SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s Carmelite nuns are receiving some much-needed support from the Knights of Columbus Rev. Thomas Meersman Assembly 2577.
The annual Carmelite Fair, which provides most of the nuns’ income, was canceled last year due to pandemic restrictions, severely straining the monastery’s resources. Understanding this, Joe Ligori, former Knights of Columbus Utah state deputy, along with the Knights in the six councils of the Sandy area, began the Carmelite Nun Pantry Fund in September.
“We didn’t want them using money they needed to pay bills on food,” said Ligori, who came up with the idea while checking out some caselot sales last fall. He wanted to buy some of the goods for the nuns, but didn’t have the storage space for that. Instead, he organized the pantry fund. Now, the Knights get a list of the monastery’s food needs each month, then shop for those supplies and deliver them to the monastery.
“They are very humble,” Ligori said of the nuns. “They will just let me know what they want but they never put any quantities. They just say, ‘Whatever you can spare, whatever you can get us.’”
The donations keep the monastery stocked. On Dec. 31, the Knights delivered 400 pounds of sugar, along with other supplies, to help the nuns produce the jams and candies that they sell as a primary revenue source.
The fund needs about $300 each month to cover the needs of the 12 nuns, Ligori said. Several councils have set up monthly donations for a year while others have donated a cash sum.
Even after the Carmelite Fair resumes, the Knights plan to continue the pantry fund, Ligori said. “That will keep them using the money they need to on their utilities and on the property.”
The Knights have been excited about the project, Ligori said, especially because they have been unable to operate many of their programs to support the community during the pandemic. “Everyone has said it has been a great thing and it helps the needs of the Carmelites. It makes it easier for them to know that they will always have food in their pantry.”
The nuns at the monastery are grateful for all the help they have received. In addition to the Knights of Columbus, “there are many other good friends and benefactors who have supported our community for all these years … people who are faithfully supporting the nuns in so many different, quiet ways, day in and day out,” said Mother Therese Bui, OCD, the monastery superior. “Our Carmelite community has survived all these years thanks to the many friends and benefactors in this state of Utah that God has sent into our lives.”
The Knights and the nuns are unable to accept food donations due to storage issues. Although the pantry fund began with Assembly 2577, Ligori welcomes the support of any local Catholics who would like to help the nuns. Donations may be mailed to Rev. Thomas Meersman Assembly 2577, Todd Holzhauser (FC 2577), 938 E. Rosefield Lane, Draper, Utah 84020-8737.