By Ann Marie Foley - 18 July, 2016
Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin has welcomed three Indian Carmelites who have taken charge of the busy White Abbey friary in Kildare.
He received a visit from Fr Manuel, Fr Anthony and Br Sebastian at Bishop’s House on Wednesday last (July 13th). The three are members of the Indian Carmelite Province and have come to Kildare for three years.
“I pray the presence of the Indian Carmelite Community will bring a greater awareness of the poor in all our midst and will bring great blessings on the people of Kildare town and throughout the diocese,” stated the Bishop.
“On the feastday of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, instituted by the Carmelite Order in the 14th century, which commemorates the anniversary of the day in 1251 when Our Lady gave the brown scapular to St. Simon Stock, I reecho the psalm refrain from the Mass of the day: “Lord, do not forget the poor” (Ps. 9:12b).”
The Indian Province of the Carmelites sent a request to Rome for ministry work in English speaking countries and received an invitation from the Irish province.
The three Indian Carmelites arrived in Ireland in February and were with Irish Carmelite communities for a time. They have undergone training at Kimmage Development Studies Centre on the new Pastoral Orientation and Acculturation course.
In March they received a warm reception at the Chrism Mass of Holy Week in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. At the end of April they arrived in Kildare to run the friary in the town. Irish Carmelites who were living at the friary have transferred to Dublin and Moate so the Indian priests and brother are running the friary with the help of ten lay staff.
Fr Manuel, the new Prior, told catholicireland.net that they have settled in but it is too soon to compare Irish congregations with those in India. He said that the Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel which ended yesterday on Saturday 16th July had a strong choir and the congregation was similar in numbers to that of a Sunday mass.
“They love Carmelites, not only do they love Irish Carmelites but they love always the Carmelites,” said Fr Manuel.
He and his colleagues work closely with the local parish and help with christenings, funerals and weddings. Fr Manuel noted that congregations in the friary are mostly in the middle to old age group.
“The youth are not in our church. One of the reasons may be that they are going to the Parish church, or they are not going anywhere. I do not see many youth coming to our church, quiet elderly and middle aged people are always there. Our church is a small church and for 10 o clock and 12 o clock mass it is always full,” he said.
He and his colleagues come from Kerala, in southern India. He said that 23-24% of the population there is Christian. He and his colleagues come from the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, although there are two other rites. There is no shortage of vocations in India overall he said and the Christians have the zeal of St Paul the Apostle.
These Carmelites are not the only priests and religious to come to serve in Kildare and Leighlin and Ireland. Fr George Augustine, a native of Kerala, spent some time in Portlaoise parish and has now moved to Kilcock. Fr Augustine is a Benedictine priest who visited Ireland for a placement from Rome in 2011 and stayed on.
The people of the archdiocese of Tuam also recently welcomed Fr Yesudas Kodiveetil who is also from Kearla.
The Pastoral Orientation Acculturation course which the Carmelites attended at Kimmage Development Studies Centre was the first of its kind in Ireland.
Fifteen priests, sisters and a brother from Africa, Asia, and South America, gathered on Wednesday 13th April for the first day of the course aimed at incoming pastoral ministry workers. The missionaries from abroad are working in a variety of rural and urban settings in Ireland ranging from Roscommon to Galway, Cork, Tipperary, Sligo and Dublin.