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NEWSLETTER    << N°  85 >>   2007.07.15  

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- Carmelite Bishop in Venezuela

- Hindu Aggression towards the Carmelites in India

- In Danger: Our Lady of Carmel Shrine in China

- Carmelite Fervor in Callao, Peru

- The Annual Roman Summer Recess



Carmelite Bishop in Venezuela


On June 30th “The Osservatore Romano” and the Vatican City Radio made public the naming of Fr. CÀSTOR OSWALDO AZUAJE PÉREZ of the Virgin of Carmel as Auxiliary Bishop of Maracaibo (Venezuela). He was born in this city noted for its oil on October 19, 1951 in a family of six brothers. He knew about the Carmelites in the country through the Discalced Carmelite Nuns at Merida. He entered the novitiate program in the desert de las Palmas, in Castile (Spain), because at that time Venezuela belonged to the Province of Aragonia-Valenza. He took his first vows on October 12, 1968. After three years of philosophy at Saragozza, he studied the first year of theology at Mount Carmel (1971-72) and the other three years (1972-75) at the Teresianum in Rome. In December 1975 he was ordained to the priesthood. He completed his theological studies with a doctorate in Moral Theology near the Alfonsianum Academy in Rome in 1978.

He worked first as a formator in Coast Rica, where he was also secretary of the Conference of Religious and manager of the theological magazine “Senderos”. In 1984 he returned to his country in Venezuela. During this period, his duties included being a formator, a seminary teacher of pastoral theology, and a provincial delegate to the Carmelite nuns. During the academic year of 1994-95 he took courses at the International Avila Center. Then he returned to his country, and from 1996 to 1999 he was general delegate, master of novices, professor and spiritual director of the seminary of Merida, and Episcopal Vicar of consecrate life. Since 2005 he again served as general delegate of the order in Venezuela.

In a confidential communication, the newly elected Carmelite prelate wrote: “To leave the Order which has been my home where I have lived breathed is not easy; it is hard for a sinner like myself, who has lived in the Camelite Order as my “maternal home” to leave the Teresian Carmel where I have received everything.” Other than Spanish, Mons. Oswaldo Azuaje speaks English, Portuguese and French. His “hobby” is music. The Episcopal consecration will take place at the titular center of Vertara at Maracaibo on September 1. On his Episcopal coat of arms appears our familiar symbol of the three stars with the motto from the Carmelite Rule: “To follow Jesus Christ more closely.”


Hindu aggression towards the Carmelites in India


Our brothers of the “Ashram Carmel “ and house of formation (1998) of the Koteshwar, Province of Karnataka-Goa (India) suffered a bitter experience of Hindu extremism. Around 9.30 in the morning on June 25th the superior, Fr. Silvestre Pereira, accompanied Br. Joyson Saldhana and an aspirant John Pradeep to a nearby hospital, together with the cook, Mr. Mukunk Bhandary. They were accompanied by a friend from nearby, Mr. Valerian Di Silva. Then, suddenly they found themselves in front of four Hindu extremists who accused them of working for the forced conversion of people to Christianity. Our brothers suffered from physical aggression. The Father was taken by the neck, pulled down from the staircase, was kicked several times, and ended up with broken teeth. Thanks to the help of a local priest, Fr. Anthony Lobe, and the inspector of the local police, Valentine Di Souza, they were freed from the hands of the extremists. Nevertheless they were brought to the local police center at Kundapur, under the charge of being caught in the act of inducing a forced conversion. They remained two hours without being able to communicate to the outside world. Finally, the group dispersed with the excuse of having mistaken the identity of the priest. Our brothers were taken care of at the hospital of Chinmayi. The group leader of the attack, Ramanna Shetty, was arrested, but then was set free. The other ones were also identified but were not arrested. The local leaders and the police have condemned the incident, promising a complete investigation. The Minister of the Interior in Karnataka has also been informed about the aggression. The Provincial of Karnataka-Goa, P. Domenico Vas, informs us that the presence and the apostolate of our religious in the area it is very much appreciated.

Mons. Stanislao Fernandez, Archbishop of Gandhinagar and secretary of the Indian Episcopal Conference, has publicly condemned the aggression against the Carmelites and the four Christians. In the protest rallies that followed the ex-parliamentary Vinaykumar Sorake, said that they that have participated in that “aggression have brought shame on all civil society”, and the civic government of Prathpchandra Shetty. The two have invited the police to an effective intervention against the persons responsible. Demonstrations of solidarity have also been organized in larger cities as Mysore and Mangalore.

Through the great information agencies as “Asia News” and, even through the “Google” internet server , the news has had an international reverberation arousing a vast protest against intolerance and religious extremism in India.


In Danger: Our Lady of Carmel Shrine in China 


While not wanting to contradicting the great hope which Pope Benedict XVI inspired the whole Church with his recent Apostolic Letter (signed 27-05-2007 and published 30-06-2007) to the Chinese Catholics of the People’s Republic, we report a notice that came out that could sadden the general joy of the Feast of Our Lady of Carmel. The local Henan government has decided to destroy the venerable shrine devoted to Our Lady of Carmel with a charge of dynamite. Previously, it had forbidden pilgrimages on the occasion of the patronal feast that had gathered 40 to the 50 thousand faithful.

      The famous Shrine is found in Tianjianjin, in the district of Linxian, the Diocese of Anyang, above a mountain that offers a marvelous panoramic view of the valleys. It was built in 1903 by the apostolic Vicar of Northern Henan, Mons. Stephen Scarsella, a PIME missionary. The shrine, built in Neo–gothic style, was first destroyed by the Sino-Japanese war, and then a second time by the Red Guard in the 1960s. From 1979 the faithful began to organize many pilgrimages during which the pilgrims crossed many miles on foot. The pilgrims gather in front of the statue of Our Lady of Carmel, which rises up to the construction of the first church and towers in a grotto like that of Lourdes. For this year 2007 a reconstruction program was planned for the shrine, with a monumental Way of the Cross before it. People have already offered their financial contributions from their own property and prized possession, even offering work time without pay.


To strengthen the prohibition against the shrine the government has organized military exercises of 700 soldiers nearby, exactly on July 16th . For this, the road that leads to the shrine was closed. A decree of May 14th defines the pilgrimages to the Carmelite Shrine as “illegal religious activity.”

We suspect that the motive for the local government’s decision is really for it’s interest in building a hotel on such a picturesque place. A spokesman for the people expressed himself in this way: “This decision is puzzling. We are not afraid. We will continue until the end of our action to defend our legitimate interests.”


Carmelite Fervor in Callao, Peru


On July 16th the Marian Jubilee Year consecrate to Our Lady of Carmel in Callao will come to a close. The so called province is founded in the center-westerner ancient country of the Azteki. Here is situated the district of the Carmel of La Legua-Reynoso which was erected on December 4 th 1964. This is also the place of an historical chapel, whose miraculous image of Our Lady of Carmel has been there since 1606. On the occasion of the fourth centenary Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Penitentiary (decree Prot. N. 338/06/1), granted special thanks for the recurrence of the Jubilee Year. Since April 14, 1994 the status of the chapel has been elevated to that of a shrine.

In 1901 the Society of Our Lady of Carmel was founded. Then on September 30 1923 the Brotherhood of the Bearers of the Sacred Image was founded for the long procession of July 16. In 1944 the Brotherhood of Fishermen was created in her honor. In 1951 shrine advanced to a canonical crowning. The Virgin of Carmel has been, and continuous to be, the religious center of Callao. Pope John Paul II was recollected in prayer in front of this image on February 1, 1985 during his pastoral visit in Peru. The Marian Jubilee Year which will come to a close has see an increase of pilgrimages and popular fervor towards the Patroness of Callao.


The Annual Roman Summer Recess


As with every year during this period, Communications will suspend its activity until September 15th . The team is made up of the following members:


Damaso Zuazua, editor,

Isidoro Di Silva and Carlo Dalla Valle, Internet Technicians,

Agostino Cappelletti, Italian language translator,

George Mangiaracina, temporary English language translator,

Sr. Marie-Claire de la Croix, of the Villefranche de Rouergue Carmel,

French language translator,

Michael Obermayr, German language translator.


We wish our whole Order and the whole Teresian Carmelite family a happy patronal feast of Mary, Our Mother, Queen and Beauty of Carmel. In case of special and urgent communication needs during this break, one or more members of the team, will go back to work if necessary.


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