Singing Sisters

Apr 7, 2014

1606285_694461467243007_1995018565_oWe were introduced the other day to Sister Timothy of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles who make their home in Alhambra. We admit we were caught off guard when told that they are releasing their new CD Lean Into the Wind.


Singing nuns?

And the answer to both is “yes.”

A little background:

The foundress of the Carmelite Sisters was born Maria Luisa de la Pena in Atotonilco el Alto, Jalisco Mexico in 1866. She was the first of her mother’s fourteen children to survive. At the age of fifteen, she married Doctor Pascual Rojas who was twice her age. Once they realized they could not have children, they turned their focus on helping the poor by building the Hospital of the Sacred Heart. After Dr. Rojas died, Maria Luisa chose to “serve as a religious.” Eight years later, in 1903, she entered the Cloistered Carmelites and “became immersed in the spirituality of Carmel.”

Obeying the desires of the Archbishop, Maria Luisa worked at hospitals, opened a school and orphanage, and in 1921 established the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart. To “unite the spirit of Carmel to the active apostolate” was her particular charism, which is defined as “a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, communicated through a particular person who gathers disciples around him or her and with whom he or she translates a bold vision into action.” (SantaMaria)

In 1927, Mother Luisita left Mexico for America to escape religious persecution. She fled in disguise and arrived as a homeless refugee. Eventually, her work became established in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

In the Year of the Great Jubilee (2000), after extensive study of her life and writings, the Church declared that Mother Luisita lived a life of heroic virtue and her cause toward sainthood is in progress. (Carmelite Sisters)

Mother Luisita

Mother Luisita


We spoke with Sister Timothy Marie about the Carmelite Sisters, her journey, and their new CD.

HP:  How long have you been a member of the Carmelite Sisters, Sister Timothy? What propelled you to join?

Sr. TM:  Well, I’ve been in a long time. God touched my heart, my deepest soul during my teenage years. Some people call it a calling. I received mine in junior high. Each sister on the CD has her own personal and very compelling story.

HP:  Is there an over all belief, purpose, or intention in your group? Is this part of the message of the music? Is the CD meant to proselytize these beliefs and recruit adherents, or does the music and lyrics have a more general message for even those outside of your religious community?

Sr. TM:  Our music is for everybody. Our genre is definitely spiritual. The lyrics on this CD are written by us, the music is ours, too, and when we sing, we make it a prayer.

HP:  Is Lean into the Wind your first release? Is this an album with many contributors, of which you are one? How did your involvement come about? Do you have a musical background?

Sr. TM:  I actually wasn’t a part of the CD, I’m a writer and work in communications for our community, but on the website Lean Into the Wind are some reflections of our sisters who composed and sing the music. This is our seventh CD and in my opinion our best!


HP:  We are told that you are an experienced blogger; for what site do you write?

Sr. TM:  I write for our own website and other Catholic websites pick it up. That’s what is great about our community; each one has gifts, talents, and we each use what we have and our service comes out as a beautiful mosaic of love.

We are the Carmelite Sisters and we love to sing! We believe that music is very powerful. We looked at our world—so many crises, so much woundedness and fear—and we asked ourselves, “What can we do to make a difference?”

The answer came to us:  “Sing to the world. Sing to the world of love and trust and the presence of God.” Like the new movie that just came out says, “God is not dead.” That’s what we hope people will experience when they listen to our music.

We are a small community of Catholic Sisters here in Alhambra, California. We want to sing to you. To lift up your heavy hearts. To give you hope. If we had a bottle, we could write our message on a paper and toss it out into the ocean and say, “OK, dear God, bounce this little bottle over the waves so it will land someplace where people need to be reminded of you, where people need to restore their hope.”

Lean Into the Wind is our song-bottle that we may sing to the world.


Lean Into the Wind ($15 suggested donation).

For more info, visit

Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, Alhambra, CA 91801. Contact:  866.598.4389.

The Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles community; all photos courtesy of CSSHLA

The Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles community; all photos courtesy of CSSHLA

Carmelite Sisters:  Our mission is to promote a deeper spiritual life through healthcare, education, and retreats.





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