Seemingly numberless are those who have found inspiration for their lives in St Teresa of Avila. Today is the Feast of Blessed Maria Teresa of St Joseph (1855-1938), a convert who went on to found the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus. Today they provide emergency and residential shelters for infants and children who have suffered trauma, abuse, or neglect and also care for the elderly. The foundress was born Anna Maria Tauscher, the daughter of a Protestant pastor in Germany. She was received into the Church in 1888 while working with those suffering mental disabilities in Cologne, but lost her job on her conversion. She opened a home for neglected children in Berlin. St Teresa was her inspiration, and this is one of many examples around the world where founders have combined a charism of Carmelite inspiration with a focus on charitable activity. Teresa - whose life was dedicated to creating enclosed communities centred on contemplative prayer - has also lit the blue touch paper for so many individuals who have loved her and taken her as an inspiration for very different organisations and institutes. It is good to read on the website of the Sisters that their ultimate goal is the salvation of souls - Teresa would have applauded that.
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