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NEWSLETTER    << N°  54 >>   2006.02.01  

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Two Carmelite Meetings in Latin America


         Two meetings will be organized in the coming months for the Carmelites in Latin America. Both of them will take place in Lima, Peru.  The first will be for all the Parish Priests in Latin America, 1st-7th May. This event is a follow up to the first International Congress of all Carmelite Parish Priests, which took place back in May 2001, in Colombia.  The theme then was: Witnesses to the experience of God. The Congress was followed by a message from the Carmelite parishes (46 Acta OCD (2002) 129-146). In the next reunion in Lima they want to explore this theme further within the context of the present day situation for Carmel in Latin America.

       From October 25-29 2006 there will also be in Lima a Congress on the Carmelite Rule, in preparation for the 8th centenary of the “way of life” that St. Albert, our legislator, gave us in 1207.  The two General Councils, O.Carm and O.C.D., at their meeting in May 2005 approved the new Statutes of this Association of Carmelites from Latin America, which is the successor to the old Carmelite and Discalced Carmelite Joint Commission in Latin America. This new Association organizes a Congress of mutual interest in Latin America every three years.

       The entire Carmelite family in Latin America is invited to this latest Congress: O.Carm & O.C.D: friars, representatives from the Carmelite Institutes and the Secular Order. More information can be obtained about the content and preparation by looking up the following websites: 1., 2. The Regional Vicariate of “St. Martin de Porres” in Peru is part of the Navarre Province; there are 9 priories and 19 convents of our cloistered sisters. 


Fr. Nilo Geagea, Mariologist


       Fr. Nilo died aged 98.  The Blessed Virgin, whom he greatly loved, came to meet him on January 11th on Mt. Carmel, Haifa.  Josef Taraya Geagea was born on the 21st February 1908 in Becharre or Bicherri, Tripoli (Lebanon).  Nilo of St. Bernard was professed as a Carmelite on the 21st February 1925 in Brescia, Italy, and belonged to the Venetian Province.  In 1928 he began his studies in theology at the International College, Rome.  He was ordained Priest in 1932.  In Lebanon he taught at the minor seminary and college. In 1930 he was called to Rome to teach in the theological faculty. He obtained a Doctorate in 1943 from the Gregorianum University. In 1946 he completed another Doctorate in Philosophy and again in 1948 in Italian Literature. In 1951 he was nominated as a socius of the International Pontifical Marian Academy.

       In 1954 he returned to his native Lebanon, where he became at various times: superior, master of novices, student master and vicar provincial. From 1963 he assisted at the Second Vatican Council as a theologian for Mgr. Tarcisio Benedetti o.c.d., Bishop of Lodi.  In 1981 he transferred to the Roman Province and from that time resided continuously on Mt. Carmel for 25 years until his death.

       A well known Marilogist, Fr. Nilo wrote more than 100 articles on this theme. He was a tireless writer and researcher.  By his fraternal and intellectual service we can define him as enlightened, tenacious and marian. Enlightened, like the clear light of the Orient: his mind was keen, and refined, he saw things very clearly, and always respectful in his interventions. Tenacious, like the great cedars of his country, Lebanon, that so formed his strong character, who carried on working to the last on his old-style typewriter. Marian: like the face of the Star of the Sea. When he spoke of the Scapular his whole body used to shake. The Rosary in his hands was a constant companion.

       Among his more important books we can cite: 1. Mary in the message of the Koran (translated from Italian into English), 1984.  2. Maria, Madre y Decoro del Carmelo (1988). 3. Una devocion ecumenical. La Virgen del Carmen (1990). 4. Textos marianos (1996).  5. La espirituladad mariana del Carmelo (1997). When he died he was in the process of completing a book on the Scapular.  Also of interest was his research on Demonio y vida spiritual (The Devil and the spiritual life), in St. John of the Cross (Sanjuanistica, Roma 1943, 135-223).  His writings are noteworthy because of his knowledge of source material, medieval Carmel literature, and by the way he expounded his thoughts so very clearly and articulately.

       On the 25th December 2005 Fr. Nilo celebrated his 80th anniversary of profession. Fr. General, Luis Arostegui wrote congratulating him. Among other things he said: “This auspicious event …is a reason to rejoice and give thanks not only on a personal level, but also for Carmel. 


A Weeklong Conference on the Spirituality of Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity


       In the centenary year of the death of our Carmelite sister from Dijon (1906-2006) the prestigious Week of Spirituality at the Teresianum College, Rome, in its annual and  uninterrupted 47th edition, will be dedicated to recall her life and principle teaching. The Week will take place from 5th to 9th March. The general theme is: The spiritual path of Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity. The following are the speakers and their themes: (all lectures in Italian)  1. Prof. Valerio Albisetti, Thirst for Spirituality in Today’s World: 2. Jesus Castellano, ocd, Open yourselves to God in every way.  3. Conrad de Meester, ocd, Elizabeth of the Trinity. A life of love to the glory of the Trinity and the Church. 4. Virgilio Pasquetto, Called to Contemplation by the Scriptures.  5. Roberto Fornara, ocd, It is not I who live… St. Paul, guide to spirituality.  6. Maria Campatelli, On the liturgy that influenced her.  7. Gabriele Ferlisi, oad, St. Augustine. An experience of spirituality. 8. Marisa Bisi, Teacher of spirituality.  9. Dr. Luigi Accattoli, To live the spiritual life in the world.  10. Antonio Sicari, ocd, Contemplative experience and ecclesial dynamism.

       The conferences will be published in the Roman Province’s spiritual Review Vita Spirituale. They will then form part of the collection Fiamma Viva. 


Award for a veteran missionary


        Fr. Marcelino Claudio Forcellini, a member of the Roman Province, was born in Paris on December 6th, 1930.  But has the distinction of being the only member of the Order to be a citizen of the tiny Republic of San Marino.  He was part of the first expedition by Religious of the Roman Province to the Congo in 1968 and has remained there every since.  Today he is one of two foreign Carmelite missionaries in the Congo. He founded the priories of Kananga-Mt. Carmel, Kinshasa, Bukavu and Lubumbashi.  He was the first General Delegate, has also been novice director.  He has worked in the social field to alleviate the situation of the poor.  In recent times he founded a school and factory in Lubumbashi. Today he is the superior of Kananga-Mount Carmel.

       He was given the Premio of San Marino 2005.  It is a prize that was instituted in 2005 with the aim of publicly recognizing the citizens of San Marino who, for their important initiatives and for the fame of their achievements at the highest levels in their particular area of competence, bring honour to the name of the Republic in the world.  The prize is to be conferred in March. 


Two Commemorations for the Martyrs of Compiegne


       We are preparing to celebrate the centenary of the beatification of our sisters, the 16 Carmelites of Compiegne (1906-27th May -2006).  It was Pope Pius X who elevated them to this honour.  They were guillotined in Paris on July 17th, 1794 during the final period of the reign of terror of the French Revolution.  They have become ever more popular because of the books that have been written about them by Gertrud von le Fort, George Barnanos, Carmelite Dialogues, which has been made into a play, and a film and even an opera. In France, the association of The Friends of the Blessed Carmelites of Compiegne, work hard to keep alive their memory, with publications, conferences, historical research, new books, and pilgrimages to the place where they were first buried in Paris. Destinee providentielle des Carmelites de Compiegne dans la literature et les arts, Carmel of Compiegne, 1994, is probably the best modern book on the martyrs.

       Next year will mark the 50th anniversary (1957-2007) of the book, Dialogue with the Carmelites by Poulenc (1889-1962).  Events will be organized to recall both these anniversaries. 


We will not forget Iraq


       We are used to hearing about Iraq in the news.  But we should not forget that three Carmelite friars live in Baghdad, two Iraqis and one Spanish, with six novices.  They share the daily anxieties of the population who desire nothing but peace. No one knows what may happen tomorrow. All too frequent and too close are the abductions and suicide bombers.  Also living in Baghdad is the Latin Archbishop, the Lebanese Carmelite, Mgr. Jean Benjamin Sleiman, who is at the same time President of Caritas in Iraq.

       In a recent article in an Italian magazine he informed his readers about the complicated situation they find themselves in, and the daily, cruel violence. The people are tired. They have become accustomed to the violence, so much so that they cannot imagine what a normal life is like anymore. Mgr. Sleiman estimates that there are in Iraq 700,000 to 1,000,000 Christians; Roman Catholics number 250,000.

       He added that the invasion of Iraq has been a grave political error. Europe and the United States appear to be blinkered.  In the Middle East the Christians are the ones who are best disposed for peace, for reasons of their culture, history and sense of reality.  Without doubt, the Christians in almost the whole of the Middle East are been badly treated by the world powers.

       On a positive note, and a reason to give us hope, during the World Day of Youth in Cologne last August, 1,200 young people came together in the Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad. They were from different Christian Churches, but all were united in prayer, at the Eucharist and in the agape. 


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