The forming of 40 young Carmelite Brothers
The Carmelite Sisters can be found in more than 20 African countries, with over 400 Sisters in 36 convents. Sixty-five male Carmelite houses also exist with over 400 Brothers taking up residence. Additionally, there are numerous young vocations, still in training.
Not only was Madagascar the first country where a female branch of the Carmelite order was established; but it was also the third African country where the male branch of the Carmelites established a monastery.
The brothers have been here since 1969 and today include 56 priests, 48 of whom are native Madagascans, or Malagasy. They also have numerous vocations, 40 young men are now in formation. In fact, there are many more young men who would gladly join the Carmelites, but since the order cannot afford to support them and provide for their formation, much to their dismay, they simply cannot accept all men desiring to dedicate their lives to God in this way. Consequently, and with a heavy heart, they have been forced to restrict the number of new entrants to 40.
A beginning fraught with hazardous adventures!
This Carmelite order which is so greatly sought after has a rather dramatic story which began with a series of hazardous adventures. Just a few months before the death of their great foundress, Saint Teresa of Avila, five Carmelite priests set out to sea from Lisbon to travel to the coast of what is today Angola, then under the rule of the Portuguese king.
A storm put an end to the enterprise. Their ship sank. The brave friars drowned in the ocean. A second attempt was made not much later, but their ship was boarded by pirates. The friars were set down to the shores of one of the Cape Verde Islands. One of them died, but the others eventually managed to find their way to Seville. It was not until two years later that three Carmelite brothers finally succeeded in reaching what is now Angola. Even so, their mission only lasted until 1612.
From that point it was another 300 years before the order founded by Saint Teresa of Avila in Spain, was finally able to put down roots in Africa. Initially, it was the discalced Carmelite nuns who set up a convent. In 1921, a group of Carmelite Sisters from Belgium arrived in Betafo, Madagascar. The first foundation established by their male confreres in Africa was not until 1956, in what was then Zaire (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
May God reward you all!
Last year, thanks to the generous support of our benefactors, we were able to contribute $13,775 (Canadian dollars) towards the cost of training 40 young aspiring Carmelite brothers. Speaking on their behalf, their Father Superior wishes to thank everyone who has helped them.