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Family affair: Carmelite sisters celebrate anniversary with community

The Carmelite Sisters of St. Therese, a religious order founded in Oklahoma, recently celebrated its 95th anniversary of ministry in the state with an alumni reunion event attended by many former Villa Teresa Catholic School students and their families.
by Carla Hinton Modified: June 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm •  Published: June 15, 2013

The halls of Villa Teresa Catholic School were filled with children once again during a multigenerational celebration that drew about 500 people to the beloved private institution.

Former Villa Teresa students, faculty and parents attended the Carmelite Sisters of St. Therese's 95th anniversary event June 8 at Villa Teresa Convent, 1300 N Classen Drive, and the adjacent school.

The celebration was designed to pay homage to the Carmelite nuns' many ministry endeavors across the state since the order's founder, Mother Agnes Teresa Cavanaugh of Rhode Island, came to teach American Indian children in 1917.

However, there was no question that Villa Teresa School, which closed in 2012, and the sisters who taught there were the main attraction at the recent event.

Many attendees said they didn't want to miss a chance to walk the hallways once more. They said last year's closure of the 79-year-old school made the celebration more poignant.

“I miss Villa Teresa tremendously, and I love Sister Veronica,” said LaThonya Shivers, of Oklahoma City, referring to the school's principal, Veronica Higgens. Shivers said her son Vincent, 8, was a first-grader when the school closed.

Valerie Roquemore viewed vintage science fair posters, photo albums and roll books displayed along the school's main hallway with her husband, Ron, and their daughter, Maria, 8, a former Villa Teresa student.

“I've been kind of hesitant to come back because I feel like I'm going to cry right now,” Valerie Roquemore said, smiling.

Several of the nuns said they were excited to see the familiar faces of students and parents.

“I've seen my former students and friends I haven't seen for many years. It's wonderful,” Sister Immaculata Commet said.

Sister Barbara Joseph Foley, 60, shared similar sentiments about the celebration.

“It just honors the Carmelites' life here in the diocese,” she said. “For me to see so many people coming to see our older sisters who were their teachers is just really wonderful, because our sisters never forget them. To see that interaction is just beautiful.”

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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