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- by Sister Theresa

The Carmelites are happy at the start of the day,
We rise in the morning without a delay

So goes a long standing ditty sung at Carmelite celebrations.

Mornings do come early. Most mornings that means 5:30 a.m. My mornings begin with an offering of the day to the Lord and Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

At 6:00 a.m. we begin the liturgy of the hours, or “morning prayer” which is followed by a half hour of meditation.

Breakfast follows, then a half hour of spiritual reading in common with the Community.

The Eucharistic Celebration, the highlight of our Carmelite day, commences at 8:00 a.m.... Our Chaplain, Father MacClean and our resident Priest, Father Lehigh concelebrate the Mass which is attended by many of our Senior residents. Relatives of our residents, as well as neighbours and friends are welcome to share the celebration with us.

Following the Mass, Sisters and staff tend to the needs of the elderly residents - helping with their wheel chairs and walkers, serving them breakfast, making beds, and providing the individual services that are needed.

During the morning, each Sister ministers in an area of the Home for which she is responsible.

One of my favourite “morning responsibilities” includes providing fresh water as well as seeds for the birds, and peanuts for the squirrels. We have lovely, spacious grounds at Carmel Heights with many beautiful trees and a ravine, part of Credit Valley woodlands, abutting the property. Surrounding our Home for the Elderly are wide sidewalks, which accommodate walkers and wheel chairs. Residents are encouraged to walk outside whenever the weather permits.

Various indoor activities are also scheduled. Any given day may also include attention from the nursing staff, a visit from the doctor, a session with a physiotherapist, an exercise class or perhaps a "special assignment" like peeling apples for apple pie.

A half hour before dinner the Sisters gather to recite the Office of the Hours of Readings and midday prayer.

The main meal is served at noon with most residents taking a nap afterward. This is also free time for the Sisters.

At 2:00 p.m. each day, the tuck shop/café opens, and residents gather to socialize over tea and coffee.

During the afternoon those Seniors who wish to, gather for daily Rosary and the Chaplet of Mercy. The Sisters also spend a half hour of meditation.

Various groups come to the Home to provide entertainment for the Seniors. School groups sometimes come to visit the Seniors. Pets and their owners come to visit. Sometimes a politician or special speaker is on hand to give a talk.

Whether these special events occur in the afternoon or in the evening after supper, Sisters, staff, and residents abandon the regular routine and morph into gracious hostesses.

At 5:00 p.m., supper is served to the residents with the Sisters sitting down to supper afterward.
At 7:00 p.m., the Sisters gather for evening prayer which is followed by an hour of recreation together. During this time we engage in various activities - hobbies, board games, cards - all the while discussing various topics of interest.

At 8:30 p.m., we gather in the Chapel for night prayer and some reflection about the day that is just about over. For some of the Sisters there are some further services to the elderly that await them.

For myself, a Senior, it is time to go to bed. As the grand silence descends upon our convent, I commend the night to our Lord and our Lady of Mount Carmel.

We Carmelites are happy, we’re closing our eyes
We’ll sleep like the angels until morning arise.