The International Formation Commission of the Order organized an on-going formation programme entitled “Back to the sources” in the Holy Land from the 29th August to 12th September 2012. There were 38 participants coming from most of the provinces around the world from North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe; a truly international group. The Prior General, Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm. joined them for the first week and gave a talk entitled “Titus Brandsma: in the spirit of Elijah.” The first week was based at the OCD Centre “Stella Maris” on Mount Carmel, where the group experienced great hospitality on the part of the Carmelite Sisters who run the centre, and the fraternity of the local Discalced community. From there they were able to visit the Carmelite sites at the Wadi 'ain es-Siah (site of the original foundation) and Muhraqa (site of the encounter of the Prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal). They also visited the area of Galilee, including many of the places associated with the life and ministry of Jesus. The second week was based in Jerusalem. From there, they visited Ain Karem, Bethlehem and Bethany and many of the main pilgrim places in the city.
The course was structured in such a way as to facilitate a deeper experience of the part of those taking part, through moments of prayer and silence, the reading of biblical and Order texts at the various locations visited, presentations on topics related to the the Scriptures and the history and charism of the Order, a day of desert reflection and a very rich guided introduction to each of the places visited. The team leading the course were: Fr. John Keating, Delegate for Formation (who gave the course introduction and reflection for the day of retreat), Fr. Christian Körner, Vice Prior General (speaking on the geography and history of the Holy Land, and Carmelite fraternity in the context of the early Christian community), Fr. Raúl Maraví, Councillor General (speaking on Galilee and Jerusalem in a scriptural context), Fr. Mario Alfarano, Secretary General and of the Formation Commission (speaking on the “Rubrica Prima” and also leading the lectio divina). Also part of the team were Frs. Míceál O’Neill (Hib), Prior of CISA, who was translator and Fr. Nicola Sozzi (Ita) who was responsible for the liturgy. Fr. Paco Negral OCD was the official guide throughout the journey. The final evaluation of the group was very positive and many spoke about the deep experiences they had during the two weeks.