Although I was elected a General Definitor in May 2003, I
did not move to Rome until the first September meeting of
the General Definitor. After the September meeting was over
I devoted the next ten weeks to learning some Italian by
attending a school four hours a day, five days a week. When
I was asked what my work for the Order consisted of I said,
“Learning Italian and eating pasta.” It is not a bad life
if you don’t mind living in an office building. I must say
that I have enjoyed very much the community of the Casa
Generalizia which is the largest community I have ever lived
My portfolio, (I never had a portfolio before but that is
what they like to call it in the Casa), consists of six
provinces: The Dutch Province of the Netherlands, Malta of
Malta, the Anglo-Irish Province excluding Australia which is
a Regional Vicariate, and the three United States Provinces,
that is, the California-Arizona, the Washington and the
Oklahoma Provinces. I have been referred to as the
Definitor for the English-speaking Provinces. This is
inaccurate or, at least, imprecise. As a matter of fact, two
of these Provinces, the Dutch and the Maltese, ordinarily
conduct their community life in a language which is not
English. The Oklahoma Province is recognized as bi-lingual,
that is, English and Spanish.
It is obvious that there is not a geographical unity among
these 6 provinces. In the United States the Order is not
even organized as a geographical unity. The Carmelite
community in Miami, Florida with a territorial jurisdiction
that includes all of Southern Florida is grouped with Latin
America under the care of Fr. Nicolas Garcia since it
belongs to the Caribbean Vicariate of Castile, as do the two
communities in the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico. The
Carmelite community of the Krakow Province in Munster,
Indiana which does not use English as its official language
has been allotted a territorial jurisdiction comprised of
several large mid-western States. They have had the right to
accept novices since the 1950’s
when the community was canonically established. The same is
true of the community of the Warsaw Province in Corona
Beach, Florida which has a territorial extension as far as
New Orleans. These communities are not represented in the
coetus made up of the six Provinces in my portfolio.
In Canada we have the community of the Carmelites of the
Avignon-Aquataine Province in Trois-Rivieres which is not in
my “portfolio” whereas I do visit the Maltese community in
London, Ontario. There is now a recognized community of the
Korean Commissariat in Southern California. It is
interesting to note the fact that in the United States and
Canada there are canonically established communities of
eight different Provinces. There are two additional
Provinces with non-canonically established communities.
Although there is not a Conference of Provincials in the
United States, the three Provincials of the United States
generally meet twice a year. There is considerable
collaboration among the three US Provinces especially in the
area of formation. The OCD Provincials of the US also meet
twice a year with the two O. Carm.
Provincials. There exists a successful program of
collaboration in the area of Carmelite spirituality and
history called the Carmelite Institute based at Washington
Theological Union in Washington D.C. Our Carmelite community
in Washington D.C. has hosted numerous Carmelites students
attending this program who have
come from around the world, e.g. Africa, India, Australia,
and Ireland. I should also mention the Institute of
Carmelite Studies which is not to be confused with the just
mentioned Carmelite Institute. The ICS as it is called has
made Carmelite spirituality known throughout the
English-speaking world by publishing many Carmelite books.
At this time there is no expansion of the Order in the US
although the California-Arizona Province is experiencing an
increase in vocations. In December this Province will open a
new house of studies. But there is no expansion of the Order
as such. However, there has been a serious commitment of
these Provinces to develop the Order in East Africa, i.e.
Kenya and Uganda. The Washington Province has made a
considerable investment in Nairobi.
So far I have only talked about the United States. I am more
knowledgeable about the Provinces there. I would like now to
say a few words about the other three Provinces in my
Portfolio: the Anglo-Irish, Dutch and Malta Provinces. These
Provinces belong to the European reality which is quite
different from the United States. The Dutch Province is the
only one on the continent proper. At one time there
were over 70 members of this Province. Today they are quite
reduced in numbers. The friars of the Order of Carmel are
numerous in Holland and there is collaboration with them.
The Anglo-Irish Province is one of the larger Provinces in
the Order and is the largest in the coetus. In recent years
they have had to do some serious restructuring.
Its biggest undertaking in the last ten
years as been the establishment of the Order in Nigeria.
They have made a big investment of men and resources. I
predict that not too many years from now there will be a
Nigerian Provincial. In Ireland and England they also have
collaborative programs with the O. Carm. In Ireland the
friars are especially close to the nuns.
Malta, the little island in the Mediterranean, is big in
faith and heart. It is holding steady with vocations.
Some of their formation is done in Italy. We can thank the
Maltese Province for the existence of the Taiwan-Singapore
Delegation, represented here by Fr. John Chua. The Malta
Province has been important in sustaining our presence in
Egypt and Israel. I should like to mention the years of
service in Kuwait of the now retired Bishop Francis Micallef.
They have been working hard in recent years to establish the
presence of the order in English –speaking Canada.
I have conducted visits of all six of the Provinces assigned
to my care. Three have already had the sexennial Pastoral
Visitation. This meeting is the first time that the
Provincials of these Provinces have met together during this
sexennium. It will be a special opportunity for them to talk
about the ways in which they can best support each other
through some kind of practical collaboration. It is a chance
for me to see what kind of service the General Definitor can