Isidore Bakanj Bulletin
the news bulletin of the International Commission of Lay Carmelites

no. 2   july - september 2003

  The Isidore Bakanja Bulletin

Beginning with this issue of CITOC, we are reviving the Isidore Bakanja Bulletin to bring news of and for Carmelite laity around the world. CITOC will alternate publishing the Isidore Bakanja Bulletin and the Titus Brandsma Bulletin for Peace, Justice, and the Integrity of Creation.

Why "Isidore Bakanja"?

Blessed Isidore Bakanja was chosen as the title because he was a lay man who was persecuted for remaining faithful to his Christian commitment and to his scapular.

Isidore Bakanja worked as an assistant mason for white colonists in what was then the Belgian Congo and later known as Zaire. Converting to Catholicism, he was baptised on May 6, 1906 at age 18 after receiving instruction from Trappists missionaries. Rosary in hand, he used any chance to share his faith.

He left his native village because there were no fellow Christians. He encountered the hatred the Belgian agents had for missionaries due to their fight for native rights and justice.

Isidore encountered their hatred when he asked leave to go home. The agents refused, and he was ordered to stop teaching fellow workers how to pray: "You’ll have the whole village praying and no one will work!"

When he refused to discard his scapular, he was flogged twice. The second time the agent tore the scapular from Isidore’s neck, had him pinned to the ground, and then beaten with over 100 blows with a whip of elephant hide with nails on the end. He was then chained to a single spot 24 hours a day.

When an inspector came to the plantation, he wrote, "I saw a man come from the forest with his back torn apart by deep, festering, malodorous wounds, covered with filth, assaulted by flies. He leaned on two sticks in order to get near me - he wasn’t walking; he was dragging himself". The inspector took Isidore home to heal, but Isidore knew better. "If you see my mother, or if you go to the judge, or if you meet a priest, tell them that I am dying because I am a Christian."

Two missionaries who spent several days with him reported that he devoutly received the last sacraments. The missionaries urged Isidore to forgive the agent; he assured them that he already had. "I shall pray for him. When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him very much."

After six months of prayer and suffering, he died, rosary in hand and scapular around his neck, on 15 August 15, 1909. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994. His memorial is August 15.

International Commission for Carmelite Laity Sets Ambitious Program

The International Commission for Lay Carmelites Gather in Rome - (Back Row) Alfie Parisi, Anita Renehan, Rose Mary Lancellotti, Amanda Rodrigues Jordâo, Redemptus Valabek, Giovanni Grosso, Daniel Pieri. (Front Row) Josef Jancar, Prior General Joseph Chalmers, Renée Prieur. Not shown: Jamie Liedó Patiño.

The Commission members gathered at the Curia House in Rome May 19-23, 2003, for a very productive meeting. The members of the Commission are: Fr. Josef Jancár, O.Carm, General Delegate for Carmelite Laity; Fr. Redemptus Valabek O.Carm, General Delegate to Donum Dei; Giovanni Grosso O.Carm, Delegate to Italian Lay Carmelites; Mlle. Renée Prieur T.M. Responsible for Formation, Donum Dei, France; Ms. Amanda Rodrigues Jordão Lay Carmelite, Brazil; Mrs Rose Mary Lancellotti Lay Carmelite, New York; Mr Daniele Pieri, President La Famiglia, Prato, Italy; Mrs Anita Renehan, Lay Carmelite Australia.

Mr Alfio Parisi, President of Italian Third Order, and Mr Jaime Lledó Patiño, Prior Jerez de La Frontiera, Spain were unable to attend this meeting.

Third Order Rule

The revised Third Order Rule was presented, having been approved by the Holy See on 11th April 2003. The Third Order Rule is seen as a bridge between the Rule of St Albert and the constitutions and statutes of each province.

The Third Order Rule was approved by the General Council of the Order and subsequently by the Vatican. It was promulgated on July 16, 2003 and is currently being translated into the three official languages of the Order. It will come into force on December 8, 2003.

New Ritual

A draft of the work completed so far on the new Ritual for Lay Carmelite ceremonies of Reception and Profession looks very promising and will introduce a variety of readings and prayers to choose from for each ceremony. There will also be a ritual for community council elections to be set in a more spiritual context.

International Secretariat

The need for an International Secretariat to assist the General Delegate for Carmelite Laity, Fr Josef Jancár, was a most urgent issue. A nomination was made for an international secretary and a submission for the appointment to be approved will be presented at the next meeting of the General Council in October.

The Isidore Bakanja Bulletin

A bulletin conveying news of and for Carmelite laity will be incorporated into every other issue of the Order’s international newsmagazine CITOC. This news section will be called "Isidore Bakanja" commemorating a the holy man Bl. Isidore Bakanja from Zaire who was persecuted for his stubbornness in continuing to wear his scapular and to teach Christianity. A bulletin for the Lay Carmelites with the same name previously existed.

International Directory

A directory listing each Lay Carmelite Community in the world and all lay groups associated with the Order will be published in the future.

Spiritual Directory for Carmelite Laity

A Spiritual Directory will be compiled. It is hoped that this volume will become a valuable resource. It will be especially useful as a formation manual for formation directors as well as for others wanting to deepen their knowledge of Carmelite spirituality and traditions.

Congress for Carmelite Laity

The Congress is planned to take place at Fatima, Portugal, 17-31 September 2006. The emphasis will be on formation. Formators in particular will be encouraged to attend. The number of delegates to be invited from each Province will depend on the information gathered for the updated International Directory.

Youth Involvement in Lay Carmel

The General Council has asked the Commission to explore ways of encouraging youth involvement. This matter will be given deeper attention at the next meeting 26-29 May 2004.

The meeting closed on a very happy note with an invitation from Commission member Daniele Pieri, President of La Famiglia, for Commission members to visit the community of La Famiglia at the Convent of St Lucia of Castellina, Tuscany.

Website of the International Commission for Carmelite Laity:


(updated: 8 May 2005)

Items for the Isidore Bakanja bulletin may be sent, preferably by email to:

or by facsimile: + 61 3 9725 8600

or by post to:

Isidore Bakanja Bulletin,
c/o Mrs. Anita Renehan 10/12 Emora Street
Croydon Vic, 3136   Australia


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