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Europe

Global Plan of the General Council 2019-2025

Richard Byrne, O.Carm.

globalplaneurope01 450Europe is the continent of the great pilgrim paths. Among its people there continues to be a deep hunger for God. Undoubtedly, there has been a shifting away from Christianity as European society has become more secu­larised. Indeed, many of the countries in Europe could be described as post-Christian: the elements of Christian faith are present but without a shared “Christian memory and heritage” (Ecclesia in Europa). However, belief is not ab­sent, although people are more interested in spirituality than doctrine. The failure of the Church in safeguarding the weakest in society has had a devastating impact. Eu­rope is also a land of increasing diversity and pluralism which afford the possibility of dialogue among people of different faiths and none. Europe faces many challenges especially those coming from immigration and the devas­tating impact of Covid-19.

Within Europe, Carmel still continues to bear fruit, as many Carmelites with hard work and dedication serve the Gospel. Carmelites are uniquely placed to offer a voice from our tradition in this complex and challenging Europe.

Living in “allegiance to Jesus Christ”, in moments of en­counter, Carmelites can speak of our personal and living relationship with Christ while recognising the plurality of religious positions. Our communities say to those who seek to exclude people from society that we Carmelites discover in each of our sisters and brothers the presence of God and can walk together towards God (Con. 19). As once we were the immigrants in Europe, our service in the midst of the people now allows us to joyfully accept the invitation “to encounter people on the ‘peripheries’ and share the Gospel with them” (Con. 101).

At the same time, it is true that challenges exist for Car­mel in Europe which faces painful choices in how best to preserve the Carmelite charism while letting go of existing structures. Yet, Carmel in Europe must also commit itself anew “to wake up the world” and not become closed in on itself or a hostage to its problems. As compassionate con­templatives we must always be wary of a ‘lukewarmness’ creeping into our lives, of an “inertia of immobility” and “the temptation to keep our distance from the wounds of Christ’s body” (Pope Francis, Carmelite General Chapter, 2019). Instead, like all the members of the Church, Carmelites are called to continue to “light a fire in the heart of the world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 271).

Confident that God continues his initiative of calling people to the Church and to Carmel, our vocations minis­try is not so much about “brilliant vocation programs” but serves by helping people to discover the gift within them­selves so they can choose the lifestyle which corresponds to it. This is a priority. European Carmelites are challenged to “open our eyes and our hearts to a new understanding and expression of our Carmelite tradition to which young people can relate” which opens Carmel to a process of con­version, daily discernment and ongoing formation.

Youth ministry, which should be a primary ministry of every entity within Europe, provides opportunities to “en­counter young people, to travel with them and to listen to them”.

Plans

  1. To facilitate meetings of Vocation Promoters with their provincials, commissaries and delegates so as to pro­mote the prioritisation of the ministry of vocations within Europe.
  2. To continue the work of the Awakening project and its ministry to young people promoting youth ministry as a primary ministry of each entity in Europe.
  3. To establish an ad hoc Commission for Ongoing Forma­tion in Europe to offer, prepare and organise a regular ongoing formation programme and to persuade Car­melites of its necessity.
  4. To facilitate a process in preserving faithfully the char­ism of Carmel in Europe.
  5. To explore and facilitate the unification of provinces where necessary especially through the development of strategies for co-operation.
  6. To organise and facilitate an annual meeting of the Pro­vincials and Commissary Provincials and Delegates.
  7. To research and present possibilities for a common Eu­ropean student house for those in simple profession.

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