Report on the Come & See Day, 1st October 2016, Kensington ODC Priory

‘Come & See’ Day

1st October 2016

ODC Carmelite Priory Kensington

The Day didn’t begin well when the lady who said would come with the Carmelite Sisters didn’t turn up! I was anxious as only two people had responded to the ads in the local diocesan newspapers, the ODC Vocation’s website, my WordPress, and the National Vocation’s website, and the various posters. I was beginning to wonder if it was worth all the expense: I must have spent close to £1000. But then first one young lady came, then the Carmelite missionary sisters came, in the form of Sr Vivienne, with two young ladies, then Maria came and finally, Greg came: the only male. Two other ladies turned up but they had misunderstood the nature of the day, thinking it was a pious retreat, but it was good to have them all.

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After morning prayer and welcome, we all introduced ourselves. Each religious said something about their own calling. This was wonderful to hear, a real privilege. Everyone follows a different path but it is the same God who is calling us all. What strikes me is the normality of the people called to Carmel. I am sure that the average layperson considers religious to be, if not odd, then very pious. This we can be at times, in the good sense of that word, but we remain very down to earth for the most part; the kind of people that St Teresa of Avila wanted in her Carmel.

Then Fr Jim Noonan OCD, spoke about discernment. Jim had come specially from Ireland for this day. How can I know if I have a vocation? What are the signs to look for? Jim has a wealth of experience, both as a former Provincial, and from his recent year long course on formation in the USA. His talk was followed by Sr. Mary of St Joseph OCD describing what life is like in her Carmel. She focussed on the areas of prayer, work, enclosure and community. We were so privileged to have Sr Mary of St Joseph, plus three other sisters from Notting Hill Carmel. Normally, they would never leave enclosure, except in exceptional circumstances. We then said midday prayer together before tucking into a delicious buffet. The rest of the Kensington community joined us for this.

After lunch I gave a PowerPoint presentation on some of the Carmelite Saints. We are all called to holiness, so these carmelites can be role models for us. Then Fr. Paul, from our Malabar Province in India spoke about life in Carmel from a male perspective. Of course the culture in India is very different to Europe but there are many similarities. Our final talk was by Sr Vivienne from the Carmelite Missionary Sisters. We learned just how carmelite, how prayer centered, the missionary Sisters are. The day finished with evening prayer.

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So after a bad start the day picked up. It is worthwhile organising these events, even if the results are not what one hoped for, because the fruits can often be hidden. We pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into the harvest. He does His bit, so to speak, and we do ours. I suppose we could do more, but we must not get too anxious. It is all in God’s good hands. So, I am grateful for the day. It is the first time that I have done anything like this. Let’s pray that the fruits don’t remain hidden, but come forth abundantly. So, to anyone who was praying for the success of this day, I say, “thank you”.

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