Archbishop Miller blesses foundation stone for a new priestly formation house
By Nathan Rumohr
On the cusp of the Year of Faith, there have been several moments of grace in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
So far this year a new Dominican Monastery has been built in Squamish, 18 men have been called to candidacy for the permanent diaconate, and now the Discalced Carmelites are making a new foundation, with a formation house for priests to be called "The Little Flower at Carmel Hill."
Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, blessed the foundation stone for the house Sept. 11, noting the significant moment. "We are here to celebrate a new exciting adventure of grace," Archbishop Miller said. "The formation house will serve, God willing, many Carmelite seminarians."
Carmelite seminarians will live and be formed at the house, located on a 20-acre property east of Mission just off the Lougheed Highway in the Deroche district. They will study philosophy and theology at Christ the King Seminary in Mission, 20 minutes by car from Carmel Hill.
The archbishop thanked the Discalced Carmelites for establishing a formation house in a relatively quick amount of time. The order first came to Canada in 2003 and currently has priests serving at Guardian Angels, St. Edmund's, and St. Patrick's (Vancouver) Parishes.
The blessing came three weeks after the 450th celebration of the reform of the Carmelite Order by St. Teresa of Avila. Archbishop Miller pointed to the great saint's faith in God, which allowed her to reform the order and establish many monasteries, and said the Discalced Carmelites of today have taken up this project in faith, "convinced that it is one pleasing to God."
St. Teresa evangelized courageously, Archbishop Miller said, along with fellow reformer St. John of the Cross, in dangerous times. Today's world is also in "dangerous times," especially for one who proclaims the faith, he added. It is necessary to have a place of formation for priests "to be courageous witnesses to the Gospel."
"St. Teresa provides not only seminarians but all of us with a model to imitate," Archbishop Miller said. "In her time she evangelized without mincing her words, with unfailing ardour, and with great zeal, never giving in to inertia: a true model of the new evangelization."
A picture of another Carmelite saint graced the foundation stone itself: "The Little Flower," St. Therese of Lisieux. The formation house will be named after her under her name, "The Little Flower," when construction is finished in two or three years.
Father Archibald R. Gonsalves, OCD, the provincial superior of the Discalced Carmelites of Karnataka Goa Province; Father Rudolf V. D'Souza, OCD, the regional superior; 11 Discalced Carmelite friars, and many parishioners from St. Edmund's and Guardian Angels Parishes attended the blessing.
Archbishop Miller proposed the idea of a formation house for Carmelites in a meeting with Father Gonsalves last year.
"We thought, 'Why couldn't we have (Carmelite) vocations from Canada?'" Father D'Souza said, adding many Carmelite priests had flowed into Canada, settling in the Lower Mainland, Calgary, and London, Ont.
"Dear bishop, your words of inspiration have made it possible for us to begin a formation house here," Father Gonsalves said after the blessing at Carmel Hill's chapel.
Once the project received the green light, donors were sought. Helen Chua Tiampo, a Guardian Angels parishioner for 30 years, provided a large donation to get the project started.
"I want my donation to be known publicly so others will donate," Tiampo said. She said she has been close to the order her whole life; she actually once spent some time as a Carmelite nun.
"I thank Helen for this great gift," said Father Gonsalves, who joked that without her donation the Carmelites might have waited another 50 years for their house of formation.
Father Gonsalves also thanked Father D'Souza for his efforts to establish Carmel Hill. "He has been coming here day in and day out, supervising the work and taking on every minor detail. His work has made it possible for us to be present here."
With the request for more Carmelite priests coming from dioceses around Canada, Carmel Hill is coming at the right time, said Father Gonsalves.
"My wish is that along with the 12 priests already here (in Canada) there will be Carmelites from Canada to serve the Canadian church. I think this is our great dream and our prayer.