Celebrations of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the 50th anniversary of the formal restoration of the British Province of Carmelites were led at The Friars, Aylesford (Aylesford Priory) in Kent by the Prior General of the Order on the weekend of 13th-14th July 2019.
The Prior General (seated) Fr. Fernando being welcomed by the Prior Provincial of the British Province, Fr. Kevin Alban.
It was the last visit to Aylesford that Most Reverend Father Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm., will make as Prior General of the Carmelites before he steps down at the General Chapter of the Friars to be held in Rome in September.
Father Fernando spoke about the Virgin Mary's role in the Carmelite Order's sense of identity and spirituality, past and present.
The solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the 'patronal feast' of the Order, and originated in England in the late Middle Ages before spreading across the whole Order and into the Universal Church. To help members of the Carmelite Family and the wider public prepare for the feast the Prior General gave three talks on "Mary in the Carmelite Tradition". These talks can be viewed on YouTube or heard on Soundcloud.
Father Fernando preaching at Mass in the Choir Chapel at Aylesford Priory.
The Prior of Aylesford, Fr. Francis Kemsley, offering a word of thanks to Fr. Fernando.
On Sunday 14th July Father Fernando presided and preached at an open-air Mass celebrated at the main Shrine of Our Lady.
The Cross and Carmelite Third Order Banner lead the clergy in procession to Mass at The Friars, Aylesford.
Pilgrims, including the Prior General, are welcomed to the celebration by Fr. Kevin.
The Prior General reflected on the 50th anniversary of the formal restoration of the British Province of Carmelites. The Carmelite Order first came to England in 1242, and flourished until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s. After several attempts at an 'English Mission' to restore the Order in Britain, the friars gained footholes in Kent and Wales in the early years of the Twentieth Century. By 1969 the Carmelite friars' presence had grown sufficiently for the Order to formally re-establish Britain as a Province (autonomous region).
Carmelite friars among the congregation listening to Fr. Fernando preach.
During the Eucharist at Aylesford five women were received into or made profession of promises in the Carmelite Third Order Secular (Lay Carmel).
Two women from Argentina, resident in London, were received into the Carmelite Third Order Secular.
The National Chaplain to the Carmelite Third Order, Fr. Michael Cox, watches as Lay Carmelites about to make profession of promises light candles as a symbol of their baptismal calling to follow Jesus Christ.
Lay Carmelites make their professions into the hands of the Prior General.
Lay Carmelites receive a blessing from Fr. Fernando, and exchange a joyful sign of peace.
The celebration was attended by Lay Carmelites from across the country, as well as Carmelite friars from Aylesford, Faversham, and a visitor from the United States. Together the various branches of the Carmelite Family made a devotional renewal of their commitment to follow Jesus Christ in the Carmelite way of life.
The newly-received and professed Lay Carmelites present the Offertory Gifts to Fr. Fernando.
Pilgrims at prayer.
Encountering Christ in the Eucharist.
Fr. Fernando imparts the special blessing for the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The Prior General with Carmelite friars and tertiaries after the celebration of Mass.
Fr. Fernando giving his third talk on "Mary in the Carmelite Tradition".
Fr. Fernando blesses a pilgrim's Carmelite Brown Scapular.
During his talks, the Prior General spoke about the significance of the Scapular devotion and popular piety.
The celebrations concluded with a rosary procession through the beautiful grounds of the priory in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Lay Carmelites carry the processional statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Text & photography: Dr. Johan Bergström-Allen, T.O.C.