KOTA KINABALU – The local Carmelite family – The Carmelite nuns and members of the secular order (OCDS) closed the fifth birth centenary of St Teresa of Avila on 15 Oct 2015 at the Carmelite Chapel here with a solemn sung Mass. Mgsr Primus Jouil presided at the Mass, concelebrated with Fr Francis Tsen, Fr Felix Chung and current chaplain Fr Rayner Bisius.
A triduum of Holy Hours (Oct 12-14) and a three-day sharing on Teresian spirituality (Oct 13-15) by OCDS members were held in preparation for the closing celebration.
Born in Avila, Spain, in 1515, Teresa of Jesus entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation in Avila when she was twenty years old. After twenty-six years of leading a rather lax religious life, she was inspired by the Spirit to reform the Carmelite Order that would be dedicated to a life of contemplative prayer. Before her death in 1582, she founded seventeen convents, which formed the beginnings of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. Today Discalced Carmelites number about 12,000 cloistered women in 98 countries, nearly 4,000 mendicant friars in 82 countries, and some 40,000 lay Carmelites throughout the world.
The Carmelites nuns came to Sabah shore in 1930 from Madrid, Spain, at the invitation of Msgr August Wachter, then Prefect Apostolic of the Prefecture of Labuan and North Borneo. From this community, members had gone out to found the Kuching community in 1948, and the Guam community in 1966.
The local secular order is of more recent origin: the first members made their pledge in July 2004 and since then they have been active on the local scene in celebrating Carmelite feasts and sharing their spirituality through talks and experiences of contemplative prayer.