Starting a SemBreak Well: Carmel of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Gilmore, New Manila

The chapel of the Carmelite Nuns in Gilmore, New Manila at 6:00 AM

Today, I woke up early to hear Mass in one of my most favorite and cherished churches I grew up with. Although it’s not technically a church (it’s a convent chapel), the place of worship of the contemplative Carmelite nuns is a wonderful place of rich spiritual journeys and blossoming. It was also the feast of the Carmelites’ Holy Mother, Sta. Teresa de Ávila, the Spanish mystic and Doctor of the Church famous for her reflections on the interior life.

The nave features a neo-Gothic style

Recently repainted sanctuary relief as photographed on Good Friday 2012

Located at once-quiet and genteel Gilmore Avenue of the Old Rich enclave of New Manila, the Carmel of Thérèse of Lisieux is an oasis found right smack in Quezon City. Many cars now pass by Gilmore but at least, the church and the cloister are still quite a distance from the road. It’s located on a hill and from iron grills inside the church, in the sanctuary area, you will hear the angelic voices of the nuns enclosed in the convent.

Carmelite Nuns in an act of punishing a sister (1904, France) Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

The lot, according to a small, elderly and jovial Carmelite nun, was a donation of the rich Hemady family, the former landowners of the New Manila estate. The convent was put up in 24 November 1926 with only the generosity of donors. The first Carmelite nuns who came to Manila were not Spaniards but actually French nuns from Indo-China, specifically Vietnam.

The Sanctuary area: the grills at the right lead to the nuns

Earlier during my conversations with the elderly nun (who entered the Carmel in 1954!!!), she kept on telling me “‘Yan, donasyon lahat yan ng mga Español”, “Nabuhay kami dahil sa pagmamalasakit ng mga familiang español” etc. Indeed, what she said was a testament to the original profile of that area of New Manila, San Juan and Cubao as being the enclave of Spanish and Spanish-speaking families. But more importantly, she spoke of the once known practice among the rich to give large donations to religious orders for prayers in turn. The Carmelites prayed for these people who sustain and help their daily finances.

Carmelite nun praying

The nun however, within a breath, relayed the sad state of things wherein they no longer find it easy to have these donors.

“People have put prayers and us nuns on the sidelines. It’s so much harder now to find generous families,” she confessed.

Indeed, I would know. And it’s a sad thing seeing many children of rich or at least, well-to-do families spending THOUSANDS of Pesos on the most superficial and materialistic exploits but find it difficult to spare at least 20 Pesos for Mass offering. I am in no position to judge but heck, let’s open up those hands!

This is what a Carmelite nun does right after getting out of bed. Notice the skull

Nuns kneeling in silent prayer behind the enclosure on Good Friday (2012)

This silent and peaceful place in New Manila, located beside the gigantic CD-R King area and Aurora Boulevard, is a place I always yearn for when things get messy. Now that the semester has finally finished, it was really a joy for me to start my day in this place of contemplation, spiritual reflection and conversion. Many ladies have entered the cloister, to be no longer in contact with the world, through the iron grills of this church. It is a place of stories, tears and prayers.

Santa Teresa in her niche, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel

How about you? Where do you go to when the going gets tough?

The chapel at 8 AM

Visit this beautiful place now. It’s hecho ayer.

Statue of St. Therese, the Little Rose, inside the chapel

Here, by the way, is Santa Teresa’s most famous prayer, the Nada te Turbe
Nada te turbe; nada te espante; todo se pasa.
Dios no se muda, la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.

Condos surround the convent

May nothing disturb you. May nothing astonish you.
Everything passes. God does not go away.
Patience can attain anything.
He who has God within, does not lack anything.
God is enough!

View of the convent

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About hechoayer

Things made yesterday still influence us until today. Things made today will influence us tomorrow. Things of the essence such as faith, culture, food, music and values should never disappear nor eroded by the times. Instead, these must be recorded, lived and shared. Such are things hecho ayer - made yesterday.
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23 Responses to Starting a SemBreak Well: Carmel of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Gilmore, New Manila

  1. Mari says:

    muchas gracias

  2. nikki bayani says:

    hi, i just want to ask pwede kayang magpaenroll sa Carmelite monastery sa Gilmore para makakuha ng scapular? thanks :)

  3. inquire lang po magkanu budget sa church wedding nyo kasama reception???

  4. Rev. John MacKenzie says:

    In the early 90’s I was a seminarian who used to serve Mass at the Convent. I am now a priest serving in the United States. How can I contact them….especially Sr Pastora or Sr Karol? I loved my time in the Philippines and my very special times at the Convent.

    Fr John

  5. Veronica says:

    I just came across your post… I can’t tell you how much the “right after getting out of bed” picture moved me. Where did you find this, can you give me a source? Is it from the same series as the “act of punishing a sister” Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS? Thank you so much!! Wonderful, wonderful post!

  6. jemme says:

    hi, i am interested in their monastic life. How may i know their daily life or routine? thanks.

  7. Ana says:

    Hello! I am preparing for my Bisita Iglesia and a friend of mine suggested this convent which is also situated near Mt Carmel Church. I like to inquire if the convent will be opened on Maundy Thursday. I would like this to be apart of my journey. And I also what is the schedule of mass here on sundays? THanks very much.

  8. jin says:

    hi,
    i am interested in their monastic life and i wanted to get involve but i am afraid my frail body could not afford. how i may know their daily life/routine? thanks.

  9. Pingback: La Visita Iglesia: Notable Churches in Metro Manila | HECHO AYER

  10. Sr. Ercelyn Vallejo Tayom says:

    Praise be Jesus Christ! I’m among the “Disciples of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus” assigned in Italy. I’d like to visit the Carmelite Nuns and to talk with them, if it is possible. How can I contact them?

    • hechoayer says:

      Laudetur Iesus Christus! I will tell you with all honesty that the nuns in this Carmel uhm are quite difficult to get in touch with. They communicate either by snail mail or by going there yourself. Unfortunately, the ladies who assist them aren’t too helpful themselves.

    • Jing Elizaga says:

      Hi Sr. Ercelyn, here’s their contact # +63 2 722 4553 .. Sis Pastora is always the one assigned at the reception hall or you can ask to speak with their Mother Prioress, Mother Rose Ann. :)

  11. Kevin Hill says:

    Thank you for this post. In the early nineteen sixties, my father, a U.S. Army officer, was stationed in Manila and we lived in New Manila near the convent. We went to mass at the convent’s chapel on Sundays and for a short time I served as an altar boy. It was one of many fond memories I have of the Philippines.

  12. Lanie G. Cata-an says:

    hellow..srs. kmusta po kyo gusto ko po pumasok mgmadre. can you help me? reply pls.

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