On the corner of Lincoln Road and Curletts Road here in Christchurch you can see a sign on an imposing concrete block wall which signals behind the wall is a Carmelite Monastery, with the date of their founding, 1933. That is an intriguing date for me since in the same year my Dad was born in a house about a kilometre further down Lincoln Road.
On Sunday night I watched an excerpt of the Sunday programme on the Carmelites of Christchurch. (Unfortunately you need to register and then log in to watch this "on demand" video: it's about 15 mins into the show, after a watchable and moving first item).
The Carmelites do it tough, on my reckoning, since even family members visiting only get to speak to their sister or daughter nun through a grill. No hugs!
You can read more about the Carmelites here at their site, and you can see an older documentary here.
It happens that this past weekend I was involved with a diocesan discernment weekend based at our own Anglican Community of the Sacred Name, a community of nuns serving in Tonga, Fiji, Christchurch and Ashburton. (A feature about their life and work, focusing on Ashburton, is here).
Theirs is not a contemplative order in the same way as the Carmelites. But they witness to the power of a life consecrated to Christ in the special way that follows their religious vows. As many people in ACANZP know, each sister is an inspiring presence wherever they are ministering.