As you might know, I have just been installed the Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu less than two months ago. And I have been a priest slightly fourteen years ago last month. Some of you have already responded to the call to the Carmelite spirituality more than 25 years ago, and many of you have made your Definitive Promise as a Secular Carmelite for over ten years. So I have a lot to learn from you and I will need some time to know your communities better.
But one thing I am sure of is that yours is what I call “a vocation within a vocation.” Through Baptism, you were called out from darkness into light. It is a call to a life of holiness. And by joining the Teresian Carmelite family, you have said YES to live the life of holiness and perfection modelled after the lives, experiences and writings of St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross and St Theresa of the Child Jesus. As lay persons, it must be quite challenging. That is why I said yours is “a vocation within a vocation.”
I am thankful to God that in answering to that vocation, many of you have Fr Deeney in your spiritual journeying. What and where you are now is the fruit of your journey with him to help you live locally a universal spirituality. Of course, I believe the presence of other friars and the nuns along your journey too has likewise helped you in your vocation. For this and for all of them, I thank and praise the Lord!
I have gone through the souvernir magazine. It has given me some glimpses of how your communities started, the struggles that you went through, the determination in you to learn and to be formed, and above all, the yearning in your heart to be perfect, “just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). Indeed, your stories and sharings have confirmed that God has not kept you orphaned. He has called you out from the darkness in order to send you back as lights to the world. Your theme in this congress has expressed your desire to move forward along this direction.
After coming together as a national family in the past four congresses, now you say you want to move forward “sharing in the spirituality and mission of the local Church.” I see this as a good sign when a spiritual movement is not confined to itself. When you move in love and humility, our local Churches would definitely be blessed by your spirituality.
Finally, I pray that the outcome of this congress will help you grow further in your faith and relationship with Jesus, who is the source and the goal of all spiritual lives. Thank you and God bless you.