New Carmelite Mother Superior lives her vocation praying for the whole world every day with her sisters
Friday, Nov. 21, 2014
The Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, shown here earlier this year, has elected Mother Margaret Marie Miller (second from left) as their new prioress. IC file photo/Christine Young
HOLLADAY — In October, Mother Margaret Marie Miller was named Mother Superior of the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She is one of the founders of the Carmelite monastery in Holladay.
Of the five who came to Utah from California on Dec. 8, 1952, only Mother Maureen Goodwin and Sister Margaret Mary are still living.
The Carmelites worship in their chapel every day. Those who join them for Mass can hear them singing behind a screen, but can’t see them because the nuns have taken vows to live cloistered lives.
“To be a Carmelite is a real vocation,” said Mother Margaret Marie. “The Lord gives it [the vocation] to you, but you have to be open and you have to be open to whatever he wants from you.”
She herself didn’t really pay attention to her call until she was in her teens.
“I come from a very good Catholic family and I knew they would be honored if there was a religious in the family, but they would never push me,” said Mother Margaret Marie.
Then, in high school, one of the nuns pointed out that a girl who wasn’t Catholic often went to pray at the chapel, and said, “‘you Catholic girls – I don’t even see you at the chapel. What is that example?’” Mother Margaret Marie recalls, “and I thought, ‘Well, that is really true.”
After that Mother Margaret Marie started visiting the chapel. At the time Saint Therese of Lisieux, the ‘Little Flower,’ was extremely popular and Mother Margaret Marie heard a lot about her.
“I thought, ‘She makes it sound so easy,’ so I just said, ‘If she can do it, maybe I can dedicate my life,’” said Mother Margaret Marie. “My idea already was: Since I am going to be a religious I want to do it by saving souls, so I thought, ‘How can I save a soul?’”
When she first considered a religious vocation, she thought of becoming a missionary.
“Then I thought, ‘I think I’d rather be like the Little Flower because she could reach everybody.’ … That was the thing that struck me. I didn’t even know what the life was going to be like, I just knew that I was going to pray for the whole world. You pray for the whole mystical body and that is what sounded really great. It was worth it, for my money,” said Mother Margaret Marie, laughing.
She advises the young people of today’s world to be open and to listen to God.
“When you start praying, sometimes you are kind of formal. … Just think about what you are saying: What is this related to, how does this affect me? Prayer is very simple; it’s not complicated. Prayer is a loving exchange with someone that loves you,” said Mother Margaret Marie. “God is all powerful; his will is Him, so it’s pretty simple: Open your mind and He is with you all the time. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s simple.”
Mother Margaret Marie said that she has enjoyed very much her journey. “This is what I wanted,” she said with a big smile.
The Carmelites in the Holladay monastery wake before sunrise, as members of their order have done for centuries. They were founded in 1222; Saint Theresa of Avila reformed the first female monastery in Spain in 1562.
The first Carmelites came to the United States in 1790. In 1952, they arrived in Utah; their first monastery was in Salt Lake City, but in 1956 the order moved to Holladay, where they remain, making altar breads and candy to support themselves, but most of all praying for the world at large and in particular for Utah.