NAZARETH – Many friends joined the Carmelite Sisters on Sunday, October 2, 2016 for the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux and in the celebration of Mother Antoinette’s 70 years of religious profession on October 1.

Twelve sisters live in the Carmel of Nazareth. On October 2, the 13th Sister, who now stays in the French Hospital near Carmel because she is unable to walk on her own, joined the community for the day to celebrate her Jubilee.

At the end of the second World War in 1945, the young Maltese woman joined the Carmel of Nazareth, which then, was under British mandate.  At an early age she dreamed of becoming a nun, and took advantage of the first military plane that took off from the island after years of conflict, to reach Egypt and Haifa. Desiring to live her religious vocation in the Holy Land, the birthplace of Christ,  also of the prophet Elijah and of Carmel, she made her first vows and became Sister Antoinette on September 25, 1946.

On October 2, the Carmelites celebrated the seventy years of religious life of their sister who was their Prioress for many years. Mother Antoinette renewed her vows during the Eucharistic celebration presided by Bishop Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Israel and in the presence of Bishop Bathish, Patriarchal Vicar General Emeritus and other priests of the region.

In his homily, Bishop Marcuzzo highlighted Mother Antoinette’s love of for the Holy Land for which she continues to pray for up to this day. By making a parallel comparison of her “life-given” with that of St. Therese of Lisieux, whose feast we celebrate on October 2, and that of Mother Teresa who was canonized last September 4, the Bishop is amazed at the diversity of possibilities with which to answer the Lord’s call. For Mother Antoinette, the desire was “to give praise to the glory of God” as well expressed by Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, who will be canonized on October 16.

At the end of the Mass, a wreath of white flowers was placed on Mother Antoinette’s head that she wished be done, as a Jubilee remembrance of the day she made her first profession.

Today, Mother Antoinette continues to respond to God’s call while living at the French Hospital for health reasons. Her Carmelite Sisters visit her every day as she witnesses to the love of the Lord, to whom she gave her life 70 years ago.

 

Cecile Klos

 

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