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Displaying items by tag: prior general

Thursday, 17 November 2022 09:51

Letter of the Prior General for World Youth Day 2023

In less than 300 days thousands of young people from the four corners of the world will be gathered in Lisbon for World Youth Day 2023.
The invitation is open to join in singing and celebrating with one voice from August 1-6, 2023.

«Mary arose and went with haste» (Lk 1:39) is the bible quote chosen by Pope Francis as the motto of the World Youth Day that will be held for the first time in the capital city of Lisbon, Portugal.

On the occasion of WYD 2023, Míċeál O'Neill, Prior General of the Order, sends a message to encourage young people and Carmelites who work with them to participate in the celebrations.

In the words of Fr. Miceal, WYD "has proven to be the kind of event where young people find inspiration, companionship and nourishment for their lives".

pdf Read the Letter here (108 KB)

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In the year that saw the parish community celebrate the fifth centenary of the presence of the Carmelites in Mesagne, as well as the birth and inauguration of the "Beata Maria Teresa Scrilli" House of the Sisters of the Institute of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Minor Pontifical Basilica of Carmel in Mesagne welcomed, on the occasion of the beginning of the Novena in preparation for the patronal feast, the Prior General of the Order of Carmelites, Irish Father Míċeál O'Neill. In the course of his stay he met with the bishop of the diocese of Brindisi-Ostuni, His Excellency Msgr. Domenico Caliandro, and the mayor of Mesagne Toni Matarrelli.  Father O'Neill presided over the Eucharistic Celebrations of the first two days, Wednesday, July 6 and Thursday, July 7.

In particular, on the evening of July 6, in the presence of the members of the technical-scientific committee promoting the periodic study sessions of a historical, social and cultural nature of the past months and in communion with all the priests of the Messapian city, who were invited to the event, the parish was engaged in the General's welcoming party, enlivened - from 9:30 p.m. onward - by the presence of soprano M° Chiara Marangio and pianist M° Damiano Tamburrino.

On the morning of July 7, at Palazzo Celestini, seat of the Mesagne City Council, the Prior General visited the parish of Our Lady Most Holy of Carmel on the occasion of the beginning of the Novena in preparation for the patronal feast and met with the mayor of the Messapian city, Toni Matarrelli, and the president of the city council, Omar Ture.

Father O'Neill was accompanied by the parish priest, Father Enrico Ronzini, and Father Cosimo Pagliara, prior provincial of the Neapolitan Province, to which the Mesagna basilica belongs.

Matarrelli, who called the General's visit "a great honor for Mesagne and for the parish in which I grew up," expressed words of appreciation and thanks for the industrious presence of the Carmelites in Mesagne since 1521. He paid tribute to the Prior General with a copy of the historian Diego Ferdinando's "Messapography" (edited by Domenico Urgesi and Francesco Scalera) and one of the volumes "Still Appia" (a photographic book capturing images of the Regina Viarum between Rome and Brindisi). He added the philatelic cancellation of the postcard depicting the city of Mesagne on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Commissariato di Pubblica Sicurezza (Public Safety Commissariat).

In turn, the Carmelites made a gift to the city administration of the latest publications published by the Neapolitan Province, especially remembering the figure of St. Titus Brandsma, a Carmelite priest, theologian and journalist executed in the Dachau concentration camp for opposing National Socialist propaganda.

The Prior General, after the evening Eucharistic celebration (followed by a concert by internationally renowned harpist Claudia Lamanna), visited Mesagne in the late evening accompanied by a guide provided by the city administration.

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Tuesday, 12 July 2022 12:08

A Video Message to the Carmelite Family

A Video Message to the Carmelite Family for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Sisters and Brothers in Carmel,

I would like to wish all Carmelites a very joyful and fruitful celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 2022.  Our spirits are lighter because of the feeling that we will be able to celebrate our Lady's feast this year fully without the threat of Covid 19.

There is also the joy that we share because of the canonisation of Saint Titus Brandsma that we celebrated two short months ago, when Carmelites from around the world gathered in Rome in great numbers, while many more followed all that was happening through social media.

The good feeling generated by that event will remain with us for a long time, as we take up St. Titus’ legacy and offer it to the world as a wonderful expression of what it means to be a true follower of Christ in the Carmelite tradition.

Despite all the good things that are happening, all is not well in our world. The threat and the culture of war and violence never seems to leave us, because of a belief that people have that recourse to arms is a legitimate way to achieve one’s goals.

We come from a different culture, one that St. Titus Brandsma stood for and suffered for in his life. It is the culture of peace and forgiveness. It is that culture that says that we are all sisters and brothers to one another without exception, which makes it unthinkable that we should take up arms against one another.

Somehow through this culture we have to find the way to use the power of love and truth to overcome all our difficulties.

One of the expressions of our culture that we have seen this year is the hospitality given by various Carmelite communities, male and female to refugees from the conflict in Ukraine , a reason for all to give thanks.

I pray with all Carmelites this year that as we ponder on what the Holy Mountain means for us, we might know what it means to put on the armour of God (Rule 21) and answer the demand to turn our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks. (Is 2).

Peace, joy and happiness to you all. 

Míċeál O’Neill, O. Carm

Prior General

Watch on YouTube here

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Monday, 11 July 2022 14:12

A Letter to the Carmelite Family


Brothers and sisters in the Carmelite Family,

as the solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel approaches, we find ourselves in festive mood. We want to celebrate and give thanks to God for everything that Our Lady of Mount Carmel represents for us. In a particular way, we want to give thanks to God and to Our Lady because the fear we had of Covid 19 this time last year has lessened and life for many is returning to some kind of normality. At the same time we continue to pray for Our Lady’s protection for us and for the world.

This year for us has been blessed by the canonization of Saint Titus Brandsma. Who will ever forget those days of joy and happiness in Rome, and that moment in St. Peter’s Square when along with nine other disciples of Christ our brother Titus was declared a saint? 

Sadly, this year has also been marked by the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, to add to the many other ills that cause so much suffering to innocent people around the world. We think of the many displaced persons, without shelter, living in refugee camps, many of them women and children. Meanwhile the men continue to be drawn into unwanted armed combat.

The celebration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the example and inspiration of Saint Titus Brandsma, invite us this year to ponder, the gift of Carmel, seen through the experience of our new saint. We can see what Carmel offers us as the deepest motivation for the work of peace. We can contemplate and make our own God’s desire for peace and for the fullest dignity of the human person.

As Mary stood at the foot of the cross, along with John the beloved disciple and the other women, Jesus in that moment created a new kind of human family, built not on the bonds of blood, but on the reality of people caring for one another. Now it is the son who takes the mother into his home.  Things are changed around.  The dream and the project is that sons and daughters come into the world and as they grow up, they grow into the ability to care for all that is there before them in order to hand it on to the sons and daughters who will come after them.

Both the Corona virus and the welcome given to refugees from the conflict in Ukraine have given us in many instances new examples of how people care for one another, especially in times of deep suffering.  As we observed the precautions around the Corona virus we knew that we were protecting ourselves and others also. As we accepted the restrictions on social contact, we did so in order to help stop the spread of the virus, something that now, thank God, seems to be within our grasp. Then the flow of refugees from the conflict in Ukraine arrived on our doorstep. Throughout Europe there has been a quality of welcome that has surprised even ourselves. Governments and private citizens have opened their offices and family homes to welcome people who in an instant found themselves having to leave their homes and their livelihoods in order to seek refuge from violent attack coming from the skies. 

Mount Carmel represents for us the place both of mystical and fraternal encounter, where the members came to a deeper knowledge of God and of one another through all that they did by their life of solitude and by their coming together, pondering day and night on the law of the Lord.  This is our way too. Under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in allegiance to Jesus Christ, through our solitude and our coming together we build a culture of peace among ourselves and thus bring forth and give birth to a Word of Peace for the world.

Each week in the Liturgy of the Hours we repeat the canticle of Isaiah, that speaks of the mountain of peace.

It shall come to pass in the latter days

that the mountain of the house of the Lord

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

and shall be lifted up above the hills;

The highest mountain is the one that is worthiest of honour. If it had a voice, its voice would be the one that we would listen to most. Amid the many voices that tell us what should happen in the world, we pay prayerful attention to the voice that speaks of truth, transparency and love, a voice and a vision that stand above every other vision, particularly the visions that are based on the preservation of the vested interests of the few, while millions of people go hungry, are homeless, have been displaced.

and all the nations shall flow to it,

and many peoples shall come, and say:

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

that he may teach us his ways

and that we may walk in his paths.”

The mountain is there for all, but it needs people to lead the way. Here we get the sense of how we help and invite one another to seek the ways of the Lord, the highest way, the way that respects the full dignity of the human person, and that hears the cry of each child of God.

For out of Zion shall go forth the law,

and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Mount Zion and Jerusalem the city built on a height, to which the people go up, singing their songs, today has become a place of conflict. They remain for those who believe, the representation of God’s commitment and closeness to his people, through a chosen people and a chosen place. It is in Jerusalem that God will establish peace for his people. “On Jerusalem peace”. (Ps 122)

He shall judge between the nations,

and shall decide disputes for many peoples;

Where are the leaders today who speak of right judgement, who look to the higher wisdom of God, in order to find the wisdom that will resolve conflict and mark out the path that leads to peace and wellbeing for all? Judgement, must be based on truth, and wisdom. Our wisdom comes from the Word of Wisdom. We find it in Mary, and in the saints of Carmel. It is the wisdom by which we are able to judge all that we see happening around us, and in that judgement see the workings of salvation, and add our yes and our collaboration to the work of God. 

and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war anymore.

Isn’t that what we would all love to see. In my years in Peru, I used to see the children parade in the town square on Independence Day, with imitation rifles and imitation machine guns in their hands. At that early age they were being taught to think that a weapon of destruction was more important that an instrument of honest labour, a pen, a shovel, knitting needles, a crucifix, as a way of defending the nation. The picture we have of Titus Brandsma is that of a peace maker, in the midst of his books, or pen or pipe in hand, in deep conversation with colleagues, fellow Carmelites, students. For him a newspaper was a way of defending the truth and the freedom of every human person.

Titus Brandsma looked for the deepest motivation for all that we do and hope for. He saw Carmelites as people who are bearers of the Word, just as Mary was a bearer of the Word. That Word is peace. Those who have received that Word, and cherish it, are people who can bear that Word for the world and give birth to it in the world. In his retreat notes Titus suggested that “From Mary we must learn how to remove from our hearts all that does not belong to God. From her we can learn how to open our hearts to God in a way that will make them full of his grace. Then Jesus will enter, and be born again in us and grow in us. He will become visible in the things that we do, and he will live within us.  The less we are full of God, the poorer our lives will be. With Mary, full of grace, we will live the life of God and find in our union with the Lord our own glory and salvation”. 

Our founders on Mount Carmel devised a way of life that was a formula of peace, as their response to the armed forces that prevented them from entering the Holy City, Jerusalem.  Mary was at the heart of that plan of peace. They would not resort to armed conflict, but rather, they would put on the armour of God.

Just as St. Titus prayed that one day Germany and the Netherlands would walk together in the way of peace, my prayer for all of us as we approach the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is that we will truly learn the ways of peace from earliest childhood to the end of our days, and along with the prophet, I say, O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. Let Carmelites everywhere fulfill their vocation to be bearers of the Word, and let that Word truly be the Word that is Peace.


Míċeál O’Neill, O.Carm

Prior General

Download the Letter  pdf here (178 KB)

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Friday, 10 December 2021 14:26

Fr. Míċeál O'Neill Elected to USG Committees

The Carmelite Prior General, Míċeál O'Neill, O. Carm., was elected to the executive committee of the Union of Superiors General (USG). He will represent the Mendicant orders. Fr. Míċéal was also selected as one of the members of the so-called Commission of 16.

The Executive Committee is responsible for the ordinary decisions of the Union and for implementation of resolutions of the Assembly. The Commission of 16 is made up of eight male religious and eight female religious. They have the charge of engaging in formal dialogue with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Associations of Apostolic Life from time to time.

The members also elected Fr. Arturo Sosa S.J., for a second term as president of the USG. The newly elected serve for the period 2021-2024.

The USG was created "to promote the life and mission of the individual institutes at the service of the Church, for a more effective collaboration among them, and for a more fruitful contact with the Holy See and hierarchy. Its members are the superior generals of men’s Religious Institutes or Societies of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right. Practically it is a voluntary forum for the exchange information and accompaniment.

The organization’s 96th Assembly was held on November 24-26, 2021, at the Fraterna Domus, a facility of the Associazione Volontari del Servizio Sociale Cristiano.

 USG Conference 1 450

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Fr. Míceál O'Neill, O.Carm., Prior General of the Order, invites all the Carmelite Family members to have a joyful and prayerful celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the 16 July 2021.

Watch here

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Wednesday, 23 December 2020 04:49

A message for Christmas

A Happy Christmas to one and all. It is that time of year when we have the joy of wishing one another the blessings of Christmas. I extend my good wishes and the good wishes of our General Council to all the Carmelite friars around the world,  to the contemplative nuns, the sisters and brothers in apostolic congregations and the many lay Carmelite men and women who rejoice in being members of the Carmelite Family.

Circumstances change, but the message of Christmas remains the same:  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” Jesus came as the Saviour and brother for all.  This Christmas, 2020 will find us changed. We are poorer, sicker, more frightened that we can ever remember. But we are also stronger, strengthened by what we have seen of the goodness of people who sacrifice themselves every day in order to help others, in the very difficult circumstances brought about by the Coronavirus. And that is not all. While it is true that there are many examples of violent deaths, deaths in the Mediterranean, victims of crime, war and famine, before our eyes, every day, there are also many signs of life because of the many people who save lives, respect life and do all they can to protect the dignity of other people and of our common home. This Christmas wouldn’t it be lovely to give one another the gift of a Christmas that is simple, a Gospel Christmas, a purer Christmas, one in which we are attentive to the needs of others, especially the needs of the poor, the infirm, migrants, and people with no home either for themselves or for their families. Let us commend one another and the whole of humanity to the loving care of Mary and Joseph as we welcome the gift of their Son, God made human, and join in one voice in singing, Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the men and women that our God loves. May the grace and peace of the Incarnate Word fill your lives and your homes throughout this holy Season.   Amen. Thank you.

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Tuesday, 08 December 2020 04:07

St. Joseph, Patron of Carmel

A Letter from the Prior General, O.Carm. and Superior General, O.C.D. to the Carmelite Family on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.

This year, 2020, we celebrated the feast of St. Joseph in the full throws of a pandemic, that forced us to remain in our own homes. Because of that, we felt the need even more to turn to that just and faithful man who knew the meaning of hardship, exile, and worries about tomorrow, but did not lose heart, but continued to believe and hope God, from whom he had received a very unique mission: he was to take care of Mary and the child Jesus, the family of Nazareth, the embryo of the new family that God was giving to the world. Pope Francis, preaching in Santa Marta, reminded us of some of the qualities of St. Joseph: the man of clear and practical vision, capable of doing his work with precision and professional skill, and one who at the same time penetrated the mystery of God, beyond all that was familiar to him or was under his control, and in the presence of which he kneels and adores.

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Wednesday, 02 December 2020 14:28

Former Priors General

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A letter to Carmelite Friars, Contemplative Sisters, Sisters and Brothers of Congregations of Apostolic Life, Members of the Carmelite Third Order, Lay Carmelites in general and all who celebrate the feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel with special devotion:

Mary kept all these things in her heart. Lk 2,52

Dear sisters and brothers in Carmel,

On this day of celebration, as we rejoice in being brothers and sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, I reach out to each one of you, in the bond of love.  These days we are thinking a lot, pondering like Mary, everything that is happening in our world. Mary kept all these things in her heart (Lk 2,19) and pondering what was happening in her world, she found the will of God. Mary the contemplative, Mary full of grace, full of God, full of Gospel: That is the type of person who can respond to what is happening in today’s world.

In our time of confinement, it is possible that we as people with a sense of God, capable of pondering, found in these new conditions new opportunities for solidarity and for the evangelization of the world. Here there are new manifestations of God’s will, helping us to grow and mature as custodians of our world and one another.

We have grown together in our communities. Forced to remain indoors, by pondering alone or with others, we have discovered so much of the truths of our faith and of our Carmelite vocation. While some of us had the Eucharist all the time, others had to rely on the internet and use the prayers for spiritual communion. This raised questions about how we value the Eucharist. For people who normally celebrate the Eucharist everyday, it was difficult to adapt to its absence. For people who were faithful to the Sunday Eucharist, it was something very new to be told that they are not to go to Mass. When we return to the normal celebration of the Eucharist, it may be that we will do it with greater conviction and understanding, on account of what became a Eucharistic fast.

We have lived with restrictions and with some fear now for many months. Families are grieving. Hospitals are still taking care of victims of the virus. Doctors, nurses and the whole medical profession and staff have shown all their dedication, professionalism and zeal, beyond the call of duty.  People have made sacrifices to make sure there was bread on our tables, and as everywhere people are counting the toll that the virus has taken on their lives through bereavement, illness, loss of employment and livelihood, we might say that we are seeing an explosion of humanity.

If it was all behind us, we could take a different view. However, now that we are learning to co-habit with the virus, and we try not to give in to the fear that there is more to come, we all have to ask, how are we to take care of one another, how are we to act in the future, to limit the negative effects of this virus, and a create a society in which we are not bound by fear, and no one is left in need?  It may well be simply a question of caring and sharing.

I am on fire with zeal for the Lord (I Kg 19,10)

Generating, caring and protecting are among the charisms that we see in Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother.  As I think about the various Carmelite communities of both men and women around the world, I am struck by how important this feast is to us all. In some places it is just the day itself; in some places it is three days of reflection and prayer and in other places it is the full nine days of the novena. The celebrations are imbued with warmth and devotion, and with conviction that makes us think that perhaps this is a moment when we as Carmelites are most zealous.

The world of today is asking us to be zealous. Down through the centuries, Carmelites have echoed and repeated the words of the Prophet Elijah, “I am on fire with zeal for the Lord God of hosts”.(I Kg 19)  Our celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel may be a very good time for us to renew, revive and direct our zeal. Four days later, we will have another opportunity, when we celebrate the feast of the Prophet himself. 

Zeal is a gift. As such we must pray for it. We must ask God to give us zeal, to make us who we say we are. But, zeal is not always an attractive word. It sometimes suggests extremism.  We do not automatically feel that we want this gift. I recall the zeal of John the Baptist, the voice crying in the wilderness, living on locusts and wild honey (Mk 1,7) and I compare that to the calm of Jesus speaking to the people in the Synagogue. (Lk 4,21-22)   I think of the Gospel, where we see Christ on the Cross, Mary and John standing by. These are all moments of zeal, if by zeal we mean a heart burning with desire for all that is good and a spirit that will work hard and make sacrifices to achieve it. The globalization of zeal for the things of God might be the antidote to the globalization of indifference that Pope Francis so often talks about.

And no one was left in need. Acts 2,45

As we become aware of one another’s needs, we are entering a new age of sharing. Within our family, we are aware that many communities have lost some of their sources of income. Among lay Carmelites there are those who have lost their jobs, and whose homes may be threatened. New projects in our family will always need funding. In the face of the needs that are emerging, we have to look again at the model of the early Christian community, an image and reality that inspired the Carmelite Rule. That community was built on prayer, the pondering of the Scriptures, the breaking of bread, and the sharing of all that people possessed so that no one was left in need. (Acts 2,42-45) As we become aware of one another’s needs, we can help one another and be an example to others of the kind of sharing that will be needed in our society in the future, if no one is to be left in need. The dialogue in John’s Gospel (Jn 6,9-10) comes to mind: Andrew said, “There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish, but what is that between so many? In the end no one was left in need. In our zeal for the things of the Gospel, we will take up the challenge of Mary at the wedding feast of Cana, “Do whatever he tells you to do”. (Jn 2,5)

This year’s celebration will be different to that of other years. As a family, we have been spared in many ways, but we do not forget those who have died in the Netherlands and in Italy. Let our celebration this year be marked by our prayer for the individuals, families and communities who suffered the worst effects of the Coronavirus.

On this feast may each one hear again the words from the cross, “Behold you son”, “Behold you mother”, (Jn 19,26-27)   and know that as our Saviour gave us to one another and to Mary, we may know how to take care of one another in the common home that is blessed by the presence of Mary our Mother and Sister.

Míceál O’Neill
Prior General

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