no. 3 july - september 2005
The 2005 General Congregation, "Serving the Church and the World in an Era of Change," will be held in São Paolo, Brazil on September 5-15, 2005. The meeting will focus on what the Order must do in order to plan for the future.
Participants have already received materials which will be discussed at the meetings.
As was previously announced, noted Latin American theologian Gustavo A. Gutiérrez will lead a full day retreat as part of the meeting. He will also speak on the needs of the Church in today’s world.
The General Council decided to hold the meeting in Brazil as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Rio de Janeiro Province and the Carmelite presence in Latin America. On September 10, members of the Congregation will participate with the Carmelite bishops of Brazil, and other members of the Carmelite Family in a celebration led by the Prior General in São Paolo.
The General Congregation is provided for in the 1995 Constitutions. It is to be held two years before a General Chapter and provides some of the initial discussions which the Chapter will then deal with. The Constitutions also specify who is to participate in the meeting.
The website of the 2005 General Congregation, accessible from carmelites.info, gives access to a variety of information about the meeting, including some of the documents to be discussed and summaries of the day’s events. It also provides practical information for those attending the two week meeting.
All members of the Carmelite Family are invited to follow the meetings at the General Congregations website. A summary of the day’s events will be posted in the three languages as access to the internet allows.
New Enclosed Monastery Inaugurated in Biella, Italy
The Carmelite nuns of Carpineto Romano celebrated the inauguration of a new monastery in Biella, Italy on Saturday, June 4, 2005.
In 1985, the charismatic Italian priest Enzo Boschetti, now deceased, invited the Carmelites to consider making a foundation. Fr. Boschetti was the founder of "Casa del Giovane", a series of small homes where young people with difficulties could live. His hope was to have a community of contemplative nuns along side each of these youth homes.
This is the third foundation of the Carpineto Romano community which just concluded its own 25th anniversary of foundation in April.
Pictures of the new monastery can be found on the CITOC website. The address for the website of the monastery is: http://monasterobiella.interfree.it/
Carmelite Nuns enter their new monastery in Biella, Italy ahead of diocesan priests on June 4. The new monastery is the third foundation of the Carpineto Romano monastery which just celebrated its 25th anniversary. (CITOC photo)
Chapel, Carmelite Monastery, Biella, Italy (CITOC photo)
At the Dutch Chapter in May 2005, the members voted to accept responsibility for the mission in Lithuania.
In a letter to those who had been previously involved in the mission, the Prior Provincial of the Dutch Province, Ben Wolbers, wrote that the Chapter’s decision was based on reports of the discussion of the Provincial Council of the Dutch Province and the meeting of the provincials of the Northern European Region.
In 1998 Bishop Eugenijus Bartulis, of the Diocese of Šiauliai, wrote to the Prior General to ask that the Carmelites consider reestablishing the Order in Lithuania. The first Carmelites, members of the Polish-Bohemian Province, arrived in Vilnius in 1514. Other houses were later opened by the Russian Province. Separate Lithuanian Provinces were established in 1756 and 1766 with about 30 houses in total. Catholic religious were expelled in 1830-1831 and the last house in Vilnius closed in 1863.
Since 2000, a small team of Carmelites from the Northern European Region have traveled to Lithuania each year to meet with groups of youth. These "summer camps" were normally held around the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16th. In a letter to the Prior General in 2002, the bishop remarked on the success of the Carmelites’ annual celebration. "People … already cannot image this celebration without the presence of the friars, without the ceremony of enrollment into the Scapular of Our Lady. Young people from all over the country are already used to expecting the friars to have a summer camp on Carmelite spirituality."
The Discalced Carmelite enclosed nuns have been in Lithuania a number of years.
The Challenge of Revisioning Religious Life
The 65th bi-annual assembly of the Union of Superiors General (USG), an international organization of the major superiors of the male religious orders, took place towards the end of May 2005. The focus of that gathering was to follow up the Congress of the Consecrated Life, which was held in Rome in iNovember 2004. I wrote about this Congress in my circular letter, "Passion for Christ. Passion for Humanity".
I want to mention only one point regarding the future of Consecrated Life. The first speaker presented us with two models: St. Francis of Assisi and the Prophet Elijah. He pointed out that we often work from an unproved supposition that the current structure of religious life is the right one, and that it is only a question of updating it. Like Elijah, we must learn to discern the voice of God in the midst of what is happening to us. What Religious Life really needs today is saints and prophets who are capable of showing that Jesus Christ is the answer. We must believe that the Gospel is strong enough to provide an answer to the needs of today. Sometimes we have our own project and look to God to give us the means to carry out this project, instead of giving space to the Lord to show us what is God’s project. Let us seek to become immersed in Christ and filled with God’s passion for humanity.
The first house of the Carmelite mission in Kenya was dedicated on June 29, 2005. The house is located in Nkoroi in the Diocese of Ngong. The building was complete four years after the start of the mission in 2001. The mission is part of the Upper German Province with the Indian Commissariat of the Province taking the responsibility for the mission.
Bustani ya Karmeli (Garden of Carmel) was dedicated in a ceremony which included participation from the Vicar General of the Diocese of Ngong, the Prior Provincial of the Upper German Province, Christian Körner, member of the Provincial Council, Guido Niessner, and the Commissary Provincial of India, John Adapoor. Anthony Scerri, the General Councilor for Africa also participated. Two other member of the Indian Commissariate, two Kenyan Carmelites from the Catalonian Province, and two students from the Indian Commissariat were also present. Simplisio Manyika respresented the Zimbabwean Carmelites.
About 400 religious, parishioners, and friends of the Carmelites attended.
A Kenyan student of the Argo-Valentine Province will join the community later.
Courtyard of Bustani ya Karmeli (Garden of Carmel), the new Carmelite monastery in Nkoroi, Kenya was dedicated before a large group of visitors. (Photo courtesy of the Upper German Province)