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Missionary news

OUR MISSIONS
ON THE THRESHOLD

As Carmelites we are necessarily missionaries" - said the "Missionary message" of the 1st O.C.D. World Missionary Congress held in Nairobi in 1994 ). "Carmel – we read in the same Message – is a religious family called together to live in obsequium Iesu Christi, while meditating assiduously on the Word and together announcing it for the salvation of mankind, of every person. Our Order has then a double mandate: that of a committed personal and community study in detail of the Christian mysteries as well as that of their proclamation." (ivi).

With regards to the missionary aspect, in the Teresian Carmel there is space for the widest range of forms and concrete applications. The Order offered to the Church religious full of prophetic intuition who promoted the institution of the Congregation of "Propaganda Fide"; it prepared missionaries of excellent quality and raised up apostolic souls, such as Therese of the Child Jesus, patroness of the universal missions.

In the last post-conciliar decades the Order reflected deeply on its charism and saw that the "missionary aspect"was not an addition or an external, but an essential part, moreover the opus maximum, or, – as the Constitutions define – "have always been a priority in our Order’s apostolic work" (n. 94). Therefore, as the first of the Proposals of the Nairobi Congress states, "In the initial formation in our Order the missionary dimension should be stressed as an essential part of the charism"(SIC, vol. 27,1994, n. 2, p. 92).

Our present missionary work, presented in detail by the Superiors of each Mission during the 2nd OCD World Missionary Congress at Quito, extends over 35 missions in 31 countries. There are 16 missions in 14 African and Indian Ocean countries, 10 missions in Asian countries, 4 missions in Latin America, 2 missions in the 2 countries of the Middle East and 3 missions in 3 states of the ex-Soviet Union. Involved in missionary work are 5 of our Bishops, 260 Priests, 2 permanent Deacons and 24 non-cleric brothers. At present there are 39 novices and 168 indigenous student in the process of formation.

   AFRICA AND MADAGASCAR

Going by alphabetical order and putting the religious Province to which the mission belongs in brackets, we are present: in Burkina Faso (Aragon-Valencia), where there is 1 monastery with 4 missionaries and 3 novices; in Burundi (Krakow), 1 monastery, 5 religious; in Cameroun (Milan), 2 monasteries, 3 missionaries; in Ivory Coast (Del. Gen. Congo), in the initial stages of foundation with 1 priest and some postulants; in Kenya (Washington), 1 monastery, 3 priests, 2 brothers; in Madagascar and Mauritius (Venice), 5 monasteries, 17 priests (of whom 7 native), 23 students and 3 novices; in Malawi (Navarre), 4 monasteries, 12 priests (5 native), 1 brother, 4 students and 2 novices; in Nigeria (Ireland), 2 monasteries, 9 priests (one native), 18 students, 8 novices; in Central African Republic (Genoa), 5 monasteries, 11 priests, 1 student, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - ex Zaire (Definitory General), 4 monasteries, 28 priests (19 native), 4 native brothers and 22 students. Also in the Congo is a mission of the Rome Province at Kananga, with 2 priests and 1 brother. We are still in the Popular Republic of the Congo (Definitory), 1 monastery, 2 priests, one brother; in Rwanda (Krakow), 2 monasteries, 7 priests, 3 students and 2 novices; in South Africa (Karnataka), a recent foundation with 3 priests; in Tanzania (Karnataka), 3 monasteries, 10 priests, 6 students.

Also in Africa is the Cairo monastery in Egypt, with its Basilica of St Therese of the Child Jesus. In the last sexennium it became part of the Semiprovince of Lebanon, and no longer has a missionary status.

  LATIN AMERICA

We have four Missions in the strict sense in the continent of hope – to use the words of John Paul II. Two of these are Vicariates Apostolic. They are the Vicariate Apostolic of Sucumbíos in Ecuador and the Vicariate Apostolic of Tumaco in Columbia.

The first was accepted by our Spanish Province of Burgos as a Prefecture Apostolic in 1937 and was later elevated to a Vicariate Apostolic in 1984. The Vicar Apostolic, with episcopal dignity is Mons. Gonzalo Lopez Marañón, from Burgos Province. With him work 10 Carmelite confreres, religious and sisters of various congregations and numerous committed laity, many of whom belong to the COIM Team (Communities for the Church and the World – an association founded by the present Vicar Apostolic).

The Carmelites in ISAMIS (Church of St Michael of Sucumbios), as the Vicariate Apostolic is commonly called pastorally, carry out their work mainly in three areas: that of urban ministry in Lago Agrio (3 religious), country ministry in the Sevilla area (also 3 religious) and in indigenous ministry (4 missionaries).

The second Vicariate, that of Tumaco (the Columbian coast bordering on Ecuador) was entrusted by the Congregation of Propaganda Fide to our Navarre Province in 1954. In February 1990 it became part of the Columbian Province. The Vicar Apostolic is Mons. Gustavo Girón Higuita. Incardinated in the Vicariate are 9 diocesan priests and 13 religious of whom 7 are Carmelites, 3 Franciscans, 2 Claretians and 1 from the Missionary Society of Bethlehem. Also working there are 5 Franciscan non-cleric brothers and one permanent deacon.

The missionaries are assisted by a number of religious sisters from 3 congregations: 22 Carmelite Missionaries, 5 Sisters of the Company of Mary and 1 Sister of Providence. There are also 7 consecrated laity.

The other two missions in Latin America are: Apiacas in the Amazon forest of Brazil, and Hueytlaplan, on the Sierra del Puebla in Mexico. Both were opened after the Nairobi Congress: Apiacas in January 1995 by the Province of South Brazil, and Hueytlaplan in 1996 by the Mexican Province. In the first work two priests and one brother helped by three lay missionaries. In the second are engaged 3 priests and one student.

  ASIA

Asia and Oceania, or if you wish, the Far East, make up the second largest part of the Order after Europe, by number of religious. We are present in India, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan.

However, missions in the strict sense number 10: Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan and 4 in India. To these we can add the Prelature of Infanta in the Philippines, an old mission of the Washington Province where the Prefect Apostolic is our own Mons. Julio J. Labayen.

The missions in India are: Andra Pradesh, of the Manjummel Province (5 monasteries, 21 missionaries, 17 students and 1 novice; Belur, of the Karnataka-Goa Province (3 religious); Hoshiarpur, of the Malabar Province (20 priests, 2 brothers, 17 students and 6 novices), and Manalikkarai, of Tamilnadu Province (7 missionaries). All four missions in India are noted for teaching work, training of formators, human and social development. Standing out is the work of another 10 religious from Tamilnadu, involved in missionary work in the midst of the "dalith", who are considered the dregs of society, untouchable and totally on the fringe of society.

The Indonesian mission belonging to the Manjummel Province is particularly flourishing in religious vocations. At present there are 9 novices and 42 students, of whom 8 are solemnly professed. Next year priests will be ordained. Missionaries however are only 5.

In Japan we have 5 formed houses with 38 friars of whom 18 are Italian missionaries. Japanese priests number 11, while there is one permanent deacon, 3 non-cleric brothers and 5 students.

In Taiwan there are 2 monasteries with 10 friars: 5 priests, 3 students and 2 novices and in the Singapore community there are 5 members.

 Korea in its turn has 3 Carmelite communities with 33 friars: 16 priests, 8 brothers, 7 students and 2 novices.

  MIDDLE EAST

It could be said our Teresian Carmelite presence in the Middle East, besides its history of more than 3 centuries, is a element that pertains vitally to the charismatic makeup of the Order: in its roots and its spirituality, in its Marian dimension, in its missionary vocation.

Carmelites are found in five nations of the Middle East: Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait and Lebanon. Only Kuwait has missionary status in the juridical sense.

The Teresian Carmel secures the presence of the Latin Church in Kuwait, since the Holy See entrusted this territory to the Order. In 1954 it was made a Vicariate Apostolic. The Vicar Apostolic is Mons. Francis Micaleff, O.C.D. With him work three of our friars, 2 diocesan priests and a Priest of the Maronite rite.

Even though Iraq was an ancient Carmelite mission sui iuris, it was suppressed in 1978 as such. Continuing to now Carmelites lead the Latin Archbishopric of Baghdad and assure the presence of the Latin Church in that sea of Islam. The Archbishopric, guided by the Lebanese Carmelite Mons. Paul Marcello Dahdah, covers the whole of Iraq. We have 4 friars there besides the Archbishop. There are also 2 postulants, a novice in Lebanon and 2 students in France. These belong to the Paris Province.

  EAST EUROPE

In the 1980's, in the wake of perestroika, the Polish Discalced Carmelites began to move into the Soviet Republic of Lithuania, Byelorussia, the Ukraine and Russia itself where in the past there were many of our Friars’ monasteries, not to mention those of the nuns. The entire Lithuanian Province of St Casimir was suppressed in the second half of the 18th century.

At present 9 of our friars work in Byelorussia, forming part of the Warsaw Provincial Delegation. Two monasteries in Byelorussia are canonically established (Gudogaj and Narocz), while the other two depend on them (Kostantynowo and So»y). Already there are vocations from this area.

Eight of our friars work in the Ukraine, in the Provincial Delegation of Krakow. There are two communities canonically established (Kiev and Berdicev). The first Carmelite friar from the Ukraine has been ordained after training in Poland. There are other students in formation.

Since Easter 1998, there is a Carmelite presence in European Russia: at Taganrog, on the Azov Sea, where one of our friars from Warsaw Province takes care of the Catholic community.

MESSAGE

" How then are they to call on him if they have not come to believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him? And how will they hear of him unless there is a preacher for them? And how will there be preachers if they are not sent? As scripture says: How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of good news.

But in fact they have not all responded to the good news. As Isaiah says: Lord, who has given credence to what they have heard from us? But it is in that way faith comes, from hearing, and that means hearing the word of Christ. Well then, I say, is it possible that they have not heard? Indeed they have: in the entire earth their voice stands out, their message reaches the whole world ". Rom 10, 14-18

I. Introduction

To all our Brothers and Sisters in Carmel,

We, the delegates representing the continents of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, send you our fraternal greetings. Along with V. Rev. Fr. Camilo Maccise, our Superior General, and two Definitors, we met in Quito, a place familiar to St. Teresa because her brother Lorenzo lived there. The presence of our Carmelite missionary Bishops, O.Carm. representatives and delegates from some of the Congregations affiliated to the Order enriched our gathering. We thank you for the prayers and messages you sent to the Congress which encouraged us in our deliberations.

In his Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente Pope John Paul II writes: "The Church must continue to be missionary; indeed missionary outreach is part of her very nature. An urgent need is felt to bring the liberating message of the Gospel to all men and women" (cf. n. 57). "This is because the Church maintains that beneath all socio-cultural and ecclesial changes, there are so many realities which do not change. These have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is ‘the same yesterday, today and for ever’" (cf n. 59).

The word mission includes all forms of evangelization. One of the many challenges to mission is Evangelization and the different charisms of consecrated life. All religious Institutes are reminded to heed the call to mission contained in the gift of their founding charism, received from Christ through the Church for the spread of the Kingdom of God. In the case of our Order the prophetic spirit of St. Elijah calls us to urgent and radical involvement in the various dehumanizing and unjust situations present in society today.

In this 2nd World Missionary Carmelite Congress, we, the participants have endeavoured to open our hearts in the name of our Order and especially on behalf of our missionaries to evaluate the present situations of our missions brought to us so vividly by the interventions during the general assemblies. In a particular way we were aware of the difficult situation our missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ruanda and Burundi are going through. We tried to listen with increased sensitivity to all that the Spirit is saying to the Church and to the Churches (Rev. 2, 7ff) in this time of immediate preparation for the great Jubilee of the year 2000 (cf. T.M.A. n. 23).

II. New image of the Church

The missionary efforts made by the Order help us to understand and assimilate the missionary spirit that pervades the whole Church and to assume the new image of the Church that the II Vatican Council offers.

The new times started by the Council have led us to see the Church as the people of God, Mystery and Sacrament of communion given by Christ for salvation. She is the authentic Body of Christ and we are active members who care for the growth of the whole body.

The Order has reflected on her mission in the Church and continues in this reflection following the steps of Saint Therese of Lisieux. She did not rest until she found her place in Mystical Body of Christ: "In the heart of the Church my Mother I will be Love".

We deeply suffer, as our holy Mother Teresa did, when we see that so many brothers and sisters die without experiencing the saving richness of the Gospel. St. Edith Stein, recently canonized, is an example of self-offering for the sake of her people.

For that reason we seek our own perfection while opening our lives on behalf of the people of God, so that they as pilgrims to their Father’s house may find the fullness of life in Christ.

At the same time we realize that as we cooperate in the planting of the Church, we share our charism with the young Churches so that the richness of the Spirit may be manifested.

We are happy to see that just as the local Church grows in many of our Missions, Carmelite vocations also flourish.

III. Perspectives and challenges for the mission

Against this background, we face new perspectives and challenges. In the light of social, cultural and ecclesial changes, our Order is confronted with the responsibility of reading the signs of the times, and interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. In an age that is becoming less Christian and less human, we seek to go forward in hope.

We recognise the primary and supreme importance of presence and witness in the work of evangelisation. Only then will our ministry be acceptable and accepted, and only then, also, will our identity and credibility be respected.

Practising an incarnational spirituality in the context of concrete situations, we see the need for dialogue and collaboration at every level as we face the complexities of inculturation.

We are aware, too, of the close links between the missions and our Carmelite charism. In all our formation programmes we must draw attention to this and express it in our various apostolates. The witness of prayerful and fraternal communities will be a rich contribution to our missionary task and will facilitate the building up of the Body of Christ. Conscious of our charism and of our rich spiritual tradition we will also be concerned for the deeper needs of God’s people, paying special attention to the evangelisation of the evangelists – clergy, religious and committed laity. As we evangelize, we are also being evangelized by the poor and their social and cultural traditions and situations.

IV. Conclusion

We are in the final stage of preparation for the great Jubilee of the year 2000. This year is specially dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the eternal source of every gift that comes from God (cf. Tertio Millennio adveniente, 44). The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of the new evangelization and we trust that he will bring us to a more mature awareness of our missionary responsibilities.

During the Congress our liturgy and prayer in common was a rich and nourishing source of inspiration.

· Our opening hymn, Veni, Creator Spiritus, once again reminded us of our complete dependence on the "Lord and giver of life".

· The feast of the Archangels reminded us that missionaries, like the angels, are also sent as God’s messengers;

· the feast of St. Jerome emphasised the power of God’s Word,

· and the feast of St. Therese, our Patroness in Mission and our sister in Carmel, drew our attention to the power of God’s love through her life of prayer and hidden sacrifice, as a living source of our apostolic activity.

In this Eucharistic and paschal spirit we go forth into a new Millennium, confident that the Lord of history will be our companion on the way. We pray that Mary, the star of evangelization, will teach us to be docile to the Spirit; she is a woman of silence and attentiveness, a woman of hope and a model for all Carmelites.

At the close of our Congress we wish that what we have experienced during these days of grace, may also be shared with you. May this gathering make our Order an efficient instrument in the hands of the Lord of the harvest.

     
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