Brother Gerard with his parents
Brother Gerard (Ged) Walsh, O.Carm., made his Solemn Profession of Vows as a Carmelite friar on Saturday. Gerard, 35, joined the Carmelite Order in 2005 having worked as a senior radiographer in a busy and challenging Liverpool hospital. Members of his family came from the Wirral to attend the ceremony at Aylesford Priory in Kent, as did members of the Carmelite Family from across Britain and Ireland.
Gerard is a member of the Carmelite friar community in York where he works as Assistant Chaplain at the University of York and at the city's District Hospital. The Solemn Profession was attended by the other members of his community, as well as by lay members of the Carmelite Order in York. The enclosed Discalced Carmelite nuns at Thicket Priory near York were united with Gerard in prayer, and were represented by a candle that they had made specially for him.
Gerard spent five years of his initial formation studying in Dublin, and friends from the Irish Province of Carmelites came over to join the celebration, including his student director Fr Joseph Mothersill, O.Carm., and fellow student Br David Twohig, O.Carm., who served as Deacon at the Profession Mass.
The Profession Mass was held at Aylesford Priory ('The Friars') in Kent where Gerard had spent his year-long novitiate. The presider at the Eucharist was Fr Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm., Prior Provincial of the British Province of Carmelites.
A member of Gerard's community, Pat O'Keeffe, O.Carm., read a text explaining the commitment entailed in following Jesus Christ by living in the light of the Carmelite charism and the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. The Scripture readings were proclaimed by Gerard's parents, Philip and Eileen Walsh.
Beautiful music for the liturgy was provided by a group of young people associated with the priory. After the Gospel Brother Gerard was called forward by Fr Kevin Melody, O.Carm., representing those entrusted with his formation. Gerard was invited to state his desire to be solemnly professed, and on behalf of the friars Fr. Wilfrid questioned him on his intention to live for the rest of his life as a member of the Order.
In his homily Fr Wilfrid preached about the life of allegiance to Jesus Christ that Carmelites commit to in profession as a deepening of their baptismal calling. Wilfrid spoke of the joys and difficulties of that journey, and about how every Christian is graced with special gifts to share with others, gifts that were very evident in Brother Gerard's service of others, particularly the sick in his hospital ministry and his work in Lourdes.
Wonderful hospitality was provided by the Carmelite friar community at Aylesford, with a celebratory lunch served in the medieval Pilgrims' Hall.