no. 1   january - march 2007

Carmelite Spiritual Center San Juan de la Cruz in Lima, Peru

The Carmelite Spiritual Center "San Juan de la Cruz" opened its doors on October 12, 2003 with the goal of providing the lay brothers and sisters of Carmel and the faithful in general a space for reflection, prayer, and growth in the Lord.

The Center offers a course in Pastoral Theology and Carmelite Spirituality in a single diploma, with professors of the pontifical faculty of theology as well as the state university in Lima.

The course lasts for three years and has a monthly cost of US$ 10.00, which includes materials and books. Without a doubt, it is an excellent self-paced program which counts on the support of the Carmelites in Peru and on the Diocese of Chosica.

There are 130 students currently, spread over the different years and a staff of 10 professors. The program is under the direction of Alban Quinn, O. Carm., and Carlos Castagnola, TOC, and one of the primary professors is James Geaney, O. Carm.

"The best of this project is that it enjoys a large participation and is welcomed by the laity in our parishes, the teachers in our schools, and the catechists of our parishes," said Carlos Castagnola. "Many of them indicate to us that it was time to offer a space such as this to grow spiritually and theologically." At the end of the three years, the students complete a Carmelite pastoral project in order to improve the pastoral services of their parishes.

Website of the Latin American Region of Carmelites:
Website of ALACAR (Asociaci
ón Latinoamérica de Carmelitas):

Carmelite Jubilee 2007 in Malta

The Prior Provincials of the Carmelites and Discalced Carmelites in Malta, Alexander Vella, O. Carm., and Victor Mallia, OCD, invited the brethren to the 2007 Carmelite Jubilee to celebrate 800 years of the Carmelite Rule, 700 years from the death of St Albert of Trapani, and 400 years from the death of St Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi.

The Provincial Chapter, celebrated May 1-5, 2006, called for 2007 to be a Carmelite Jubilee Year. The Discalced Carmelites joyfully welcomed the invitation to celebrate the occasion together as one Carmelite Family.

The aim of the 2007 Carmelite Jubilee Year is to promote spiritual renewal in the life of the friars and to make known Carmelite Spirituality.

On January 2, 2007, the members of both Provinces met at the Discalced Carmelite Nuns’ Monastery in Cospicua to pray for the spiritual success of the Jubilee.

On Thursday, January 11, 2007, the official opening took place with the celebration of the Eucharist at the Balluta parish church, presided by Archbishop Joseph Mercieca. At the beginning of the celebration, the OCD Provincial welcomed the Archbishop and made those present feel at home in the celebration. In his homily, Alexander Vella, the Carmelite Provincial, highlighted the basics of the Carmelite way. The Archbishop, in one of his last public appearances before retiring as Archibishop, spoke at the end of the celebration.

A full program of events for 2007, prepared by a joint OCARM-OCD commission, has been organised. Included are retreats and a seminar specifically for the friars. Lay people will also be involved in the various activities, including a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, conferences on the Carmelite Rule held by the Centre for Teresian Spirituality, short courses in Carmelite Spirituality held in the OCARM and OCD parishes, a celebration for the Tertiaries and Secular members of both Provinces, a presentation on Carmel in Saint Elias College, a secondary school run by the Carmelites, and celebrations with youth and children.

The feasts of Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi (25 May), Saint Albert of Trapani (7 August) and Saint Albert of Jerusalem (17 September) will be celebrated accordingly.

The 2007 Carmelite Jubilee Year will conclude on December 13, 2007 with two activities. The Carmelite Institute, which will be set up and run by both Provinces, will be inaugurated. The oratorio The Beautiful Maiden of Shunnem, based on the Song of Solomon by Daniel Sammut, O. Carm., will be performed.

In the footsteps of St Albert of Trapani and St Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi, we strive to live our vocation based on the Carmelite Rule, with enthusiasm and creative fidelity in today’s world.

Members of the Carmelite Family in Malta celebrate the 800 years of the Carmelite Rule, the 700th anniversary of the death of Albert of Trapani, and the 400th anniversary of the death of Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi.

Spanish Carmelite on Jewish Television Program

On September 3, Fernando Millán Romeral, member of the Baetica Province, appeared on Shalom, a regular Sunday evening television program. Shalom is a program of the Spanish Jewish community and highlights various themes relative to the Jewish world and the dialogue between Jews and Christians. The program is broadcast by Televisión Española.

Fernando was interviewed regarding the debate that has developed over the work of Simon Wiesenthal, El girasol, los límites del perdón [The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness]. The book begins with a personal experience of Wiesenthal, then various leading European and American intellectuals give their opinions regarding the theme of forgiveness and its ethical, philosophical, and theological consequences.

Fernando also spoke of the contribution to Christian theology of the Jewish concept of forgiveness developed in more recent times by thinkers and philosophers such as W. Jankélévitch or H. Arendt, a subject Millán has written various articles on.

Fr. Millán is member of the Center of Judeo-Christian Studies in Madrid and has participated in various fora of meetings between the two religious traditions. He is on the faculty of Universidad Pontificia Comillas, a Jesuit university in Madrid.

On-Going Formation Celebrates the Gift of Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi

Twenty-three members of the Order from around the world gathered at the Domus Carmelitana in January for the 2007 On-Going Formation Course offered by the International Formation Commission. The course focused on the life and spirituality of the Carmelite mystic from Florence, Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi. This year is the 400th anniversary of the mystic’s death.

Emanuele Boaga, General Archivist and noted Carmelite historian, introduced the historical context of Mary Magdalene’s life, that of the Carmelite monastery "St Mary of the Angels" in Florence, the period of reformation and counter reformation around the Council of Trent. Fr. Boaga also made reference to the main currents in spirituality of that day.

Chiara Vasciaveo, a teacher and author of several books on mystics, including Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi, explained the profound influence of the theological formation and her meditation on the Word of God upon her spiritual life. The saint dedicated a few hours each day to meditation.

Charlo Camilleri, a Carmelite from Malta, explained the two-fold process of the relationship with God as it was experienced by the saint.

Paula Moschetti, a Carmelite solitary hermit and author of several books including on Mary Magdalen, spoke on the suffering, probation, and trial in the life of the saint, especially during the five years, the "den of lions", a time when Mary Magdalen was deprived of feeling "the presence of God."

In a later session, Moschetti, as well as Vasciaveo emphasized Mary Magdalen’s prophetic zeal for the renewal of the Church as well as of religious life. This prophetic zeal caused her to write letters to the pope, cardinals, her archbishop in Florence, and other religious (and future saints) in an attempt to convince them of the need for renewal.

Pedro Bravo, from the General Commissariat of Lusitania and doctoral student at CISA (Rome), highlighted two main dimensions in Mary Magdalen’s spirituality: the Word of God and the Eucharist. Both were united and seen in a Trinitarian perspective in the context of the whole of Salvation History, with the incarnation of the Word as its center. Bravo also highlighted the importance of the Holy Spirit in Mary Magdalen’s spiritual life.

On the final day of the course, the Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, spoke of mysticism as a process of growing in the relationship with God. He concluded by thanking the members of the team which planned the on-going formation courses the past six years. The group then celebrated a closing Mass in the chapel of CISA with the Prior General as the main celebrant.

An Interview with the Carmelite Prior General
Relating to Darkness from a Carmelite Perspective

An interview with the Prior General, Joseph Chalmers was published on December 18, 2006, by, the Internet Catholic news agency based in Rome, Italy. In the interview, Fr. Chalmers speaks about the Carmelite perspective on darkeness. The interview was conducted earlier in December at the Istituto Vincenzo Pallotti as part of the Institute’s program of reflections for Advent. The Institute is held at the Lay Centre of Rome.

"Everyone of us must deal with darkness on various levels during our lives," admitted Fr. Chalmers.

"There is darkness when we must confront the sufferings that life presents," he added.

Fr. Chalmers then connected our darkness with the prophet Elijah "who appeared on the scene in a very critical moment in the history of Israel."

"As Elijah said to the people gathered on Mount Carmel, ‘How long will you limp with two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! If Baal, then follow him!’. With God there can be no compromise. We cannot serve two masters," he said.

"Carmelite spirituality focuses on the relationship with God and on our call to be transformed in God" and "by means of the grace of God," he concluded.

Bishop Antônio Muniz Fernandes, O. Carm., Nominated Archbishop of Maceió, Brazil

Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Antônio Muniz Fernandes, O. Carm., currently Bishop of Guarabira, as the new Archbishop of Maceió in Brazil. This followed the pope’s acceptance of the resignation of Archbishop José Carlos Melo, C.M., because of age.

Bishop Antônio Muniz Fernandes, O. Carm., was born in Princesa Isabel, Paraíba in Brazil on August 11, 1952. He completed elementary and secondary studies at the Carmelite minor seminary Nossa Senhora do Carmo in Camocim de São Felix.

He made his profession of Simple Vows on February 20, 1976 and was ordained a priest on May 24, 1980. In the years 1983-1986 he was a student at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he earned a Licentiate in Biblical Theology. He completed some studies in Jerusalem.

He was Director of Novices in Camocim de São Felix and Councilor of the Carmelite Province of Pernambuco. From 1990 he was the Prior Provincial and taught Sacred Scripture at the Istituto Filosofico-Teologico in the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife and at the Theological Studium of the Cappuccins in Olinda.

He was nominated bishop on February 14, 1998 and was consecrated on the following May 24. That same day he took possession of the Diocese of Guarabira. As bishop, he has served in the following positions: Vice President of the Northeastern II Region of the CNBB (2003-2005), President of the Northeastern II Region of the CNBB (from 2005), Responsible for Prison Ministry.