Media release

Bengaluru, May 7, 2018 : Apostolic Carmel (AC) celebrated 150 years of its foundation (1868-2018). The sesquicentennial celebration was held at the Generalate in Bengaluru on May 3, 4 and 5. It was a celebration for Sisters coming from the length and breadth of India and abroad and for Sisters who are a branch of the AC, i.e., CCR (Congregation of Carmelite Religious) who also joined the celebration, 700 in all.

Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bengaluru celebrated the Eucharist on the May 4 and on May 5, the Concluding Day, it was Bishop Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangaluru, was the main celebrant and highlighted even the significance of his presence with us on this day. 

It was Bishop Marie Ephrem, the Bishop of Mangaluru who had a role in the starting of the Apostolic Carmel had welcomed our pioneer sisters from France on 19 November 1870, when they landed at Bunder and he took them in procession to St Ann’s Convent and eventually when the congregation had to be closed down in France St Ann’s became the Mother House of the Congregation. It was fitting that the Bishop of Mangaluru graced the Sesquicentennial main programme. In 2020 the Apostolic Carmel will also celebrate the Sesquicentennial Year of its establishment in India starting with Mangaluru.

The Apostolic Carmel was founded on 16 July 1868 in Bayonne, France by Mother Veronica of the Passion. The founding of the Apostolic Carmel is a saga of the strange destiny the Lord had in store for its foundress, Mother Veronica, nee Sophie Leeves, an English lady converted from Anglicanism. She was the daughter of the Anglican Minister at the British Embassy in Constantinople, Istanbul of the present, This multitalented and highly qualified lady from the Anglican high Church, was drawn to Catholicism through the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the Blessed Sacrament and she gave up her all: family, wealth, the man she was engaged to and her place in the Anglican Society, to be a Catholic at the age of 27 and follow the call of Jesus and the path He had chosen for her.

She became a Sister of St Joseph of the Apparition and again she sacrificed her life even in the Congregation she loved, was trusted; even to be its Superior General, to found the new Congregation, the Carmel for the Missions as the will of God in her life amid uncertainties and risk of personal reputation. Her transfer to Calicut, India to start a school for girls as a sister of St. Joseph was a turn of the road when she heard the persistent inner voice ‘I want you in Carmel’ and along with it when the need to have a teaching order of the Carmelites was envisaged by the Carmelite Fathers who were administering the church along the west coast.

Mother Veronica was then made the Novice Mistress but she left the congregation of her love and went to the Cloister of Carmel in Pau and as inspired by God she took along with her the little Arab, Mary Bouardy, now St Mary of Jesus Crucified, who was rejected by the St. Joseph’s Sisters on account of her mystical experiences. She had her Novitiate to learn the spirit of Carmel and moved out to look for a place to found her Little Carmel. After rejection at many places she found a dilapidated house at the Carmel of Bayonne and realized that was to be the Little Carmel and founded the Apostolic Carmel on the feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel, 16 July 1868. She was to train sisters for the Indian mission and three sisters were sent to India in 1870 and within another three years she was given ordered by the Bishop of Bayonne to close her house and she returned to the Cloister of Pau, with never being privileged to live with her sisters of the Apostolic Carmel. She is buried in Pau, in the common cemetery.

About The Apostolic Carmel Congregation

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