SECOND WEEK OF THE 2001 GENERAL CHAPER
The President opened the day congratulating Fr. Luigi Nasta for the organization of the trip to Naples. Then he read some letters of good wishes on the part of the National Council of the TOC of the Philippines, the General Council of the Hermanas de la Virgen María del Monte Carmelo di Orihuela (Spain), and Mother Arcángela of Mother General of the Suore Carmelitane di Madre Candelaria (Venezuela), of the nuns of Mother María de la Trinidad, prioress of the monastery of Santa María del Monte Carmelo in Mayagüez (Puerto Rico), and Sr. M. Magdalena Carretero of the monastery of Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas di Madrid.
The President invited Secretary General, Fr. Tarsicio M. Gotay, to speak about the program for the celebration on Tuesday and Wednesday for the 750 Anniversary of the Scapular in Rome. Tuesday at 9 PM: Prayer vigil in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls; Wednesday: 6:30 AM breakfast, 7:00 AM departure from Sassone, 8:00 AM procession from Transportina to Piazza San Pietro, 1 PM dinner at LEau Vive, 7 PM Return.
The President announced the topic for the day: Formation and Carmelite Study. He specified that we will not deal with initial formation but with the Carmelite Institutes and of graduate studies.
Taking over the meeting was the moderator for the day, Fr. Henricus Pidyarto. He invited Fr. Emanuele Boaga, president of the Institutum Carmelitanum, and Fr. Richard Copsey, General Delegate for Culture, to present their reports.
Fr. Emanuele reported on the Institutum Carmelitanum (DOC) developing these points: 1) the aim and structure of the Institutum Carmelitanum, 2) the organization of the Institutum and its current situation, 3) activities during the 6 year period 1995-2001, 4) specific questions.
Fr. Richard read his report (Doc) describing his recent work and making some proposals: 1) to meet with the presidents of the Carmelite Institutes for possible collaboration; 2) to create a website for collecting together the data necessary scientific research and in order to meet in a discussion group in internet (CARMRES); 3) to collect ancient Carmelite texts; 4) to revitalize the Institutum Carmelitanum for its central role in the Order.
After a brief break, the moderator turned the meeting over to Fr. Huub Welzen who presented the proposal of the Titus Brandsma Institute of Spirituality in Nijmegan on a network of the Institutes of Spirituality (Doc). Fr. Huub began first of all with the history and the activityof the Titus Brandsma Institute and then explained the possibility of Internet, to develop an international academic community of spirituality (SPIRIN), to provide distance learning over the Internet, and to create an international network of Carmelite Institutes of spirituality. To reach these objectives, he presented the Nijmegan proposal in seven points.
Following there were some clarifications asked. Before ending, the President asked the gremiales to read the report of Fr. Mark Attard (Doc), prior of CISA.
At the beginning of the session, the moderator offered two questions for discussion in the small groups. The gremiales divided up into the usual language groups. At 6:00 PM there gathered again in the aula. The moderator handed the meeting over to Fr. Mark Attard so that he could give a brief report on the life at CISA. Some questions followed.
The moderator invited the secretaries of the small groups to report on their work. Give reports were: 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 a short break, the theological facilitators intervened. Fr. Richard Copsey synthesized the work of the groups. Regarding the Institutum, all the groups affirmed the value of the Institute even though they see a revitalization as necessary by way of new members, work done through in a team concept, a wider and more involved structure. Regarding the report of the Delegate for Culture, the concept needs to be further clarified. It is preferred that the delegate live in Rome, that he is open to the diverse cultures of the Order, that he have a wide vision of studies that can guide or animate the young Carmelites that dedicate themselves to research. Regarding the proposal of the Nijmegan Institute, the reaction of the group was favorable. They urged more clarity however. Everyone is in agreement on the necessity of better communication between the Institutes and between the resources of the Order. How to follow up on the proposal? According to some, this would be by means of a chapter commission that would discuss the proposal and do a revision in the assembly; according to others, a meeting of the presidents of the Institutes would be necessary.
Fr. Carlos Mesters observed that the future of the Order is in the Third World. So future efforts must be focused on the Third World.
At the end of the interventions, Fr. Wayne Stanhope informed the assembly of the intention to establish an Institute in Australia and that they already have an outstanding library specializing in Carmelite spirituality. Fr. Chris ODonnell highlighted the possible development of an Institute with British and Irish O. Carm and OCD participation. Fr. Paulo Gollarte made reference to the updating courses that Fr. Emanuele Boaga does each year in Brazil. Finally, Fr. Fintan Burke asked the members to give attention to the care and development of the libraries and archives in each province.
After morning prayer, the gremiales gathered in the aula. The President of the Chapter opened the session inviting those chapter members who wished to learn more about the work of the San Egidio Community in Rome. Fr. Míceál ONeill will be in charge of a meeting with them. Afterwards, the Secretary General informed the assembly of the schedule for the evening. The vigil service of the Marian gathering on Tuesday will take place in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. It will be lead by the Prefect of the Oriental Churches, Bishop Mussa and concelebrated by Most Rev. Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm., and Fr. Camilo Macisse, O.C.D. On Wednesday at 10:00 AM the Holy Father John Paul II will receive in audience all of the gremiales along with 10,000 pilgrims of the Carmelite Family in St. Peters Square in the Vatican. A luncheon will take place at Missionary Workers restaurant LEau Vive.
The meeting was turned over to the Procurator General, Fr. Josef Jancar, who gave his report regarding his time as Procurator (Doc). He presented some statistical data from 1995-2001. The report concluded with his thanks to the provincials for their collaboration received during his time in office. At the same time he recommended that superiors to pay attention to those instances where religious "abandon" the community religious slowly become distanced from the community so that at a certain point such a situation becomes considered normal. We cannot forget that these people are still members of the Order. Some damage caused by the religious could come back to the Order. The Procurator General illustrated his talk with some concrete examples and insisted that the pertinent canons of Church Law be read (694-696). He invited the provincial superiors to _______
and reminded everyone of the still valid suggestions his predecessor Fr. Mark Attard wrote, "Operating Guidelines for the Provincials," in Analecta 37 (1986) 97-109.
Having completed the report of the Procurator General, Fr. Carlo Cicconetti gave the meeting over the Postulator General, Fr. Felipe Amenós. Along with his information, he added two documents of the Sacred Congregation pro Casusis Sanctorum. He pointed out that, on the occasion of the General Congregation of September 1999, he offered an inventory of the causes of the Order and each respective situation, and at the same time he indicated some proposals and projects that were being made for some causes already in process. Fr. Felipe referred at the beginning of his report, and therefore completed his talk focusing attention the following points: 1) the causes which he is actually working on; 2) those that are in preparation to be introduced into the dioceses; 3) causes of particular interest that he is proposing to begin; 4) those of two blesseds with confirmation of cult.
That talk completed, the moderator offered the possibility for the gremiales to ask questions. Fr. Carlo Cicconetti reminded those present that through the session there have many proposals, that if they arent presented, they will be forgotten and not voted on.
After a brief break, the moderator synthesized the work developed in the morning and invited Fr. Anthony Scerri, Counselor for the African-Asia Region, to give some information to the chapter members about his work for the past 6 years. 1) He began with his intervention supplying a definition of mission based on the Bible and distinquishing between "mission" and "missions." "Mission is the process of exploring the meaning of the Gospel in history." 2) Fr. Anthony Scerri shared some personal impressions as a missionary in the post Vatican II times. 3) Carmel and Mission; 4) A quick review of the missionary efforts in the Order. He informed the members briefly about our brothers in Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Cameroon, Kenya, Ruanda, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor Loro Sae (East Timor), Oceania, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.
As pointed out in his report, in the last 6 years, the total number of Carmelites has been more or less even. This year the number grew by 10-12 friars. What is happening is that the Order is becoming younger. While the members of the Order in the West are dying, they are replaced by younger members in the mission areas. The Order is doing well, alive and growing. "Ut vivat, crescat et floreat."
A noon, the moderator finished the session in order to celebrate the eucharist.
At an extraordinary level, Fr. Anthony Scerri offered to those members of the Chapter interested in Africa and Asia the possibility, because the afternoon was free, to gather and discuss these areas. The theme to be discussed would be formation. In a letter written by Fr. Scerri written on July 15, 2001, he suggested the possibility to reconsider the collaboration between the Carmelites living in Africa. As a pattern for the work the following sequence was suggested: 1) Steps of Formation; 2) Linguistic groups; 3) Personnel; 4) Other matters. In order to faciliate the discussion, the group was divided into two. Those for the area of Africa were to meet at 4:00 PM and the region of Asia at 5:30 PM.
The news coming from the United States of America is about a serious terrorist attack in that country. The information is still somewhat confusing. Although the figures are not yet known for sure, they are talking about thousands of deaths. The media from all over the world is covering the story. Fr. Míceál ONeill announced at supper that the Carmelites in the parish of Our Lady of the Scapular in Manhattan, an area hit by the attacks, called this evening to let us know about the events and the seriousness of the situation no only on the national level, but also repercussions on the worlds stability and about their work with the dead and injuried. As a sign of communion with the victims of the violence, we were invited during supper to have a few moments of silence.
As a preparation for the audience we will have with the Pope tomorrow, the Carmelite Family celebrated tonight a vigil presided by Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. The vigil was divided into 5 moments of prayer that put together the reading of Marian biblical passages, texts of our Carmelite spirituality, and dance performed by the different institutes and congregations related to our Carmelite Family.
The schedule was slightly modified due to the papal audience. The events took place at 10:00 AM. Unfortunately the celebration was affected by the terrible terrorist attacks in the United States of America yesterday.
PICTURES OF THE
From our parish, Santa Maria in Transpontina, the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was carried in procession to the Vatican and later crowned. In various languages a passage from the Gospel of John was proclaimed. "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you ... This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you."
His Holiness expressed his sorrow for the terrorist attacks that bloodied the United States of America and he pointed out that the path of violence does not lead to a solution to the problems of humanity. He felt close to the relatives of the victims and injured in the midst of their suffering. During the Popes second intervention, he addressed the Carmelite Family on the occasion of the 750 anniversary of the gift of the scapular. He noted that this event does not only involve the Carmelite Family by the entire Church. The treasure of Carmelite spirituality is the patrimony of the entire people of God. He referred to the thoughts previously developed in the letter he sent to both Superior Generals, Fr. Joseph Chalmers, O. Carm., and Fr. Camilo Macisse, OCD. The scapular garment evokes the protection of the Virgin Mary upon her children, and to wear it implies the choice for a contemplative style of life. He reminded us that the imposition of the scapular should be an occasion of personal conversion responding to the grace that leads to holiness in God.
The President opened the morning work session expressing a great appreciation for the general audience the previous day. He thanks the Holy Father for the letter (Doc) that he sent to Father General on the occasion of the General Chapter and invited Fr. Joseph Chalmers to read it in the aula. For now there is only an Italian version. Still talking about yesterday, the President thanks the Donum Dei for the luncheon at LEau Vive and Fr. Mark Attard for the welcome at CISA.
Following the letters of greetings that have come from the Provincial President of the Carmelite Third Order of the Italian Province, from Sr. Encarnación Flóres, Superior General of the Hermanas Carmelitas del Sagrado Corazón of Jesus, from Sr. Blanca M. Ocasio, prioress of the monastery of San Guiseppe di Trujillo Alto (Puerto Rico), from Bishop Antonio Miniz Fernandes, O. Carm., Bishop of Guarabira (Brazil), and from Sr. Marlene Frinhani, Superior General of Irm~s Carmelitas da Divina Providêencia.
Before giving the meeting over to the moderator, the President announced the theme of the day to be on service. The moderator was Fr. Rafael Leiva. He announced some changes in the schedule for the morning. Before the report there was to be an intervention of Fr. Carlos Mesters.
Fr. Carlos took microphone and offered two questions in view of the discernment that will take place on Saturday for the choosing of the next General Council. All of the delegates were invited to reflect on these questions and to turn in responses, either individually or in groups, to the secretariate before Friday at noon. The questions were:
Then Fr. Carlo offered some criteria to help the discernment process. "Discernment is fruit both of the light of the Holy Spirit and of our own personal effort. The light of the Spirit works though prayer (Lk 11:13). Our own efforts are motivated (1) by the sincere desire to live as Carmelites in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, (2) from the call that comes to us from the reality in which the people of God live, and (3) from the concrete situaion of the Order and from the needs of the brothers in the various regions.
At the end, the moderator gave Fr. Francisco Manuel Oliveira the time to to give his report (Doc). He presented the experience of "Monastero Monte Carmelo - Casa del Servo Sofferente." in Curitiba, Brazil. This is a work of the Carmelites of the Commissariaite of Paranà where they deal with the many social sufferings of the country. After the report, Fr. Paulo Gollarte asked about the percent of people who are helped and remain recovered, Fr. Wilmar Santin talked about the procedure for acquiring the monastery, Fr. Brendan Grady asked about the members of the Carmelite family involved in the work and on the discernment process to make the initiative happen, Fr. Antonio de la Cruz spoke about the better response that can be given to social crisis, and Fr. William Harry asked about the process used to develop this project from a meditation on the documents of the Order.
Before concluding the morning session, Fr. Richard Copsey announced the new composition of the small groups.
At the beginning of the session, the President announced the death of the sister of Fr. Edgar Koning. Fr. Edgar returned yesterday to Holland.
The moderator introduced the work for the afternoon asking the chapter members to prepare themselves for tomorrow topic, social communications, by reading the report distributed in the aula. Following that was the showing of a video on the initiative presented during the morning session. At the end, the secretaries of the small groups reported: Fr. John Russell, Fr. Desiderio Garcia, Fr. Josef Jancar, Fr. Hugh Canavan, Fr. Manuel Sanchez, Fr. Roberto Toni, Fr. William Harry, Fr. Celso Prieto, Fr. Gianfranco Tuveri, and Fr. John McGrath.
After the usual break, the facilitators took over the meeting. Fr. Richard Copsey spoke about a request to hear the experience of the General Curia before responding to the questions on the governance of the Order. The facilitator make it clear that the questions are suppose to follow our vision on the question. Then he went on to synthesize the work reported by the secretaries. 1) Each group expressed a feeling of admiration, pride, solidarity listening to the experience of the Casa del Servo Sofferente; 2) We value the transformation of this social work in a house of prayer, as the fraternity broadened not only for the poor but with the poor; 3) Each group identified a number of neglected that we encounter today in the place where we live. Not only society but also the Church can be the cause of neglect. Also the Carmelite Order can neglect its people or communities; 4) We ask ourselves who should assume this service: if it is the community, or the Province then these is the possibility of continuity, if is the individual there is the risk that it will die with him. In every house, there is the need for an adequate preparation for this type of ministry. It struck us that the documents of the Order can be read and meditated on with the result that they become the inspiration for concrete action of an individual and of the community.
Fr. Carlos Mesters listed some questions: 1) Living together with the poor and the poor with us it can happen that some of these people will knock on our door asking to be Carmelites. These are illiterate. How do we deal with this? We are entering the Third World and we have to give a creative response so that in our family there is a place for everyone; 2) Can we all live with the poor and as they live? In the group discussion, the question emerged is this experience comes from a personal charisma or a community charisma. You are also talking about a personal gift but, according to 1 Cor 12-14, it must be used for the building up of the community; 3) In Brazilian centers, the transforming work of the Holy Spirit is always verified. How, therefore, can this center be integrated into the centers of spirituality? 4) We ask ourselves if we speak to the poor or the rich. In the Gospel, Jesus spoke to everyone but he work for the poor. Which is our option? From which perspective do we speak?
Finally, Fr. Carlos offered some other guiding points: 1) How long have we talked about going back to our roots? As the first Carmelites were, so are we called to go into the desert, to the outskirts, to the edges of society; 2) Brotherhood is an alternative to our consumeristic society in that it ia humanizing rather than debasing; 3) A prophetic brotherhood is one that denounces the idols of society, of the Church, and of the Order; 4) The source is the lectio on the Word of God. The hunger for justice is not an appendix to our charism but it is within the charism. The one who is alone with God is also jointed with God.
At the beginning of the session, the President offered the greetings send by Sr. M. Elvira, prioress of the monastery of Carmelo S. Anna di Carpineto Romano (Italia). Following that, he announced that later in the day, the Superior General of the Discalced Carmelites, Fr. Camilo Maccise, would be present and offer a meditation and preside at the Eucharist. This would begin at 11:55 as we well be joining with the rest of Europe in observing 5 minutes of silence for the victims of the violence in the past few days.
Fr. Mario Esposito, the moderator for the day, took over the meeting. He informed the members of some changes in the chapter process decided by the moderators and invited Fr. Richard Copsey to offer an more elucidation. Fr. Richard communicated that in the afternoon, the study groups would have a complete synthesis of the interventions made by the secretaries in the previous sessions in order to formulate recommendations or proposals to the next General Council.
The moderator invited Fr. William Harry to give his report on the theme of the day, Social Communication, and advised that immediately afterwards there would be a moment of personal reflection in the aula on the questions put forth by Fr. William followed by a discussion of the Assembly.
Fr. William presented a brief report (Doc) that was based on the discussions of the Commission for Social Communication which met at Aylesford May 22-23, 2000. In his report, he made reference to the need to be educated in the good communication methods and al the use of advanced technologies of today. "A policy that enables Carmelites to benefit from the explosion of the means of communication will help us to work more positively for the kingdom and above all proclaim the kingdom through our prophetic charism championing justice and peace.
Having ended the silent reflection, a wide dialogue opened up with numerous interventions. The need to better communication information within the Order was recognized. The distinction that Fr. Christopher ODonnell made between information and communication was to the point. On the Order level, it was proposed to have secretariat that is more efficient in providing for translation of materials in various languages and it was driven home that all the brothers need to learn a second language. On the Province level, the appointment of a delegate for social communication that functions, among other things, to be a link between the Province and the Curia. Furthermore it is basic to have good provincial leadership that is attentive to documents.
Fr. Camilo Maccise, O.C.D. spoke on "Keeping the Fax Open to the Holy Spirit" an expression he used at the last General Chapter of Carmelites. He said that today the topic should probably be "Keeping the Internet Open to the Holy Spirit" since in the last six years, the internet has become our way of communicating. He spoke about the presence of the Spirit in our lives, the need to encounter the communications of the Spirit in prayer, and our own openness to receiving communications from God. Following his talk, he answered questions or responded to comments. Regarding cooperation between the two branches of the Carmelite Family, Fr. Camilo said that although we don't know where the Spirit will lead us, what can be done in the next 6 years will depend a lot on the people involved. Both groups have accentuated the common and bother groups have accentuated the distinctions between us. Some mixed community might be a possibility. We already have mixed commissions. We should preserve the diversity but emphasize the unity. He does not see the reunification of the two Orders as something in the future. However, we need to continue moving together. He said "I think it is a journey we can't go back on now."
The 10 small groups met first in the afternoon to discuss the synthesis of the topics presented so far in teh General Chapter: (1) Carmelite parishes and (2) Community life. Each group then elected a secretary for each topic and a meeting of the ten secretaries for each topic then met for one hour.
Discussion in the aula followed.
The reports originally scheduled for this morning session were moved to an early date in the chapter. The discerment session which had been scheduled for Sunday afternoon was moved to this session.
A discussion ensued about the need to hear about the experience of the General Council before a vote was held on keeping the structure of the General Government as it is. After many interventions, the members of the Chapter voted to retain the current structure.
We then began with some reflections on discernment, led by Carlos Mesters. He gave three passages from the Bible to guide the reflection: 1) 1 Cor 12 on the criterion of charity; 2) John 17 on unity and brotherhood as in the last words of Christ; 3) Luke 4:16-21: an outline of the whole mission of Jesus Christ.
The members of the General Chapter then left the aula. They regathered in the chapel for the celebration of the eucharist. This was followed by lunch and a free afternoon. Sunday is also free.
Commissione Preparatoria Capitolo Generale 2001