52 Halswell Road
Peace of Christ!
Dear Sisters and Brothers, Carmelite family, relatives and friends,
It is with joy that we come to greet you this Advent season in this
special Year of Faith. We are united with the whole Church striving
with Mary to deepen our own faith as we live our Carmelite life to the
full. We are grateful for the many ways we support each other in our
different callings to live our faith and we keep you all in our
prayers, especially the sick as they live the Paschal mystery in all
its depth. A year ago we were still experiencing many large aftershocks
which disrupted the Christmas preparations of so many people. The earth seems to have settled down somewhat
since then, and we pray this year will be more peaceful for everyone.
Many of our faithful friends have been joining our prayers over the
years for vocations to our monastery, and we are now seeing the fruit
of those persevering prayers. Our
postulant received the Carmelite Habit on September 1st, Feast of St
Teresa Margaret, becoming Sr Katherine Maria of the Eucharist, and
began her two-year novitiate. Two other
young women stayed with us for a short time during the year to further
their vocational discernment and one of these has asked to enter our
Carmel as a postulant and will hopefully be coming early next year. Please keep these generous young women in your
prayers as they continue their journey of responding to God’s
As well as signs of new life, we have had a time of farewell. On the Tuesday of Holy Week our dear Sister
Marie of the Immaculate Heart went home to God, surrounded by four of
the Sisters. Sr Marie had been resident at
Villa Gardens for some years as her dementia worsened.
Since May of last year, she had the companionship of Sr Mary of
the Angels in the neighbouring residential wing. It
was a blessing to have a Marist priest to anoint Sr Marie less than an
hour before she died, particularly appropriate as her brother, Fr Jack
White, was a Marist. (She would have been
as delighted had she known that the Marist community became responsible
for our Parish of Addington this year. ) We had Sister home with us,
lying in the Novitiate Oratory for the Easter Triduum until she was laid to rest on Wednesday of Easter
Week after a beautiful Requiem Mass.
Earthquake inspection work has continued on our property and it is
anticipated that our wall and monastery repairs will begin in 2013. We hear of one friend after another having to
vacate their homes while repair work is done (often at quite short
notice). We have had offers of
accommodation should this happen to us, but we are hoping to be able to
remain where we are (the ideas of campervans or tents in our paddocks
have been suggested, with responses of various degrees of enthusiasm
from the Sisters).
Although our earthquake repairs are still in
the future, much work has been done on our property during the year. In January renovations began in our extern
area, so as to make our facilities roomier and much more manageable. In
the middle of the year extensive tree surgery work was carried out
inside the enclosure. The removal of the
excess foliage has allowed the sunlight to flood into our grounds and
recreation room (so important for doing those tasks where extra light
is essential and eyes are no longer what they used to be!). Around the same time the redesigning of our
grotto area began. Though the area was
always beautiful and a stunning setting for photos, it was very
laborious to maintain. We are delighted
with the results, with the lawn now sweeping right up to the grotto,
and carefully placed rocks and paving making the whole a picture of
landscaping genius, all the while easy to keep up.
A generous friend put in several days of hard work in his
holidays to achieve such a result.
Our new cattle, looking
quite thin, arrived in late September and are having a continual feast
on the luxuriant grassy paddocks. On their
arrival they were duly given saints’ names to ensure their good
behavior. Unfortunately the names
didn’t completely suit the temperament of each.
Far from being the silent, dependable type, Joseph has already
shown his true colours. He let the team
down by leaping a fence and eating the lovingly tended saplings which
were being grown to eventually provide the cattle with shelter. We are
hoping for reform in the New Year.
This year has seen many
visitors to our monastery, including in June young people from all over
the world from the International World Evangelisation Team. They sang our Mass and performed some
inspiring action songs in our visitors’ room afterwards,
including the Sydney World Youth Day Theme Song, “Receive the
Power”. Truly the Church is young and alive! In August
some of the young people in our Diocese who are discerning their
vocations came as part of their Galilee Experience, sharing in our Mass
and meeting us afterwards. We are grateful
for the continual work done by those in our Diocese responsible for
promoting vocations. In September our
annual Youth Mass brought together a chapel full of young (and not so
young) people with their beautiful music and vibrant worship. It is always touching to receive the box of
prayer intentions with which they entrust us at the end of Mass. Over the years since we have been having these
annual Masses, it has been lovely to see so many of the young ones grow
up, and then bring their spouses and children to subsequent gatherings.
We began and ended the year
with visits from our Carmelite friars from Australia.
Kelleher came in February as part of a visit to the New Zealand Secular
Order of Carmel, and Father
Paul Maunder came in November to give us, and our OCDS community, our
annual retreat. It
was a grace to gain fresh insights into St Therese’s Way of
Confidence and Love. The visit of Fr
Justin Taylor, recently retired from the Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem, was
both stimulating and informative and we are so grateful for the time
Father gave us. We were blessed this year to have talks on the Year of
Faith from Bishop Meeking and on St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
(Edith Stein) from Professor Benjamin Gibbs. The latter talks revealed
new facts about Edith gained through his careful research.
We are getting into the
swing of the Year of Faith, with a whiteboard full of suggestions of
how we as a community will celebrate it. We
are really looking forward to having the beautiful Icon, Mary, Mother
of the Church, with
us in late Advent and throughout the Christmas season.
The icon was commissioned for our Diocese for this special Year
and written by the St John the Baptist Studio in Auckland.
It will make a pilgrimage around the Parishes and Schools during
Our Secular Order of Carmel
continues to live the Carmelite charism and shine it out to the world.
They are a blessing to us in so many ways. It
was with sadness that we learnt of the sudden death of long time member
Kevin McCarthy in June. The following
month they had the joy of the Final Promise of Christine Pitcaithly.
Christine and her family visited Lisieux a
few months later and were there for the 1st October!
They shared with us the highlights of their
‘pilgrimage’. St Therese
blessed them with some wonderful experiences, making her presence very
As the rebuilding begins in
Christchurch and many decisions are made we ask you to keep all those
involved in your prayers, that everything will lead them closer to God,
the one true rocklike foundation. As we
read recently: “May
we never take Christmas for granted, but continue to be filled with
child-like wonder as we contemplate what God has done for us by
becoming one of us.” May this wonder be part of your
Christmas this year. And may the Christ
Child bless and reward you for your kindness to us shown in so many
ways during the past year.
God bless you.
Your loving sisters in
The Carmelite Sisters