A Mass was celebrated at the Carmel of the Annunciation at Thicket Priory, near York, to consecrate the new monastery chapel on 30 July.
The community of Discalced Carmelite nuns came to Thicket from Exmouth in Devon in 1955. The Mass was an opportunity to celebrate 60 years of Carmelite life at Thicket Priory, the fifth centenary of the birth of St Teresa of Avila, and the Year of Consecrated Life.
In 2009 the Carmelite nuns moved into a purpose-built monastery building at Thicket. Whilst snagging problems were being resolved the chapel was formally consecrated for worship, and the community decided that the various special events being commemorated in 2015 made it an auspicious time for the consecration.
A Carmelite friar lead the procession into the chapel for Mass. At the beginning of the celebration the plans and legal documents of the new monastery building were presented to Mother Mary of Carmel by Chris O'Neill, representing McNeil, Beechey, O'Neill Architects.
Sr Ann of the Holy Spirit proclaimed the first Reading. The presider at the Mass was Rt Rev Terence Patrick Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough. Bishop Terry preached on how the new building was to be used for true worship, which is not offered in one place or building, but in the hearts of those who love the Lord.
Beautiful music was led by sisters from the Thicket community. The nuns of Thicket were joined by their Carmelite sisters from Wood Hall monastery near Wetherby, the Corpus Christi Carmelite Sisters from York, the Benedictine nuns of Stanbrook Abbey in Wass, the Congregation of Jesus Sisters from York's Bar Convent, the Poor Clare Sisters from Askham Bryan, and Mercy Sisters from across Middlesbrough Diocese.
Fr Gerard Walsh, O.Carm., who was ordained priest by Bishop Drainey earlier this year, was among the many concelebrants at the Mass.
Among the male religious present were not only Carmelite and Discalced Carmelite friars but also Servites, Benedictine monks, as well as Oratorian novices.
Many secular clergy from Middlesbrough Diocese and beyond were also present.
Thicket Priory has very strong ecumenical relations with local Anglican and other Churches, many of whom were represented at the celebration, including York Minster.
The sun shone as worshippers enjoyed lunch after Mass. The celebration afforded a rare opportunity for visitors to see inside the 'enclosure'
of the Carmelite nuns at Thicket.
After lunch participants were invited back to the newly-consecrated chapel for a sharing and discussion on the way forward for consecrated life today.
Sister Catherine from Wood Hall Carmel was one of the nuns who came from Devon to Thicket 60 years ago. She spoke about the differences between
religious life then and now. In 1969 she was one of the Thicket nuns who established a daughter community at Wood Hall Carmel near Wetherby.
Exmouth Carmel, where the Thicket community originated, was founded from the Carmel of Notting Hill in London. A member of that community,
Sister Mary of Saint-Joseph, shared her insights into the calling of Carmelites today. A Mercy Sister spoke about the origins of her congregation. A Premonstratensian Canon also spoke his order's founding by St Norbert.
Sr Ann of the Holy Spirit spoke about the opportunities for religious life in the light of Pope Francis' recent writings. Sr Ann Parker, O.Carm., of the Corpus Christi Carmelites, spoke about the founding of her congregation in England in 1908. The President of the Association of British Carmels, Sr Philomena from Wood Hall, spoke with hope about the future of consecrated life in Britain.
Bishop Terry's homily and video footage of the Mass will be coming soon on the Carmelite website: www.carmelite.org/
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