no. 2 april - june 2007
Cardinal Adrian Simonis, the President of the Dutch Conference of Bishops, has sent a letter to Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, on behalf of the Dutch Bishops’ Conference, encouraging advancement in the cause of Titus Brandsma. A copy of the letter, dated April 2, 2007, was sent to the Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, and to Ben Wolbers, the Prior Provincial of the Dutch Province. The letter was also published on the website of the Dutch Catholic Church.
Cardinal Simonis wrote, "I place my trust in you to argue a case that deeply touches the hearts of the bishops and the entire faith community in our country. We, the members of the Dutch episcopacy, join our countrymen in the desire that what was identified in the beatification may come to fullness when the Blessed Titus is raised to the honor of the altar."
After reviewing some of the life and works of Titus, Cardinal Simonis wrote, "Blessed Titus’ ‘counter-movement’ is still relevant in our day. In Western European society the best approach is to resist egoism, resist the pronounced individualism that threatens our society, resist extreme secularization, and resist the covetousness that divides us from one another and from Christ."
Titus Brandsma was killed in the Dachau concentration camp on July 26, 1942. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1985. He was arrested by the Nazis because of his opposition to them. He had attempted to communicate the Catholic point of view about the propaganda of the National Socialist Movement to the press and to the Reichskommissariat. This was seen as organizing resistance to the Nazis.
The Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, wrote a letter to the Dutch Bishops in 2006, asking them to emphasize the canonization process for Brandsma. This was the followup to a meeting the Prior General and the Councilor General for Northern Europe, William J. Harry, had with Bishop Andrianus Herman van Luyn, S.D.B., the Bishop of Rotterdam during the Dutch Provincial Chapter in 2005. Bishop van Luyn has written several articles on Brandsma.
As part of the celebrations of its 2000th anniversary as a city, the citizens of the city of Nijmegen elected Titus Brandsma as the "Greatest Citizen of Nijmegen Of All Time."
Oil portrait of Blessed Titus Brandsma in the refectory of the Carmelite monastery in Mainz, Germany. Following the conclusion of the First World War and the years of the Secularization, the Archbishop of Mainz asked the Dutch Carmelite Province to return the Order to the Diocese of Mainz. Fr. Titus chose to begin with the reconstruction of the church and monastery in Mainz. On the night of August 12-13, 1942, the church and monastery were hit by Allied bombs and severely damaged. The next night, a memorial mass was to be celebrated in the church for Fr. Titus who had died in Dachau Concentration camp on July 26.
The parishioners of St. Charles Lwanga and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish gathered with Carmel in Kenya on February 4, 2007 to celebrate the solemn blessing and dedication of the new church building. The ceremony was led by Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin, the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya, and Bishop Cornelius Schilder, of the Ngong Diocese.
A large group of guests were present including Carmelites from various parts of the Order, sponsors from Germany who paid for a portion of the construction, people from around the Ngong Diocese, and members of the Catholic church of St. Bhakita (Merisho) which is an outstation of the Nkoroi parish. Also present were government officials.
The new building replaces a small church constructed with iron sheets.
"Fr. Soni (Abraham Plathottam, O. Carm., pastor of the Nkoroi parish and prior of the Carmelite community in Nkoroi) was worried that the new building would be too big. But I told him we will fill it. People are just waiting to become part of the parish," said Mr. Anthony Mararo, the Parish Council chairman.
The construction of the church building began on March 1, 2006. "The Christians dug deep into their pockets to donate generously to all the fundraisings (Harambees). There is a saying in Swahili "Kutoa ni moyo, usiseme ni utajiri" (Giving is from the heart; do not say it is richness). Many of the people volunteered to do manual labor where possible to that the church would open on time.
On February 4th, at 10:00 AM, all the Christians and their guests formed a line from the gate of the compound to the main entrance of the new church, dancing and singing, to welcome the Apostolic Nunico and the Bishop of the Ngong Diocese. The parish choir, boy and girl liturgical dancers, altar servers and priests, accompanied them to the door of the church. After a welcoming by Fr. Soni Abraham, the Apostolic Nuncio began the blessing and dedication of the church.
Mr. R.D. Vaysan, the managing director of EPCO Builders and Mr. Patrick Mugo, the architect of the building, spoke about the design of the building and the artistic expression incorporated into the structure. They also spoke about "working night and day, like bees, to bring it to completion."
During the ceremony of dedication, the Apostolic Nuncio placed the scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at the altar as a sign of her patronage and protection. Bishop Cornelius then presided at the opening Eucharistic liturgy in the national language of Kiswahili.
Following the mass, Fr. Mwangi, the parish priest of Ongata Rongai, under which Nkoroi was a sub-parish, along with his parish council, handed over the official record books of the Sacraments to Fr. Soni and the parish council. The bishop then declared that St. Charles Lwanga and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is a self-governing parish. Upon hearing this, the church was filled with deafening shouts and cries of joy. A new page in the history of Carmel in Nairobi is being written.
For more information about the Nairobi Mission, see the series of articles beginning on page 12. Also additional pictures and information about the Carmelites in Kenya can be found on the Bustani ya Karmeli (Garden of Carmel) web blog: bustaniyakarmeli. blogspot.com/
Discalced Indian Carmelites, Ratio monalium, Carmelite Dictionary Project Discussed at General Council Meeting
The General Council held its penultimate plenary session in Rome at the Curia house from 12 to 22 February 2007. The main business of the meetings was to examine and make provision for the 23 Indians who have joined our order from the Discalced. Four of these friars were guests of the Curia and took part in the plenary meetings.
The Prior General and Council have constituted this group as ‘The Carmelite Community of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Albert of Jerusalem’ and Fr Sedric D’cruz has been named as the Prior General’s representative for this new community. Members of this group will be working principally in three Latin dioceses in Kerala, Neyyattinkara in the south, Kotappuram in the center and Kannur in the north. There are also friars working in the parish of Pietrasanta on the coast in Tuscany, and in three parishes in the diocese of Paderborn, Germany. The General Council also discussed how best to integrate these friars into the order through courses and community experiences in various provinces, mostly in the English-speaking world. Experts in formation, history and spirituality will also be spending time with these friars in India.
The Council received reports on the activities of the members of the Council in the past few months, including the news from the assembly of the Rio Province and from the meeting of the central committee of the Institutum Carmelitanum held in Nairobi.
On the recommendation of the members of the General Delegation of Colombia, the Prior General appointed Pedro Arenas as General Delegate.
The Council also spent some time examining the Ratio monalium for the formation of our nuns. The composition and editing of this project has been a collaborative effort of various nuns from Spain, Italy, the Philippines and the USA. The General Council approved the new text and ordered its publication by Edizioni Carmelitane.
Plans were also discussed for the online version of the Carmelite Directory project and for the publication of the Carmelite Spiritual Dictionary, a joint venture with the Discalced Carmelites.
The final plenary session of the sexennium will be held from 10 to 26 May 2007, and will include a visit to Florence for the celebrations for the fourth centenary of the death of St. Mary Magdalen de’Pazzi.
General Assembly of the General Delegation in France Held
On March 26, the Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, assisted by the General Councilor for the Meditteranean Region, Rafael Leiva Sánchez, presided over the General Assembly of the General Delegation in France.
The Prior General gave a conference and the General Delegate, Klaus Schenkelberger, gave his report on the progress of the Delegation. Among the main points spoken about was that Bertrand Katembo Wahwere (Ita-C) had lived in the Delegation at Nantes; that the community in Angers had been able to relocate once the works on the Benedictine monastery were completed (The community now occupies a portion of the monastery); and that a young man from Nantes, Jean Damien, having completed his postulancy, has asked to be admitted to the novitiate.
Yves de Sainte Marie (Jean Beaupère) was ordained deacon on March 24, 2007 by the Bishop of Nantes, Georges Soubrier. The ceremony took place in the church of the Carmelite monastery of Notre Dame de Lumières de Nantes. Present were the Prior General and Rafael Leiva Sánchez from Rome, as well as the members of the Delegation and many people from the area, including the family of Br. Yves who was born in Nantes.
Yves is currently the director of the Centre d’Etudes d’Histoire de la Spiritualite in Nantes.
On the following day, the Carmelite Third Order in Nantes, with their director, Gianfranco Tuveri, met with the Prior General and his General Councilor, to speak about their formation and activites.
Bomb Lands in Carmelite Garden in Mozambique
Following a series of violent explosions at an army ammunition storage facility in Maputo, Mozambique on March 22, 2007, a bomb was projected through the air and landed in the garden of the Carmelite residence there. Fortunately the bomb did not explode. However, at least 76 people were reported dead and hundreds more were said to be injured from the blasts. A family of 13 was killed when an explosion destroyed the home they were sheltering in.
The explosions and falling munitions sent the Carmelites and thousands of others fleeing from their homes as they began around 4 PM and grew in intensity for nearly six hours. Blasts are reported to have continued through the night. The shockwaves shattered windows in buildings as far as 25 km away.
The total amount of weaponry and explosives stored in what was the country’s largest depot is not known but estimated to be in the thousands of tonnes.
According to Francisco de Sales, Prior Provincial of the Pernambuco Province, the Brazilian Embassy in Mozambique called him to let him know that the Carmelites were safe. They were moved from the house so that the army could deactivate the bomb. The Carmelites in Mozambique are a mission from the Pernambuco Province.
Northern European Leadership Moves Towards Joint Novitiate
The leadership of the Northern European Region of the Order decided to move towards a common novitiate in the region. This discussion of the issue took place at the annual meeting of the Northern European leadership on April 23-24, 2007. The meeting took place in Mainz, Germany.
Their decision followed their study of a taskforce report established at a meeting of all the European leaders in September 2006. That taskforce was established to "examine the foundation of a North-European international novitiate, to begin in September 2008."
Following consultations with each province, the taskforce proposed "the establishing of a joint novitiate within Northern Europe made up at least of those provinces who expressed their readiness for such a project in openness for the others to join in at a later stage or to share some of the modules of the joint program." The taskforce timeline called for the joint program to begin in September 2010.
Each province had an opportunity to make known its concerns. Several issues were raised and the members felt a committee should be established to deal with those issues. The members also asked the committee to contact other groups who have gone through this process to learn from their experiences.
A report on the discussions at this meeting will go to the meeting of the formators of the Northern European Region when they meet in Kostelni Vydri June 25-29, 2007.
Also on the agenda were presentations on each of the provinces and the General Delegation in the Czech Republic. A process of strategic planning has been initiated in the Irish Province. Information on the Lower German mission in Cameroon was presented. The continued growth of the Carmelite publishing house and the retreats being offered in the General Delegation of Bohemia and Moravia were also highlighted. The May 5th celebration of the Rule in York Minster in the British Province was discussed. The work of the Upper German Province with its Commissariat in India to become a separate Province was highlighted. Various initiatives in the Dutch Province, including Lithuania were presented. The request of several Indian Discalced Carmelites for admission to the Order was discussed as were the four meetings within the African region during the past year and the meeting of the European leadership at Sassone in September 2006.
The next meeting of the European leadership will take place in Aylesford, England on Sunday, April 20 – 24, 2008.
Participants in the 2007 meeting of the Northern European Leadership stand in the garden of the Carmelite monastery in Boppart, Germany, one of the oldest monasteries in Germany. (Left to Right) Christian Körner (GerS), Antony Lester (Brit), Vojtech Kodet (BM), William J. Harry (Curia), Wilfried Wanjek (GerI), Ben Wolbers (Neer), Fintan Burke (Hib).
On Sunday, April 15, 2007, the first male members of the Donum Dei Missionary Family, Teófilo Paredes Moreno (Perú) y Marie-Debrice Dongmo Tiomela (Camerún), made their temporary profesión in the Third Order. The same day, Theobald Nyabyenda and Landouard Ntibayitegaka (both from Rwanda), received the scapular at the beginning of their formation.
The Donun Dei Family affiliated to the Carmelite Order on February 22, 1987.
The ceremony took place in the Cathedral of St. Peter in Lisieux, France, the same place where St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face attended Mass with her father. The ceremony was celebrated by Bishop Pierre Pican, ordinary of the Diocese of Lisieux, assisted by an auxillary bishop and by Rafael Leiva Sánchez, O. Carm., General Councilor for the Mediterranean Region, who received the professions in the name of the Prior General. Many diocesan priests, including Bernars Lagoutte, Rector of the Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Terrence Cyr, member of the General Delegation of the Order in France were present. Fr. Cyr also gave the homily.
Among the numerous religious and faithful present was Clementine Paré, the Responsable Générale of the Missionary Family Donum Dei. The liturgy planning and the songs were led by members of the Donum Dei.
The members of the Donum Dei have been present in Lisieux since 1995 with responsibility for two diocesan centers for pilgrims: Foyer Louis et Zélie Martin and the Ermitage Sainte Thérèse.