The Carmelite Monastery has been part of the Kensington community since 1950.
It is one of 64 monasteries throughout the United States. Their focus is an inner world of peace, quiet and solitude. For a more detailed look at life behind the walls at the end of Rincon Road take a look at this article from The Catholic Voice.
Located next to Blake Garden, the monastery helps to form a sort of spiritual center for the town. The grounds, of course, are private property, but until a few years ago anyone could enter the driveway and enjoy the quiet beauty. From time to time there were even public masses in the small chapel.
Perhaps what most people remember most are the chimes, or call to prayers, which could be heard all over town. The chimes are no longer heard, and rumors began about two years ago, that the last of the sisters had moved out.
That was around the same time that a chain and a “Private Property, No Trespassing" sign went up across the front of the entrance and only the local deer had access.
But the grounds are still being maintained, and while the buildings and walls ,show their age, there does seem to be activity on the site.
According to Beth Krummenacher of Gordon Clifford Reality in San Francisco, the facilities manager, there are sisters there from “time to time,” and the "Private Property, No Trespassing" signs were put up for liability purposes. “There is some rough terrain there, and we certainly did not want anyone getting hurt,” Ms. Krummenacher said.
She added that there has been some work going on there, “but not much, really.”
The sisters take their privacy and vow of silence very seriously and are not anxious to comment about what is happening at the monastery.
When I sent an email seeking comment for this article, I received a phone call back, politely informing me: “We don’t comment about the order. We are very private and just don’t do that.”
The "no comment" apparently applied to her name or even mundane details.
This produced something of a journalistic conundrum, since we were in the middle of a phone conversation that obviously was a comment.
I noted that I respected her position and added that they were entitled to their privacy. Perhaps I’m more used to politicians who view journalists as the enemy, but I couldn’t help but ask why she had called back if she did not want to comment. “Well,” she said, “we thought it was the polite thing to do.”
I began my reporting career during the Viet Nam War when protests, sit-ins, and demonstrations were a way of life. I’m not used to polite. I explained this to her and suggested that in the future, if they did not want to comment, they should not call back, which seemed to surprise her.
I explained that they were part of the community and neighbors were curious about what was going on since the chimes had stopped and a new sign had gone up. I said most residents were just interested in the chimes – which everyone remembered for their beauty.
The earnest voice on the phone asked, “Does the town want them back?” I offered that I was not a town representative and wasn’t about to tell them what they should do, but added, “Of course, people thought they were pretty.”
My phone caller did confirm that she was a member of the order and seemed to be thinking about the whole public relations issue because she then asked if my article would include their phone number.
“We still accept requests for prayers and we offer blessings for everyone who asks," she said. "Maybe it would help people if you included the phone number.”
I agreed that it would be a great idea. You can write to the sisters at 68 Rincon Rd., Kensington, CA 94707, or call them at (510) 526-5050. Some may actually get a return call, but prayers are always offered.