no. 1   january - march 2006

Year Officially Opens May 25 in Florence
th Anniversary Year of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi Planned

Members of the Italian Province in conjunction with other interested groups have planned a number of celebrations to honor the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi. The anniversary year will officially open in Florence on May 25, 2006, the saint’s feast day, and conclude one year later on Sunday, May 27, 2007.

To prepare for this important year, there will also be a meeting of the priests and religious of the diocese although the date and location for this meeting has not been yet established.

On Friday, May 25, 2006, Joseph Chalmers, the Prior General will open the year with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in Florence. This will take place during the Provincial Chapter of the Italian Province and many of the members of the Chapter and Province are expected to make a pilgrimage to Florence for this celebration.

Discalced Carmelite Luigi Borriello will preach a five day spiritual retreat in Florence. This is scheduled for September 4-8, 2006.

On Thursday, April 19, 2007 a Eucharistic celebration will be held in the Roman parish of St. John of the Florentinians.

A celebration and conference to study the life and teaching of the saint will be held May 24-26, 2007. On May 25 the Prior General will preside at a celebration in the monastery of San Frediano. The conference concludes with two lectures and a musical concert.

On Sunday, May 27, 2007 there will be a solemn celebration in the Basilica of the Carmine in Florence to conclude the year. It is expected that the Cardinal Archbishop of Florence will lead this celebration.

Other events planned for the year include the publication and distribution of selections of St. Mary Magdalene’s writings and spirituality. These will be available in the three languages of the Order and distributed throughout the Order by Edizioni Carmelitane.

A exhibition of paintings is also being planned. Other groups, especially around Italy, will be making their plans public in due course for this special year.

A detail of the window dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi at the Carmelite monastery in Boxmeer, The Netherlands.

Meetings of the General Council 6 – 17 December, 2005

The General Council met in plenary session in Rome from 6 to 17 December. Plans for various meetings were discussed: the General Chapter Preparatory Commission in March, the joint meeting of the Charism and Formation Commissions in April, the Liturgical Seminar in June, the course for Peace and Justice in Fatima in August and the International Bursars’ meeting in Sassone in October. The Council also met with the members of the ad hoc Commission on Government to discuss their brief and to draw up a timetable for submitting proposals.

Wilfried Wanjek, Prior Provincial of the Lower German Province, and Pancraz Ribbert met with the Council to give information about the progress of the Carmelite mission in Cameroon. Ways of helping the mission were discussed as well as plans for the future.

The Council noted that the first Carmelite from Papua, New Guinea would be ordained in Australia on 17th December and that other enquiries had been received from young men there. News of a Third Order group in Cuba was also given

The Bursar General gave a report on the finances of the Order, with special emphasis on the repair works at CISA/Domus. Plans for distributing the annual grant from the Little Flower Society to the Curia for 2006 were also finalized for presentation to the Trustees of the charity in the UK.

Members of the two General Councils of the Carmelite Family during their December 2005 meeting (Left to Right) Carlo Cicconetti, OCARM Vice General, Rafael Leiva, OCARM General Councilor, Steve Watson, OCD General Definitor. (CITOC photo)

OCD – OCARM General Councils Meet to Discuss Joint Projects

The members of the General Council of the Carmelite Order and the General Definitory of the Discalced Carmelites met at the OCD General Curia in Rome on December 17, 2005 to discuss common initiatives.

The two groups have met twice each year since 1992 alternating hosting the meeting.

Among the topics discussed were the letter of the Superiors General to the Carmelite Family on the 800th anniversary of the Rule of St. Albert, the Carmelite Dictionary, and the OCARM-OCD joint website.

From the Prior General

India: Carmelite Presence Continues to Grow Stronger

Some new things are taking place in the Provincial Commissariat of India (part of the Upper German Province). At present they have 78 members in vows, of which 26 are in simple vows. Most live and work within the state of Kerala and the city of Bangalore. However several work or study abroad in Germany, Italy, England, Canada and Trinidad. The Commissariat also has two missions, one within India (Andra Pradesh) and the other in Kenya (with the help of the Catalonian Province and the Arago-Valentine Province.

The mission in Andra Pradesh is among very poor people and the friars run a parish, with twelve mission stations in outlying villages,as well as a school, which caters for children from 5 to 12 years of age. There is a special part of the school for children who have missed out on all or parts of their education because they have been forced to work. Usually their parents have very little education and do not appreciate the value of education. Each day one of the teachers goes into the fields around the village to find young children at work and bring them into school. In the area the only work is subsistence farming and there is a chronic lack of rain. In the parish there is also a clinic, especially for pregnant women and babies, run by religious sisters. About half the families of the village have moved from the village into big cities many hours away by bus. There they hope to find a living but often find only greater poverty.

An exciting new ministry has been opened in India among the youth gangs. The members are very violent and murder is commonplace. The venture began as a retreat and prayer house. A young gang member, whose brother had been murdered, wanted to escape the cycle of violence.

The community took him in and he flourished for six months but as soon as he returned to his old haunts, he too was killed. The community reflected and prayed a great deal about the situation and began a ministry among the gangs. They hold regular retreats for the young men and have seen some spectacular conversions. It is not unusual to witness young men from rival gangs lay down their weapons, which can be quite fearsome, and enter into dialogue with each other. Of course their background militates against them and so the friars also work among the families and local communities to bring the peace of Christ that surpasses understanding.

The Commissariat began a new mission in Kenya in the year 2000 and now has a flourishing community near the capital, Nairobi. There are also two simply professed friars in the community. They study theology at Tangaza college. Already there are some candidates for the Order in Kenya.

There are plans to apply for the status of a Province.

Dutch Province Moves Mission in Lithuania Forward

Following the decision of the 2005 Provincial Chapter to accept responsibility for establishing Carmel in Lithuania, the Dutch Province has made several significant steps towards realizing their goal. Prior Provincial Ben Wolders appointed former Provincial Tjeu Timmermans as the coordinator for the project in cooperation with Johan Hettinga.

Ben and Tjeu travelled to Lithuania in late October and met with Bishop Eugenius Bartulis of Siauliai and with members of the ever growing number of friends of Carmel in that country. People from all over Lithuania attended.

"It was an inspiring weekend. It was good to share the plans we have with the participants and to feel their desire for a Carmelite community and their support for it," said Tjeu Timmermans.

Annual camps in the summer, gatherings of people interested in learning more about the Carmelites and Carmelite spirituality, have been held for several years. These will continue to be held with the assistance of the Carmelites who had been previously involved.

There are also other meetings periodically held now to build interest in the project. In January, Johan Hettinga and Tjeu Timmermans held a weekend meeting with a Carmel-oriented lay group. In March, Tjeu will return to Lithuania again for a meeting with young people interested in religious life. Felix Schandl (GerS), Johan and Tjeu will return after Easter to conduct another weekend with the Carmel-oriented lay group. Plans will be drawn up for the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in July and for the summercamps in Vilnius in July 2006. The theme of the summercamps will be the Carmelite Rule.

The Dutch decided to begin their mission in the town of Siauliai, a working town in the center of northern Lithuania, because there was already an active groups of "friends of Carmel." Siauliai is also a new diocese with a lot of new things happening. Facilities for studies are available.

Following initial discussions with the Bishop it was decided to continue working with the people and not build a monastery as yet. In January 2006, a small house in the center of Siauliai was rented.

In mid January 2006, Bishop Bartulis visited the Dutch Province. He was shown the formation program, "Karmel Twente" (Lay Carmelites), and "Karmel Amstelveen" as well as other houses and programs within the province. "We hope that he received a good picture of our province and of the atmosphere in the province," said Tjeu Timmermans following the bishop’s visit.

Annual Summer Seminar Focuses on Personal Transformation

The Annual Summer Seminar on Carmelite Spirituality will take place on June 18-24, 2006, at the Center for Spirituality, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame Indiana (USA).

The theme of the seminar for June 2006 will be "Transformation in Carmel: How Gently You Wake in My Heart." Speakers will be Daniel Chowning, OCD, Kevin Culligan, OCD, Keith J. Egan., T.O.Carm., Mary Frohlich, RSCJ, Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD, Gregory Klein, O.Carm., Ernest Larkin O.Carm., Vilma Seelaus, OCD., John Welch, O. Carm. This seminar on Carmelite Spirituality is presented by the North American Carmelite Forum and has been presented annually since 1985.

Information and brochures are available from:

Center for Spirituality
Saint Mary’s College
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556

Tel. [001] 574-284-4636
E-mail inquiries:

Members of the Annual Carmelite Seminar Planning Group: (Left to Right) Vilma Seelaus, Ernest Larkin, Keith Egan, Kevin Culligan, Connie Fitzgerald, and John Welch

Titus Brandsma Elected as the Greatest Citizen of Nijmegen Ever

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."

Since the summer, Nijmegen’s City Hall had organized four ballots to select one of its own for this honor. In the penultimate ballot, ten candidates remained. Three candidates, including Titus Brandsma, were on the final ballot.

Half-way through the town’s popular festival on December 30th the mayor of the city, Mrs. Dr. Guusje ten Horst, announced that Carmelite martyr Titus Brandsma had been selected by a large majority for the title.

Even though it was already night time, the bells of the nearby Titus Brandsma Memorial Church began ringing. The public that was present enthusiastically applauded when the decision was announced.

During 2005 a number of celebrations to commemorate the town’s founding were held. On the evening of December 30th, a popular festival was organized on the Keizer Karel Square in the centre of the city, next to the Titus Brandsma Memorial Church, the concert hall and the principal theatre of Nijmegen. Although it was cold and snowing, the square was crowded with mostly young people singing and dancing, while listening to popular musicians.

Poster celebrating the selection of Titus Brandsma, O. Carm., as the "Greatest Citizen of Nijmegen of All Time." The poster is signed by the Mayor of Nijmegen who announced that Brandsma had been selected by a large majority of the town's current citizens for the title.