no. 2   april - june 2004

Centenary of the Carmelite Nuns of Madrid, Spain

On February 9, 2004, the Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, accompanied by Rafael Leiva Sánchez, General Councilor for the Mediterranean and General Delegate for the Carmelite Nuns, were present at Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, the monastery of Carmelite nuns in Madrid, Spain, for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the monastery. Also present were the Prior Provincial of Castille, Luis Ortiz Serrano, religious from the Castille Province and others from the Aragon-Valencia and the Baetica Provinces as well as numerous priests and faithful.

The day before, the book of Balbino Velasco Bayón, O.Carm., on the history of the Maravillas monastery was presented.

The original monastery was founded in the XVII century and was located on Calle Fuencarral in Madrid and a few years after on the Calle de la Plama, in the Maravillas barrio in Madrid. From the middle of the XVII century until the exclaustration in 1868, the nuns lived in the same monastery dedicated to Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, a name that evokes many legends of the monastery. One such legend is the finding of an image of the Baby Jesus in the orchard among the shrubs of flowers called "maravillas," for which they named the Baby and, very quickly, the image of his mother also.

During the War for Spanish Independence against the Napoleanic invasion, the community of Carmelite nuns lived a great spirituality and patriotism. Near the walls of the convent the rebellion of the citizens of Madrid against the invading troops started on May 2, 1808. The nuns heroically helped the wounded on both sides.

On June 11, 1904 a new monastery was inaugurated on the downtown street called Príncipe de Vergara de Madrid. The community made a foundation in the Dominican Republic in 1954 (S. José de las Matas which today is Santiago de los Caballeros) and in 1958 in the Dumaguete monastery in the Philippines, from which the monastery in Roxas, Philippines was established.

The monastery currently has 16 nuns.


Carpineto Romano Celebrates 25 Years of Life

The Carmelite foundation in Carpineto Romano, Italy, celebrated its 25th anniversary during a week of festivities in late April 2004. Five nuns— four from the monastery in Jesi and one from Sutri— accepted the invitation of the local parish priest Goffredo Gavillucci and the Bishop of Anagni-Alatri to establish a Carmel in the same town where Pope Leo XIII was born. Thus the foundation of St. Anne’s Monastery was established.

On April 22, the actual anniversary date of foundation, members of the General Curia joined the Carmelite Nuns of Carpineto Romano and Fr. Gavillucci for lunch and a thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration led by Fr. Carlo Cicconetti, the Vice General of the Order. At the time the monastery was founded, Fr. Carlo Cicconetti held the office of Prior Provincial of the Roman Province.


Above: Two of the founding sisters, M. Elvira and M. Paola, cutting the cake celebrating 25 years of the monastery. Below: A portion of the congregation and the nun’s choir during the Eucharist on April 22. (CITOC photo)

Other celebrations were organized throughout the week of April 18-25. Special guests were invited to preside and participate in the celebrations, namely, the Prior Provincial of the Italian Province and his Council, the two Carmelite Bishops in Italy, and the current local bishop, Lorenzo Loppa. Music was provided by Maestro Gabriele Pizzuti and the "Collegium Musicum Signinum".

The current community counts 18 members. During its 25 years, the monastery founded the Carmel in Cerreto and re-founded the monastery in Sutri. With God’s help, another monastery will be established in Luncani, Romania, close to the one established a few years ago by the Italian Province. A monastery in northern Italy is also being considered.

The Carmelite foundation in Carpineto was established in the spirit of Vatican Council II. Although maintaining the cloister, the community is very close to the people. The monastery itself  is located in one of the typical narrow "pedestrian only" streets to be found in the ancient town of Carpineto Romano. The building itself is not isolated but surrounded by houses. Over the years, the building has been restructured and enlarged to accommodate the increase in the number of nuns in the community. This physical closeness helped in the development of good relationships with the people in the town.

The monastery also boasts a number of publications, which include a monastery bulletin, Flos Carmeli. For the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the monastery, a video cassette was produced explaining the history of the foundation and the practical and spiritual dimensions of life in the monastery. The nuns also recorded a CD of Gregorian chant with hymns used during liturgical prayer.

Visitors to the church attached to the monastery can view a photo exhibition entitled "Life in the Carmelite Monastery of Saint Anne." The series of photos, by professional photographer Vincenzo Polidori, capture moments from the sisters’ life in the monastery: prayer, work, study, recreation. Another exhibition contains a number of photos taken by the sisters since the foundation of the monastery.

10th Anniversary of Dedication of the Carmelite Church in Nantes

This year is the 10th anniversary of the consecration of the Carmelite church, Notre Dame de Lumières in Nantes, France. On April 18, 2004, the Bishop of Nantes, Georges Soubrier, celebrated the first pontifical mass.

After the French Revolution, the Order began its return to France only in 1989 with the foundation of the Carmelite monastery in Bourges. In 1993, the monastery in Nantes was founded.

The General Delegation in France is led by the General Delegate Klaus Rudolf Schenkelberger, a member of the Upper German Province. There are currently 8 members and one novice in the Delegation. The monastery in Bourges is now part of the Polish Province. Besides Nantes, the Delegation also has monasteries in Angers and an eremitical community in Villefranche.

Little Flower Society Update

The UK based Little Flower Society, the fundraising arm of the General Curia, will distribute 100,000 pounds sterling (approx. US$ 185,185.00 or 156.481,00 euros) in the present year 2004. The General Council receives very many requests for help from all over the Carmelite Family and cannot respond to all of them. The Council seeks help from other funding authorities also. The Little Flower Society is already showing itself to be an important element in the General Council’s ability to meet the needs of the Carmelite Family.

Some 60,000 pounds sterling (US$ 106,383.00 or 89.894,00 euros) was allocated to Africa including Congo, Kenya, Cameroon and a meeting of African formators in Nairobi. Another 20,000 pounds sterling (US$ 35,461.00 or 29.965,00 euros) was allocated to the Latin American region for various meetings, publications and formation. The Carmelite Family in Asia has been allocated 20,000 pounds sterling (US$ 35,461.00 or 29.965,00 euros).

Ad Hoc Government Commission Meets

The ad hoc Commission on Government established by the 2001 General Chapter met January 30 - February 1, 2004 in Rome. The members discussed the responses to their questionnaire which had been distributed following their previous meeting. In the coming months they will be working via the Internet to formulate a report for presentation to the General Council in March 2005. The General Chapter asked that the Commission make a report to the 2005 General Congregation which will be held in Brazil.

Institutum Carmelitanum Furthers Plans for Conference on the Rule

A meeting of the Administrative Board of the Institutum Carmelitanum took place at CISA in Rome, Italy on February 20-22, 2004. All the members but two were able to attend.

Much of the meeting focused on planning for the 2005 Conference of invited experts on the Rule. An initial outline was discussed and revised. A small committee was established to decide on the location and other details necessary for holding such a conference. The tentative time frame for the five day conference is for the beginning of July 2005.

The Board also discussed publishing projects for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the death of Mary Magdalene de Pazzi. Both Carmelus and Carmel in the World will focus on the saint during that year. A book on the saint’s poetry has been submitted to Edizioni for publication and a multi-lingual version of a book of engravings and captions prepared in the Netherlands will be studied for publication.

An update on SPIRIN (Spirituality International) and SPINE (Spirituality Education) was given by Jos Huls, O. Carm. (Neer). A discussion followed to examine how these innovations will afford members of the Order, especially the Carmelite nuns, new possibilities for study in Carmelite spirituality. The possibility of the Institutum contributing modules on Carmelite Spirituality will be investigated.

The web pages for the Institutum, the Carmelite Library in Rome, and the General Archives were reviewed. Ideas for further development were discussed and will be implemented in the coming months.

The upcoming meeting of the librarians of Carmelite libraries in July 2004 was discussed as was a meeting next year of the International Culture Commission.

Mark Attard (CISA), the General Delegate for Culture, presented feedback on the recent questionnaire to build a database on the educational background of the members of the various provinces and monasteries. Not all monasteries and provinces have responded. The data from those who did is being utilized.

In view of the General Chapter in 2007, the norms of the Institutum were reviewed.

The Order’s General Archivist, Emanuele Boaga, met with the Board to outline a proposed course for achivists and prospective archivists to prepare them to work in ecclesiastical achives. The course is being proposed in Italian in February 2005 and in English in May 2005.

The final session of the meetings dealt with a review of the membership of the Institutum.

Patrick McMahon, the Preside of the Institutum, attended the meeting at Easter of the International Commission for the Study of the Charism and Spirituality of the Order. His presence was to help further coordinate projects of common interest and to provide the commission with the resources of the Institutum.



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