Open house features artwork of Carmelite Sisters |

Open house features artwork of Carmelite Sisters

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Sister Maria Ahearn shows two of many designs of greeting cards available at Camel of Our Lady of the Mountains monastery in Reno. The Carmelite Sisters will hold their 28th annual open house Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ninety percent of the cards made are designed by the sisters living at the monastery.

RENO – A colorful yet simply drawn design of Mary holding the baby Jesus is depicted on one of the many Christmas cards created by the Carmelite Sisters in Reno.

Other cards show angels, Jesus as a man and other timeless Christmas scenes. All-occasion greeting cards are available as well, with some printed in Spanish.

The Carmelite Sisters will hold its 28th annual open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Our Lady of the Mountains, 1950 La Fond Drive in Reno.

“The open house is held to help us sustain our lives here,” said Sister Maria Ahearn. “We do the printing as our primary source of income.”

A religious order brought to the United States in 1790 by descendants of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Carmelite Sisters became an order in 1207 in the Holy Land.

“We were the first religious order of women in the U.S.,” Ahearn added, who is in her 50th year as a sister.

Eight Carmelites came to Reno in 1954 from the Carmelite monastery in Indianapolis. There are now 18 sisters living in the Reno monastery, with “housemate” Cinder, a standard poodle.

“We used to print everything we could,” Ahearn said. “We were desperate to earn money.

“We also do a lot of matted prints by the sisters. Ninety percent of our cards are done by the sisters here. Some of the sisters are fine artists and paint. Their works will be on sale as well.”

An ATF Chief 15 – an off-set printer, is used for all their cards. Ahearn said they produce about 100,000 Christmas cards and 50,000 all-occasion cards a year.

“Everything we do here has to fit with our prayer life.”

The sisters stay within the monastery. A priest with the Reno Catholic Diocese celebrates Mass on Saturdays.

The sisters’ lives are simple – prayer and manual labor, solitude and community. The focus is on the rhythm of prayer alone and in common, care for one another and compassionate attention to those in need.

“Our chapel is open to those in the area for morning and evening prayer,” Ahearn said.

“It is a way we share our Carmelite prayer tradition with the community. They can also participate in contemplative prayer groups facilitated by one of the sisters.”

The sisters have catalogs available through their Web site, The monastery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

• Contact reporter Rhonda Costa-Landers at or 881-1223.

If you go

WHO: Carmelite Sisters of Our Lady of the Mountains

WHAT: 28th annual Open House

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Carmel of Our Lady of the Mountains, 1950 La Fond Drive, Reno

DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 395 North to Reno, exit Plumb Lane, go west to Alexander Hamilton Drive (look for Carmel of Reno sign), go left, to La Fond Drive (monastery at top of hill)

CALL: 323-3236