Gathering in Rome to Discuss RATIO for the Carmelite Nuns
From February 17-21, 2003, an international gathering of Carmelite Nuns,
their Assistants, and their Delegates to create a RATIO for formation of the
nuns was held. Over the entire week, a total of 52 people attended the sessions.
Thirty six nuns from Italy, Spain, the Philippines, the USA, Brazil, Puerto
Rico, Santo Domingo, Venezuela, Kenya, and Holland participated. They were
joined by the Provincials from the Dutch and the Flumen Januaris Provinces as
well as six Assistants and Delegates.
The meeting was facilitated by Rafael Leiva Sánchez, O. Carm., General
Councilor Responsible for the Carmelite Nuns, Desiderio García Martínez and
Giovanni Grosso. These three also constituted a preparatory commission for the
meeting. The Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, also participated during each of
the sessions and gave the opening conference.
In June 2002, the Commission sent a initial draft of the RATIO to each of the
monasteries in the world for discussion. In November 2002 the draft was reworked
into 13 documents which included the suggestions received from the monasteries.
Two talks were also given on the topic of formation as part of the
preparation of the Ratio. "Experience of the Formation Process in a Federation"
was given by Sr. Elena Mª Samper, President of the Mater Unitatis Federation in
Spain. "Experience of Formation in a Monastery" was given by Sr. Eliana Turrisi
and Sr. Elvira Calenne, members of the Monastery of Carpineto Romano in Italy.
The work was divided between general sessions with everyone present in one
group and work in smaller language groups.
The group decided to nominate a commission of three to continue the work of
refining the RATIO. Sr. Pilar Simón (Spanish language group), Sr. Elena
Tolentino (English language group) and Sr. Maria Elisabetta Mambrelli (Italian
language group) were chosen. The commission will distribute the draft which will
include the various modifications made during the meetings. It is thought that
this would occur sometime in October 2003.
"There was a good atmosphere and a very good rapport developed between the
sisters," said Sr. Thérèse Neppelenbroek, O. Carm., the prioress of Karmel "St.
Josef" in Zenderen, The Netherlands. "It was very good to reconnect with some of
the sisters from the Fatima meeting a few years ago."
Sr. Ma. Elena of the Burgos Carmel (The Philippines) sees the meeting as
bringing the future into focus. "Cloistered Carmel must continue to serve the
people of the Third Millennium, the Ratio will guide us to do that."
Sr. Therese Maria of the recently incorporated Carmelite hermit community in
Monteluro, Italy sees the experience as something that needs to continue. "We
need to share more often, to meet more, and to journey more together. Even
though there is diversity in every monastery, I think there is a value in going
beyond that meeting and the Ratio becomes an occasion to make this happen." Sr.
Mary O’Neill, of the Hudson (USA) Carmel commented "It was a beautiful gift to
have all those lovely women of all ages and cultures gather to pray, share,
smile, eat, and work so hard in a structured amount of time and accomplish so
much. Deo gratias!"
While these international meetings somehow manage to get the work completed,
most realize that the best benefit is often in the relationships created. Sr.
Ma. Elena summed it up best. She asked, "Are we not happy we belong to this one,
big, happy family?"
On Thursday, the entire group was hosted for dinner at the Donum Dei
restaurant in Rome, L’Eau Vive. On Friday, they were hosted for Vespers and a
celebratory dinner at Centro Internazionale di Sant’ Alberto. The next day,
having concluded the meetings, the group traveled to Florence where they visited
the Monastery of Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, the Carmine, and Castellina.
The meetings took place at the
Domus Carmelitana in Rome.
Italian Carmelite Missionary Flees the Firing Squad
"I left through the door of the military
command's office and I saw a firing squad, weapons in their hands, in front of
me. The commander yelled `Kill him.'"
Able to retell the odyssey he lived at Nioka
(128 kilometers northwest of Bunia, in the northeastern region of Ituri in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo) is an italian Carmelite missionary, Fr. Mario
The religious, born in Mogoro (Oristano) in 1939 and for the past 24 years
working in the Congo, returned to Italy (in January) after having been arrested
and having stared into the face of death. This is all the result of the
conflicts between the various groups that for political and ethnic reasons, are
fighting over the northeast.
Fr. Serra did not want to tell his story but then decided to do so that
people would be informed about the drama that is being lived by "his people."
"It is urgent that it is spoken about because the massacre of the whole
population, forced to abandon their homes and flee, must be stopped
immediately," the 63 year old missionary says with sadness. "In the Carmelite
mission in Nioka alone, where from 1995 I was the parish priest, the struggles
have provoked the deaths of 50 people in the last year."
Unfortunately even activities conducted to help the people advance can put
one in harm's way. That simply is what happened to Fr. Serra.
"On December 21, I left on my usual round of visits. While I was still far
from the parish center, they advised me not to reenter Nioka because it was
unsafe and the guerillas were searching for `the white pastor.'"
But the religious decided to return in order to celebrate the end of the year
together with his community even
though he knew the risks were high. One December 28, in the morning, two men
in civilian clothes appeared. "They asked to use the radio. The associate pastor
and I said that, we did not let strangers use the radio. With a great show of
anger, they left accompanied by some soldiers."
"We did not know," continues the missionary, "that the two men in civilian
clothes were the local military commander and his secretary, an unwitting
mistake but one with terrible effects." On Monday, December 30, Fr. Serra was
forced by the military that controls Nioka to present himself at the local
command. There he waited for hours only then to discover the true identity of
the two men. He was insulted and accused of having provoked, when he refused to
loan the radio, "the loss of a convoy being attacked."
The commander got more and more angry. He ordered Fr. Serra to leave and it
was at that moment that the missionary found himself face to face with a firing
squad. He heard the commander yell out in Swahili to kill him and he thought
this was the end.
The secretary however tried to calm his boss. The odyssey of Fr. Mario
however was not yet finished. He was imprisoned and guarded by six military for
several hours. Then, thanks to the mediation of one of his parishioners, he was
freed to return to his community. But the threats continued.
Taken from Italian Press Reports
Participants in the On-Going Formation Course, The Role of the Prior
in the Carmelite Community, take an opportunity for a photo during their
visit to the General Curia. The course, at Domus Carmelitana, ran
January 29-February 14, 2003 with a total of 21 Carmelites taking part.
Evaluation of the course indicated a high degree of satisfaction with the
material presented, the methodology used, and the accommodations. (CITOC
Photo - 2003)
Information about the presentations given during the course are
Mark Attard, O. Carm., Named Extraordinary Professor at the
Gregorian University in Rome
The Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, His Eminence
Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, on the 29th November 2002, gave his approval for
promotion of Fr. Mark Attard, O.Carm., from
Adjunct Professor to Extraordinary Professor at the
Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.
The Superior General of the Society of Jesus
(Jesuits), as Vice Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical
Gregorian University, signed the appointment on December
Fr. Mark is currently serving as the prior of
Centro Internazionale di Sant' Alberto (CISA); he is also
the Order's General Delegate for Culture, and is professor
of moral theology at several universities in Rome. He
was the Procurator General (the Order's Liaison with
the Holy See) from 1983 to 1995.
A member of the Maltese Province, Fr. Mark
has taught at the Gregorian University since 1971.
Joint Marian Liturgy Commission Announced
The membership of a Joint O.Carm - OCD
Commission for Marian Liturgy has been announced by the
two General Councils.
Members are Fr. Jesús Castellano Cervera, OCD,
Fr. Andrea L'Afflitto, OCD, Fr. Lucio Zappatore, O.
Carm., and Fr. Giuseppe Midili, O. Carm.
The Commission is charged with enriching the
Marian text of both Orders and of developing creative
new liturgies for the times.
This Commission is different from the Joint
OCD-OCARM Mariological Commission whose members
have yet to be appointed.
Carmelite Presence Invited in
Bishop Eugenijus Bartulis of the Diocese of
iauliai in Lithuania has invited the Carmelites to
consider establishing a permanent presence in his diocese.
The Bishop had written in 1998 asking for help
in restoring the Carmelites to the diocese. In a letter
to Joseph Chalmers, the Prior General, in October,
2002, the Bishop wrote "Since that time (1998) many
good things have happened in Linkuva and in other
dioceses due to the visits of Fr. Miceal O'Neill, from Ireland
and Fr. Klemens-August Droste from Germany together
with other friars."
The Bishop, remarking on the Carmelites'
annual celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lady of
Mount Carmel in Linkuva wrote "People of this little
town already cannot imagine this celebration without
the presence of the friars, without the ceremony of
enrollment into the Scapular of Our Lady. Young people
from all over the country are already used to expecting
the friars to have a summer camp on Carmelite spirituality."
A number of prayer groups for vocations have
begun appearing in the diocese and in Vilnius, according to
A group of Carmelites visited Kaunas, Lithuania
from February 22 _ March 2, 2003 in order to participate in
"A Day of Renewal"a combination rally with a program
on Carmelite spirituality. It is intended as a continuation
of the connection between Carmelites of the North
European Region and the people involved with the
two summer camps held at Linkuva in 2000 and 2002.
A former Carmelite foundation as well as a former Carmelite parish church are in Linkuva.
Many people in the area feel a great affinity with
the Carmelite tradition and are anxious for the Carmelites
to return. The Bishop and the Carmelites have spoken
about the problems Western Europeans might
experience settling in Lithuania.
Members of the Northern European Region
who visited Linkuva were Míceál O'Neill and John Keating
of the Irish Province, Johan Hettinga of the Dutch
Province, Klemens-August Droste of the Upper German
Province, Damian Cassidy of the British Province, and
Andreas Scholten of the Lower German Province.
On March 1, the Lithuanian service of Vatican
Radio devoted its program to the Carmelite visit.
The Provincials and the General Councilor for
the Northern European Region will discuss the possibility of
a project in Lithuania during their meeting scheduled
for early May in Prague, Czech Republic.
Some Facts About Carmelites and Lithuania:
The first Carmelites of the
Polish-Bohemian Province arrived in Vilnius in 1514.
The Russian Province later opened other houses.
The Lithuanian Province of St. George
was founded in 1756.
The Province of All Saints was founded by
Russia in 1766.
There were about 30 houses between the
Conflict between the Lithuanians and the
Russian nobility led to the expulsion of the Catholic
religious in 1830-1831.
The last house in Vilnius was closed in 1863.
The bishop of the newly erected diocese
of Siauliai wrote to the Prior General in 2000
asking the Carmelites to return.
Summer camps organized by the Carmelites
were held in 2001 and 2002.
The Lithuanian Church
The Lithuanian Church has suffered
considerably. Apart from a brief period between the
World Wars, a period of about 20 years, it has been
subject to foreign rule. Many people suffered greatly
for their faith. New evangelical groups are
finding footholds among the people. Their spiritual
roots were deepened by suffering and there is a
great hunger for spirituality. Devotional practices are
The poverty left behind by the retreating
Soviets is considerable. The collapse of the economy,
the sheer absence of good housing, the end of the collective communist farming system, the abuse
of alcohol and the increase in suicides have
created huge challenges for both state and church.
Their language is one of the oldest in Europe.
It is Indo-European with origins in Sanskrit. Many people speak a little English or German.