The friar who coordinated the group of young people from the British Province who took part in the recent "Pilgrimage of Hope" in Rome, Fr. Kevin Melody, O.Carm., has kindly compiled the following report...
Almost 200 young people from 13 countries
across Europe met in Rome from 19th – 25th July to
celebrate a “Pilgrimage of Hope”.
Pilgrims of Hope gathered in Rome.
Carmelite friar communities were invited to each
send two delegates, and 7 young people and 3 friars from the British Province
British Province Pilgrims (left-right):
Tom Griffith; Martin Imafidon; Bro. Paul Jenkins; Behn Reith; Matthew Sanderson; Hannah Porro; Fr. Kevin Melody; Eleanor; Bro. Gerard Walsh; Roy Scivyer.
The week included workshops on the
, significant figures in the Carmelite story including Mary and
Elijah, experiences of silence, and an opportunity for Lectio Divina
in the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls where we were greeted by the Abbot, Dom
Edmund Power. The work of the week was based on sharing in language groups
rather than lectures and talks; through this, new insights were gained into the
Rule of Saint Albert
as well as the position of the figures of Mary and Elijah as
models for all those seeking to listen to the Word of God and act on it (cf.
11:28). An important part of the week was our meditation on the text of a
letter written by the Prior General to the young people of Europe and the
preparation of a response to that letter; these responses will be collated and
presented to the whole Carmelite Family in the weeks ahead.
On Tuesday the group visited the Basilica
of St. Mary Major and the Cathedral of Saint John Lateran, and finished the evening
when the Prior General celebrated Eucharist in the Carmelite Church of San
Martino. This is the community where the recently beatified Carmelite friar Angelo Paoli
served the poor of Rome in the seventeenth century. The evening also saw the
celebration of the birthday of Behn Reith, one of the pilgrims from the British Province.
Celebrating Behn's birthday.
It wasn't all hard work!
Wednesday saw us journey to Castel Gandolfo,
the site of the summer residence of Pope Benedict XVI. Here we were
given an opportunity to walk in silence from Lake Albano up to the parish
church in the village in order to get a feel for the journey of the early
pilgrims climbing Mount Carmel. In the afternoon, reflections on this walk, and
the reading of a section of Fr. Fernando’s letter, many of the groups expressed
a feeling of peace and solidarity with those who have a solitary pilgrimage
through life as a result of poverty and oppression. This became evident in the
testimony provided by a number of the participants in our prayer back at
Sassone on Wednesday evening.
The Rule of Saint Albert
was the focus of the
groups on Thursday morning and interpretations of the Rule
through art, poetry, drama and music. For many, this proved to be a highlight
of the week and saw some very creative interpretations of a rule which is
proven to have the ability to inspire people through the generations to
continue to walk in the footsteps of Christ. In the afternoon we journeyed to
St. Paul Outside the Walls where we were greeted by Abbot Edmund Power and
shared an experience of Lectio Divina
Bible meditation. The magnificence and simplicity of this
beautiful church inspired a sense of awe and wonder in the presence of God
which facilitated the process of Lectio Divina
. For many of the participants
this was a first experience of this type of prayer and many committed
themselves to a further exploration of the Word of God by this method.
Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.
Friday’s theme was “Disciples of Christ”
and the group visited the catacomb of Priscilla on the outskirts of the city of
Rome. After morning prayer in the grounds of the Benedictine Sisters of
Priscilla, we were given a tour of the catacomb. This particular catacomb
was used for Christian burial from the second to the fourth centuries and is
home to the earliest known image of the Virgin Mary as well as some other
beautiful artwork. In the afternoon we had a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica and a
walking tour of Rome which finished at the Coliseum.
All roads lead to Rome.
On Saturday we had the opportunity for
individual and group meditation on the Prior General’s letter, as well as the
chance to write personal responses to this letter. A plenary session with the
Prior General gave an opportunity for questions to be raised; a primary theme
was the question of what comes next. Both the Prior General and the delegations
from the 13 countries represented committed themselves to further raising
awareness of the Carmelite Way to other young people around Europe. Many
expressed joy at finding new depths in this spiritual path and agreed to work
towards the next World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011. Later, the different
provincial groups were invited to make a firm commitment to the future; the
delegation from the British Province made a threefold dedication:
A recommitment to their local parish / Carmelite centre
- Meeting in September 2010 to plan for the future
- Working towards a weekend retreat in 2011 to which they
would each bring another young person interested in Carmelite Spirituality
Ready to take their experience back to Britain.
A closing Eucharist was celebrated by Fr.
Fernando who reminded us that small steps taken with generosity and ope
God can bring us a long way. In this new millennium we have a chance to build
on the last 800 years of Carmelite tradition and discover it anew for ourselves
in the coming years. After Mass we had a review of the week and each person was presented with a simple wooden cross made in a Carmelite-managed
rehabilitation centre in Salamanca, Spain.
The three friar pilgrims from Britain with the Prior General, Fr. Fernando.
Over the week, new friendships were forged and
people were filled with hope for the future. Friars and young people
recommitted themselves to following in the footsteps of Christ and in sharing
the Carmelite way with friends and family.
The icon of Our Lady of Hope was a focus for prayer throughout the week.
A video showing highlights from the week can be viewed by clicking here