by JULIA DU FRESNE
The first lay Carmelites of the Order of the Ancient Observance (O. Carm) in New Zealand made their first profession in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Palmerston North on July 20, feast day of St Elijah the prophet, a patron of the order.
The ceremony followed three years of prayer, study and reflection for the leader, Pha-Raine Hickman, Gwenda Gopperth, Mike Hogan and Annette Petersen (cathedral parish), Shayla Rodrigues (St Mary’s, Palmerston North), Frances Wilson (St Joseph’s, Taupo) and Julia du Fresne Kynoch (Holy Trinity, Central Hawke’s Bay).
The Lay Carmelites are officially known as members of the Third Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt Carmel, established by Blessed John Soreth in 1462. They are mostly lay people (although diocesan priests may join) who promise to live the Gospel in the contemplative spirit of Carmel, in the practice of prayer in all its forms, including the Divine Office and Lectio Divina, as well as the other elements of the order’s charism of fraternal community and service. Three further years are required before making final profession.
The Mass was concelebrated by Fr James Des Lauriers, O. Carm, of Melbourne, Bishop Owen Dolan of Palmerston North and Fr Brian Quin, SM, of Silverstream. Fr Des Lauriers was assisted in the ceremony of first profession by the moderator for Australia and Timor Leste, Keith Belton of Adelaide, and formator Teresa Paradowski, Melbourne.
The cathedral singers led the congregation of about 100 in the parts of the Mass and the hymns, including Flos Carmeli (Flower of Carmel), the O. Carm tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mass was followed by morning tea hosted by the lay Carmelites in the cathedral gathering space, and the cutting of a cake made to mark the occasion by Mike Petersen, husband of Annette and sacristan for the day.