no. 1 january - march 2005
Dutch Carmelites recall their role
The 100th anniversary of the refoundation of the Rio de Janeiro Province in Brazil by the Dutch Carmelites was celebrated on October 30th, 2004, in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
In 1904 the Carmelite Province of Rio de Janeiro was almost extinct. Only two Carmelites survived. Pius Mayer, then Prior General, asked Lambertus Smeets, the Prior Provincial of the Dutch Province, to take responsibility for the Rio Province. The arrival of eight Dutch Carmelites on November 27, 1904, marked the beginning of the recovery of this Brazilian Province.
The Dutch exhibited a great deal of zeal— within 25 years they had reestablished the convents of Rio de Janerio, Angra dos Reis, Santos, Saő Paulo and Itú. New foundations were made in Mogi das Cruzes and Corumbá. After 25 years, the province counted 53 members. The Dutch Carmelites were able to maintain the Carmelite ideal in a very difficult period for religion in Brazil.
The bonds between the Rio and Dutch Provinces remained strong. In subsequent decades many very young Dutch boys went to Brazil for their novitiate and formation. Some never returned to Holland. Today, some of these Carmelites are still in Brazil: Carmelo Cox (since 1947), Vital Wilderink (since 1948), Carlos Mesters (since 1949), and Claudio van Balen (since 1950).
There was a festive assembly of the Dutch Carmelite Family to celebrate this centenary of relationship. Both Priors Provincial, Tjeu Timmermans (Neer) and Geraldo d’Abadia (Rio), delivered addresses to start the day’s celebration.
Tjeu Timmermans expressed the hope that everyone present would be concerned about the major poverty that continues to plague Brazil. He asked that the people see how the members of the Brazilian Carmelite Family, inspired by the charism of Carmel, are making an all-out effort to build up a dignified existence for the Brazilian people and so to establish the Kingdom of God.
Geraldo D’Abadia recalled that he came in contact with Carmel as a small boy. From that experience, he understood that the Bible belongs ‘to the home’ as it may play an important role in the freedom movement of the people. Geraldo expressed thanks for what he received and continues to receive from Carmel.
One of several highlights of the day was the conference "The Roots of Our Missionary Work as Carmelites" given by Carlos Mesters, one of the Dutch Carmelites who left the Netherlands at a very early age to live in Brazil.
"Men and women from our past are challenging us," Carlos said. "They knew how to read the signs of their time. They knew how to respond to the problems of the people. They didn’t have a manual that told them what to do and how to do it. They had to think for themselves in order to build up their work. There were lots of detours, difficulties and some failures. But they made it. Now they hand it over to us— for us to develop our own way of responding to the call of God that can be heard in the cry of the poor."
Workshops and small exhibitions made up the rest of the day. The day concluded with an impressive Eucharistic celebration. At the end of the celebration both Provincials embraced each other affectionately and Geraldo d’Abadia sang a Brazilian song accompanying himself on a borrowed guitar.
The National Association of Band Clubs of Malta celebrated the feast of St. Cecilia, their patron saint, on Saturday 20th November 2004, at the Sanctuary Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Valletta, Malta. Around 60 clubs took part and about 30 of them brought their banners. The Mass and homily were celebrated by Fr. Martin D Schembri, O. Carm Prior; it was the first time that the association chose our Carmelite Shrine.(Photo courtesy of the Maltese Province).
The foundation of Carmel in Kenya is making good progress according to Soni Abraham Plathottam, O. Carm., one of the Indian Carmelites already working there.
The construction of the formation house in the city of Nkoroi has begun. Nkoroi is in the Diocese of Ngong, a suffragen diocese of Nairobi.
It is hoped that the work on the house will be completed in May 2005. When completed it will have six rooms for the formators, four rooms for guests, and 18 rooms for students.
The bishop of the diocese, Bishop Cornelius Schilder, is enthusiastic about the project. There is a plan to admit five Kenian students into the first year of the Carmelite formation program. The Indian Commisariat of the Upper German Province plan is to send two students to Tangaza College in Nairobi for their theological studies. It is hoped that the Indian students will arrive in May 2005.
There are two Kenian Carmelites, Onesimus Muthini Muthoka and Boniface Bakau Kimondolo, who were ordained priests in Kenya this past summer. They are members of the Catalonian Province.
The Carmelites currently minister at a mission church in Nkoroi. This was created as a vice parish and will officially become a parish within two years.
"Carmel in Kenya has a bright future with many possibilities to grow and develop. We ask for your support and prayers in our work," said Fr. Soni.
Celebration of the Feast of St. Peter Thomas at San Martino ai Monti, Rome
On January 8, the feast of Carmelite St. Peter Thomas (1305-1366) was celebrated with great solemnity in the Italian Province’s Basilica of San Martino ai Monti. St. Peter Thomas is the patron of the students of the province. Emanuele Boaga, O. Carm., presided over the Eucharist. In his homily he spoke of the saint as a man of peace, serving the Church as papal legate to the East and a man encouraging ecumenism so that he earned the title "Apostle of Unity in the Church."
John Paul II Asks Faithful to Remember Contemplatives
Church Dedicates Day to Cloistered Men and Women
Pope John Paul II greeted contemplative communities on the occasion of
"Pro Orantibus" Day, dedicated to the spiritual and material support of
Worldwide there are 3,529 cloistered convents with 47,626 nuns, as well as 8,100 novices and postulants.
Europe is the continent with the greatest number of women’s contemplative convents with 2,252, followed by America with 904, Asia with 227, Africa with 123, and Oceania with 23.
Europe also has the greatest number of contemplative women religious with 29,788 professed and 3,179 novices and postulants.
"Cloistered nuns are a testimony of the primacy of God," Benedictine Mother Maria Cicchetti told Vatican Radio. She is superior of the cloistered convent located in the Vatican. In 1994 John Paul II began to invite cloistered communities for a period of five years to occupy the convent. Carmelites were the second group to live in the monastery.
Contemplative life, she explained, "makes sense and acquires real and full meaning only from the point of view of faith and love."
The Shrine to St. Jude in the British Province suffered heavy damage from a fire that began in the early morning of October 31, 2004.
According to Francis Kemsley, O. Carm., pastor of the parish and director of the shrine, the cause of the fire has been attributed to excessive heat from the candles left by the pilgrims. A large number of candles were burning from the feast of St. Jude on October 28.
One window of Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Richard J. King and the four painting by Michael Leigh of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus were destroyed.
The fire was contained in the inner shrine though there was smoke damage to the outer shrine and to the church. The statue of St. Jude, the ceramics by Adam Kossowski will have to be professionally cleaned. The silver lamps in the inner shrine were all saved but were smoked damaged.
This is the Golden Jubilee of the shrine. Bishop John Hine came on the feast day this year to launch the Jubilee celebrations and next year Archbishop Kevin McDonald will coming to the Shrine on the actual anniversary of the dedication, 28th October.
On January 28, 2004, the Carmelite Postulator General, Felip M. Amenňs presented the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregations for the Causes of the Saints a critical study of the difficulties of the cause of Jerome Terzo. The hope was to remove the block that had been placed on the cause in November 1944.
Venerable Jerome Terzo (1683-1758) was the founder and promotor of the Sanctuary Maria Sma. Scala del Paradiso. He collaborated with the Venerable Salvador Statela in the Carmelite reform of Syracuse, converting it in 1741 into the "Reformed Carmelite Province de Maria Sma. Scala del Paradiso. He remains very much remembered, including today, for his catechesis to the people, for his vocational work, and for a promoter of peace in families, as a missionary to the muslims in Malta.
Reading the ‘Pensieri’ of Ven. Jerome Terzo, collected by Mons. Guastella, one is struck by the serenity, the simplicity, the clarity, and the closeness of pure and genuine faith of this humble Carmelite.
Pope Blesses Monument to Chilean
John Paul II blessed a statue of St. Teresa of the Andes, which was placed in the rear facade of St. Peter’s Basilica. The October ceremony was attended by the new Chilean Foreign Minister as well as representatives of the Chilean government and Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, president of the Chilean Episcopal conference and of the Latin American bishops’ council.
Before arriving at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope was driven to the image in an open vehicle from which he imparted his blessing.
The statue, which is almost 6 meters high and weighs several tons, has been christened "The Enamored One" by sculptor Juan Eduardo Fernández Cox, 65, grandnephew of the saint, who took almost two years to sculpt it in Carrara marble.