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First European Lay Carmelite Congress

64/2014-01-08

The first European Lay Carmelite Congress took place at Aylesford Priory, England, 25-28 July 2014. This is an initiative organized by the British Province, in which some 50 delegates took part from Britain, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, Netherlands, and Portugal, and included members of the Third Order, The Leaven Secular Institute, the Discalced Secular Order, new expressions of Lay Carmel including Carmelite Spirituality Groups, as well as friars working with Lay Carmel.

The purpose of the gathering was to foster friendship and communication across the European area of the Order. Fr. John Keating, O.Carm., Councillor General for Europe, spoke on "Looking to the Future of Carmel in Europe with Hope". Johan Bergström-Allen, T.O.C., spoke on "The Variety of Lay Carmelite Life Across Europe". Bro. Patrick Mullins, O.Carm., spoke on "Titus Brandsma: Inspiration for Lay Carmel in Europe Today".

Each province and group gave presentations about their experience, as well as performing in a Cultural Evening. The Congress was interspersed with creative liturgies organised by Lay Carmelites. The Congress was deemed a great success, permeated with a spirit of deep prayer and fellowship that celebrated unity in diversity. The delegates resolved to hold the next Congress in Malta in 2016.

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As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."