The Discalced Carmelites Sisters of Fairfield were established in 2018, an outgrowth of a Carmel convent in Nebraska. The Carmelites were founded by Teresa of Avila (1515-82), the only woman to be declared a ‘Doctor of the Church.’ Carmelite convents are designed to be small (convents are not to exceed 30 nuns). The Fairfield convent currently has 25 nuns with two additional women scheduled to enter. Unlike the nearly empty Sisters of Saint Joseph convents throughout the nation (religious orders of nuns who wear secular dress are not gaining new members), the attraction of Fairfield Carmelites and other traditionalist communities continues to mystify—and anger– the defenders of modernism.
The Fairfield community is almost ‘Amish’ in its rigorous lifestyle. There is no indoor heating and plumbing, no air conditioning or electricity. The nuns, who wear traditional habits, pray 8 hours a day, sleep 5 ½ hours a night, attend the Traditional Latin Mass, eat no meat and practice intense fasting. The Carmelite tradition is one of autonomy, a 500 year old tradition established by St. Teresa of Avila.
Enter Pope Francis, who in 2016 authored a document, Vultum Dei quaerere, a design plan to overhaul cloistered women’s communities. Francis’ revolutionary screed was followed by 2018 document released by the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, titled Cor Orans (‘praying heart’), which would give control of a monastery to a religious federation outside the community. Cor Orans grants Vatican henchmen generous oversight into the daily life of the Carmelites, which of course would spell doom for the 25 nuns (soon to be 27) and their Traditionalist lifestyle.