo Rey in Santa Fe, just a mile or so from the Carmelite monastery. The large church was packed for the Mass of Christian Burial that morning, and Prior Joseph Gabriel and I attended. There were some twenty concelebrating priests and around seven hundred people present for the Mass. Msgr. Lambert Luna, pastor of Saint Joseph Church on the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, was the main celebrant.
The fact that so many came to pay their respects and to pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Mother Rose Teresa, is a testimony to her influence and being admired by many.
After the funeral Mass, the parish of Cristo Rey provided a wonderful luncheon for all who were there. It was very well organized and the food was plentiful and delicious. Special thanks are due to the organizers of the Mass and luncheon, including volunteers of the parish Altar Society, Knights of Columbus and presumably others who provided such a welcome service to all of us.
In the early afternoon of the same day, January 15th, another Mass was celebrated for Mother Rose Teresa at her Carmelite monastery with just the nuns of the community present and the Archbishop of Santa Fe as celebrant of that Mass. Burial of Mother Rose took place after the Mass, in the nuns’ cemetery within their cloister.
Mother Rose Teresa professed her first vows as a Carmelite of Santa Fe on May 22, 1952, a few months before I was born! I first met her in August of 1974, during my first visit to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. I got to know Mother Rose Teresa and her community better after joining Christ in the Desert in May of 1977, when I was twenty-four years old. On the occasional visits to the Santa Fe Carmelites over the past forty-two years, I always found Mother Rose Teresa enthusiastic and interested in our life at Abiquiu, and ready to share adventures and experiences of her own community as well. These included the inevitable ups and down of life, the coming and going of some members, the death of others, as well as the projects and hopes of her community.
Mother Rose Teresa was a buoyant, upbeat, cheerful and kind person. I know in her final years she suffered in her infirmities. Thankfully, she was lovingly taken care of by her sisters in community and able to be in the monastery until the end of her earthly pilgrimage.
May the angels lead Mother Rose Teresa into Paradise and may she enjoy the rewards of everlasting life in God’s presence! I will certainly miss not getting to say hello to her and tell her of my adventures when I make the occasional stop at the Carmelite Monastery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Teresa of Avila, in Santa Fe, founded in 1945.
Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB