no. 4 october - december 2006
FORMATION AND COMMUNICATION AT THE SERVICE OF THE COMMUNITY
Prior General Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm., formally opened the
International Congress on Sunday, September 3, 2006 at Istituto Il
Carmelo, Sassone. General Delegate for Carmelite Laity, Josef Jancar,
O. Carm., gave the Welcoming Address to 240 attendees from 25 different
Lay Carmelites from eight different countries and cultures gave brief talks on their personal experience of formation as a Lay Carmelite. They were: Italy: Luca Venturi from La Famiglia; Britain: Johan Bergström-Allen; Brazil: Amanda Rodrigues Jordão; Australia: Teresa Paradowski; Spain: Jaime Lledó Patiño; United States of America: Rose Mary Lancellotti; Indonesia: Hubertus Suprashartono; Africa: Jennifer Wanjiku John (Nairobi, Kenya). Maria Manella (Italy) explained about the more recently formed lay group for families, Carmelo Domestico.
The meaningful liturgies were arranged by the Carmelite students led by Mihai Augustin Folner, O. Carm. (Ital-R), providing a variety of liturgies and languages to suit the multi-cultural assembly. Carlos Mesters, O. Carm., led a Lectio Divina hour.
On the Wednesday, September 6, the participants traveled by bus to Rome for the Papal Audience in St Peter’s Square and then dined at a nearby restaurant for lunch. The afternoon was free time to allow the participants to do some sight-seeing and shopping before meeting again at Santa Maria in Traspontina, the Carmelite church near the Vatican, for Mass at 5.00 pm. The journey back to Sassone was a sight-seeing tour with experienced guides explaining the various sights.
Congress participants were invited to bring samples of formation and other material to display and share. A large room was set up and became known as The Carmelite Market Place. A highlight was the Timor Leste display, graphic photos of the recent suffering, creating an awareness of the financial need to rebuild infrastructures to provide even the barest necessities for survival. Many colorful handmade items sold quickly. The Carmelite Market Place was transformed into an experience of joy, song and dance, ably assisted by the African participants. All barriers of language and culture continued to dissolve each evening when participants gathered in the courtyard for conversation, laughter, song and dance. An Entertainment Night provided much fun when the various provinces presented items reflecting their culture and traditions.
General Delegate for the Lay Carmelites, Josef Jancar’s summary of the Congress was presented to the participants before Prior General Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm., celebrated the closing Mass. A procession from the Chapel to a shrine in the garden was led by the hosts of the Congress, members of the General Commission for Carmelite Laity. Participants carried lighted candles in the procession as they chanted Ubi Caritas. A member of the Italian Province carried a large icon of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Commission members distributed small wooden crosses, blessed by the Prior General at the shrine.
Amanda Rodrigues Jordão, a member of the Third Order from Pernambuco, Brazil, called the meeting "very beautiful in all regards." A pediatrician and member of the International Commission for Lay Carmelites, she said, "Our commission was very happy with the results—a wonderful opportunity for the laity to get together to talk about our organizational structure and communication, and how to do things better."
"In Sassone, I saw that how the charism of the Order is lived by Lay Carmelites is going to vary from country to country. But I also saw that it is always expressed in a very rich way," said Carlos Castagnola, secretary of the Comisión Mixta OCARM-OCD para Latinoamérica y el Caribe.
Asked what was the high point of the meeting, there was no pause to reflect. "The Lectio Divina without a doubt. It was an incredible experience of prayer in common but in various languages—sharing, praying, and singing in various languages. Incredible!"
Fr. Désiré Unen Alimange, O. Carm, Commissary Province of the Congo, remembered that each participant renewed their own commitment to announce Christ Crucified and Risen with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Each participant received a cross, a symbol of the Congress to recall their commitment.
For Carmen Reátegui of Lima, Peru, the meeting in Sassone was her first international experience of the Order. "I was very moved by the presentation by Jennifer [Wanjuku John], a young female nurse for Aids patients in Kenya. She spoke about the symbolism of fire in the communities of Africa, how the community would move around but how essential fire is in their lives. It gives them warmth, cooks the food, and provides a focus for them to meet around in the evenings to talk about things in their lives. Fire—like that of Elijah and of the Holy Spirit—is such a powerful symbol for Carmelites too. We are on the move too as our lives as Carmelites is a pilgrimage and yet our life is sustained by the fire.
The Congress proved to be a unique experience of listening, learning, sharing and enjoying each other’s company, catching up with friends in Carmel, and making new friends. A true Carmelite Family gathering!
Anita Renehan, T. O. C.
(Previous page) Some of the more than 240 participants in the Lay Carmelite Congress in Sassone, Italy. (Above) Participants during the closing liturgy. (Photos courtesy of Johan Bergström-Allen)
Carmelite formators, representing formation programs on all five continents, met in Nairobi, Kenya July 24-August 5, 2006, to discuss the inculturation of the Carmelite charism today. The meeting took place at the Dimesse Sisters Spiritual Center.
The course began with a personal introduction and the presentation of the similarities and differences in formation programs in the provinces and commissariats.
Fr. Tom Grenham, SPS, gave the first talk: "Global Synthesis: Who and Whose We are in a World of Flux." He addressed the reality of cultural globalization and its influences on our identity as individuals. Once the group finished discussing the fundamental question, "Who I am and where I am living," he further invited participants to reconstruct the elements of their Carmelite identity, describing the elements which are essential and therefore non-negotiable, and other elements of the charism which are negotiable.
Fr. Elochukwu Uzukwu, C.S.Sp., addressed the topic of inculturation, beginning with definitions taken from the official documents of the Church, including writings of Popes John Paul II and Paul VI, as well as Ad Gentes, 22. He proposed the Bible as a base of inculturation and the reality of being Catholic in a multicultural and multi-religious world.
In light of the two presenters, the participants were asked to identify the real questions, issues, and needs of the people in their respective cultures. After the experts finished, participants engaged in lectio divina with the RIVC (#23-49) individually and in regional groups. Participants then focused on words regarding fundamental Carmelite values and expressed them in a prayer form.
The participants had two experiences of critical issues in Kenya; viz., an orphanage for children infected with HIV (Nyumbani) and the Missionaries of Charity’s work in the largest slum in Africa (Kibera).
The participants then presented the three critical issues in their respective regions (see box on page 9) and the Carmelite response to them in light of the charism. Specific strategies were developed for regions and local formation programs. Those strategies are in the full report of the meeting, and communication of them is being done through local and regional participants.
The meeting was organized by the members of the International Formation Commission. Facilitators for the conference were Quinn Conners (PCM) and Conrad Mutizamhepo (Hib-Z).
All regions suggested ways of responding to these realities in light of the Carmelite charism at different levels of formation.The recommendations that flow from this are:
To acknowledge and appreciate the multi-cultural reality of the Order in all its programs and materials.
Evaluate candidates to Carmel in terms of their ability to be formed in a holistic way.
Immersion study programs in multi-cultural settings.
Develop sensitivity to issues of justice and peace for the formandi (e.g., living with the marginalized).
Upgrading our libraries and study materials for students in our formation houses. Continued cooperation between provinces to make the resources available.
Face the challenge of having joint novitiate programmes and consider, where possible, joint philosophical and theological studies.
Consider exchange of personnel between provinces/commissariats.
Train formators for forming candidates in the multi-cultural reality of the Order and provinces/commissariats.
Ongoing formation of Carmelites includes the multi-cultural dimension (e.g., inter-cooperation of provinces to form communities).
Participants at the Carmelite Formators meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on July 24 – August 5, 2006 take a break. (Photo courtesy of Raul Maravi)
To prepare recommendations for the 2007 General Chapter in September, a follow-up to the 2002 Audit of the Order’s Communication Program was mailed to Provinces and monasteries throughout the Order at the end of September. This second audit will identify changes that have occurred in communications around the Order as well as areas for improvement. Specific proposals will be made to the 2007 General Chapter to address those areas.
"The International Communications Commission found the original survey critical to its work of encouraging the development of communications around the Order. This second survey is a check to see what was actually accomplished," said William J. Harry, O. Carm., the General Councilor responsible for Communications. "Participation in the first survey was good but we hope to have even broader participation in this second audit so that some useful, realistic proposals can be made to the General Chapter for its consideration."
One new area not covered substantially in the 2002 Audit deals with communications between the international Order and the monastery or province. This has been addressed in the second audit.
Those monasteries or provinces which did not complete the 2002 questionnaire are still invited to participate in the audit. Interested provinces and monasteries should contact the CITOC office in Rome (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Audit identifies changes in the monastery or province communications program in the last 5 years in the areas of (1) the internet, (2) publishing (books, newspapers, CD’s, audio-visual materials, etc) and use of tv, radio, theater, art, and film, (3) incorporation of communications in the formation program, and (4) networking with the media (public relations), and (5) the development of communications between provinces and monasteries and the General Curia.
Replies are due at the Curia by December 1, 2006.