A Community of Carmel

In 1652, a Frenchman by the name of Jean Doubdan embarked on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Pilgrimages by Europeans of means during the Renaissance were not all that uncommon and Doubdan, who was a canon at the royal church of St Paul’s a few miles from the centre of Paris, had both the means and position to justify such an adventure.
Five years later, Doubdan’s Le voyage de la Terre-Sainte or The Journey of the Holy Land, complete with a rich array of illustrations, was published in Paris. One of the many etchings in this publication depicted a scene entitled, PLAN DU MONT CARMEL.
A framed, 3rd edition image from this 1657 publication was gratefully received as a gift to the College by staff member, Mr Simon Berryman, this week. The image shows geographical features including Mount Carmel, the towns of Caiphas (Haifa) and St John of Acre and the rivers Kishon and Belus. Surprisingly, it also clearly shows the cave of Elijah, ‘The Great Carmelite Monastery’, the fountain of Elijah and the ‘caves of the religious’ – all historical yet poignant signposts of the birthplace of the Carmelite Order, founders of Whitefriars College.

With our College community theme this year being one of service through action, it is essential that this is evidenced by experience, rather than notion. The founding Carmelite’s tenets of community, prayer and service lead inexorably to actively seeking to live in God’s presence by walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

As the College moves towards finalising its 2020-2025 Strategic Focus Plan, it does so with four key areas of focus. Central to this is our Catholic, Carmelite Charism and the aspirational tenets and alignment with Provincial Council and Board future planning objectives. The other three areas are Learning for Life, Nurturing Community and Global Awareness. The current draft form of the Plan will be further considered by designated staff, parents and students before final ratification in Term 4.

Last Thursday the Year 7 boys gathered in the College Chapel for the Feast of the Assumption to take part in a wonderful celebration of the Eucharist in preparation for the presentation to each boy of a brown scapular.

Fr Paul Sireh spoke to the boys before mass to provide some context around this important Carmelite ritual. The brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is one of the signs in the tradition of the Church from many centuries ago is. It is a sign approved by the Church and accepted by the Carmelite Order as an external sign of love for Mary, of the trust her children have in her, and of commitment to live like her.
The Scapular finds its roots in the tradition of the Order, which has seen in it a sign of Mary’s motherly protection. It has a centuries old spiritual meaning of commitment to follow Jesus, as did Mary, the perfect model of all the disciples of Christ. It leads us into the community of Carmel, a community of religious and lay men and women, which has existed in the Church for eight centuries. It calls on us to live out the ideal of the Carmelite family: intimate friendship with God in prayer.

Included in the Eucharistic celebration was the following prayer:Loving God, may these receiving their Carmelite Scapulars today remember the relationship this Scapular has to Jesus’ mother, Mary. May this symbol of Mary be a constant reminder of our duty to be the best we can be. Mary’s example to be a positive force in other’s lives, even at the low points, can remind us to remain a hope-filled force for others. May we feel the protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the prophet Elijah in our lives as we work to be ‘gentle men’.

It is always good to be reminded of the aspirational statement in our Mission and Values Statement – as a College community, we seek to form ‘gentle men’ of compassion, service and tolerance grounded in Catholic faith and Carmelite tradition.

Mr Greg Stewart
Almae In Fide Parentis

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