no. 3   july - september 2006

March and April 2006
Meetings of the General Council

The major item of business on the General Council’s agenda for the meetings held in March 2006 was preparations for the General Chapter of 2007. On March 7, the Council met with members of the Preparatory Commission to brief them on the theme of the Chapter.

Among other topics of note was the news that S. Albert of Sicily had been proclaimed co-patron of the diocese of Trapani to mark the seventh centenary of his death, which will be celebrated from 2006 to 2007.

Following the beatification of Madre Curcio in November 2005, the Congregation for Divine Worship has now approved the date for the liturgical celebration of the new blessed: 4 July, with the rank of optional memoria in the whole order, and of feast for the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

General Councillors presented reports on the various activities in the provinces. Reports were also given on various visits carried out by the Prior General and members of the Council over the previous months: the provinces of Catalonia, Arago – Valentine, Castile, Betica, Portugal, Upper Germany and New York (including Trinidad).

The General Councilor for Communications reported on the Order’s project for a ‘virtual museum’ as a way of not only exhibiting Carmelite spirituality and culture, but also as a means of evangelisation.

The Council met again in plenary session from April 20-28. During these meetings further progress was made on planning the General Chapter and the celebrations of the eighth centenary of the Rule in 2007. The Council also decided to make more investments in the Domus in order to improve facilities and to take over 15 rooms which are not used by CISA.

In the April meetings, the Council also had a joint session with members of the Commissions for Formation and for the study of the Charism and Spirituality of the Order. During this meeting, the work of the two commissions was evaluated and various proposals for the future were discussed. Some of these will be brought before the General Chapter in 2007.

The next plenary sessions of the General Council are scheduled from September 18-29, 2006.

OCARM – OCD General Councils Meet in Rome

On Friday, April 28, the OCARM General Council hosted the OCD General Definitory for a meeting and lunch together. Among the joint projects discussed were the Carmelite Dictionary, the celebration of the 8th centenary of the Formula Vitae of St. Albert during the OCARM General Chapter in September 2007 and with the Carmelite Family in one of the churches of Rome. The OCARM-OCD website and the joint letter of the Superiors General on the Rule were also discussed. The next joint meeting will take place in December 2006.

The two groups have met twice each year since 1992 alternating hosting the meeting.

13-16 June 2006 - San Felice del Benaco, Italy
Carmelite Liturgical Seminar

A small group of Carmelite experts in liturgical matters met from June 13 to 16 in the Italian province conference and retreat centre at San Felice del Benaco, in northern Italy. Among the subjects discussed were the historical development of the liturgy in the Order, the relationship between the liturgy and the Carmelite charism, the architecture of Carmelite churches, the liturgy of the hours and Carmelite music and chants. The Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, joined the seminar for the last day of the meeting.

The lone female participant found such a conference on liturgy to be of great importance to the Order. Sr. Noemi Malagesi, member of the enclosed Carmelite monastery in Carpineto Romano, said "Since Carmelite spirituality is intimately connected to the liturgy, to deepen one’s understanding of the liturgy means to deepen one’s understanding of the spirit of Carmel. The most interesting thing about the conference – although it is relative—was the internationality of the participants, a richness and a gift for the others," said Sr. Noemi.

The participants agreed that a sense of a specifically Carmelite liturgy needed to be encouraged and a number of suggestions were made that might achieve this, such as a renewed emphasis on the importance of the celebration of resurrection as a theme in Carmelite spirituality and liturgy. The group also drew up suggestions for a task force on the liturgy with a view to submitting proposals to the General Chapter in 2007.

"The liturgy is not just for scholars or a series of formulas: it is spirit and life for the Christians and for the Carmelites. To live fully the spirit of the liturgy is to be fully Carmelite," said Sr. Noemi.

Participants at the Liturgy Congress From left to right: Back row: Arie Kallenberg, John Keating, Patrick Mullins, Paul Chandler, James Boyce. Middle row: Carlos Mesters, Kevin Alban, Christopher O’Donnell. Front row: John Burns, Giovanni Grosso, Emanule Boaga, Anthony Scerri, Noemi Malagesi, Désiré Unen Alimange, Giuseppe Midili.

Carmelite NGO Loses a Major Supporter

Sr. Marcella (Sr. Joachim de Lourdes) Bean, O. Carm., a member of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm and frequent participant in activities of the Carmelite NGO, died unexpectedly on July 14, 2006.

Sr. Marcella was subject of an article on the Carmelite NGO in the October – December 2004 issue of CITOC in which she explained her work with the United Nations and the Carmelite NGO. She found the NGO a natural extension of the ministry of her Congregation which is focused on caring for the elderly and those with long term illnesses. Speaking of the United Nations, she said "It is certainly a place we need to be as we have always been on the side of the emarginated, the poor, and people in need. You meet those people and are confronted with their issues at the UN."

A social worker for 39 years, Sr. Marcella worked with patients with dementia at the residence in the Bronx, New York. Her proximity to the UN Headquarters on Manhattan in New York allowed her to participate in UN conferences and workshops dealing with issue of elderly and aging.

"It made me more aware of the world and our interconnectedness," she said at the time. "It really deepens one’s prayer life. We can not be passive in the face of so much tragedy … We Carmelites have to be there. Encountering these real situations deepens one’s spiritual life."

Sr. Marcella was buried at St. Teresa’s Motherhouse in Germantown, New York (USA).

A Visit to the Earl of Aylesford

The Earls of Aylesford owned The Friars for nearly three hundred years and sold the estate to the Copley Hewitt family in 1932. The family now lives in Packington Hall near Coventry.

Despite a fire there about twenty years ago the Earl has maintained a large archive of documents, paintings and photographs relating to The Friars. Charles Ian Finch-Knighley, 9th Earl of Aylesford gave Richard Copsey and Francis Kelmsley a warm welcome when they visited him recently. He now lives in Packington Old Hall as he handed the estate over to his son Lord Guernsey.

The Earl showed a portrait of Sir John Banks, who purchased The Friars in 1657. When his son, Caleb Banks, died, The Friars was inherited by his daughter Elizabeth whose husband, Heneage Finch, eventually became the first Earl of Aylesford. Since the 2nd Earl, the family’s principal home has been at Packington Hall though The Friars was occasionally used as the Dower House or occasionally rented out.

The painting of Sir John Banks, attributed to Lely, dominates the main staircase of Packington Hall. Nearby is a portrait of his daughter Elizabeth, the first Countess of Aylesford. In one of the main reception rooms there is an impressive painting of The Friars painted in the mid-seventeenth century. It is apparently, according to the Earl, the earliest known picture of a country house in England. It is thought it may mark a garden party celebrating the arrival of the Duke of York, who later became King James II and VII. At the time he was the Lord High Admiral and would have visited Chatham Dockyard regularly.

Sir John Banks made his money from selling wheat, grain and timber to Chatham Dockyard during the Anglo-Dutch wars. The North Barn was built by Sir John to accommodate this need.

The old Earl mentioned that in their family archives there are over 10,000 photographs that go back to the very beginning of photography in the 1840’s. In recent years a photographic historian identified they were the work of a woman. Copies of these early photographs will be made for our archives in the next few months, together with other items of interest. Another of his ancestors, Elizabeth Finch, painted a large number of water colours in the 1850’s some of which are at The Friars.

The Earl recalled with fondness his past visits to Aylesford. In 1977 he sent some oak saplings from his Packington Estate and took part in a tree planting in Aylesford village to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. More recently he visited St. Peter’s Church, Aylesford for the dedication of the restored east window, in the North Chancel, in memory of some of his ancestors. He recalled with great affection the visit of Malachy Lynch and Winifred Swingler to Packington Hall in the 1950’s. The Earl of Aylesford and his son Lord Guernsey hope to visit The Friars in the near future.

A mid-seventeenth century painting of Aylesford Priory, England, while it was in the hands of the Earls of Aylesford. This painting hangs in the main reception room of Packington Hall near Coventry, England. It is thought to be the earliest known picture of a country house in England. It may mark a garden party celebrating the arrival of the Duke of York, who later became King James II and VII. (Photo courtesy of Aylesford Priory)

From Ballerina to Carmelite Nun

On the Dutch TV the Catholic Channel has a weekly program called "The Reunion." After a long time of no contact, people who went together to college again meet each other and talk about their lives. In March 2006, the students of the Class of 1975 of The Royal Conservatory of The Hague were featured. One of them was Veronique Kruijswijk who is currently a novice in the Carmel of Zenderen in The Netherlands. Below is a summary of the television interview with Sister Veronique:

As a child of four Veronique was already taking ballet lessons. When she was eleven she auditioned for the Royal Conservatory where talented children received professional lessons in dancing and music in addition to their high school courses.

"I didn’t care about the school stuff," Veronique tells, "I was at the Conservatory to become a ballerina. Often my friend Ludmilla and I acted very tiresome during classes, being helpless with laughter. Often we were ordered to leave the classroom."

But unlike their behavior in class, they were extremely studious during the ballet lessons. This resulted in a contract for both at The Dutch National Ballet. Veronique remembers, "During the last year at school - at the fall break - we had lessons at The Dutch National Ballet. Rudi van Dantzig, artistic director at the time, offered us a contract. Marvelous!"

Veronique had a dancing career of thirteen years at The Dutch National Ballet. After that she stopped. "When you are over thirty, you are more susceptible to injuries and you have had your best years." She went to a high school for adults, completed two years of theology and enrolled in a professional training course for the publishing industry.

About eight years ago the Lord started to call. "I did not enter the convent immediately. It has been quite a process. I had an inner struggle for years: should I become a nun, yes or no? I really didn’t want to join as I did not think of myself as a nun. But the call of the Lord was getting stronger and stronger, almost becoming a cry. I could not ignore it any longer."

Now Veronique is a novice in the convent of the Carmelites in Zenderen and consecrates her life entirely to God. The nuns celebrate liturgy seven times each day with prayer and chants.

"The days fly by," Veronique says with enthusiasm. "After prayer I have singing and organ lessons. In the future I will accompany our choral prayer on the organ. Each week I follow courses on Bible and spirituality, and we have Lectio Divina. I am also learning bookbinding and I do all kind of domestic chores and office work’. Although her life is quite different now, Veronique doesn’t miss the life outside the convent. "Not for a second! I feel very happy here. By e-mail I stay regularly in contact with my mother and best friends, but I have really found my niche here."

Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebrated in Lithuania - Carmelites Tjeu Timmermans (Neer), Johan Hettinga (Neer), participate in a discussion in Vilnius, Lithuania. Also participating in the annual summer camp were Miceal O´Neill (Hib) and Felix M. Schandl (GerS) and 55 Lithuanians.