Coronavirus Pandemic Forces Cancellation Of Carmelite Fair

Sep 20, 2020, 10:49 PM | Updated: Nov 29, 2022, 10:55 pm

HOLLADAY, Utah — The annual fair at the Carmelite Monastery was canceled for the first time ever because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Once a year, the monastery comes to life for the public. It’s a tradition that has carried on for nearly 70 years.

Since 1952, prayer has filled the air at the Carmelite Monastery in Salt Lake.

It is the only Catholic monastery left in Utah.

The sisters have abandoned all worldly pursuits, never to leave the monastery.

“A place where we dedicate our entire life to pray, that is our ministry,” said Mother Therese Bui, Mother Superior of the monastery.

As a young woman, Mother Superior Therese Bui said she longed for a life of service.

“I thought I would want to be a missionary sister to serve the poor, but after volunteering at different organizations, I felt that something was still missing,” she said. “Something was still inside of me… yearning for something bigger.”

Mother Bui said that it was in going to mass and praying that she realized her life calling was to pray for others.

After graduating from the University of Utah 21 years ago, Mother Bui joined the Carmelite order.

“We live in a world where there is so much suffering,” she said. “If we only think about ourselves, life would be so sad.”

In order to continue carrying out their mission, sisters turn to volunteers and the Carmelite Fair.

“So the sisters sustain themselves on the fair. One day a year, we fundraise for the sisters here to make all the money that they’re going to need to sustain themselves throughout the entire year,” said Chris Bertram, chairman of the Carmelite Fair.

But the pandemic silenced the event.

“It would be all set up, ready to go,” Bertram continued.

It’s the first time it’s ever been canceled since the first fair in 1953.

The Carmelite sisters arrived in Utah in 1952 at the request of the Archdiocese of Salt Lake.

“We have had a rough 2020,” Bertram said. “Business is suffering, people (are) suffering.”

Bertram said canceling the fair was a tough decision to make, but one that was necessary. He said it’s now more than ever that we need each other.

“I think it’s important for people to realize that the sisters here are living a life of prayer for us. When we don’t have the time or don’t realize it, they’re praying for us,” he said.

Because no matter what happens, the 12 sisters currently living at the monastery say there is always hope.

“I pray that the people believe that God is here among us,” Mother Bui said. “He is with us and he is helping us.”

Donations are being accepted on behalf of the sisters.

More information can be found at the church’s website.

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Coronavirus Pandemic Forces Cancellation Of Carmelite Fair