05/05/2000 12:13


In November, 1934, five nuns from the Carmel of Autun, France, arrived at Yule Island to begin living the Carmelite life in this country. This was in answer to the request of Archbishop Alain de Boismenu m.s.c., and in accord with the desire of Pope Pius XI, that the contemplative life should be planted in the young Churches also.

The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel dates from the 12th - 13th centuries, when a group of former crusaders decided to live as hermits on Mt. Carmel in the Holy Land, in one community, and with a common Rule of life. Their life was one of prayer and contemplation after the example of Mary, their model and Patroness, to whom their Chapel was dedicated. Mary "pondered in her heart" the words and deeds of Jesus, her Son, and was always open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Their other source of inspiration was Elijah, the prophet of Mount Carmel, raised up by God to be His witness, to hear and proclaim His word to His people. "With zeal am I zealous for the Lord God of Hosts" (1 Kings 19:10) became the Carmelite motto. Elijah was not only prophet, but also contemplative in his deep awareness of standing before the Face of the Living God.

From Mount Carmel the Order spread to Europe. Carmelite monasteries for women were first established in the 15th century. With time and the change of place, some of the original characteristics of the first Brothers had been lost. Saint Teresa of Jesus refounded Carmel in 1562, restoring the first fervour and simplicity of the Order, and its hermit spirit, by a return to the first Rule. The nuns were to live the Gospel counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience in small communities, dedicating themselves to God in continual prayer and self-sacrifice, observing silence and solitude, earning their living by the work of their hands. She re-created the "desert" for this by enclosure, which kept in balance any outside influences which might distract the nuns from their life of prayer. As her own prayer life developed, she understood that the life of her nuns must be at the service of the Church, the Body of Christ, Himself the meaning and reason for this life. This was their apostolate, this was the work her nuns were to do. Thus she gave her reformed Carmel an ecclesial and apostolic dimension: to live and pray in the Church, with and for the Church, united with Christ in His work of redemption. With the collaboration of St. John of the Cross, a friar of the Order who also wished for a deeper life of solitude and prayer, the male branch of the Order was also renewed. Together they laid the foundations of the Order of Discalced Carmelites as we know it today.

The Carmelite charism is found in varying forms. Many active life Congregations have been founded, taking their inspiration from the Rule of Carmel, and being affiliated with the Order. In some countries lay people bring Carmelite spirituality to the secular world, in the Carmelite Secular Order. All form the one Carmelite family, together with the Friars and cloistered Nuns.
There is only one Carmelite monastery in Papua New Guinea, at Bomana in the National Capital District.
Carmelite Monastery,
Bomana, P.O.Box 3462, Boroko NCD 111, PNG.
tel. 3281127 fax 3281054