A landmark structure nestled in the hills that went on the market in October has been sold for the same use it had before–a monastery for a group of Carmelite nuns.
Repeating the process of how a Carmelite monastery became established in the building in 1949, a private donor has purchased the building to house a group of 12 Carmelites who are now residing on a ranch in Canyon, a tiny unincorporated community in the hills behind Oakland.
The incoming group of nuns are young, replacing a contingent of four older nuns, down from 12 at their peak.
Two of the older nuns moved to care facilities, and the other two relocated to a Carmelite monastery in San Francisco.
“(The new nuns) are about the same age and the same number as the nuns who came in 1949,” said Michael Korman, the agent for the seller. “Twelve is peak of population at its previous high.”
The 60-room Spanish revival mansion, built in 1925, was listed for $1.95 million and sold for $1.9 million, Korman said.
The agent said there were several competing offers on the property, including some that were higher than $2 million, but a buyer who wanted a different use would have to get a new permit from Contra Costa County, a process that could take a long time.
“Other people sought to do a senior care facility that would require different permits than what was there,” Korman said. “We didn’t want to have a long, protracted escrow while people were getting permits.”
The home, at 68 Rincon Road, is adjacent to the landmark Blake House, the now-empty former home of the president of the University of California, and Blake Garden, both owned and maintained by UC Berkeley.
The rooms in which the nuns reside are small. Larger rooms in the house include a former ballroom, a dining room and a kitchen with butler’s pantry. Windows on the western side of the house have panoramic views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Buyer’s agent Geri Murphy said she is seeking additional donors to pay for the $400,000 to repair water leakage from the roof and fix the electrical and plumbing systems, floors and foundation.
“We will be doing some repairs to meet the needs of the community, what they want,” said Murphy. “We plan to be done in about four months or less, and the nuns can move in.”
An outside sale was required to transfer use of the property from one group of Carmelite nuns to another because each Carmel is a separate corporation, Murphy said.
The buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous, purchased the home from the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Berkeley and donated it to the Catholic Diocese of Oakland, which will be in charge of maintaining it in perpetuity, Murphy said.
“They are two separate entities, very independent,” she said.
To send an offering to help the new Carmelite community write: The Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph; P.O. Box 183; Canyon, CA 94516
When people picture monks living in a cloistered, contemplative monastery, they likely don’t think of Chicago. Benedictine Fr. Peter Funk, O.S.B.,prior of the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago, tends to plants in the monastery garden. The monks live in a cloistered, contemplative monastery and welcome visitors to their two guest houses and bed and breakfast.
Yet, just such a classic contemplative monastery exists only minutes from Michigan Avenue and Navy Pier.
The Monastery of the Holy Cross, located in the Bridgeport neighborhood, is home to a community of Benedictine monks who dedicate themselves continuously to prayer, hospitality and evangelization.
Originally from northern Minnesota, the monks desired to establish their monastery in an urban environment so people living in Chicago and the surrounding areas could experience the spiritual life of a peaceful, contemplative monastery without having to drive extended distances to remote, rural settings.
At its founding, the community numbered three brothers and was extremely poor. The Archdiocese of Chicago had gifted an old, closed church building for their use. The building was beautiful and historically significant, but was in need of serious disrepair.
With prayer and generosity from the community and the archdiocese, the monks restored most of the church’s interior and have renovated their cloister to accommodate guests. There are now nine professed brothers and one novice.
The charism of the community is focused on evangelization by showcasing beauty in the Mass and in their sung Liturgy of the Hours.
Seven times each day – at 3:30, 6, and 9:30 a.m., and 12:45, 2:30, 5:15, and 7:15 p.m. – the monks gather in the church to sing the Liturgy of the Hours in English. It is a deeply moving experience to pray with them during these times. Their Masses are peaceful, reverent and feature sung congregational participation.
There are many things to love and admire about the monks and their community: sharing simple but delicious meals with them in their residence; experiencing their Benedictine hospitality and service; and having such frequent access to prayer and the Sacraments.
The best thing about visiting the monastery, however, is experiencing the profound transcendence and beauty of God in their prayer and worship.
The community is poor and doesn’t have much: even now, though major structural problems have been fixed, the chapel and buildings are old, empty, and full of chips, cracks and second-hand furnishings.
Yet, the beauty of their worship is impossible to miss. Why?
God shines through in the midst of the simplicity. They worship and pray in a manner that shows the sacred in an unmistakable fashion.
This treasure offers affordable rates for retreatants – room and meals for a suggested donation of $40 a night. In addition to retreats, they also host an award-winning bed-and-breakfast service.
For more information click here.
At the end of his treatise on contemplation (also known as his treatise On Consideration), Saint Bernard of Clairvaux observes the dimensions of Christian mental prayer. Specifically, when Saint Paul prays in Ephesians 3:18 that we might come to comprehend and be filled with the breadth and length, height and depth of the fullness of God revealed in the love of Christ, Saint Bernard sees four kinds of contemplation.
For Saint Bernard, God’s breadth is His eternity, His promises. His length is His love, His works. His height is His power, His majesty. His depth is His wisdom, His judgments. Bernard goes on to teach that our meditation on the promises by faith covers the eternal length of God, Himself; our remembrance of all His blessings is a contemplation of the breadth encompassed by the Trinitarian mystery; contemplation of the Lord’s majesty is a glimpse of the heights Divinity; and that our examination of divine judgments gazes on the very depths of the Invisible God. Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the Cross reveals this whole mystery Saint Bernard describes and makes it accessible to us in such a way that it can fill our whole being to the point at which love transforms our whole existence through prayer.
To read more click here.
On their website, the Poor Clares of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Roswell, New Mexico, have posted a job description for young women to join them for “hard labor” to serve God with full enthusiasm of mind and body!
The nuns in this little desert monastery are looking for committed women who are willing to “pursue an ambitiuous career as a fully certified, full-time lowly servant of God.”
No prior experience is needed but potential candidates must possess plenty of “spiritual zeal for the Kingdom of Heaven,” and be willing to partake in “full schedule of prayer and so much besides.”
The task of being a Poor Clare nun does require long hours, being ready, willing and able to get up at the “enchating hour of 12:30 a.m. to sing God’s praises! Those who enter will find the meals quite simple and religious garb extremely adequate.
How much does it pay? Well, it doesn’t …. at least here on earth; but you will be able to pay back your constant and insurmontable debt to God! Such benefits are literally out of this world!
To read the full job description, please click here.