Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Linda Reeves - The Florida Catholic Palm Beach
LIGHTHOUSE POINT | Carly Arcella was 16 when she first heard Jesus softly calling during silent prayer before the Eucharist.
“It was a small voice that grew and remained constant,” she said. “It took some time to develop, hear and see more clearly what Jesus was asking of me.”
On July 16, 2022, at St. Paul of the Apostle Church in Lighthouse Point, Sister Carly Paula Arcella, now 33, stood front and center at the church where she grew up, and when she was called this time, she said, “Here I am, Lord,” clearly understanding and responding to God’s call to religious life.
Sister Carly publicly made her final profession of vows during a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski and concelebrated by Msgr. William Dever, St. Paul’s pastor, as well as other archdiocesan priests.
“Sister Carly Paula, we welcome you, your family and friends who gather today with your sisters, the Daughters of St. Paul, to witness your profession of final vows,” said Archbishop Wenski. “In pronouncing these vows, you will definitively and irrevocably give yourself entirely to Jesus, vowing poverty, chastity, and obedience – as a daughter of St. Paul.”
After years of dedication and growing in prayer, study and formation, Sister Carly s now a full-fledged Daughter of St. Paul. Her first assignment will be in Boston, where the congregation’s motherhouse is located. There she be working to help develop video and online streaming initiatives, according to her provincial superior, Sister Donald Maria Lynch.
The vigil Mass and witness of Sister Carly’s vows was a beautiful testimony of her faith, but also of the parish’s love and support for their own daughter in Christ and the support of others in the archdiocese.
Pews were filled with family members, friends, archdiocesan clergy and St. Paul parishioners. Daughters of St. Paul from Boston, including dignitaries and sisters serving in Miami, joined in witnessing Sister Carly’s big day.
Her mother and father, Paul and Lisa Arcella, sat in the front pew, expressing their mixed emotions with tears and smiles throughout the afternoon.
“It has been such a long, beautiful journey for her. She is so happy,” said Sister Carly’s mom.
Bobby Lehr, a longtime parishioner, arrived early to get a good seat. “I have known her since she was a little girl,” he said. “I have seen her grow up in the parish. I knew her grandparents,” he added, teary-eyed. “They would be so proud of her.”
Born in Boynton Beach, Sister Carly grew up in a close-knit Catholic family in the Lighthouse Point and Deerfield Beach areas.
She has one sister, Sarah Arcella, 23, a 2022 graduate of Florida State University in Tallahassee. Her father and mother are active members of St. Paul, where her father grew up. The Arcellas were married at St. Paul and baptized their daughters there.
“My family works together in a third-generation construction business in Deerfield Beach,” said Sister Carly. “I grew up very close to family working and praying together. We have always seemed to find ourselves turning toward, not away, from God when things get difficult. I was often reminded: A family that prays together stays together.”
Sister Carly’s grandparents, the late Elmo and Betty Arcella, were among the first parishioners of St. Paul. Her mother’s parents, Doug and Carole Lanzon, are active members of St. Ambrose in Deerfield Beach.
“They are a good family,” said long-time St. Paul parishioner Maxine Moore. “We saw the children grow up. Her father was an altar server and a Eucharistic minister. It is nice to see her all grown up and becoming a religious sister. It is exciting for the parish.”
Sister Carly credits her family for getting her off on a solid start when she was a child and inspiring her along the way through their own witness of faith, emphasizing prayer and taking part in the sacraments.
“The real fostering of my faith has its roots in the simple constant faith of my parents and grandparents,” she said. “They never pushed or made me go to Mass. They just remained constant in their simple faith in God that always remained anchored in the sacraments. I witnessed how their faith helped them weather the ups and downs of life.”
CATHOLIC SCHOOL FORMATION
The Arcellas sent their daughter to Catholic school, where her relationship with God strengthened over the years and young Carly developed into a Catholic role model herself.
She spent kindergarten through eighth grade at St. Elizabeth of Hungary School (now closed) in Pompano Beach and completed high school at Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale.
At Gibbons, Carly was active in youth ministry, served as an extraordinary minister of Communion and participated in numerous service and outreach projects. She served as president of campus ministry, took on roles as writer and editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, played varsity soccer and took part in the drama club.
During her senior year, school administrators and educators selected her to receive the annual Archbishop’s Catholic Leadership Award. The honor recognizes members of the archdiocese’s graduating classes who “demonstrate their commitment to the Catholic faith and personal excellence through continuous practice of values of faith, virtue, service and scholarship.”
Dan Lonteen, Gibbons’ campus ministry director at the time, was quoted in a school publication sharing his thoughts about the 2007 winner.
“Mother Theresa once said, ‘Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.’ It is this way Carly Arcella strives to live her life daily. Our school is so richly blessed by her silent witness,” the citation states. “Without the majority of people in this school even knowing it, what she has done for each of us through her prayers has left a mark on us all. May we all learn from her example.”
Throughout her high school years, young Carly continued to discern the call that God had placed in her heart when she was a teen kneeling before the Eucharist during a youth retreat.
She prayed, talked to teachers and friends. She also attended several discernment weekends with different congregations and talked to religious sisters. The Daughters of St. Paul in Miami extended a personal invitation for her to visit, which caught her attention. Impressed, she kept in touch, going back for more visits.
After high school, with no firm vocation vision but with the idea of working in media, Carly enrolled at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in broadcast communication with minors in film studies and psychology.
“After four years of discerning clearly the Pauline mission, I felt called to enter immediately after graduating in 2011,” she said.
For the past 11 years, she has continued formation and discernment and experienced community life. Now, she is formally a religious sister.
Her mission: “I hope to bring as many souls into deeper relationship with Jesus as he desires,” she said, “not being afraid of constantly adapting and using the fastest and most effective way.”
FIND OUT MORE
Who are the Daughters of St. Paul?
- The Daughters of St. Paul are part of the Pauline family: five religious congregations, four institutes of consecrated secular life, and a lay association called the Pauline Cooperators.
- Called by some the #Media Nuns, the Daughters were founded in 1915 in Italy by Blessed James Alberione and Venerable Thecla Merlo.
- Today, the community of sisters is 2,400 strong and serves in more than 50 countries around the world. Their mission is to communicate the Good News using various forms of media.
- A total of 130 Daughters of St. Paul serve in the United States, including Miami, where they operate a bookstore: Pauline Books and Media, at 145 S.W. 107 Ave., 33174. Their website is: https://paulinestore.com/miami.