First Day of the General Chapter

The 213th General Chapter of the Order of Carmelites opened in Il Carmelo in Sassone, Rome, Italy on Tuesday morning, September 3, 2013. 111 Friars from the five continents gathered representing nearly every country where the Carmelite Order has communities and ministers.

The Chapter began with the Mass of the Holy Spirit, led by the Prior General, the Most Reverend Fernando Millan Romeral, O.Carm., and concelebrated by the members of the General Council. The Prior General welcomed all of the capitulars, as well as the guests, secretaries and others present. He exhorted the brothers to nurture three attitudes throughout the Chapter: humility, wisdom and generosity, and to trust in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Before the altar was a newly-written icon of Our Lady of Mount Carmel surrounded by images of St. Albert of Jerusalem, St. Teresa of Jesus, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, and Blessed Titus Brandsma. At the conclusion of the Mass, the brothers in their white mantles, processed with the Icon to the Chapter Hall singing the Carmelite Litany of the Saints. In the Chapter Hall, Father Fernando blessed the Icon, the Veni Creator Spiritus was chanted, and the Chapter officially opened. Later in the morning, in the next session, Sister Miriam Tamiano, O.Carm., Prioress of Cerreto, gave a theological reflection and presentation of the Icon which was made in that Monastery (click here to read her full presentation). 

After the presentation of Sister Miriam, the Chapter elected the Most Reverend Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm., Prior General from 1995 to 2007 as the President of the Chapter. He will preside until the new General is elected later in the Chapter.

In the following session, the message to the Chapter from His Holiness Pope Francis was read. In beautiful words, the Holy Father reminded the Order that keeping alive its contemplative life and sharing it with the Church, was an important part of the contemporary mission of the Order. His words were uplifting as he urged us to keep to our pilgrim way see our allegiance to Jesus Christ as love, prayer and mission (click here to read the Pope’s Letter).

The officials of the Chapter previously arranged – Moderators, Facilitators, Secretaries, Revisers of the Acts, and those who will prepare the final message – were announced. The rest of the afternoon consisted of the report of the outgoing Prior General, as well as the approval of the Ordo Capituli and Agenda. The report of Father Fernando left all with many points to ponder, and certainly we will return to his many themes over the next twenty days. 

The first day of the Chapter saw a good beginning to the journey, under the theme “A word of hope and salvation”: living the charism and mission of Carmel today”.