HAIFA – On October 15, 2019, Our Lady of Mount Carmel monastery celebrated the solemnity of Saint Teresa of Avila with the solemn Liturgy of the Eucharist presided over by Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo.
There are four Carmelite Monasteries in the Holy Land in addition to the one in Haifa (the most significant, morally and historically, given its location on the mountain that gives the Order its name) – they are Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
In these places, every October 15, the Sisters of the Second Order Carmelites, better known as the Discalced Carmelites, celebrate the solemnity of St. Teresa of Avila who, in the 16th century, carried out from within an imposing reforming work of the Order, a reform from which precisely the female and male branches of the Carmelites and the Discalced Carmelites were born.
At the Haifa monastery, a Solemn Mass was celebrated and attended by a large number of faithful and devotees, almost 200, and was presided over by Bishop Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine. Fr. Abdo Abdo, OCD, pastor of the Latin church of Haifa and coordinator of all the events promoted in the local Church for this missionary month, Father Tony Hain, Parish vicar of Beit Jala and several Carmelite and Maronite priests concelebrated. The chants and the liturgical admonitions were animated by the young people of the Carmelite Third Order, by the Focolarini movement and by the Shalom Community of Haifa.
Before the celebration, Bishop Marcuzzo met briefly with the Sisters in which there was an exchange of news on the local Church and the point was made about the status of the Carmelite presence in the Middle East and North Africa. Among other things, the Sisters reported their last meeting in Cyprus where they signed the new membership with the monasteries of Aleppo, Fayyum (Egypt) and Tangier (Morocco), thus forming the new Federation of Carmelites in the Middle East and North Africa (7). Between one point and another on the agenda, the captivating recounting of nice anecdotes about the missionary experiences in South Sudan (Malakal) of the past, with which Bishop Marcuzzo entertained the Sisters present. The Sisters then gave the bishop some texts concerning the history of Saint Teresa and the Carmelite presence on the island of Cyprus where, at the museum of the Orthodox archbishopric of Nicosia, the oldest icon of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was recently discovered.
During the Mass, the Sisters attended the celebrations from the area adjacent to the altar, in the lateral part of the apse, separated from the rest of the community, according to the rules established by the enclosure.
After the entrance hymn, two young people, a girl and a boy, made an introductory speech emphasizing the singularity of the coincidence of the solemnity of Saint Teresa of Avila with the Extraordinary Missionary Month convoked by Pope Francis, and then welcomed Bishop Marcuzzo, briefly retracing the steps of his pastoral ministry.
During the homily, Bishop Marcuzzo focused on the spirit and missionary ardor that characterized the life of Saint Teresa and the Carmelite Order in its long tradition. He then raised awareness among the faithful about the initiatives being promoted in the diocese on the occasion of the October missionary, thanking Fr. Abdo Abdo for all the promotional material he produced for the whole local church (posters, prayers, daily meditations, etc.), and insisting on the spiritual aspect of the testimony of prayer and love which, according to the Carmelite spirit, are the best means of mission.
After the final blessing, people lined up to venerate the relic of Santa Teresa of Avila, followed by a moment of fellowship around a refreshment set up outside the church.
Filippo De Grazia
Meeting with the Carmelites
Mass for the Solemnity of St. Teresa of Avila