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chapel9.jpg (17537 bytes) On September 4, 2001, at 10 AM, the participants in the General Chapter gathered in the chapel of the Instituto Madonna del Carmine in Sassone (Rome) for the opening eucharistic celebration. The Prior General, Fr. Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm., presided at the celebration of the votive Mass of St. Elijah.

Tuesday, September 4, 2001, 11:30 AM


After the singing of the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus in the chapter hall, the Prior General Joseph Chalmers welcomed the participants and declared the General Chapter open. The Secretary General, Tarsicio Gotay, following the instructions of Article 271, paragraph (b) and (c), of the Constitutions, read the roll of the gremiales (Doc 1) as well as the list of the officials of the chapter.

Scrutators are: Joseph Saliba, Dariusz Borek, Roberto Toni. Puntatori: Brendan Grady, Joseph Kemper, Rogerio S. De Lima.

Members of the Commission for the Revision of the Acts of the Chapter are: Desiderio García, Mario Alfarano, William Harry.

Members of the Commission for the Review of the Expenses of the Chapter are: Luis Gallardo, Pankraz Ribbert. Moderators: Carlo Cicconetti, Rafael Leiva, Mario Esposito, Henricus Pidyarto.

JohnMalley1.jpg (14922 bytes) This was followed by the election of the President of the Chapter. As no one won the required simple majority on the first two ballots, the votation went to a third ballot. Former Prior General John Malley, O. Carm., (right) was elected to the position.


Tuesday, September 4, 2001, 4 PM

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Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm.
Prior General


At the beginning of the session some information matters were explained. The President gave the name of the two theologians that are present for the sessions and will offer suggestions on the progress of the Chapter: Christopher O’Donnell and Fernando Millán. After this, the President invited the Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, to give his report. (Doc.)

This was an update on his report presented to the General Congregation in Bamberg in 1999 and to his report sent to the gremiales in March. Omitting these previous reports, the Prior General wanted to give an update on new developments just occurring in these last months regarding the economic situation, the missions, the episcopal consecration of Filippo Iannone, the letter from Pope John Paul II (March 25, 2001) on the scapular, and some future challenges that the Order must face. Finally, he reminded the gathering that the aim of this General Chapter is "to make practical proposals of ways to put into practice the beautiful ideas expressed in the diverse cultures in which the Order is present."

At the end of the General’s talk, some members asked for clarifications on our presence in Asia and France, on the participation of the Order as an NGO (Non Governmental Organization) in the United Nations and on the work to find additional sources for the financial support of the Curia.

After a short break, the President invited Cees Bartels, the chairperson of the Preparatory Commission of the General Chapter, to present the agenda and the ‘ordo capituli’ as outlined by the Commmission. Cees Bartels explained that the Commission based their work on the acts of the General Congregation at Bamberg, on the suggestions of the General Council, and on the responses to the questionaire that was sent to each Province. The methodology that the Commission proposed to the General Chapter follows the structure of the Lectio Divina.

Following come questions about the agenda, specifically on the free time and on the session in which the proposals will be discussed. Regarding the Ordo Capituli, the request was made that we pay attention to the method of voting contained in #21 of the Ordo Capituli. A clarification was also asked for regarding who is responsible for the Acts of the Chapter (Constitutions 261, 2). A hand vote on the agenda (Doc) and of the Ordo Capituli (Doc) was held and the documents were unanimously accepted.

Before concluding, the schedule for tomorrow was explained. This day is a spiritual retreat.


Wednesday, September 5, 2001, 9 AM

The President opened the session asking prayers for Peter McAlpine (Aust) who died last Saturday. He also read the greetings of John Sugianto in the name of the National Council of the Lay Carmelites in Indonesia. Finally, he said that the commission that would compile a final message from the Chapter to the Order would be Christopher O’Donnell, Fenarndo Millan and Carlos Mesters. The President then presented John Welch (PCM) who led the day’s retreat.

In the afternoon the Chapter received greetings from Sr. Maria Teresa Natalini, General of the Istituto delle Suore di Nostra Signora del Carmelo, of the nuns of Carmelo del Sacro Cuore di Gesù di Beja (Portugal), of Sr. Terezinha Fernandes dos Santos, Provincial Superior of the Suore Missionarie de S. Teresa di Gesù (Brazil).


Seasons of the Heart:
The Spiritual Dynamic of the Carmelite Life

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John Welch, O. Carm.

The retreat was structured as follows: listening to the first part of the reflection of John Welch in the Chapter Hall. After the usual break, there was a time for silence until prayer at 12:30. In the afternoon, at 4 PM, John Welch presented the second part of his reflection. After a break, there was another period of silence until the Eucharist at 7 PM. The meditation of John Welch, entitled "Seasons of the Heart: The Spiritual Dynamic of the Carmelite Life," brought to light the feeling that Carmel has for those who hunger for God. In this path, which takes to the conformity of human desires and will with God’s desires and will, there are five "seasons" identified:

1) a longing heart (our desire for God)
2) an enslaved heart (the worship of false gods)
3) a listening heart (contemplative prayer)
4) a troubled heart (the tragic in life)
5) a pure heart (the transformation of desire)

The desire for God propels us to seek fulfillment of our heart’s desire. The Carmelite tradition does not speak of an annihilation of desire but of a transformation of this into a longing for God. To assist people in hearing and voicing their deepest longing is part of Carmel’s continuing ministry. 

Thursday, September 6, 2001, 9 AM

The President opened the session with greetings from the Australian Lay Carmelites. In turn he gave over the session to the moderator, Fr. Carlo Cicconetti. Fr. Carlo introduced the subject and work for the day which focused on the pastoral work of the Order and had as its theme "The Parishes." The moderator introduced Fr. Michael Plattig, member of the General Chapter Preparatory Commission, to outline the methodology for the chapter which is based on the structure of the Lectio divina. He gave some clarifications on the procedure and on the time to be dedicated to the discernment.

koning.jpg (14677 bytes) The moderator then presented Fr. Edgar Koning who gave a report "Some Reflections on the Pastoral Work in Our Province, Especially in Dordrecht." (Doc)

After the report, there was a moment of personal reflecition until the break.

The chapter broke up into 9 groups based on language and met in different rooms. Every group ended its work with prayer.


Thursday, September 6, 2001, 4 PM

The moderator, Fr. Carlo Cicconetti, reminded the members that this was the "collatio" session in which the group reports were to be heard. The secretaries of the groups reported: Fr. Gerald Payea, Fr. Celso Prieto, Fr. Roberto Toni, Fr. Paul Chandler, Fr. Salvador Villota, Fr. Antonio Merico, Fr. John McGrath, Fr. Raul Masana, and Fr. William Harry.

The facilitators, Fr. Richard Copsey and Fr. Carlos Mesters, having listened to the contributions of each group, briefly summarized the comments of the secretaries. The moderator invited Fr. Richard Copsey to speak first. His intervention is summarized in the following points:

1) In spite of the difficulties described, the advanced age of some of the brothers, the reduced number of members in our comunities, the tensions arising between the parish and the community, the danger of becoming no more than diocesan priests, etc, we find ourselves at the following consideration: The charism is the foundation for almost all parish structures.

2) The charism is a place where the people are able to encounter Christ. On a personal level we must form Carmelites in our Carmelite spirituality. The formation should not be just three or four conferences on our charism but it should be stressed as an important reality. Moreover, we have the need to teach the Carmelites, more than just assuming responsibility, how to work in groups, concern for the brothers of the community and showing each one his own abilities.

3) All the groups insisted that it is the community that is responsible for the ministry, not each brother individually.

4) The secretaries repeated that the community must testify to our life of prayer and to our service with creativity, flexibility, imagination, seeking new structures. The lay people and the Carmelite Family must both be involved in the life of the parish without creating useless confusion.

5) It is certain that the regions and cultures influence our parish models. The challenge is to figure out which at the basic elements which serve in any situation and with any mentality. Our intent is not to impose the Carmelite charism on the people but to ask ourselves what God wants of us.

Fr. Carlos Mesters followed with 4 additional questions to complete the synthesis elaborated by Fr. Richard Copsey.

1) Each group commented on the tension between the community and parish. This observation seems inevitable in this time because we can not forget that the Church itself is full of tensions because of the different ecclesiologies present. Which model of Church reflects my work?

2) What do we want with that which we do: be disciples of Christ or reinforce the institutions?

3) We live in a time of change. The crisis stimulates the reflection on values that guided Carmelite life in order to rediscover them and realize them today. What do the values of silence, of prayer, etc. mean in our apostolate?

4) In the last verse of Malachi, which concludes the Old Testament, the coming of Elijah is described. "On that day the heart of the fathers towards their sons and the heart of the sons towards the fathers will be converted, so that the earth is not destroyed." The reconstruction of the community of God and of love towards God and neighbor are values that we can not forget. Are we prophets of brotherhood?


Friday, September 7, 2001, 9 PM

The President opened the session reading the messages of greeting from the Carmelites of Masgne (Naples) and by the Provincial Commissariate of the Philippines. Afterwards he invited Fr. Luigi Nasta, Commissary General of LaBruna, to outline the trip to Naples on Sunday, September 9. Finally, the President reminded the members about the theme of the day, Community Life, and asked the moderator of the day, Fr. Rafael Leiva to lead the proceedings.

florence1.jpg (17054 bytes) Members of the La Famiglia Community at Il Carmine in Florence ready to address the General Chapter

Fr. Carlo Cicconetti, as Provincial of the Italian Province, was asked to introduce some of the members of the La Famiglia Movement of Florence (Italy) who join the chapter to share their experiences.

The married couple, Amata and Filippo and the young women, Debora, Ester, Agnese, and Susanna spoke about the community life that five families together with three Carmelite friars live at the Basilica of Il Carmine in Florence. This new experience, begun in 1992, is different in that it is a community of mixed vocations in which priests, religious, and married couples live together, unified by the charism.

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After some questions there was a short break and then we divided into language groups.


Friday, September 7, 2001, 4 PM

The moderator called on the secretaries of the language groups to explain their work. The ones who gave the summaries: Fr. Gerald Payea, Fr. Celso Prieto, Fr. Roberto Toni, Fr. Paul Chandler, Fr. Salvador Villota, Fr. Antonio Merico, Fr. Michael T. Driscoll, Fr. Raúl Masana and Fr. William J. Harry.

After the break, the facilitator, Fr. Richard Copsey, summarized the reports of the secretaries.

1) The reports of the groups to the Florence presentation were positive due to the values expressed, such as joy, evangelical simplicity, fraternity, prayer, the sharing of goods, etc. That are values of a young community that did impress us.

2) The challenges of this experience force our communities: the quest of a new style of life, the problem of communities with small numbers, working with nuns and sisters, a more mature laity,the evaluation of the new experience in light of the charism, and of the theology of religious life, encourages it to not copy another’s experiences but to go about new ways based on the culture of each province.

Fr. Carlos Mesters added that today there is a breeze of the Spirit in the Church to live in community. "Listen to what the Spirit says to the Church." (Revelations)

1) Our neo-liberal society brings about individualism and consumerism, both enemies of community life. This type of society produces exclusion and separation.

2) In the Bible when God reveals himself, he creates community. When there is no community life there is no revelation of God. If the community is torn apart so is God’s face because there is an unbreakable bond between God’s love and love of neighbor. In Exodus, when God calls on the people from Egypt, he transforms its social structure: from one based on a pyramid into a tribal one in which power is no longer centered. The small communities are more flexible to welcome the revelation of God’s face. Jesus becomes the builder of a community when, different from other groups from his time, he welcomes everyone into one single family.


Saturday, September 8, 2001, 9 AM

The President openned the session with a few announcements. He reminded the members of the address of the General Chapter's website and informed them that some 400 people had visited the site since the beginning of the chapter. A letter of greeting was read from Sr. Elena Maria Samper, in teh name of the nuns of the Zaragoza (Spain) Federation of monastaries. There is a video on the history of the Carmelites, produced by the Neapolitan Province, that will be shown on Monday evening. A number of changes in the schedule/agenda for the remaining days of the General Chapter were announced.

The President handed the meeting over to the moderator for the day, Fr. Mario Esposito. After a few introductory remarks, Fr. Mario introduced Fr. Pere Soler, the General Bursar. Fr. Pere began by announcing the cost of room and board for the chapter and how this would be billed. He then outlined the Curia's proposal for the division of travel costs for those attending the General Chapter according to the traditional "percentage quotas" paid by the Provinces for general expenses of the Curia. This proposal was voted on before the break for celebration of the Eucharist.

The actual financial report to the General Chapter consisted of a six year summary of income and expenses and the balance sheet for the Curia and operations which depend on the Curia. There was a presentation of the overall socio-economic situation of the Order, an explanation of the Curia's financial fund, current uses for property owned by the Curia (CISA, Domus Carmelitana, and the Curia residence), and the status of an Order wide development office. Three appendices were distributed to assist Chapter members in understanding the financial picture. Some time was given to members' questions.

At the end of the session, the members voted to accept the Curia's proposal for Chapter travel.

Members took a short break and then gathered in the chapel for celebration of the feast of Mary's birthday.


Sunday, September 9, 2001

At 7:00 AM, a number of the participants of the General Chapter visited the city of Naples. According to the program, the excursion was to arrive at 10:00 PM for the eucharistic celebration at the Carmine Maggiore, presided by the Prior General, Joseph Chalmers, and a visit to the historical center of the city. They returned to Sassone at 8:30 PM.

Commissione Preparatoria Capitolo Generale 2001
Via Giovanni Lanza, 138
00184 Rome, Italy