Our History

In Sacramento, the Vine of Carmel was planted on December 25, 1935. The five founding nuns came at the invitation of Bishop Robert Armstrong. In an exchange of letters with Mother Mary Seraphine, the founding prioress, the Bishop had inquired what would be needed for the initial establishment of the monastery. Mother Seraphine replied, “Excellency, St. Teresa felt to begin with, a house and bell were necessary. Bishop, we have the bell.”

The first Mass of this new foundation took place at midnight on Christmas Eve, 1935, in a farm house. It was such an inspirational beginning. The scene of Mary and Joseph in a cave, awaiting the birth of Jesus, blended so well with that moment. And the new community experienced a poverty not unlike that known to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus; a poverty they rejoiced in for several years, until the end of our country’s “Great Depression.”

Fifty years later, when our community relocated to a Christmas-like setting near the El Dorado forest, we designed a Bethlehem scene in one of the oratories. There we can prayerfully meditate and give thanks often for God’s coming to earth to dwell among us, to save us and show us the “Way” in which He wishes to be followed.

Bethlehem Oratory