SIBU — Some 51 members of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS) of Malaysia from the four communities of Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Miri convened at the Sibu Diocesan Pastoral Centre for the 6th OCDS Malaysia National Congress from 29 April – 2 May. Fr Thomas Lim, OCD, General Delegate of Taiwan-Singapore and Fr Kenneth Gopal, OCD, Taiwan-Singapore OCD Provincial Delegate to Malaysia OCDS were in attendance.
“OCDS called to love and to serve” was the theme of this National Congress chosen in response to the evangelisation call to be “Merciful like the Father” in this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis.
This National Congress held triennially served as the platform for the fraternity of the Secular Carmelites from Malaysia to come together in fellowship and prayer with their General and Provincial Delegates. They presented their activities, experiences and insights of the past three years through their respective general and formation reports. During workshops that followed, they discussed and drew up plans on the life and service as a community for the common mission ahead. The new National Council for the term 2016 – 2019 was also elected.
In his written message, Fr Aloysius Deeney, OCD, General Delegate for the OCDS of Asia-Oceania who directed the growth and formation of OCDS in Malaysia and journeyed with them since 2001 until recently, reminded the Secular Carmelites of the central importance of prayer. “What kept the OCDS growing in Malaysia was the desire to understand prayer, according to the spirituality of Saints Teresa and John, in the life of a person living in the world,” he wrote. “Keep focus on our dedication to prayer and let everything else fall into place.”
Bishop Joseph Hii Teck Kwong of Sibu Diocese celebrated morning Mass with the Carmelite community on the second day, 30 April. In his homily, the prelate succinctly highlighted that the teachings of St Teresa of Avila is as relevant as ever with so much richness and depth to offer the whole Church. He also pointed out that St Teresa from her great spiritual depth went forth carrying her staff to do the will of God exclaiming joyfully, “I am yours Lord. I was born for you. What do you want of me?” He concluded on this note: “Let this beautiful exclamation be printed in our hearts and minds to be the motto of our vocation to live a life of holiness, to love and be of service for God’s greater glory”.
Fr Thomas Lim, OCD in his opening and keynote address cited the parable of the mustard seed (Mk 4:26-34) to illustrate that Carmelite Spirituality is like a seed that God planted in their hearts while the Kingdom of God is comparable to the OCDS communities. The General Delegate exhorted the OCDS communities to live up to their calling for the glory of God, for Carmel, for Malaysians by engaging in the realities and struggles of the people and the Church as a whole in Malaysia. To truly live the unique lay vocations and Carmelite Spirituality to the fullness, Secular Carmelites as people of prayer are urged to be prominent in the life of the parish communities and be in the forefront to meet the needs, struggles and solutions of the local dioceses.
The Provincial Delegate, Fr Kenneth Gopal OCD in wrapping up the Congress on the discussion on community life and service on 2 May congratulated the OCDS communities in Malaysia as being very vibrant communities in the local dioceses. He reminded everyone that their first apostolate is to be witnesses of the Carmelite identity and spirituality by their way of life as individuals and as communities. Fr Kenneth also imparted that the theme “OCDS called to love and to serve” should resonate within them and animate the OCDS communities in their outreach missions for the next three years.
Who are the Secular Carmelites?
The Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (officially Ordo Carmelitarum Discalceatorum Saecularis – OCDS) is an integral part of the Discalced Carmelite Order (OCD). They share the same charism, traditions, apostolic mission and the same call to holiness with the Carmelite friars and the cloistered nuns. Therefore the Secular Carmelites, the friars and nuns form a single family of the same spirituality.
The vocation of a Secular Carmelite is unique. He or she is called to live the Carmelite charism ‘in the world’, each according to his or her state of life. Besides being involved in the various ministries in the local church, the Secular Carmelite is required to practise silent contemplative prayer, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and attend daily Mass. They come together for community meetings once a month.
For further information about the Secular Carmelites in Malaysia, please contact Catherine Sim at 012-8866514 (Kuching), Simon Yiek at109-8541311 (Miri & Sibu), Steven Kutai at 019-8513099 (Kota Kinabalu) and Indira Anthony at 012-2348243 (KL).
Today’s Catholic Vol.28 No.4 July 2016