Help Fund the Construction of a Monastery and Mission Center in the Central African Republic
The Order of the Discalced Carmelites in the Central African Republic is blessed with many new vocations. Their mission was founded in 1971 by 4 Italian Carmelite Friars, and today, there are 15 fully professed Central African brothers and another 32 young men in various stages of their formation. There are also 7 Italian Carmelite Fathers working permanently in the country.
Many people in the Central African Republic live in deep poverty. The country is effectively a failed state, plagued by recurring violence and conflict. The Church strives to care the people and address their many needs. The Carmelites have 5 mission stations here, providing pastoral care in even the most remote villages, while also promoting development, working toward peace, and offering education to children and young people.
Located on the outskirts of the city, the monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the most recent of these missions. Founded in 2006 as a support and supply base for the Carmelites in the capital and elsewhere, it also offers accommodation to the missionaries and others passing through. During the civil war that raged from 2013 to 2014, the extensive grounds of the monastery even became a refugee camp, offering temporary shelter to as many as 10,000 people at times. During this time, many babies were born—the very first of them in the monastery chapel itself. Many more were to follow, and very soon the refectory where the friars normally took their meals had become a maternity center, while the chapter house became a home for nursing mothers.
Those times are past, at least for now, as most refugees have returned to their homes, but the original house has become far too small. The Carmelites have experienced a “rapid and unexpected flourishing,” as Padre Federico Trinchero, the provincial delegate, puts it. Not only are there many new vocations, the monastery itself has also become an important spiritual Center for people in the area. Several new suburbs have even sprung up around the monastery, one of which is even known as the “Carmel” quarter. More and more people are attending Sunday Mass at the monastery: 500 on average, but up to 1,000 on major feasts.
There is growing interest in Carmelite spirituality among the Catholic faithful and already several different movements and groups have sprung up, inspired by this spirit, among them two children‘s groups – the “Groupe Petite Thérèse” inspired by Saint Therese, and the “Compagnons de l’Enfant Jésus” – plus a Carmel Youth group and a lay Carmelite community, a Brown Scapular fraternity and various other groups. Additionally, the Fathers offer retreats for the priests, religious and seminarians of the Archdiocese of Bangui and help with the priestly formation of the archdiocese. As well, the demand continues to grow for spiritual counseling, confession, and accommodation for retreats and other groups and movements within the archdiocese.
The original foundation is now far too small for all these new developments, so, after much soul searching, the friars have decided to build a brand new Carmel and spiritual Center. This was by no means an easy decision, and an expensive one. But there is a real and urgent need for the new Carmel, for the future of the Order and of the country as well. We are proposing to offer a contribution of $97,400.
Can you help fund the construction of this new monastery and mission center for these Discalced Carmelites in the Central African Republic?
We are sure they will remember you in their grateful prayers.
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