Kevin Alban

A brother’s story: My life makes a difference in the world

When I became a Carmelite I never expected to be working abroad, in this case in Rome, and in an administrative capacity as Secretary General of the Order. We are thirteen in all in our community from the United States, Spain, England, Scotland, Malta, Australia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and, of course, from the host-country, Italy. Living in an international community brings its challenges, but also its rewards. It is an informative and enriching experience to hear and see how the Carmelite way of life is understood by a variety of nations.

When put down on paper, my job looks quite straightforward: prepare the meetings of the General Council (the body that advises the head of the Carmelites, the Prior General) and of other commissions, act as a channel for all the official correspondence in and out of the Curia and generally facilitate communications between the Council and the rest of the Order. Most jobs in reality are much more than a written description and I find myself dealing with a large volume of requests for help and with the dissemination of news and information across the whole Order. This is the key value for me in the work that I do. The flow of information from one province to another can open avenues and possibilities that were not known or understood previously. Certainly the speed and ease of communication today makes this task much easier.

There is another dimension to communication which goes beyond the exchange of information. When Carmelites in one part of the world can find out what is happening in another province, it is not simply a question of an expansion in knowledge at a factual level. As Carmelites, we are called to be community and to make community and the swapping of news and views is a practical way of strengthening the sense of being part of the community of the whole Order. To see how another group of people embodies and lives out the essential spirit of the Order is to broaden the horizons of one's own culture. It is not simply a case of becoming more tolerant of diversity, but actually embracing it and incorporating it into daily life.

My work facilitates the Carmelite projects happening around the world that help people live happier lives. Even though I sit behind a desk I know that my support helps people and missions across the globe.