no. 3 july - september 2004
th in Naples, Italy
The piety surrounding Our Lady of Mount Carmel, known as "La Bruna", in Naples, Italy dates back to the 13th century. It has involved mostly the common people of the town but also a few popes and members of royalty. The celebration of the Madonna’s feast day in 2004 did not involve the Pope or any members of royalty but the common people turned out by the thousands over the two day celebration.
The most visible celebrations would be the pyrotechnics which literally engulf the basilica’s bell tower on the evening of July 15. This has been part of the celebration since the 17th century when the kings donated a barrel of gun powder. Now the people donate towards the purchase of fireworks.
But the spectacular outside is only a sideshow to the religious celebration inside the church. The evening begins with a full church celebration of solemn vespers for the feast. Immediately following the fireworks, the basilica is reopened and the faithful move slowly past the image of "La Bruna" until about midnight. By 5:30 am the people are lining up to re-enter the church to participate in one of the mass which will be held every hour, on the hour until 1 P.M.
On both the 15th and 16th, the ancient cloister of the monastery, now a green garden with fountains and flowers, provides space for confessions to be heard throughout the day. The Neapolitans wait patiently in long lines for their opportunity to receive the sacrament.
When a mass is not being celebrated, the faithful gather for the recitation of a rosary.
During the day, the large square in front of the church and monastery is transformed by an army of volunteers. From an open area from which to view the fireworks on the 15th, it becomes a sacred space for the celebration of the Mass, led by the Archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Micaele Giordano who also came to view the fireworks display the night before. Although it seemed that most of Naples had already celebrated during the day, thousands turn out again for this final moment in the celebration of July 16th in the wondrous city of Naples, Italy.
An extraordinary Chapter of the Polish Province will take place in Cracow, Poland, on September 2, 2004 to select a successor to Fr. Leszek Pawlak, O. Carm. The date was agreed on during a meeting of the Provincial Council with Joseph Chalmers, the Prior General, and William J. Harry, the Councilor General for the Northern Europe.
Fr. Leszek, died on June 3, as a result of injuries suffered in a car accident 19 days before.
The Polish Chapter held their regular Chapter in May 2003 and re-elected Fr. Leszek and unanimously approved the renovation of buildings in Cracow into a guest house for pilgrims.
The first thing you see is an abandoned old car without any wheels. It says "Pizza". This is the entrance to the 17 hectars of land acquired by the Donum Dei for their safe haven for abandoned children.
Recent visitors from Spain were warmly welcomed by two of the resident Donum Dei missionaries and then by a group of ‘angelitos’ about 3 or 4 years old. One falls but is just as quickly up. Everyone wants hugs. The "mamas," young widows who watch over the smallest of the children, hold the babies in their arms so that they can be kissed by the visitors. It is an emotional start for the visitors. Fr. Luis Ruano, missionary directory of the Baetica Province, later described the moment as the most unforgettable moment of their visit to Burkina.
Twelve children gave a more formal welcome by performing a traditional dance for the visitors. Later the older children arrived from school. The two schools they attend are 7 km and 15 km from the orphanage. Some go by bicycle but they have to wait until someone returns from school with a bicycle as there are not enough to go around.
This "little bit of heaven" in the middle of an otherwise difficult life houses 105 children from newborns to age 18. The first goal is to give the children the possibility to live. Later they focus on providing intellectual and professional formation based on human and Christian values. The children are welcomed regardless of the ethnicity or faith. All have needs and all are welcome.
The majority are without a mother. Many of the children are just abandoned, left in public places or in board boxes next to a public building in the hopes that someone will pick them up and give them more than their natural family can. Others are children of incest, abandoned by the family because "they are an embarrassment."
Four of the Donum Dei care for the children with the help of six "mothers", two cooks, two cleaners, two gardeners, and three night watchmen. The employees are paid but not paid much. The older children work around the center also. Some who are not able to attend school assist with the children.
There is the hope to build more dormitories for the children, a small infirmary, a study hall, and perhaps a small library. There is the need for a small house for the employees and enclosures for the chickens, cows, and assorted other animals that provide food for the children.
And the car at the entrance with the pizza sign? It is the public restaurant of the orphanage. It is a way of bringing some money into the center and teaches the children the fundamentals of business. They also hope to someday build a real pizzeria out on the highway.
Pope John Paul II, in his address at the Angelus of July 25, spoke of the "tragic events that characterize, for a long time now, some countries of the beloved African continent." He highlighted Uganda and Sudan pointing out that many of the children of that region feel constrained to become "child soldiers." However, the United Nations has repeatedly pointed out that in countries where the children have no other means of support for the basic essentials of life, they will become victims of violence, exploitive child labor, discrimination or other forms of abuse. It is estimated that there are 13 million orphans worldwide from AIDS alone.
As in past years, the meeting of the Lay Carmelites took place June 4-6 in the Spirituality Center in Onda (Spain). The main conferences were given by the Prior Provincial, Fr. David Oliver, Luis Torres, and by Fr. Rafael María López Melús in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lidón, Patroness of Castellón. The Provincial spoke on the new Rule of the Third Order. Fr. Torres spoke on "The Lay Carmelite Called to Transform the World." Fr. Melús spoke on the Eucharistic-Marian Act.
It was three days of magnificent fraternity, joy, and a renewed desire to live the charism of Carmel in the world.
As the St. Elias Province (USA) began to plan events to mark its centenary, the idea of the Province making a foundation in another country, where the friars were not established, was discussed. It was also at this time that the Prior General, John Malley, was reminding us all of the "Carmelite Family" and the bonds that unite all of us who profess the Rule of St. Albert or draw our inspiration from this Rule and the traditions and spirituality of Carmel.
During a visit to the Corpus Christi Carmelite Sisters in Trinidad, West Indies, the sisters asked the Prior General about the possibility of a friar coming to make a fraternal visit to the sisters and the Lay Carmelites. He suggested that the sisters contact John Horan who was ministering at Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton, FL. After receiving an invitation from the Carmelite Sisters, John Horan made his first visit to Trinidad in May of 1991.
The sisters welcomed John and provided him with the opportunity to visit their communities, see their varied ministries in Trinidad and introduced him to some young men who felt called to the Carmelite way of life due to the dynamic witness of the Corpus Christi Carmelites. Prior to this visit a few young men from Trinidad began to contact the vocation office — the first to enter, Gerard Tang Choon, was recommended to the Order by a woman who had founded a lay community and drew her inspiration from Therese and the Little Way.
After John’s initial visit more friars from the Province began to visit the Sisters and the men who expressed interest in the community. A few of the men were brought to the USA to begin studies and formation in and for Carmelite life.
At the Provincial Chapter of 1997 the Province voted to begin a foundation in Trinidad with the purpose of forming men for Carmelite life in Trinidad. John Horan was sent to Trinidad for the purpose of vocation promotion. The Archbishop of Port of Spain was most welcoming and supportive of the foundation. He gave the Province the pastoral care of a parish very close to the Regional Seminary where our students could study.
After a year on his own John was joined by Francis Amodio, who came to Trinidad as formation director, and Gerard Tang Choon who had professed simple vows in May of 1999. A five room addition was built onto the parish house to serve as a student residence. Since the establishment of the foundation on August 30, 1998 four men have professed vows. Two of these men, Gerard Tang Choon and Garth Eversley, have been ordained to the priesthood and are responsible for the care of two parishes in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain. The Commisary of India has assisted the foundation in Trinidad by providing friars to live and minister there.
There is a great interest in Carmelite life and spirituality in Trinidad. Most of the men who contact the friars in Trinidad say they are attracted to the communal life they see lived by the brethren in Trinidad. The friars and the Sisters collaborate on many projects and this relationship is mutually enriching.
The Prior General and his Council are scheduling visits to each of the Provinces and monasteries of the Order, giving each member the opportunity to meet with the visitators.
The Constitutions of the Order (279b) requires that the Prior General or someone appointed by him make a canonical visitation to all Provinces, General Comissariats, and other foundations of the Order at least once during his six year term of office.
In a letter to the Priors Provincial, Commissaries General, and Provincial and General Delegates following the May plenary sessions of the General Council, Joseph Chalmers wrote "Each member of the Province will have the opportunity to speak with the visitators" and a full report of the visit will be made afterwards. The report will be delivered ‘viva voce’ to the Province at a Chapter or Assembly. If that is not possible, it will be given through a letter.
All visitations will be completed by the end of 2006 so that the information can be used in the Prior General’s report to the 2007 General Chapter.
The General Council met May 24 – June 4 in the second of its quarterly meetings. Much of the meeting centered on future planning for the Order.
Besides a discussion of the upcoming canonical visitations to the Provinces, additional planning for the 2005 General Congregation was done. The General Congregation will be held September 5-15 in San Paulo, Brazil. "We hope to work on a theme that will help the Order face some of the challenges that the future will surely bring," said the Prior General.
The Council also discussed the possibility of establishing some type of an international second novitiate. This has been discussed previously by the General Council as well as by other groups within the Order. A second novitiate is being discussed because of the perceived lack of knowledge of basic Carmelite spirituality and history among many Carmelites as well as a lack of international experience.
"The main purpose would be to deepen the Carmelite formation of the participants and give them at least a brief experience of the internationality of the Order," wrote Joseph Chalmers in a letter to Priors Provincials.
The Council also discussed the growing concern over the need for Carmelites to have a working knowledge of at least one, and preferably two, of the official languages of the Order. While this is in the Constitutions (#160) already, it does not seem to be working on a large scale.
"The lack of ability to communicate (with one another) is harmful to the international aspect of our Order," wrote the Prior General. "I know that from time to time someone from one Province goes to another for a short period in order to learn another language." In his letter to Provincials, he asked if Provincials of the same language could make concrete proposals regarding where and when one might avail oneself of learning that language.
The Council also held its second meeting with the General Definitory of the Discalced Carmelites which was elected in 2003. Among the areas reported on and discussed was the Latin American Commission. A draft of the statutes of the commission was presented and will be reviewed during the summer. It is hoped to approve these at the next meeting in December 2004.
The next meeting of this Commission will be in 2006 in Mexico. Representatives from all areas of the Carmelite family throughout Latin America are expected to attend. The recent meetings have been focused on the up-coming celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Rule of St. Albert in 2007.
Several initiatives for the celebration of the Rule were discussed. Among these were the invitation to the Discalced Carmelites to participate in the celebration during the 2007 General Chapter. Possible letters from the Pope as well as the two Generals to the Carmelite Family were discussed. Two celebrations in Roman churches, one Carmelite and one Discalced Carmelite, are being proposed.
The statutes for the newly formed Mariological Association will be reviewed and distributed to the 2 or 3 people from each Order who will begin forming the Association. The purpose of the association was to promote the Marian aspect of the Order both internally and externally.
The Marian Liturgical Commission will begin its work with members Lucio Zappatore, O. Carm., Giuseppe Midili, O. Carm., Andrea L’Affitto, OCD and Jesus Castellano, OCD.
Emanuele Boaga, O. Carm., attended a portion of the session to update the group on the Carmelite Dictionary. Of the 229 articles, 203 have been received. It is hoped to receive the missing 26 by September 2004. The two editors will then work on a draft to harmonize the styles and to establish a system of references within the work.
The Councils gave a deadline of Spring 2005 for the book on the seminar of the psychologists to be printed.
The two Councils will hold another meeting on December 18, 2004 at the Discalced Carmelite Curia. This will be the final day of the Carmelite General Council’s plenary sessions.