My journey with the Carmelites started in 2011. It was the first time in my life after experiencing loss that I felt the strength and courage to really work through it, and understand what it was I needed to learn.
I was open to change and welcomed a range of spiritual practices into my life to see which would help me on my journey…and the one I reflect on here is my special connection with the Carmelites.
I had lived in the Middle Park area for over 10 years and despite being Catholic and attending mass for many years on and off throughout my life, I never noticed that the Carmelite Church was on my doorstep…until one Sunday morning in July…when ‘something’ led me there. My greatest re-collections of mass that day were the long moments of silence in-between readings and the beautiful singing. At one level, I felt so uncomfortable with the silence, and at another, I knew in my heart this was something I needed to learn – to be able to feel at ease in silence.
A notice in the mass booklet caught my eye – it was about a session The Carmelite Centre Melbourne (TCCM) was running that week. So in my open-minded, open-hearted state, I went along. While the session itself was really inspiring, I was even more touched by the warm welcome I felt, in particular, by Irene and Damien. I quite quickly felt connected into the community and I knew this was a place that I could not only take a lot from in terms of experiences and learnings, but also give a lot to. So my journey began with TCCM…
Since 2011, I have participated in a range of programs and also helped form a marketing committee, and I later joined the Board. To this day, I enjoy helping out any way I can, with my passion being to help broaden the message.
I always say the Carmelites are Catholicism’s ‘best kept secret’ as for such an old tradition, they have great vision and openness to new ways. I saw this at a very early stage by the very fact that they set up TCCM – a ‘broad church’ with a very modern day expression of Catholic and Carmelite faith, and a very open and welcoming ‘place’. The various events, pilgrimages, prayer sessions and weekly ‘conversations’ made available through TCCM allow people to ‘come and see’ – to see whether something of what they offer, can help one’s spiritual journey.
So, why the best kept secret? I believe and have personally experienced how the Carmelite practices are very much in line with what people are looking for today – time for silence and calm in their life, a place for contemplation and reflection, and a sense of connection. The Carmelite way, facilitated by TCCM, is open-minded and accepting, and has allowed me the space to realize that wherever I am in my journey with God and my faith, is OK.
Most of all, my connection with The Carmelites has taught me to take time out to reflect, sit easily with my silence and trust in the slow work of God. For that, I am truly grateful.