|O God, Most Holy Trinity, through your grace the Church gave birth to the
Order of Carmel so we might live in fraternity and prayer, and, in the example of Mary and
Elijah, be a prophetic presence in our world. We ask that you send the Holy Spirit upon
the Order as we prepare to celebrate a new General Chapter. We pray that this be a grace
filled event for the whole Carmelite Family. May our gathering renew in each of us the
openness to follow Jesus Christ with love and fidelity, living the spirit of the Carmelite
charism. We ask you, Most Holy Trinity, to send your blessing upon us all through the
intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Patroness of Carmel! Amen.
THEME OF THE CHAPTER
Carmel: The Journey Continues -
"Here then are a few points I have written down to provide you with a standard of
conduct to live up to" (Rule, 24)
We have chosen this theme because, after many years of study and reflection, the Order
has come to a greater awareness of the nature of its charism as a contemplative charism,
which gives life to its following of Christ, in prayer, in fraternity and in service in
the midst of the people, following the example of the Virgin Mary and the Prophet Elijah.
This theme is a development of that of the General Chapter 1995, that is: "Carmel:
a place and a journey in the third millennium." That General Chapter wanted to
develop the idea of the mission of the Order today and we took the experience of the
Prophet Elijah as a point of reference: -" Get up and eat, because the journey is
long" ( I Kings 19,7). The 1995 General Chapter gave to the whole Order a major
impetus through the documents published after the Chapter, and especially in the new
Constitutions. In the following years, we have seen the publication of the final document
of the General Chapter, the Global Plan of the General Council, the new Ratio (RIVC), some
issues of the Carmelite Directory and various letters addressed to all Carmelites from the
two Superiors General, O.Carm. and O.C.D.
During the General Congregation, held in Bamberg, Germany, in August 1999, the
conclusion was reached that the charism has been well defined in the recent documents and
now it is time to take another step, i.e. to find effective methods to assimilate all
these documents in order that we might live the Carmelite charism in greater depth. It is
important that the fruits of the work and study of the Order reach every community and
THE WORK OF THE GENERAL CHAPTER
It is the responsibility of the General Chapter:
a) to approve the Constitutions and other general codes of the Orders law
for the Order in general; to foster spiritual and apostolic vitality; to draw up and
communicate to the General Council guidelines and criteria to be used by the General
Council in the government of the Order during the following six years; to adapt laws for
the needs of the time through an appropriate updating.
b) to elect the Prior General and the members of the General Council according to
articles 276. §1. and 295;
c) to define the means and channels through which the life of the Order may radiate, in
fraternal communication, to all the members;
d) to decide on any other matters which the Chapter may consider appropriate.
To assist the deliberations of the General Chapter, the Prior General, six months
before the Chapter, must send the gremiales, his report and the documentation on the state
of the Order and on the problems that seem to be coming up in the next six years. (Const.
I want to explain the state of the Order under the headings of the responsibilities of
the members of the General Council listed in Const. 300, 303, 306 and 307 and then I will
mention some other points.
Firstly I want to express my gratitude to all those with whom I have worked during this
sexennium, and in special way, to the members of the General Council, the Secretary
General and the members of the community of the Curia.
The work of the General Council followed the outline of the global plan that was
requested by the General Chapter 1995. The General Council produced it in the first months
of the sexennium and introduced it to the Council of Provinces, in Lisieux (September,
1997). In this global plan, we have tried to be faithful to the vision of the General
Chapter 1995 that was shared with the whole Order in the final document. We thanked the
Lord because "he leads us, like a shepherd,
.towards a mature and creative
fidelity to the service of the Gospel, as we approach the third millennium." We have
felt the need of "a continual state of conversion towards the Gospel. This conversion
needs to be more profound and radical than ever and will lead us to share deeply in the
anxieties, problems, sufferings and hopes of the people of today."
a) PRIOR GENERAL
According to Cost. 275, the job of the Prior General is to "ensure effectively
the common good of the whole Order; to work strenuously so that the authentic spirit of
Carmel, especially with respect to the life of prayer, may be truly present in every
Province, and increase day by day; to promote tirelessly the growth and development of the
Order and the apostolic and academic vitality of the religious."
I have always put the accent on the life of prayer as the basis of our vocation and I
have spoken on various occasions about contemplation, prayer and community life in
particular. I have tried to fulfil my role through visits at the time of the Provincial
Chapters or for celebrations of various types, and also through letters. I have also
published" In Allegiance to Jesus Christ" in three languages in 1999, a small
book that contains 10 talks given on different occasions. I hope that a glossy magazine
will be published soon to celebrate this year of the General Chapter.
I have visited all the areas of the Order during these six years. I have been present
at almost all the Provincial and General Commissariat Chapters and some Chapters of
Provincial Commissariats. It seems that few Superiors General go to every Chapter. The
advantages are that I have been able to meet a majority of the brothers at the same time,
and I have heard the situation in the Province, with the problems and with the good
points. Some Provinces have used the presence of the Prior General and Councillor, at the
time of the Chapter, to visit some communities or to give some talks to various groups
I have made other visits for celebrations, congresses etc. The style of visit that for
me was most satisfactory, in the sense that I have been able to do more, was "the
fraternal-working visit". In this style of visit, I went with the Councillor, to all
the communities or to groups of communities, where I gave a talk on the Order and on our
spirituality. Together we then discussed the material and tried to apply it to the real
situation of the Province. After this there was the possibility for individuals to talk
personally to the visitors. At the end of these meetings with the community or with the
groups, we had a meeting with the priors because a problem for the Order, that I want to
treat later, is how we can live in community. At the end of the visit, we had a meeting
with the Provincial Council, then I wrote a letter to all the brothers, reflecting on what
we found during the visit.
b) VICE PRIOR GENERAL
It is for the Vice Prior General to represent the Prior General when he is absent
from Rome, to organise and to coordinate the work of the General Council and oversee the
various technical offices of the Curia (Const. 300). Fr. Gaspar Mondéjar Albaladejo, the
Vice Prior General, had also the job of being the contact with the Carmelite nuns and with
the sisters of the Carmelite Congregations (Const. 303,a).
Because of his illness, this sexennium has not been easy for him, but he has done his
job to the best of his ability. During the first three years, Fr. Gaspar was also prior of
the Curia. During this sexennium, we have improved the ambience and the offices of the
Curia. In 1996, email was introduced in the Curia and this has considerably helped the
work of the General Council (or perhaps it has given us more work!).
c) PROCURATOR GENERAL
Fr. Lucio Renna (Nap) was elected Procurator General at the General Chapter 1995.
The role of the Procurator General is to represent the Order at the Holy See. He also took
on the role of Delegate for the Carmelite Laity. Then in 1999 he was nominated bishop of
On August 20th 1999, the General Council named Fr. Josef Jancar the new Procurator
General, following Const. 305.
Fr. Jancar will give a written report to the General Chapter with the details of all
the indults granted during this sexennium.
During the sexennium, various Carmelite liturgical texts were approved, especially a
new rite of blessing and giving of the Scapular.
d) BURSAR GENERAL
Fr. Pere Soler i Anglada (Cat) was elected for a second term at the General Chapter
1995. He himself will give a report to the General Chapter 2001, but I want to make some
points regarding certain financial issues.
i) Financial Directory
According to the Constitutions (399 #1), "It pertains to the General Chapter, and
outside the Chapter, to the Prior General with the consent of his Council, to approve the
Financial Directory of the Order containing norms concerning the ordinary and
extraordinary administration of goods, and the duties and requirements of bursars."
In fulfilment of this article of the Constitutions, the General Council set up an
"ad hoc" commission to prepare an update of the Financial Directory, which had
been in force since 1986. This update was studied and reviewed at the meeting of
Provincial Bursars in 1997 and by the General Financial Commission, also in 1997.
Subsequently in December 1997, with the consent of the General Council, I approved the
definitive text of the Financial Directory.
ii) CISA (St. Alberts) and Curia House
The General Chapter 1995 approved the following proposal: -
1. The General Chapter is to set up an International Commission to make a study of CISA
and to report to the General Council.
a) The Commission will also look into the building known as Pio XI (Curia)
2. The General Chapter gives power to the new General Council to take the final
decision on CISA.
3. The International Commission should include competent Carmelites and professional
lay people to make a study and a report on CISA.
4. The timescale for the completion of these studies is the next Council of Provinces,
in approximately eighteen months to two years.
5. The Bursar General should be the person responsible for supervising the putting into
operation of the plan, once the General Council has made its decision.
Following this decision of the Chapter, the General Council named an international
commission. This commission completed its study, and basing itself on its suggestions, the
General Council decided to proceed with a restructuring of CISA and the Curia House. The
economic details will be given in the report of the Bursar General. The decision of the
General Council was fully discussed during the XIV Council of Provinces, held in Lisieux
Now the Curia house is in good condition and a major refurbishment has been completed
in CISA. The original idea was to pay for all the works through making a part of CISA into
a guesthouse. The "Domus Carmelitana" was inaugurated in September 1999. The
General Council decided to collaborate with a company called, "SIAT" for the
operation of the Domus. From the part of the Order, Fr. Vincenzo Mosca (Nap) was nominated
legal representative and director general. According to the contract, SIAT agreed to
manage the Domus (ordinary management, delegated to them by the director general). At the
end of the year, the contract stipulated that, after the payment of all the expenses, the
benefits would be divided 80% to the Order and 20% to SIAT. SIAT decided not to renew the
contract after its expiration, on April 18, 2001. The General Council decided to manage
the Domus without the collaboration of another firm, and so Fr. Mosca was renamed legal
representative and director general. There will be more details on the running of the
Domus at the General Chapter. During the year 2000 there was an average of 62% occupation
and future prospects seem good.
The financing of the restructuring was discussed during the General Congregation
(Bamberg, 1999). It was decided at the General Congregation that the Provinces will take
responsibility for the debt for the refurbishment of CISA and the Curia and that what is
earned from the Domus Carmelitana will be used for paying off the debt for its
construction. 40% of the costs of the refurbishment of the Curia were donated by an agency
in Holland. It was left to each Provincial to work out with the Curia how to pay the
particular Provinces part of the total debt.
Another important financial decision made during the General Congregation was that all
the Provinces would pay, according to the normal percentages, for all the expenses of the
General Chapter 2001, included the expenses of the trips to and from the Chapter.
iv) New pathways
These decisions have shown generosity, solidarity and fraternity in practical matters.
However our Order is not rich. As mendicants, we have looked for and found funds from
various agencies for the works of the Order. The International Finance Commission has
suggested to the General Council at various times, that it is necessary to look elsewhere
for funds, because the resources of the Provinces are not capable of maintaining all the
projects that we have. The following proposal was approved during the General Congregation
"Creation of an international finance commission: that an international commission
be nominated to seek new ways of building up the finances of the Order".
Before naming this commission, I spoke with some people who had experience in the
financial area and those with some experience in fundraising. The PCM Province very
generously has offered the funds to establish an office for economic development. I made a
request to the PCM Province for c. $800,000 extended over three years. This request was
agreed to. Furthermore Fr. Bob Colaresi (PCM), the director of the "Little Flower
Society" (the office that raises funds for the Province), will be the person with
over all responsibility for the development office for the Curia, while continuing with
his own job in the "Little Flower Society" in Chicago. I would also like to
thank the British Province for offering us the space to start this office in Faversham
(England) and for the availability of Br. Kevin Alban (Brit) as the person responsible in
The idea is to send cards and letters to selected people and little by little to
establish a personal relationship with them. There will be an invitation to share in our
mission through prayer and financial help. The experts in this field maintain that it
takes three years before seeing results. The PCM Province has assured me the funds for the
first three years, and then in the future we hope that this office can contribute to the
expenses of the Curia. "The Little Flower Society" in Chicago works very well
and contributes a lot to the expenses of the PCM Province. I hope that, basing ourselves
on this model, the Curia in the future won't have to ask too much from the Provinces.
Besides, when the whole debt for the restructuring of the Curia and St. Alberts is
paid off, the " Domus Carmelitana" will contribute a lot to the work of the
v) Car Park
The previous General Council made a contract with a firm for a parking lot underneath
CISA. According to the terms of this contract, the firm had up to December 2000 to obtain
all the requisite permissions and then to start the project. December 2000 has passed and
now the contract has passed its term. It does not seem opportune to look for other firms
to make another project because what we could earn from one side, we could lose from the
other with the problems that work under CISA would cause to the community and the Domus
The General Council receives donations from various sources and with this money we have
been able to help our nuns with their various needs and we have also given a bursary to
some Carmelites for their studies.
THE REGIONS OF THE ORDER
1) LATIN AMERICA
The Councillor for Latin America is Fr. Wilmar Santin (Germ. Sup. Paraná). He has
visited all the houses of the Order in the region at least twice.
At the beginning of the third millennium there are more than 260 Carmelite friars in
the following Latin-American countries: - Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico,
Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. There is also a foundation of friars
in Trinidad and a presence in El Salvador. There are also Carmelite sisters in some of
these countries. We have nine enclosed monasteries of nuns in the region (4 in the
Dominican Republic, 2 in Puerto Rico, 2 in Brazil and 1 in Peru).
In Peru (Sicuani), there is a Carmelite bishop and in Brazil there are
six Carmelite bishops (two of whom are emeriti).
In recent years we have seen a mutual collaboration, particularly in
the field of formation. Different courses have been developed for formators (FOCAL),
meetings of formators and novitiates in common. Within the Carmelite Family, there have
also been meetings of superiors. The meetings with the Discalced Carmelites have continued
with a joint committee for Latin America.
The three courses of FOCAL in these six years (1995-2001) have had as
their themes: the Postulancy, the Novitiate and the Juniorate. The reason for these
courses is to facilitate dialogue among the formators in order to reach a common vision on
the fundamental values of formation and to share new ideas.
b) Meetings of Superiors
In September 1996 a meeting took place in Brazil of the Superiors of
the Carmelite Family of Latin America, during which it was decided to form a team to
coordinate the activities of the Family. In 1998 and in September of 2000, two other
meetings of the Superiors took place in Venezuela and in Peru. These meetings encourage
unity among the various groups that compose the Family and they motivate us to work
c) Meetings of the Mixed O.Carm-OCD Commission
The joint commission of O.Carm and OCD friars in Latin America was set
up in the previous sexennium. In the last six years (1995-2001) four meetings of the
commission have taken place with another planned for June 2001. The first of these
meetings occurred in Guatemala in 1996 with the theme: "New Paradigms of Holiness. A
rereading of some Carmelite saints from a Latin American perspective". Then
the theme for the meeting in Brazil in 1998 was: "The prophetic dimension of
Carmelite spirituality". The following year, the commission met in Mexico on the
topic: "The apostolic dimension of Carmel". In the year 2000, the meeting in
Peru took as its theme: "The experience of God and fraternity at the service of the
people of Latin America and the Caribbean." Finally the 2001 meeting will be in
Venezuela on "Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Latin America." There have
been two publications in Spanish and one in Portuguese that encapsulate the contents of
d) The future
Brazil is where Carmel has its strongest presence in Latin America: two
Provinces and a Provincial Commissariat plus two Congregations of sisters founded in
Brazil, i.e. "Carmelitas da Divina Providencia" and "Missionarias
Carmelitas", two Monasteries of enclosed nuns, a Province of the "Carmelitane
Missionarie di Santa Teresa del Bambino Gesù", and two communities of the
"Istituto di Nostra Signora del Carmelo" and one community of the Donum Dei
In the other countries of Latin America, the presence of Carmelites is somewhat less,
however, we should make special mention of Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. In
Venezuela there are two Provincial Commissariats that are working together to form at some
time in the future one General Commissariat. There is also a Congregation, born in
Venezuela (Carmelitas de Madre Candelaria), a monastery of enclosed nuns and some
communities of the "Hermanas Carmelitas del Sagrado Corazón." In the Dominican
Republic, apart the friars, there are four enclosed monasteries and two vicariates of the
"Hermanas de La Virgen Maria del Monte Carmelo" and "Hermanas Carmelitas
del Sagrado Corazón."
The Latin-American Carmelite Family is growing slowly. There is a gradual growth in
identity and a great vitality inside the Family. Faced with the great problems and the
challenges of the continent, the Carmelite Family transmits the basic Carmelite values: to
form praying communities in the midst of the people, based on a prayerful reading of the
2) ASIA, AFRICA AND AUSTRALIA
The General Councillor responsible for this region is Fr. Anthony Scerri (Aust).
In this continent there is great poverty and political confusion. However in this
situation, there is also great vitality within the ecclesial community. The celebration of
the African Synod in Rome has been really a cause of hope for the Christians of Africa.
i) BURKINA FASO
This mission started in January 2000 in the city of Bobo Dioulasso. The mission is
under the jurisdiction of the Betica Province and there are three friars from the Province
(1 from Burkina, 1 from the Ivory Coast, 1 Spaniard) and a friar from the Italian
Province. A second Burkinabe was recently ordained priest.
In Burkina Faso, there are also two communities of the Donum Dei Family. They are to be
thanked for the fact that there are some vocations for the Order in that country.
The Provincial Commissary of the Democratic Republic of Congo (It) has accepted the
responsibility for the formation of candidates from Cameroon in view of a possible
foundation in that country. This has been done with the approval of the Italian
Provincial. The Province of Lower Germany has accepted a certain responsibility for the
new foundation in Cameroon. At the beginning, the Province of Lower Germany will take care
of the financial needs for the formation of the candidates from Cameroon and it is hoped
that the Province can develop a personal relationship with the candidates. Belonging to
the Provincial Commissariat of the Congo, it is clear that the candidates from Cameroon
form part of the Italian Province. The new candidates have been nurtured in Cameroon by
the Donum Dei Family, which has a community in the country.
The original decision was that formators from the Congo would go to Cameroon to meet
with some young people who had expressed an interest in the Order and to help them discern
whether they had a Carmelite vocation. Despite the war in the Congo and with many
sacrifices, the brothers in the Congo have put the decision into action and they chose
three young men from Cameroon to start the novitiate in the Congo in the year 2000.
For practical motives, because of the uncertain political situation in the Congo, the
Provincial Commissary has suggested that it would be better for the formation of the
Cameronese candidates, to make a foundation in that country in the near future. All the
interested parties are studying this possibility with the General Council.
iii) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
The Italian Province began a mission in Zaire (now D.R. Congo) in 1973. There are
around 50 friars in Congo, including a good group of young Africans in formation. There
are four Italians and the rest are Congolese.
Congo is suffering from a long civil war. In consequence, the economy is in bad shape
and the political situation is unclear. We remember our brother Jean-Floribert Mandro
Kamaragi who was killed to Kinshasa in 1998.
There is a community of the "Hermanas de La Virgen Maria del Monte Carmelo"
in the Congo.
Nairobi is an important centre for ecclesiastical studies in Africa, and the General
Council has decided that we should investigate the possibility of a foundation. The
brothers of the Provincial Commissariat of India (Germ. Sup) have accepted the invitation
to begin this mission. We already have three Kenyan friars in simple vows in the Province
of Catalonia and one in the Province of Arago-Valentina. It is not yet clear when this
foundation will be made.
The nuns of the monastery of Utrera (Spain) made a new foundation in the diocese of
Machakos at the end of 1999. This is the first foundation of our nuns in Africa. There is
also a community of the Donum Dei Family in Nairobi. There is also a large group of
tertiaries. A Consolata priest founded this group, with permission from the then Prior
General, Fr. Kilian Healy.
Thanks to the discernment of the Corpus Christi Carmelite Sisters, there are some young
men in Liberia who feel called to the Carmelite way of life. At the request of the General
Council, two friars of the British Province visited Liberia, along with a Liberian sister
from the above named congregation, and they have chosen three young people to begin a
period of formation for the Carmelite life in England. Only two have been successful with
the application for a visa and these are now in London as candidates for the Order. The
project is to found a mission in Liberia. For this we have collaborated with some bishops
in Liberia, with some SMA missionaries and the Corpus Christi Carmelites. The British
Province has in mind to send two friars each year for a working visit in order to build up
a relationship between Liberia and the Province.
The Corpus Christi Carmelite Sisters are preparing to reopen their mission that they
had to close because of the civil war in Liberia.
We have a foundation in Mozambique, in the diocese of Beira (Gorongosa), since August
1998. There are three friars of the Pernambuco Province. There are several candidates for
the Order and it will be necessary soon to make some provision for their formation.
There are also four communities of the "Hermanas Carmelitas del Sagrado Corazón
de Jesús" and the sisters have greatly helped the Order in making the foundation,
especially in the vocational field.
The General Commissariat of "La Bruna" is preparing a foundation in Tanzania.
In the Commissariat there is already one friar from Tanzania who is ordained priest, a
novice and five postulants. In Tanzania there are the "Suore Carmelitane Missionarie
di S. Teresa del Bambino Gesù" who have helped a lot in the discernment of these
The Irish Province founded a mission in Zimbabwe in 1949, and there are now 22 solemnly
professed members of the Provincial Commissariat (6 born in Zimbabwe). There are 25 young
Africans in formation.
In Zimbabwe there are also the Handmaids of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a congregation
founded by Mgr. Lamont O.Carm., bishop emeritus of Mutare.
The Dutch Province began a mission in the Philippines in 1958 and there is now a
Provincial Commissariat. Together with the Mother Province, the Commissariat is working
towards independence. There are 31 friars with solemn vows (24 Filipinos and 7 Dutch) and
5 in initial formation.
There is a strong presence of the Carmelite Family in the Philippines. There are five
monasteries of enclosed nuns. All form part of a Federation and they are preparing for a
sixth foundation in order to have a monastery where they can have courses of formation for
the members of the Federation. There is also the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of
Our Lady (founded in the Philippines), a community of the "Carmelitane Missionarie di
S. Teresa del Bambino Gesù", several communities of the Congregation of Our Lady of
Mt. Carmel and one community each of the Donum Dei Family and of the "Instituto di
Nostra Signora del Monte Carmelo". The Third Order is very large and includes lay
people, priests and seminarians.
The Province of Upper Germany started the foundation in India in 1983, but it was the
result of a long preparation. Some young Indians did all of their Carmelite formation in
Germany, and then the four that were ordained priests, returned to India to begin the
foundation. It was not possible for a foreigner to live permanently in India, and so this
was the only way of making a foundation there. This has been the model for other more
recent plans for foundations.
There are now 36 friars with solemn vows, and more than 20 in initial formation. In
1999 the Provincial Commissariat started a foundation in the north of India where the
great majority is Hindu. As has been noted above, the brothers of this Commissariat have
accepted to begin a foundation in Kenya.
The Province of Indonesia has the greatest number of Carmelites in initial formation
(c. 150). The majority of the friars are in Java, but the Province also has two Provincial
Commissariats in North Sumatra and Flores. Both Java and Flores have novitiates and
student houses. They have made a foundation in East Timor (Timor Loro Sae). Two Carmelite
friars are working there in a situation of devastation. The country is under the
government of the U.N.
In Indonesia there are two Carmelite bishops and two monasteries of enclosed nuns.
There is also a strong presence of the "Hermanas de La Virgen Maria del Monte
Carmelo" in Indonesia and Timor Loro Sae. There is a congregation of sisters (Putri
Carmel) and brothers (Congregation of St. Elijah) founded by a member of the Indonesian
Province (Iohanes Indrakusuma).
The Province of Australia, after many years without candidates, has opened a
novitiate. It has also opened its doors to friars from Indonesia, India and the
Philippines, for study purposes in Melbourne. The Australian Province has also expressed
willingness to receive vocations from Oceania.
Shane O'Conner died during his first triennium as Provincial. Fr. Frank Shortis was
elected Prior Provincial during an extraordinary Chapter in 1996 and then he was elected
again at the normal Chapter in 1998. There have been interesting initiatives in the
Province. All the members of the Province, for example, left their apostolates for 3 weeks
to meet together to study the Rule. They discussed the future of the Province and they
committed themselves to build up the fraternity.
3) MEDITERRANEAN EUROPE
Fr. Alexander Vella (Mel) it is the Councillor for this region.
The Mediterranean Region of the Order includes four Provinces in Spain
(Arago-Valentina, Betica, Castile and Catalonia), a General Commisariat in Portugal, two
Provinces (Italian and Neapolitan) and a General Commissariat (La Bruna) in Italy, a
Province to Malta and a General Delegation in France. With the exception of France, all
these are well established and were among the first Provinces of the Order. In France
there are three communities and a hermitage. During 2001, the Delegation left Bourges,
which was the first foundation in France in order to make a new foundation in Angers. In
place of the Delegation, the Polish Province established a community in the same house in
During the General Chapter, it will be important to discuss the future of the Order in
France. Despite all the efforts in the vocational field, there is only one French friar in
formation. The situation is always fragile and it is not easy to find friars from other
Provinces who are suitable for the life in France. However the members of the Delegation,
past and present, have done a good job and they have built up a group of lay people
(Friends of the Carmelites) who support the work of the Order.
The Province of Castille lost its Provincial (Fr. Emilio Martín Herguedas) in a road
accident in 1998. He was replaced by Fr. Juan de Dios Sanz, who was then elected Prior
Provincial at the Chapter in 1999.
Many of these Provinces have foreign missions. Each of the four Spanish Provinces has a
mission in Latin America (Arago-Valentina in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic;
Betica and Catalogna in Venezuela; Castile in Argentina). The Betica Province has lately
opened a new mission in Burkina Faso in Western Africa with the assistance of the Italian
The Italian Province has had a mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo for 28 years
and at present has a new outreach in Colombia. The Province has been planning for a number
of years a mission in Romania and it is hoped that this foundation will take place in the
near future. There is a good number of Rumanians and some from Colombia in formation. The
General Commissariat "La Bruna" is planning a mission in Tanzania and the
Maltese Province has a mission in Bolivia.
There are now around 450 friars in the region, 25 monasteries of enclosed nuns in
Spain, 2 in Portugal and 13 in Italy. There are also two Congregations of Carmelite
sisters founded in Spain (Hermanas de La Virgen Maria del Monte Carmelo and Hermanas
Carmelitas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús) and three in Italy (Suore Carmelitane delle
Grazie, Istituto di Nostra Signora del Monte Carmelo and Suore Carmelitane Missionarie di
S. Teresa del Bambino Gesù). The Missionary Family Donum Dei has a strong presence in
Italy with a large number in formation in Rome. The Third Order and other forms of lay
participation in the Carmelite Family are very strong in the Mediterranean region.
In the Iberian Region, each year there is a meeting of representatives of the Carmelite
Family on a Carmelite theme. All the Provincials of the Iberian Peninsula meet together
frequently. Also the Provincials have meetings with the Superiors General of the Carmelite
sisters and the heads of the Federations of the Nuns, with the Provincials of the
Discalced Carmelites. There are also meetings of the Provincial Councils of the Region.
In Italy we should mention "Cofaci" (Co-ordinating group of the Carmelite
Family in Italy).
It does not seem that the Provinces of the Mediterranean area feel the need to meet or
plan other initiatives at the level of the whole region.
The greater part of the Provinces in Europe is suffering from a lack of vocations and
the Mediterranean region suffers with them. Nevertheless the most have some vocations, and
have opened their doors to young people from different countries with the hope of
eventually opening new missions. There is a strong commitment to our nuns and there are
also many lay people, tertiaries and other groups, which form part of the Carmelite
Family. For the future, I see a growth in the cooperation, which already exists, among the
various components of the Family, to spread the Carmelite values.
4) REGION OF NORTH EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA
Fr. Miceal O.Neill (Hib) is the Councillor for this region, which includes two
Provinces in the United States, two Provinces in Germany, the Province of the Netherlands,
the Polish Province, the Irish Province, the British Province and the General Delegation
of Bohemia and Moravia.
The PCM Province in the United States is divided into three Provincial Commissariats:
the Commissariat of the east (which includes communities in Canada), the Western and
Midwestern Commissariats. This Province also has a Provincial Commissariat in Peru, two
communities in Mexico and a presence in El Salvador. The Province has followed a programme
of discernment to decide on the apostolates that it wants to hold onto in the future,
given a reduced number of friars. It has a strong financial base, which it has generously
put at the service of the whole Order.
The North American Province of Saint Elias is responsible for the foundation in
There exists good co-operation between the two Provinces in the United States. They
have the whole of initial formation together and they also work together for the promotion
of the Third Order, which is particularly strong in the United States. The two Provinces
have chosen an assistant for the Carmelite nuns. There are 4 monasteries of nuns and a
monastery of female hermits. There are also two monasteries of male hermits. They are
already affiliated, but they have made an application to be incorporated into the Order as
friars, with their own Constitutions. Another sector where the two Provinces cooperate is
the Carmelite Institute in Washington, which provides courses on Carmelite history and
The Province of Upper Germany has two Provincial Commissariats: Paranà (Brazil) and
India. This Province is following a programme of spiritual renewal and it has celebrated a
spiritual chapter. The Province of Lower Germany is involved with the future foundation in
Cameroon. There exists good cooperation between the two Provinces in Germany in various
sectors, especially in that of initial formation. There are two monasteries of Carmelite
nuns in Germany.
The Province of the Netherlands has always been a great source of missionary outreach,
and at present, it includes the Provincial Commissariat in the Philippines. There are 5
monasteries of Carmelite nuns. The Titus Brandsma Institute is a very important centre of
spirituality both within the Netherlands and outside. The Province is also helping to set
up an institute of spirituality in the Philippines. The Irish Province has always been
missionary and at present includes the Provincial Commissariat of Zimbabwe. There is a
community of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm in Ireland. The Polish Province
has a community in Ukraine and now also in Bourges in France. In Poland there are several
communities of the "Istituto di Nostra Signora del Monte Carmelo".
In 1999, the Anglo-Welsh Province became the British Province in order to include the
foundations that the Province had made in Scotland. The Province is preparing a future
foundation in Liberia. There is a Donum Dei community in Aylesford. In 1998 the Delegation
of the Czech Republic also changed its name becoming the Delegation of Bohemia and
Moravia. The Delegation has 22 members and it is growing slowly. The Delegation possesses
a publishing house that publishes, among other things, all the books for the Episcopal
Conference of the Czech Republic.
In this region there has certainly been a decrease in numbers in the established
Provinces, but there have been also some positive signs in the expansion of various new
expressions of the Carmelite Family. There have been many meetings at several levels in
the Region, Provincials, formators, those in initial formation and bursars.
5) AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY
A) THE CARMELITE FAMILY
The General Council divided this sector in two parts:
i) The Nuns and the Carmelite Sisters
The Vice Prior General, Fr. Gaspar Mondejar, is responsible for this area. With him I
visited some monasteries of enclosed nuns in Italy and Spain. We have 72 monasteries in
the world and during this sexennium I visited them all. Every year I have written twice to
all the nuns (16 July and Christmas). Of these 72 monasteries, 59 are under the
jurisdiction of the local bishop and 13 under the immediate jurisdiction of the Prior
Before the General Chapter 2001 there will probably be a new foundation in the
Philippines and the community of the Hermits of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Chester, New
Jersey, U.S.A.) has already become an official monastery of the Order with its own
Constitutions. There is also another monastery in Italy with its own Constitutions. The
General Council is in communication with other communities that have expressed an interest
to be affiliated to the Order.
As in the whole Order and indeed in the whole Church, there are not a lot of vocations
in Europe or in North America for enclosed nuns, however they are growing in Latin America
and in the Philippines. In 1999 the monastery of Utrera (Spain) founded a monastery in
According to the Constitutions of the Carmelite nuns, "The Prior General of the
Order is spiritual father and bond of unity for the entire Carmelite Family. He has the
spiritual care and also the responsibility of the monasteries of nuns according to these
Constitutions, to help them live in the spirit of the Order and in fraternal communion
with the other members of our Family." (Art. 24). The faculties of the Prior General
change according to the juridical state of the monasteries, that is, those that are under
its immediate jurisdiction and those that are under the jurisdiction of the bishop.
In January 2000, a meeting of all the assistants to the monasteries of Carmelite nuns
took place in Rome. The Holy See names the assistant to a federation of monasteries. The
assistants to single monasteries are named by the Prior Provincial or by the Prior
General. It seems that this was the first meeting at the international level. The purpose
of this meeting was for the assistants to share their experiences and to learn from one
another. All were happy with the opportunity to share with others who work in the same
field. The assistants requested another meeting and possibly with the presence of some
At present there are 14 congregations of Carmelite sisters, the Donum Dei Family, and
the secular institute (The Leaven). Affiliation brings with it a family relationship but
does not imply jurisdiction. The members of Donum Dei are part of the Third Order. In
February 2000, a meeting of the Supreme Moderators of the Carmelite Family was held in
Rome. During this meeting, all the participants took part in the Jubilee of Religious in
St. Peters, Rome. The purpose of the meeting was to exchange experiences and to make
stronger the bonds that already exist within the Carmelite Family. All said that they were
happy to have the possibility to meet together and they all wanted to repeat the
experience. The group appointed a small commission to carry out the decisions of the
The relationships between the affiliated Congregations and the Order are excellent and
we have to thank the sisters in various parts of the world and the Donum Dei Family for
having brought new candidates to the Order and for all the spiritual and material help for
our new foundations.
ii) Carmelite Laity
The person responsible for this sector was Fr. Lucio Renna and, after his nomination as
bishop of Avezzano, Fr. Tarcisio M. Gotay (Arago-Valentine, General Secretary) was named
in his place. An international meeting for the Carmelite laity will take place in Rome
during May 2001.
During this sexennium, there was an attempt to revise the Rule of the Third Order. The
Sacred Congregation for Consecrated Life approved the present text for a period of 10
years in 1977. Therefore, it was time for a revision. The Congregation has given another
provisional approval for an indefinite time. Fr. Lucio Renna had begun the job of revision
with the help of a general commission. The members of this commission were: Fr. Redemptus
Valabek (St. Elias) and Fr. Stefano Possanzini (It). When Fr. Tarcisio Gotay became the
General Delegate for the Carmelite laity, he continued the project to revise the text. He
sent the revised version to various members of the Third Order and to several spiritual
assistants for their opinion on the text before sending it to the Congregation for
Consecrated Life. It is not clear yet if we will be able to send a text before the General
The Carmelite laity is a sector of great growth. There is a thirst for a deep
spirituality and a lot of people are attracted to Carmel. The Third Order is growing
greatly in many parts of the world, but also lay people want to be affiliated to the Order
in other ways. The Carmelite Rule is still a text that gives life, that helps a lot of
people to live a deep life in allegiance to Jesus Christ and to faithfully serve Him with
a pure heart and a stout conscience.
According to the Global Plan worked out by the General Council, we wanted "to
foster more and more among us the sense of Carmelite Family, which embraces religious men
and women, cloistered sisters and lay people." (5.1. a). We have tried to follow this
path. Even though the relationships among the various parts of the Family are good, there
remains a lot to be done in this field.
According to our Global Plan, the objectives in this area of Evangelisation, were: -
a) To come to a more widespread and deeper understanding and acceptance of the meaning
of new evangelisation;
b) To foster a greater appreciation of a specifically Carmelite contribution to
c) To foster a renewal of the missionary spirit of the Order;
d) To strengthen our commitment to justice, peace and the integrity of creation, as a
constitutive part of the preaching of the Gospel;
e) To take the option for the poor as our way of evangelisation.
In order to do all this, we wanted "to try to give a more Carmelite slant to our
apostolates" and "to go outside the sacred precincts which place limitations on
what we do, by establishing new kinds of relationship with the people and by re-examining
the style and content of our preaching."
The General Council decided to divide this sector into two parts, that is
Evangelisation in the sense of the expansion of the Order to bring the Gospel to other
countries and that of Justice and Peace. Fr. Anthony Scerri (Aus) is the Councillor
General responsible for Evangelisation, and his role is broadly described under the
section that deals with Asia and Africa.
As regards Justice and Peace, Fr. Míceál ONeill (Hib) was the Councillor
General responsible. To assist him, a general commission was appointed, with the name of
the International Commission for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of the Creation. This
commission made contact with all the provincial promoters of justice and peace. There have
been four meetings of the commission and there will be a fifth meeting in August 2001. The
themes of the meetings were: formation; the integration of work for justice and peace with
Carmelite spirituality; a study of the sources of justice and peace; the structure in the
Provinces for the appointment of justice and peace promoters. In August 2001, the
commission will hold a course in Aylesford, England, to help Carmelites who work in this
A part of the meeting in 1999 was with the General Commission for Charism and
Spirituality. Also the Commission for J, P and the integrity of Creation, made some
suggestions for the renewal of the Ratio and it worked on an article on Justice and Peace
for the Spiritual Directory. In the other part of that meeting, the Commission worked on
the proposal to the United Nations that the Order become an NGO (Non Governmental
Organisation). I hope that there will be some news on this proposal at the General Chapter
The Commission has understood that its greatest objective was to help in the formation
of the members of the Order and the whole Carmelite Family, as regards the development of
our commitment in this area. The Titus Brandsma Bulletin has been a very useful tool for
communication in the field of justice and peace.
C) SPIRITUALITY, CHARISM, FORMATION AND CULTURE
The General Council decided to divide this area in three parts:
i) SPIRITUALITY AND CHARISM
The General Councillor for this sector is Fr. Wilmar Santin (Germ. Sup. Paranà). In the 1989 General Chapter a project was approved to study our charism
and spirituality. The 1995 General Chapter confirmed this project. A General Commission
for Charism and Spirituality was created for carrying it out.
A specific objective was to publish a new Carmelite Directory of Spirituality, which
would constitute a synthesis of our tradition and spirituality. The commission believed
that it was not opportune to proceed immediately to a new Directory, but to publish first
a series of articles that hopefully will become the basis of a future Directory. There are
20 articles that either have been already published or are being planned.
The Councillor responsible for this area is Fr. Alexander Vella (Mel). The principal
task of the General Commission for Formation, constituted after the General Chapter 1995,
was to revise the Ratio Institutionis Vitae Carmelitanae, that is the basic document for
formation at all levels in the Order. Also, according to the Global Plan, the Commission
was to help formators through regional and international meetings. The first Ratio was
published in 1988. The task of revising the document involved all the formators of the
Order. In September/ October 1999, an international congress of formators was held in San
Felice del Benaco (Italy). A final text was sent to the General Council, which approved it
on March 25th 2000.
Over and above the congress for formators, the General Commission for Formation
organised three other international meetings during the sexennium. The first one of these
was the meeting for Carmelites in initial formation held in Lisieux, France, in 1997, to
celebrate the first centenary of the death of St. Teresa of the Jesus Child. Around 50
Carmelites from every part of the Order participated. A second meeting for Carmelites in
initial formation was held on Mount Carmel and in Jerusalem on the occasion of the Great
Jubilee of the year 2000. There were also around 50 Carmelites from twenty-one countries
at this meeting. The third meeting was held at Fatima, Portugal, in January 2001, for the
formators of the Order. The RIVC was the theme of all three meetings.
There have been four courses of ongoing formation, open to the whole Carmelite Family.
The members of the organising group were: P. Alexander Vella (General Councillor), Falco
Thuis (Neer) and Anthony Ruiz (Bet). The themes of these courses were:
1996. S. Therese of the Child Jesus
1998. The Carmelite Rule
1999. The Carmelites and the mass-media
2000. Mary and Elijah
The duration of these courses, all held at our house in Sassone, Rome, was of two to
three weeks with the average of 20 participants. At the end of the course on St. Therese
of the Child Jesus, there was a pilgrimage to places of Carmelite interest in France,
We hope that the RIVC will constitute a solid base for formation in the Order. What is
now felt to be an urgent need is the production of material for Carmelite formation, to
help the formators put the programme of Carmelite studies, which is proposed by the RIVC,
The 1995 General Chapter approved the appointment of a General Delegate for
"culture". The General Council named Fr. Paul Lennon (Hib). Unfortunately
because of illness, he was not able to do much. At the end of 1999, the General Council
named Fr. Richard Copsey in his place. He has not had a lot of time to devote to the
issue, but I hope that he himself will speak on this theme during the General Chapter
2001. He is organising a meeting for Carmelite librarians (Washington, USA, April, 2001).
There has been also a symposium for psychologists in February 2001 and there will be a
Mariological symposium in May 2001. Both of these symposia are for experts chosen from the
Carmelite Family (O.Carm. / O.C.D) and it is hoped to publish the papers.
D) OTHER AREAS
i) Social communications
During the General Congregation (Bamberg, 1999), I spoke about this topic.
Unfortunately, the General Delegate, Fr. Henk Hoekstra (Neer), died on September 12 2000.
He had a great deal of experience in this field at an international level. The General
Council has not named another Delegate, but gave the task to prepare a proposal for the
General Chapter 2001 to the General Councillor, Fr. Anthony Scerri, together with the
group of Carmelites formed by Henk Hoekstra for this purpose.
ii) Postulator General
The General Council named Fr. Felip Amenós i Bonets (Cat) as Postulator General. He
will prepare a written report for the General Chapter 2001. At the beginning of this
sexennium, Jacques Retouret O.Carm was beatified. He had been martyred during the French
revolution in the last years of the eighteenth century. The whole Order had the joy of
celebrating the doctorate of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. On that occasion, and also
for the canonisation of Edith Stein, I had the honour of concelebrating with the Pope. In
Poland, the Pope beatified Fr. Hilary Pawel Januszewski O.Carm., member of the Polish
Province, in June 1999. I wrote a letter to the whole Order on the occasion of this
important event. On May 9, Fr. George Preca (Carmelite tertiary) will be beatified in
We are still waiting for news of when Blessed Titus Brandsma will be canonised.
iii) Institutum Carmelitanum
During this sexennium I made a canonical visit to the Institute. The President, Fr.
Emanuele Boaga (It), has also served the Order as General Archivist and director of the
Analecta Ordinis Carmelitarum. The members of the Central Board of the Institute, are: Fr.
Emanuele Boaga, Fr. Alberto Neglia (It), Fr. Christopher O.Donnell (Hib), Fr. Fernando
Millán Romeral (Bet), Fr. Hein Blommestijn (Neer), Fr. Joachim Smet (PCM), Fr. Michael
Plattig (Germ Sup.), Fr. Peter Go (Ind), Fr. Richard Copsey (Brit). It does not seem that
this structure worked very well. The Librarian of the Carmelite Library was Fr. Leo van
Wijmen (Flum Ian). He died suddenly in September 1999. Fr. David Waite (Brit) took his
place, also as bibliographer for the annual Carmelite bibliography. The director of
Carmelus is Fr. Richard Copsey who continued in this role when he returned to his Province
to become university chaplain in Aberdeen (Scotland).
The researchers of the Institute are: Fr. Joachim Smet (PCM), Fr. Pablo Garrido (Cast),
Fr. Redemptus Valabek (St. Elias), Fr. Richard Copsey (Brit) and Fr. Antonio Ruiz (Bet)
who also is the administrator and manager of the "Editione Carmelitane". The
General Chapter will receive a written report on the activities of the "Editione
Carmelitane". Fr. Pablo Garrido returned to his Province in September 1999 for health
The socii of the Institute are: Fr. Balbino Velasco (Cast), Fr. Carlo Cicconetti (It),
Fr. John Welch (PCM), Fr. Kees Waaijman (Neer), Fr. Matthäus Hösler (Germ. Sup.), Fr.
Otger Steggink (Neer), and Fr. Paul Chandler (Aust).
There will also be a report during the Chapter on the work of the Institute during this
iv) St. Alberts International Centre (CISA)
During the sexennium, I made two canonical visits to the community. The General Council
named Fr. Mark Attard (Malt) Prior of CISA in 1996 and he was reappointed for a second
triennium in 1999. Fr. Míceál O.Neill, General Councillor acted as the liaison between
the General Council and CISA. Every year, the General Council has had a meeting with the
prior and council of CISA. Fr. Edmondo Caruana (Mel) has been the librarian of the general
library in CISA.
P. Anthony Cilia (Mel) is the person responsible and he has faithfully produced CITOC
in three languages six times a year. He is also responsible for the web site of the Order
(www.ocarm.org). The members of the Order can also
read CITOC through this web site.
1) Council of Provinces
The XIV Council of Provinces was held in Lisieux (France) from September 2-12th
1997, two years after the General Chapter following the Constitutions. The theme was
"Work Together for a More Authentic Witness and Service" and the purpose was for
the Provincials and Commisaries to work together with the General Council on the projects
of the Order, especially on the themes of the Global Plan.
2) General Congregation
The General Congregation was convoked two years before the General Chapter, in
accordance with the Constitutions. I send with this report, also the report I gave to the
General Congregation in order to assist the work of the General Chapter.
3) New Carmelite Bishops
Mgr. Vitalino Dantas was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Lisbon (Portugal) on September
29th 1996 and he was subsequently named bishop of Beja. Mgr. Antonio Muniz was consecrated
bishop of Guarabira (Brazil) on May 24th 1998. Mgr. Lucio Renna was ordained bishop of
Avezzano (Italy) on September 12th 1999. Mgr. Miguel La Fay Bardí was named bishop of the
prelature of Sicuani (Peru) to take the place of Mgr. Alban Quinn, when he had reached 75
years of age. Mgr. La Fay was ordained bishop on 15 October 1999.
4) The Rule
In 1997 the Order celebrated the 750th anniversary of the approval of the Rule by Pope
Innocent IV in 1247. The General Council celebrated this historical event with a Mass with
the Pope and a joint letter of the Superiors General O.Carm/OCD. Together with Fr. Camilo
Maccise (Prepositus General of the Discalced Carmelites), I wrote a letter to all
Carmelites, changing the numbering of the Rule in order to have a common system. Every
time that we have written a joint letter, we have had to quote the Rule in two ways
because of the difference of enumeration that came into being only after the separation.
We nominated a small commission of experts to propose a common system. The next General
Council should think of celebrating the 800th anniversary of receiving the "formula
vitae" from Saint Albert (1206-1214).
5) The Scapular
According to tradition, the Order received the gift of the scapular in the year 1251.
For this reason, I declared the year 2001 a Marian Year for the whole Order. The General
Council want to celebrate this special year in various ways, including the publication of
two books in three languages. With Fr. Camilo Maccise, I have asked the Pope to write a
letter addressed to all Carmelites and we are at present waiting for an answer. All the
Provinces have made plans to celebrate the Marian Year.
6) Possible foundations
As well as the future foundations mentioned in other parts of this report, I have
received various requests from bishops, especially from Eastern Europe. Fr. Miceal O.Neill
has visited Lithuania and he has some plans to take a group of young Carmelites to
Lithuania to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in a parish that once
belonged to the Order.
During this sexennium, the General Council affiliated to the Order three communities of
hermits in the United States (2 male and one female). There has been a request to
incorporate these three communities into the Order. The Congregation for the Consecrated
Life have no objection to this proposal. For various reasons, the General Council has
accepted the request. It is possible that before the General Chapter 2001, all three
communities will be incorporated into the Order. The effect of this step will be that the
men will become friars with their own Constitutions. The two communities of men will be
under the immediate jurisdiction of the Prior General.
7) Relationship with The Discalced Carmelites
This General Council has continued the good and open relationships with the General
Council of the Discalced Carmelites, which the previous Council had begun. As a norm, the
two Councils meet twice a year (May and December). For the year 2000, the two Councils
made a pilgrimage together to Mount Carmel and then for the Marian Year, we will meet in
Aylesford (England) in May of 2001.
There have been 3 official mixed commissions: for formation; for charism and
spirituality; for Latin America.
During the sexennium, the two Superiors General have published together six letters for
all Carmelites. It is possible that we will write another letter to celebrate the 750th
anniversary of the scapular, but we are waiting for the answer of the Pope to our request
that he write a message.
8) Special years
During this sexennium, we have celebrated two special years for the whole Order: the
Jubilee Year 2000, together with the whole Church, and the Marian Year. In the Global Plan
of the General Council, some projects were put forward for the Jubilee Year:
a) Letter of the Prior General for each of the three years of preparation for the year
2000, following the indications given by the Pope in "Tertio Millenio
Adveniente", to encourage the Provinces, the communities and the individual friars;
b) Organise an International Congress for the Carmelite laity in 2000;
c) Assist the pilgrims who come to Rome for the Jubilee, offering them information and
opportunities for prayer. For this we intend to collaborate with the communities of the
Italian Province and the various organisations in Rome.
In respect to a, I sent a letter to the whole Order for each of the three years of
preparation. For b, for practical motives, we decided to transfer this Congress to May
2001. To help the pilgrims in Rome, we worked with the Discalced Carmelites and the
Italian Province of our Order. A guide was published for pilgrims, "Roma
We are celebrating the Marian Year this year. Perhaps in the future, the Order could
think about celebrating special years to focus on certain important topics, for example a
year of the community or fraternity etc.
I have tried in the Appendix to give various types of statistics on the numbers of
friars and on the apostolates of the Order. These statistics were correct at the end of
It can be seen that we have the same numbers in the year 2000 as in 1979. According to
a report by Fr. Antonio Ruiz, given at the meeting of the Provincial Bursars in September
2000, in twenty years, the numbers in the Order will probably go below 2000 friars. There
will be increases in the countries of Africa and Asia and decreases in Europe and the
United States. The strong economies will be in the countries where the numbers of
Carmelites are reduced and where the numbers of Carmelites are growing, there are weak
You can also compare the number of parishes in the Order with the total number of
THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE
In this part of the report, I want to reflect on the state of the Order inasmuch as I
have experienced it and I want to try to look forward. The points I have here are of
course not exhaustive and I want to develop this part in my talk at the General Chapter.
1) Community Life
An essential part of our charism, according to the way we ourselves have defined it,
includes the fraternal aspect. The Constitutions reminds us that, based on the Rule, we
are fundamentally" fratres". I do not want to define what fraternity or
community life means for Carmelites. I believe that the Order has to express a variety of
styles of community life. This variety expresses the richness of the Order. Within the
Order we have different people with different needs and different expectations, and
therefore it is good that there are various possibilities to respond to these differences
in human nature.
It is clear however that the reality of community life is still very far from the
ideal. We have some communities that pray together, eat together and recreate together and
other communities where the members never pray together and they rarely meet one another,
except perhaps in passing in the corridor. We have some large communities but many small
communities of two. There are also more than a few friars that live alone.
My impression, after having visited the Order, is that there is not a lot of joy in
community life. I believe that there are many reasons for this reality, if it is true. One
reason is the growth of individualism, which affects the whole world, and not just the
Order. However, another reason is perhaps that we fail to understand the function of the
community in the spiritual life. It is easy to love ones neighbour in theory, if we
do not have to deal with a concrete person, but when this neighbour enters our world,
things change. A neighbour or a brother made of flesh and blood, disturbs our well ordered
house. A praying community will help each of us to understand ourselves better. We will
see more clearly our faults. It is a great temptation to put the blame onto others for the
problems in community. We often project our problems onto others. It is a temptation to
try to avoid the difficult questions that arise in community life, and we can avoid these
if we step back and remain in a place from where we can judge the other members of the
Another problem is that, despite the Constitutions, in a lot of communities, the
community meeting does not take place. These are supposed to deal not only with the
practical issues of the community but also with spiritual issues. We speak of Lectio
Divina a lot, but are there many communities that actually use it? I have heard many
complaints that one cannot speak about spiritual things in the presence of Father X or
that some member of community talks incessantly and does not leave space for the others
and so on. There is a crisis of "leadership." It is easier for a prior never to
have meetings or not to try to help the other brothers to grow, but to be the director of
a hotel for individuals is not the role of the prior. I suggest that an important job for
the next General Council would be to have formation courses for priors.
I hope that the Ratio can help us in the formation of new generations to live the
fraternal life in ways that give life. I believe that the theme of the General Chapter can
directly touch this situation.
2) Contemplation and Action
In my own life as a Carmelite, I have seen a great change in the self-knowledge of the
Order. When I entered the Order, the idea that we are contemplatives was not strong, but
now apparently everyone accept the way that we define ourselves in the Constitutions.
One thing is the words we use and another is how we really live. The majority of our
apostolates are parishes. Some say that parish life is contrary to the fraternal and
contemplative life, but I do not agree. We are mendicants, called to the active apostolate
and we have to respond to the needs of the Church and the world. At the same time it is
very clear that have been called to live a contemplative and fraternal life. It is not
possible that two parts of our vocation are mutually incompatible. We have to find ways in
which we can live a fraternal and contemplative life in our parishes, schools, and in all
our apostolates. There is a great thirst for God and for a deeper spiritual life among lay
people and it does not make sense to tell these people that contemplation is possible only
for those who have a lot of leisure time. Today life is frenetic and it is part of our
vocation to share with lay people a way of living a deep life in God in the middle of many
In my opinion, what we say about prayer and contemplation remain beautiful words on
paper and are not part of the day-to-day reality of many friars.
A problem that I have noticed in some Provinces is a culture clash of generations. A
Carmelite generation grew up in the 1960s when there was a strong push toward the
parish and the apostolic life. Another generation has different aspirations and the two
generations have difficulty understanding each other. It is not that one group is right
and the other group is wrong; human relations are not so simple.
The Order has certainly made progress with the publication of a variety of books on our
spirituality and history. However the fundamental problem of the culture of the Order
remains. There are few brothers who can be considered experts within or outside the Order.
I have noted above the problems we have had with the role of Delegate for Culture. I
think that the next General Council has to think carefully about this nomination, because
a Delegate could really help in this area A Delegate (possibly a General Councillor),
could investigate the studies that are being done at present in the Order in order to
suggest new lines of enquiry.
There are books written in one language that could be of great help to many if they
were in other languages. Perhaps this could be a job for a Delegate or for the Commission
for Charism and Spirituality. We have to find new ways to publicise books written by
Carmelites. Perhaps a Delegate for social communications will have a greater role in the
future because the Internet is a whole world waiting to be discovered. We are only at the
beginning and only a lack of imagination can hinder us.
We have seen the growth of other Carmelite institutes in recent years. Would it be
possible that these could work together for the good of the whole Order? Would it be
possible that every Province could develop its own institute and that all the institutes
in the Order communicate the results of their research and so stimulate each other?
4) Social communications
This is a very important field and in the future it will become even more important. We
said in the final document of the General Chapter 1995 that we want to go out of the
sacred precincts to announce in the new areopaghi that God loves humanity. The social
means of communication have changed a lot in recent years and they are changing very
quickly. The Curia, many Provinces and communities use the Internet to announce who we are
and to spread our spirituality. It seems to me that it will be important for the future,
that the Order has a vision of what we want to say and to use the means of social
communication in the best possible way.
5) What next?
I think that we have good Constitutions in which our vocation is well described. We
also have a good Ratio. The issues of the Carmelite Directory help us to develop our ideas
on various aspects of our charism. We have so many good things on paper but can we
translate them into life? This is the task of the General Chapter 2001.
It is not possible that in an Order all the members are on the same spiritual level,
but I would like to see in the future a more widespread acceptance of the goal of our
vocation. According to "The Institution of the First Monks", Carmelites are to
offer to God a heart free from every stain of actual sin and we can hope even here on
earth to taste union with God. The search for union with God is the basis of a truly
fraternal life, and it is what ensures that the apostolate produces the fruit that is
acceptable to God.
For the future I hope that our communities will be places where the brothers can grow
as human beings, as Christians and brothers. In the Rule and in the Constitutions, there
are a number of suggestions for building community. Daily Eucharist, prayer together, the
community meeting etc. If we use what we already have, our communities could grow and give
to the brothers what they hope for deep within. I would like to see in the future helps
offered to priors to develop their role for the good of everyone.
The Pope has written an apostolic letter," Novo Millennio Ineunte", to
reflect on the events of the Great Jubilee and also to look toward to the future. A line
that is present in the whole letter is the command of Jesus to the apostles to "put
down the nets in the deep" (Lc. 5,4). We must have faith in Jesus Christ. We have
perhaps worked very hard and at times we do not see great results, but we have to follow
Christ and seek to be faithful to Him. Peter and the others obeyed and they took a huge
quantity of fish, so many that the nets were at breaking point. (Lc.5,6).
The Pope wants to place all pastoral strategies on the deep foundation of prayer and
contemplation. If we follow this line, we will not go far wrong.
May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our Mother and Sister, lead us and guide us to the Holy
Mountain, Christ Our Lord.
My prayer for every member of the Order is that of St. Paul: -
"This then is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family,
whether spiritual or natural takes its name, that out of his infinite glory he may grant
you, to be strengthened by the Spirit within; that Christ may live in your hearts through
faith, and that rooted and grounded in love, you are able to understand, with all the
saints, the breadth and the length, the height and the depth, until knowing the love of
Christ that surpasses every knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.
To the One who has power to do so much more than we can ask for or even imagine,
according to the power that is already at work in us. To Him be glory in the Church and in
Christ Jesus for all the generations, for ever and ever. Amen." (Ef. 3, 14-21)
Joseph Chalmers O.Carm.
Rome, 4 March, 2001
Carmelite Marian Year