KUCHING – The Carmelite Sisters celebrated the 60th anniversary of their foundation in Kuching with a Jubilee Mass on 29 December at the Carmelite Chapel.
The main celebrant, Archbishop John Ha, described the Carmelite Sisters as God’s gift for the Church as he welcomed the hundreds of faithful and friends to the Jubilee Mass. Among the concelebrating priests was Fr John Chua, the Carmelite Provincial from Singapore.
In his homily, the Archbishop congratulated the Sisters for celebrating their diamond jubilee and said that their prayers and sacrifices have contributed to the growth of the Church in Sarawak.
Archbishop Ha commented on the Gospel which was on the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. He spoke of Simeon who “had only one purpose in life – to meet Christ the Lord.” Simeon allowed himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit and when the parents of Jesus presented him in the Temple, Simeon was led by the Spirit to meet Christ the Lord and so recognised him.
He compared the life of Simeon with the Carmelite Sisters. He said, “Like Simeon, their one goal in life is to meet Christ the Lord. To this end, they allow themselves to be led by the Holy Spirit.” With the help of the Spirit, they decided to leave everything behind and live in the Carmelite community so as to meet the Lord.
“In their monastic life, much time is spent on prayer and contemplation so as always to be in the Lord’s presence,” he added.
Since the Sisters are always in the Lord’s presence, they live in the light of Christ which shines in the darkness of the world. Through their selfless commitment to others, the Sisters “become an important sign of Christ’s presence in the world.”
“Many people have been led to Christ by the Sisters. Many who come to see them leave with peace in their hearts,” the Archbishop remarked.
The Archbishop concluded his homily by exalting the faithful to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and meet Christ and to live and love as he did.
After the Mass, the faithful were invited to meet the Sisters in their parlour and share a fellowship meal at the Archbishop’s Hall.
The Carmelite Monastery in Kuching was founded 60 years ago when a pioneer group of eight Carmelite Sisters came from the Carmelite Monastery in Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu) on 19 December 1948. After ten years of presence, local girls began to join the Sisters. The number of Sisters increased steadily until they were able to send eight Sisters to Miri and set up the Carmelite Monastery in Miri in 1984.
In recent years, a group of committed lay people have been received into the secular branch of the Carmelite Order called the OCDS. At present, there are 12 Sisters living in the Monastery and they are praying for more young women to join their community.
Fr Richard Ng