Joyful jubilee as Carmel celebrates 75 years in Tasmania

By Wendy Shaw

Peace and joy radiated from the Carmelites of West Launceston as the wider Catholic community joined them for a jubilee Mass of thanksgiving last month.

Friends, relatives and supporters travelled from around Tasmania and interstate as the Discalced Carmelite Nuns marked 75 years in Tasmania.

The celebrations were also an opportunity for personal renewal, according to the Prioress, Mother Teresa Benedicta OCD.

“We used the Jubilee not only to give thanks to God for all that has taken place in these first 75 years of our history, but also as an opportunity for personal renewal, re-committing ourselves to living our Carmelite vocation with hope and confidence in God as we move into the future,” Mother Teresa Benedicta said afterwards.

Members of the Carmelite Auxiliary, from left, Brian Khan, Dot O’Connor, Frances Bailey, Jill Baker, Judy Khan and Carol Duda at the morning tea following the Carmelite jubilee Mass. Photo: Wendy Shaw

“Gratitude to God for His blessings in the past opens us up profoundly to all that He longs to do for us now and in the future.”

The Prioress said she hoped those from the wider Catholic community who attended jubilee celebrations came away with a deeper sense of the importance of the contemplative life of Carmel at the heart of the Church, and of the hidden but essential role Carmel has played in the Church in Tasmania over the past 75 years.

“A life ‘hidden with Christ in God’ in Carmel, is a life of profound joy and peace,” Mother Teresa Benedicta said.

“I hope that peace and joy radiated to all who celebrated our Jubilee with us.

“I also hope that our own Sisters were enriched with a deeper appreciation of the love that so many people in Tasmania have for Carmel. I am certain we were all humbled by the beautiful and gracious words that people shared with us as they came to meet us and I hope this will encourage our community to live our vocation ever more radically and faithfully, trusting in the Lord who has called us and knowing that the people we serve are grateful for our prayerful support.”

Archbishop Julian: Tasmanian Catholics ‘rejoice in the gift of the Carmelites here in our midst’. Photo: Wendy Shaw

One of the most moving parts of the three-day jubilee celebration was a ‘beautiful and intimate’ sung Requiem Mass that Fr Ted Tyler offered in the burial vault for the repose of the souls of 17 deceased Sisters on their Foundation Day, 15 June.

“We have been so blessed to learn from the wisdom and experience of these women of deep faith, courage and great love for the Lord and His Church,” the Prioress said.

The Carmelites are a great blessing to the state, according to Archbishop Julian, who was the principal celebrant at the jubilee Mass on 17 June at the Carmelite Monastery. The Mass was a chance to “rejoice in the gift of the Carmelites here in our midst”, he added.

In his homily, the Archbishop explained that God is active in the world, and a contemplative spirit is needed to sense the silent action of God.

“May your life of silence and prayer lead you to know more fully the wonderful works of God that continue among us today,” he added.

“May your witness to contemplative prayer inspire many in Tasmania to learn how to sit in silence and ponder the saving work of God.”

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