The General Chapter of the Carmelite Order began in Rome today, Tuesday 10th September 2019.
The General Chapter is the most important meeting in the life of the Order, bringing together officials of the outgoing General Council and representatives of the Provinces and other regions of the Order around the world.
A General Chapter takes place every six years, after a long period of prayer and preparation by the friars. A major task of the Chapter is to elect the Prior General (senior brother) who will lead the Carmelite Family for the next six years, and a Council to guide him. In addition the General Chapter votes on legislation affecting the Order, and this Chapter will include the approval of new Constitutions governing the Carmelites, updating the last Constitutions of 1995.
The Chapter Secretariat working behind the scenes.
The British Province of Carmelites is represented at the General Chapter by the Prior Provincial, Fr. Kevin Alban, O.Carm., and two friars elected by the brethren as delegates, Fr. Brendan Grady, O.Carm., and Fr. Francis Kemsley, O.Carm.
Delegates arrived yesterday at the Order's International Conference and Retreat Centre in Sassone, on the outskirts of Rome.
The Carmelite conference and retreat centre at Sassone.
The Chapter opened this morning with the celebration of the Mass of the Holy Spirit, and the singing of the hymn Veni Creator, calling upon the Spirit to inspire and guide the Chapter in its deliberations.
Friar delegates gathered for Mass in the main chapel at Sassone.
The outgoing Prior General presiding at Mass with members of his Council.
The rest of the morning was given over to practicalities, including the roll call of the Chapter members, and electing a Chapter President who will oversee proceedings as all offices of the Order cease once the Chapter has begun. Father Míceál O’Neill was elected as Chapter President. Father Míceál is a member of the Irish Province, and in recent years has served as Prior of CISA (Saint Albert's International Centre), the Order's graduate study house in Rome.
The Chapter brothers gathered in session.
Father Míceál can be seen on the left. Fathers Brendan and Francis from Britain are in the foreground on the right.
The morning also included an explanation of the Chapter logo, given by the President of the Chapter Preparatory Commission, Fr. Edison Tinambunan, O.Carm. The logo incorporates the crest of the Order, and the theme of the Chapter which is: "You are my witnesses" (Isaiah 43:10); from one generation to the next, called to be faithful to our Carmelite charism.
The chapter logo (left) adorns the banner welcoming delegates at Sassone (right).
This afternoon the second session of the General Chapter was the report of the outgoing Prior General, Most Rev. Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm., who gave an account of his fraternal oversight in the period 2013-19 and indicated issues facing the Order in the future.
After the Prior General's report the delegates will celebrate Evening Prayer together before supper.
Tomorrow the agenda includes reports from the four General Councillors representing the geographic regions of the Order.
The General Chapter concludes on 27th September; we will post periodic updates on this website and on our Facebook page.
Please keep the Chapter brothers in your prayers as they discern God's will for the Order in the coming days and weeks.
Text: Dr. Johan Bergström-Allen, T.O.C.
Photography: Very Rev. Fr. Kevin Alban, O.Carm.; Edizioni Carmelitane