no. 1   january - march 2006

Immigrants Find Home with the Carmelites of Pisa

Alessandra Fangano is a student of law in our parish in Pisa, Italy. Together with Carmelites Augusto Tollon y Giuliano de Angeli, she organized a pastoral outreach to the immigrants. Allessandra is one of the workers for peace on the Italian Provinceís Commission for Justice and Peace.

Alessandra writes: "The Diocese of Pisa holds a prominent historical role in the area which, in the past, gave the bishop the prestige of being a metropolitan bishop.

Today the town of Pisa no longer holds such a preeminent political place as it did but continues to play an important pastoral role because it is a crossroad for many different races and cultures. Immigrants arrive in Pisa from the Balkan states, from the continents of Africa and Asia, but also citizens of southern Italy are drawn here by the medical school.

Walking along the main downtown street of the city, the "Corso Italia," that is both the commercial heart and the principal artery for travel, one can meet people of diverse ethnicities and hear diverse languages and dialects. It is here that the church of Santa Maria del Carmine is located.

Because of its location, the life of Il Carmine is characterized by a strong presence of non parishioners who come daily to the morning Mass or stop in for a quick visit before beginning the work day or school.

Among those who choose the Carmine as their church are the members of the many communities of immigrants from the Philippines who live in the various areas of Pisa, as well as the students living in the various neighborhoods of the historical downtown area who are active in the life of the parish, dedicating themselves to activities which complement the liturgy and the catechesis of the little children.

The growth of our Catholic community is assured by the high birth rate among the Asian families so that almost weekly there is the regular celebration of baptisms or birthdays. The children of the Asian families take part in the many classes of religious instruction and enjoy serving at the altar on Sunday mornings.

To have a complete picture of the Carmelite parish in Pisa one must keep in the mind that the parish operates from a plan of "pastoral unity" in close collaboration with the nearby parishes of San Martino and Santo Sepolcro, running other activities, religious instruction and prayer groups.

There are numerious other groups and associations that gravitate towards our parish among which are the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Azione Cattolica, and the Carmelite Third Order.

The life of Il Carmine in Pisa, Italy continues to revolve around the many different races and cultures that arrive in the town. Many of the active parishioners are immigrants and students. (Photo courtesy of Populorum Progressio)

Chelo Dhebbi Nominated Representative of International Commission to the Carmelite NGO

The General Council nominated Congolese Carmelite Chelo Dhebbi to represent the Orderís International Commission of Justice and Peace to the Carmelite NGO. In a letter to the members of the International Commission, the Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, explained that the decision was made to prepare for the eventual transition of the Carmelite NGO to affiliation to the UNís Econonic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Carmelite NGO is currently affiliated to the United Nationsí Department of Public Information.

As the International Commissionís representative to the Carmelite NGO, Fr. Chelo will facilitate communications between the Carmelite NGO and the commission members. In his letter announcing the nomination, Fr. Chalmers wrote that Fr. Chelo will work with the representatives of the Carmelite NGO, Sr. Jane Remson, Fr. William Harry, and Sr. Helen Ojario, "to strengthen our Orderís participation in this important initiative, always in cooperation with other groups within the Carmelite Family."

In March 2005, Fr. Chelo received his doctorate from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. His thesis was a study of the responsibility for the eradication of poverty in Kinshasa Province of the Congo. He currently teaches in the fields of economics and economical development in Kinshasha. He resides in Rome the other half of the year and works in the Italian Provinceís Mission Office and is the head of Progresso Populorum, the Italian Province's NGO.

The website for Populorum Progressio is:

Everyone at the Table For Africa
Benefit for Associazione Padre Carlo Colelli At Domus Carmelitana

On November 18, 2005, Professor Cristiana Cassina, president of the Associazione Padre Carlo Colelli ONLUS, (The Fr. Carlo Colelli Association ONLUS) opened the doors of the Domus Carmelitana to welcome 60 diners for a benefit dinner. The occasion celebrated the reception of funds to build six school rooms, three bathrooms for boys and three for girls, as well as a chemistry, biology, and physical science laboratories in the village of Gorongosa, Mozambique. The Carmelites of the Pernambuco Province minister at Missao Cristo Re (Christ the King Mission) there.

"The dinner was quite a cross section of people," said Prof. Cassina. "We had a director of Rebibbia (a high security prison located just outside Rome, Italy) and the family of one of the prisoners from Rebibbia. There was the Vice Consul of Sierra Leone and a victim of the fratricidal war in Mozambique. We had the director of a bank and a former worker, a priest and a student. These were all kinds of people with very little in common other than their love for liberty and respect for fundamental rights."

In her introduction before the meal, Ms. Cassina reminded the guests that the dinner was an occasion to recall the drama of life in the sub-Saharan region of Africa where Mozambique is located.

The website of the Associazione Padre Carlo Colelli is:

Some of the guests at the Dinner for Africa, held at the Domus Carmelitana in November 2005. (Photo courtesy of Associazione Padre Carlo Colelli)

Carmelite NGO to Present at Justice and Peace Promotersí Meeting

The members of the Carmelite NGO have been invited to explain the role of the NGO at the meeting of those members of the Order who work to promote Justice and Peace initiatives in the provinces. While several meetings have been held with justice and peace groups within the Carmelite Family by region and with Superiors General of the affiliated congregations, this will be the first opportunity given to the Carmelite NGO to begin networking with the Carmelite Familyís leaders in justice and peace work from around the world.

The meeting, being organized by Chelo Dhebbi and Carlos Mesters of the International Commission for Justice and Peace and David Oliver of the Iberian Commission for Justice and Peace, will take place at Casa Beato NuŮo in Fatima, Portugal from July 31 Ė August 15, 2006. The fee for the 15 days is US$750.00 which includes any non personal costs.

The meeting is open to all members of the Carmelite Family who are "promoters of Justice and Peace or interested in the formation of such." Attendance will require a letter of presentation from the participantís provincial or superior.

Inscription for the course is required by mid-April to David Oliver, O. Carm., of the Iberian Commission for Justice and Peace.

A link to more Information about the course and registration can be found on the website of the International Justice and Peace Commission of the Order:

Concert Provides US$144,000 for Relief in Metropolitan New Orleans

With thousands of people homeless, dislocated and out of work in metropolitan New Orleans, the New Orleans Artists Against Hunger & Homelessness (NOAAHH) put on a concert featuring Mac Rabeneck, known in the music world as Dr. John. Mr. Rabeneck is a friend from high school of Sr. Jane Remson, O. Carm.

Joining Dr. John were Deacon John and his band the Ivories. All proceeds benefited out-of-work victims of Katrina.

NOAAHH is a not for profit organization founded in 1985. Sr. Jane is the president of the organizationís all volunteer Board of Directors.

According to Sr. Jane, five months after the hurricanes, thousands are still homeless because of the slowness and bureaucracy of FEMA, the government agency in charge of disaster relief in the USA. Daily people are returning to repair the damage done to their houses and businesses. It is estimated that the population of New Orleans will be smaller because the areas hardest hit are residential areas that are presently unlivable.

The Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is centered in the New Orleans area. Many of their houses and ministries were heavily damaged including the motherhouse and secondary school.

Dr. John signs posters while Sr. Jane Remson, O. Carm., a member of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, looks on. (Photo courtesy of NOAAHH)

Crespi Carmelite Family Supports Hurricane Katrina Relief

Two parents of first year students at Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, California (USA) who happen to be major television stars in the United States put on a benefit for Mt Carmel Academy in New Orleans which was severely damaged by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Originally Dave Coulier, star of the long running "Full House" television comedy, wanted to put on a comedy show for the benefit for Crespi High School. But the focus changed after Katrina almost destroyed the Academy run by the sisters of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Mr. Coulier was joined by fellow Crespi parent Matt LeBlanc, from the hit series "Friends" and star of his own television show "Joey", for the one time show in the schoolís gym. They raised $6,000.

The evening included a testimonial by a graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy in New Orleans. She had met an alumnus of Crespi who was one of many firemen from Los Angeles, California who volunteered to go to New Orleans to help in the relief effort. They are now dating.

"Her comments about the Academy in New Orleans really made the situation real for everyone at the benefit. It was especially poignant to make a connection between the two Carmelite schools," said Thomas Schraeder, O. Carm., president of Crespi Carmelite High School.

Carmelite NGO Bulletin Provides Awareness of Issues

The Carmelite NGO is distributing an electronic bulletin 3-4 times a year to focus attention on the issues it and other Carmelite Family ministries are involved in. The first issue was distributed on December 1 to approximately 800 e-mail addresses. A separate e-mail list is being developed for the Carmelite NGO.

The focus of the first issue was the situation in the Middle East and in the town of Bethlehem itself. The bulletin related some of the facts of life for the ordinary citizens of Bethlehem as seen through the eyes of Mr. Johny Abu Aita, a Greek Orthodox Catholic, whose family is in the hotel business and Mr. Hassan Al Ahmad, a Muslim who works as a tour guide in the Holy Land. Carmelite Rainer Fielenbach (Ger-S) has been deeply involved in this issue for a number of years and frequently relates information from people who live throughout Palestine.

The bulletin also reported on the annual NGO/DPI Conference held at the United Nations in September, links to information about up-coming UN events, and links to websites of NGOís affiliated with the Carmelites or the Carmelite NGO.

In an effort to familiarize readers with justice and peace initiatives by Carmelites throughout history, this first issue carried information about Carmelite Saint Peter Thomas.

To receive the bulletin or to view the first issue, go to: