The Discalced Carmelite Nuns came to Christchurch from the Carmel of Dulwich Hill, Sydney, Australia - a monastery which had been founded from Angoulème, France, in 1885 - at the invitation of Bishop Matthew Brodie, a man of deep personal holiness, who desired a community of contemplatives to support the apostolic works of his diocese by their life of prayer and penance. The inspiration behind his decision to invite the Carmelites came from Father J. Monaghen S.M. who for a number of years had corresponded with Sister Mary of Jesus of Dulwich Hill Carmel. In one of her letters this sister had remarked that perhaps Christchurch would be a good place for a future Carmel. So the seed was sown ... Some time later when in conversation with Bishop Brodie, Father Monaghen spoke to him of the spiritual good that a contemplative community could do in his diocese. The Bishop agreed wholeheartedly and gave the matter much thought and prayer. When in Sydney for the 1928 International Eucharistic Congress, he made a formal request of Mother Marie of the Holy Spirit, Prioress of Dulwich Hill Carmel, for a community of nuns for his diocese, but as a foundation had only recently been sent to Brisbane it was not until 1933 that his desire could be fulfilled.
The greater part of the negotiations regarding the foundation were carried out by Father Thomas Walter Price of Christchurch who arrived in Sydney in 1932 with instructions to leave no stone unturned until the foundation was a reality. Armed with permission from Archbishop Kelly of Sydney he entered the enclosure of Dulwich Hill Carmel to view the monastic structure and to ascertain what would be needed to establish a monastery. The practical assistance rendered to the young foundation over the next few years by this outstanding priest, remembered by the sisters as a man of piety and culture, was of inestimable value. Seventy-five years later, his memory is kept fresh in the community by a beautiful chalice which he presented to the monastery shortly before his death in 1935.
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