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Discalced Carmelite Sr Gabriela of the Immaculate Heart of Mary lays prostrate at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph on Monday (The Catholic Weekly/Patrick Giam)

Five years after its establishment, the enclosed Carmelite convent in Mathoura, New South Wales, is celebrating its first fully home-grown member. Source: The Catholic Weekly.

Discalced Carmelite Sr Gabriela of the Immaculate Heart of Mary received her black religious veil from Wilcannia-Forbes Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph on Monday, during a Pontifical Mass that also marked the anniversary of the convent’s founding.

Bishop Macbeth-Greene also unveiled plans for a larger monastery to accommodate the sisters under the patronage of St Elijah, and the community will be renamed the Carmel of Elijah.

The eldest of four children from Maroubra in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Sr Gabriela served as a Verbum Dei missionary sister before joining the contemplative order, making her final vows in a private ceremony in December.

“She was restless for more intimacy with God, and when she had the call to enter the Carmelites, I supported her all the way,” said her mother, Alejandra Russo, before the big day.

“When I visited her, even through the grate, I could see that she glows. She’s really at peace.

“I pray that many more people follow God’s call to be a priest or religious. We need them so much.”

More than 500 family and friends of the religious community converged on the usually quiet Riverina town near Deniliquin, with a population of around 900, for the dual celebration.

Among them were several more women who are already following or thinking of following in Sr Gabriela’s footsteps. 

The NSW Carmel was established in 2019 when four sisters from the New England and Pennsylvanian convents in the United States – two of them Australian, including the prioress Mother Mariam Joseph – moved into a renovated farmhouse on the Cobb Highway property.

They now number nine, with seven fully-vowed members, a novice and a postulant with another aspirant (enquirer) arriving in May.


Home-grown nun veiled in Mathoura Carmel (By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly)