no. 3   july - september 2006

Carmel Flowers With New Foundations in Indonesia

Recent Affiliation of Indonesian Groups to Order Strengthens the Contemplative Aspect of Charism

One of the most recent additions to the Order has been the Indonesian foundations of sisters of Putri Karmel, the brothers of Carmelitae Sancti Eliae (CSE), and the lay members of the Holy Trinity Community.

Each was founded by Yohanes Indrakusuma, a Carmelite priest and member of the Indonesian Province of Carmelites. We include an interview with him as he tells the story of his own journey and its unexpected twists and turns.

The Holy Trinity Community - Komunitas Tritunggal Mahakudus

Holy Trinity Community is a lay covenant community founded in January 1987 in Malang, Indonesia. Its purpose is to give a solid and on-going Catholic and spiritual formation to lay people. Holy Trinity Community, was founded after a powerful retreat experience by a group of Catholics in the hope of continuing the renewal and conversion in their lives.

Holy Trinity is divided into cells. Several cells for an area, several areas form a district, several districts form a region, and several regions form a province. The life principle of the cell is growth. A healthy cell must grow and multiply. Every one has to have a missionary spirit and bring another person to the cell so that there is continuous growth.

The leaders of the cells are called "servants" to remind them that to be a leader is to serve. Cells normally meet twice a month although some do meet weekly.

The Putri Karmel - The Daughters of Carmel

On the Feast of Pentecost in May 1982, the Association of Putri Karmel was formed. Five young women were received and settled into the hermit life being followed by their founder, Carmelite priest Yohanes Indrakusuma.

The women opted for an open contemplative life, one that is imbued with the spirit and practice of prayer but also open to certain forms of apostolate, usually involving retreats and spiritual direction.

The members receive a solid formation with several going overseas for further studies.

Putri Karmel was affiliated to the Carmelite Order on December 19, 2002.

Carmelitae Sancti Eliae (CSE)

In July 1985, three young men joined Fr. Yohannes Indrakusuma to live as hermits. After a year of discernment, the group decided to form a new religious community with the name Carmelitae Sancti Eliae. Weathering initial difficulties, the group has grown steadily.

The Congregation of Carmelitae Sancti Eliae was also affiliated to the Order on December 19, 2002.

Lembah Karmel

In 1988, Fr. Yohanes and the brothers of Carmelitae Sancti Eliae moved to Cikanyere, Cipanas in West Java. In the 1990ís a large retreat complex was built in Cikanyere and the Putri Karmel established a presence there along with the brothers. Despite being two hours outside Jakarta, the retreat center sees a steady flow of pilgrims, sometimes numbering in the thousands. Its large chapel and conference center host a variety of gatherings throughout the year with many of the participants being accommodated in one of several large houses on the property.

A small studio fosters the development of audio tapes and CDís. A number of items in various media on the life of the members and the retreats and other activities held at Lembah Karmel are available.

The Spirituality of the Foundations

The members of the two congregations consecrate their lives wholly to the service of the Kingdom of God. While living in this world, their radical search for God becomes a testimony to the world of the transcendence of God and of the spiritual values which transcend the values of this passing world.

They draw their inspiration from the spiritual heritage of Carmel, especially the great saints of the Order, who lived with radical conviction in the transforming union of love with the living God. Some are called to witness through evangelization in various forms. Others are drawn into a deeper solitude to live solely for God and thereby give witness that God is worthy to be loved for His own sake and for no other reason.

As indigenous religious congregations to Indonesia, both Putri Karmel and CSE strive to live the Carmelite spirituality in integration with the spiritual heritage of Asia. Long before Christianity arrived, the Indonesian spiritual culture heritage was marked by a great inner quest for the Absolute, a great yearning for the Infinite.

There is great affinity between the Carmelite ideal and the spiritual heritage of Asia. Carmel is constantly on a quest for God who surpasses every understanding and yet dwells in the depths of the human heart, inviting the person to an intimate union with God. The same was and is true in Asian culture.

The houses of Putri Karmel and the CSE have become literally oases amid the dry and barren desert of the world.

Gathering of Young People with the Putri Karmel Community and the Brothers of St. Elijah for an evening prayer service. The distance the young people have to travel does not discourage large groups of youth from attending. (Photo courtesy of Putri Karmel)

One of the hermitages in the jungle near Lembah Karmel (CITOC photo)

A Putri Karmel sisters in prayer in her hermitage. (CITOC photo)

Three of the brothers from the Carmelites of St. Elias walk up the drive into their cloister at Cikanyere. Founded in 1985 with three men, the Congregation now has 63 members. (CITOC photo)

The new surrounds the old ó some of the original buildings at the Lembah Karmel Retreat Center in Cikanyere on Java. The retreat center is approximately two hours from Jakarta by car yet the large crowds attending conferences and retreats has required facilities to be expanded. (CITOC photo)