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Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Report from Carmelite Forum annual conference
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¬†The Carmelite Forum's annual conference was held on Saturday at the Carmelite Priory, Kensington Church Street, London. Formed in 2003 to celebrate and share the Carmelite tradition, the Forum brings together Discalced Carmelites (OCD) and Carmelites of the Ancient Observance (O.Carm.). from Britain and Ireland. It is an association of all branches of the Carmelite family, including friars, nuns, sisters, Secular Order and secular institute. The conference theme was: 'Elijah: A Prophet for our Time'. The keynote speakers were Fr James McCaffrey, OCD, prior of the Carmelite Priory at Boars Hill, Oxford, and a member of the Forum Committee, and Fr MicheŠl O'Neill, O.Carm., prior of the Carmelite community at Terenure College, Dublin, Ireland. The afternoon workshops were facilitated by Fr Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm., prior of the Carmelite community at Faversham, Fr Richard Copsey, O.Carm., a historian and prior of the Carmelite community at East Finchley, Eileen Bailie OCDS and Mary Fear OCDS, the presidents of two Secular Order groups. The welcome was given by Fr Matt Blake, OCD, prior of the Carmelite community at Kensington Church Street, and Fr Francis Kemsley, O.Carm., a member of the Forum Committee, introduced the speakers. The conference was attended by around 70 people, mainly members of the Carmelite family, including a number of enclosed nuns from the communities in Dolgellau, Wales and Thicket Priory, York. Speaking on 'Elijah in Scripture', Fr McCaffrey noted that over the last ten years there has been a new awareness of the equal status given to the Old Testament prophet Elijah in the three monotheistic faiths. In his workshop on 'Elijah and Edith Stein: Two Prophets', Fr Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm., stressed that it was important not to allow the canonisation of Edith Stein to be a stumbling-block on the path of dialogue between Christians and Jews. He emphasized the importance of Edith's doctoral thesis on empathy as 'the jumping-off point for touching all people and all conditions'. Fr O'Neill focussed on Elijah's concern for justice and solidarity as a model for today's Church. Fr Copsey outlined the evolution of traditions about Elijah and Mary as patrons of the Order, and the role of an early Carmelite document ≠ The Book of the First Monks, of which he has recently published a translation ≠ in the writing of that tradition. Eileen Bailie spoke on 'Elijah the Contemplative', and Mary Fear led lectio divina on 1 Kings 19. The proceedings of the first Carmelite Forum conference, Mary and the Carmelite Tradition, held in 2004, will be published next year. The Rule of Saint Albert has been chosen as the theme of next year's conference.
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