Province of the Philippines
The Carmelite Province of Blessed Titus Brandsma of the Philippines was canonically erected on July 16, 2013 thru a Decree of Canonical Erection passed and approved by the Most Rev. Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm., the Prior General of the Order with his Council, dated and signed on March 25, 2013 at the Order’s General Curia in Rome.
The newly erected Province was founded by the Dutch Carmelites as they established its first mission community in Escalante, Negros Occidental in response to the invitation of Bishop Epifanio Surban of Dumaguete in 1957. March 16, 1958 marks the founding day of Philippine Carmel with its founders: Fr. Richard Vissers, O.Carm. (Prior), Fr. Wirenfried Viesters, O.Carm., Fr. Theodulf Vrakking, O.Carm. from the Dutch Carmel Province; and Fr. Fidelis Limcaco, O.Carm., a Filipino and member of the PCM Province joined the pioneering community. From then on, the Order continues to grow and expanded in the different dioceses of the country and got involved in various ministries and programs of the Church.
Presently, the Province has five canonically erected houses: Mount Carmel Monastery of Escalante, in Negros Occidental (1958), Carmelite Monastery of Sts. Elijah and Elisha in Agusan del Sur (1963), Manila Carmel of St. Teresa of Avila (1967), Spring of Carmel Community in Quezon City (1987), Cebu Carmel of San Alberto in Cebu City (1994). The Manila Carmel of St. John of the Cross (2008) with ad experimentum status and Carmel of St. Elijah Formation community are both in Quezon City; and St. Albert Friary, a mission community (2008) in Papua New Guinea are not canonically erected.
The Order is involved in different pastoral ministries of the Church in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea as the Carmelites administer seven parishes and one mission station in four dioceses; two colleges and two high schools in two dioceses; three centers of spirituality and hermitages, an academic institute of spirituality and media ministry based in Manila. The Carmelites are also involved in teaching and retreat ministry, youth ministry, JPIC and social action ministry, chaplaincy and assistance to the Carmelite Family in the different parts of the country. The Filipino Carmelites administer two parishes with its mission stations in the Diocese of Bereina and Archdiocese of Port of Moresby in Papa New Guinea aside from other diocesan appointments and tasks in formation, pastoral, communication and youth ministries.
The canonical erection of the Philippine Province is a gift to share and celebrate as the seed of Carmel which was planted in 1958 has grown fully into a fruit- bearing tree. Carmel in the Philippines has grown in age and grace through the years in the heart of Philippine Church and society. A holy mass was celebrated on the occasion of the canonical erection and the celebration of the solemnity of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16, 2013, held at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of the Diocese of Cubao in New Manila, Quezon City.
We thank the Prior General and Council, our mother province—the Dutch Carmel Province, the Carmelite Family all over the world—the different provinces, commissaries and communities who have been supporting Carmel in the Philippines in the past until the present. We thank all our lay and religious partners in the missions who in the last 55 years of Philippine Carmel’s presence and mission in the country had always been there with us and for us. The Philippine Province is the 20th province of the Order of Carmelites, and has entrusted herself under the tutelage of Blessed Titus Brandsma and the patronage of Inahan sa Carmen sa Escalante.
The Lord has been so good to us as “his mercy is without end for his love endures forever.” The Carmelite Province of Blessed Titus Brandsma of the Philippines forever “sings the greatness of the Lord for he has done great things for us, thus holy is His name.” Now, as a newly erected province of the Order, with resolve we affirm what the Prophet Elijah declared, truly “we are zealous to the Lord, the God of hosts.”