When I was single, I was glad to have found out about the Handmaidens group in Alhambra. I had attended a mass at St. Philomena Church and I believe Sr. Gloria Therese (who is now Mother Gloria Therese) made an announcement about the Handmaidens prayer group.
I accepted the invitation to come see about the Handmaidens prayer group. It was the Jubilee year 2000 and I was discerning about God’s will in my life. The group’s name of Handmaiden is taken from Luke 1:38:
Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.
Many of the women I met were discerning their vocation. The Handmaidens group is a faith formation program for women between 18 and 35 offered by the Carmelite sisters. I really enjoyed it because I got to be with Catholic single women who took their faith seriously and wanted to learn more about it.
The meetings were usually on Saturday evenings. I liked the format of the meetings. Each year there’s a theme that the evening lessons will be based upon. The night started with dinner. It was usually potluck. Then, we’d have some type of teaching or bible study from one of the Carmelite sisters. Then, we had Holy Hour. It was a time I cherished.
I met women who really cared about their Catholic faith. A few of those I met became religious sisters. I met one woman who spent one year of her life volunteering for National Evanglization Teams (NET) ministries. Another woman I met worked on preparing retreats. One of the women regularly prayed near clinics that offered abortion. One of the women I met from the group still inspires me today with her Facebook posts about God, a saint, or a scripture quote. I traveled with one of the women on a trip to Rome.
From being with the sisters, I decided to volunteer in their kitchen a couple times during retreats. I helped put the food on the trays for the retreatants. I liked doing this volunteering because I got to know one of the other women in Handmaidens much better and I also had a chance to listen to some spiritual talks.
One of my favorite and blessed moments with the Handmaidens group was one evening during the Christmas season. We took turns pulling a rope at Mission San Gabriel to ring the bells. I thought it was a special honor to do that.
The Handmaidens prayer group usually meets starting from September through April.
Right now, though, the group is not meeting due to COVID. You can read more about the Handmaidens at https://carmelitesistersocd.com/category/handmaidens/
In the meantime, you can pray for your vocation, pray that you do God’s will, and pray for the Carmelite sisters.