Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Christchurch Carmelites Since 1933

On the corner of Lincoln Road and Curletts Road here in Christchurch you can see a sign on an imposing concrete block wall which signals behind the wall is a Carmelite Monastery, with the date of their founding, 1933. That is an intriguing date for me since in the same year my Dad was born in a house about a kilometre further down Lincoln Road.

On Sunday night I watched an excerpt of the Sunday programme on the Carmelites of Christchurch. (Unfortunately you need to register and then log in to watch this "on demand" video: it's about 15 mins into the show, after a watchable and moving first item).

The Carmelites do it tough, on my reckoning, since even family members visiting only get to speak to their sister or daughter nun through a grill. No hugs!

You can read more about the Carmelites here at their site, and you can see an older documentary here.

It happens that this past weekend I was involved with a diocesan discernment weekend based at our own Anglican Community of the Sacred Name, a community of nuns serving in Tonga, Fiji, Christchurch and Ashburton. (A feature about their life and work, focusing on Ashburton, is here).

Theirs is not a contemplative order in the same way as the Carmelites. But they witness to the power of a life consecrated to Christ in the special way that follows their religious vows. As many people in ACANZP know, each sister is an inspiring presence wherever they are ministering.


Father Ron Smith said...

The lives of all 'Religious', Peter, is tough - no matter which Church or Community one elects to be part of, although actually, they have to elect you, before your can be admitted as part of the Family.

The call to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience may be easier for some than for others. I suspect most postulants don't have much idea of what they are taking on when they take up the 'life-style'. I know from personal experience that the charisms of Poverty and Chastity can be much easier to practise than that of Obedience, which is both gift and burden.

My first contact with our own Community of the Sacred Name (CSN) was at Naulu in Fiji, where the sisters 'adopted', nurtured, taught and cared for children who were either poor, orphaned or abandoned by their family - not at all an easy task for a group of women. But they were up to it. Sadly, I have heard that the task of caring for those at the Children's Home at Naulu is about to be handed over to the State, as there are too few Sisters now to manage to task. Prayers for the Sisters who are still represented here and in the Pacific Islands. Prayers, also, for all who take up the 'Religious' vocation.

Father Ron Smith said...


Dear Peter, in my comment about the work of the Sisters of CSN at the Children's Home in Naulu, Fiji, I made the mistake of saying that the Sisters will be handing over the care of the Children's Home to the State. I was wrong. I am now informed the work will be handed over to the Diocese of Fiji - a very different organisation!

The Children's Home will still be maintained by Anglicans in the Diocese of Fiji. They need our money and prayers.

Bryden Black said...

1. The Sunday programme was very moving I agree Peter. In fact, all three segments were inspirational! As for the Carmelites, our family has a bit of a link one or another; their prayers are among the most powerful - thank God!
2. Ron is correct. St Christophers Home is being run now by the Diocese - tho, as with many things, there's a bit of a backstory ...

Anonymous said...

And the very cool thing about this story Peter:
the prioress got saved at a Black Sabbath concert!


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Stu
The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath ... no matter what colour it is!

Father Ron Smith said...

And, as we are all aware, The Sabbath was made for man, not the other way round.