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Carmelite Convent

88 Cleveland Avenue,
Darlington, DL3 7BE
Tel: 01325 461024
 
Email: Carmelite Nuns Darlington
Webpage: Carmelite Nuns Darlington
Webpage: Carmelite Nuns  
 
NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2013
This year has been one of surprises, both good and bad. The last of the Daughters of Charity left at the beginning of the year. This left 1 Cross and Passion Sister, 2 John of God Brothers and ourselves as they only religious. Darlington used to have lots of religious. Then more bad news came when the Cross and Passion Sister was ill and has to leave.

The sale of the monastery was going nowhere very fast. Then I was approached by the Indian Community who were wanting a fasting weekend and asked if it would be possible to used the monastery. At first I did not realise they wanted to stay there. It was agreed that they would find the necessary beds to use the building as we had removed most of the beds, one or two remained. Then suddenly out of the blue they said they wanted to lease the monastery and the Vincentian Father from India would be running it as a retreat house. We are still in the process of getting the legal bits and pieces sorted out. The Fathers have been staying there and saying Mass. They belong to the Malabar right. It has been a very interesting experience joining them for Mass. They are rather Charismatic and say Mass in their own language. They have said “English Mass” in the Roman rite for us. It has been rather exhausting removing the things we still had scattered over the house. We are very pleased to have them. Their ministry will be to their own people from Kerela, the Tamil community as well as to the English people. Anybody interested in their work can look at their TV channel: DivineTV. It is a free channel.

We celebrated Sr Veronica’s Golden Jubilee in June. As we do not always have Mass at the Convent we arranged for it to be the usual morning Mass at St Teresa’s Parish. Sister did not want anything so I was going to make it a surprise. I was shouted down by the others who said she might have a heart attach if she got to church and discovered she was the lime-light. When I told her she said she thought she was having a heart attack then! We invited the parishioners and Carmelite Sisters from Wetherby to add to the family. She enjoyed herself but felt rather tired after it.

Now suddenly after all these years we have a retired priest in the parish. He is willing to say Mass in our chapel. When we have no other priest and he is here we have Mass at home. God is really good to us. It is as if everything is beginning to come together after all this time. He is going to teach one of the Indian Fathers who will be resident here to say Mass in English so that he too will be available. They are also making themselves available for work in the parishes.

Love and God Bless from Sisters Francis, Veronica, Jude and Carmela

 

Darlington Carmel Chapel

The Carmel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Joseph at Darlington, Co Durham, England, Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, is the prolongation of the second of three English Carmels founded in the seventeenth century in Flanders, Province of Brabant, (today Belgium, then the Spanish Netherlands). Religious persecution in England did not permit any monastery to be established in England at that time.

The Community has never suffered interruption since it was founded in 1648 at Lierre, Diocese of Antwerp, but it has relocated several times until finally settling at the present address in 1830.

The foundation was planned by the first English Carmel which had been established at Antwerp in 1619 under the care of Mother Anne of Jesus (Brussels) and Fr Thomas of Jesus, Provincial. There were two Carmels at Antwerp at this time: the Flemish one was founded by Mother Anne of St Bartholomew, where she still resided, and the English one at Antwerp-Holland. This latter Carmel is now represented by the Carmel of Lanherne, Newquay, England. We consider ourselves the spiritual children of Mother Anne of St Bartholomew who trained the first English Prioress, Mother Anne of the Ascension Worsley. Close bonds of friendship united them to the end of their lives.

By 1648 the Hopland Carmel, in spite of several foundations in Flanders and Germany, numbered forty Sisters and a second purely English foundation became a necessity. The town of Lierre, in the same Diocese of Antwerp, was chosen as site for the new Carmel. The twelve foundresses all came from the Antwerp Community, and the foundation was financed entirely by the mother-Carmel which divided its patrimony in half. The new Carmel was very poor at the beginning.

Monastery

Their first home was the 'Refuge of Nazareth' belonging to the Bernadine nuns of Lierre (this house still exists today) from which the Community moved in 1651 to some small houses turned into a monastery in Kerkstraat. They built a proper Carmel in the same street, almost opposite, at the beginning of the next century, with a beautiful, simple baroque church which was consecrated 17th October 1717. Of both these properties remnants still exist today, and the town of Lierre has a historical interest in the former monastery of 'the Holy English Teresian Nuns' and, we are told, intends to restore the old baroque garden-chapel and place a commemorative plaque there.

When the contemplative monasteries in the Spanish Netherlands were suppressed in 1782 under the Emperor Joseph of Austria, the English ones were not affected. The Carmel of Lierre provided a home for ten Flemish Carmelites from Douay and Bruges. But in 1794 they, too, had to flee before the advancing troops of the French. Since the mentality in England had become more tolerant and the penal Laws had been relaxed, the three English communities were able to return to their native land. Wearing secular clothes, our Community crossed the Channel on 4th July 1794 and were, by a few days, the very first daughters of St Teresa to set foot on English soil. The Prioress at that time was Mother Anne Bernard of St Teresa Houseman, remarkable for leadership and spirituality. The Community lived in hired houses, first at Bishop Auckland (1794-1804), Northern Ecclesiastical District (the Hierarchy was not yet restored) and then at Cocken Hall near Durham (1804-1830), once more in great poverty, but helped by generous benefactors. In 1830 they finally settled at their present property which they adapted and extended. The little church was consecrated on 25th October 1858. It is built in neo-Gothic style by the architect George Goldie. In Lierre we had our burial vault, in Darlington we have our own cemetery inside enclosure.
  

Darlington Carmel

Chief events

Darlington Carmel was asked in the late twenties of the twentieth century to make the first foundation in South Africa. This was realised under Bishop O'Leary of Johannesburg, which has since made another foundation in Wynberg, the Cape.

In 1971, at a Carmelite Meeting in the wake of Vatican II, the great number of Carmels in England and the decrease of vocations led to a discussion of amalgamation. After consultations, the Community of Wells Carmel, Somerset, generously offered to join us. This Carmel had been founded in 1874 from Lanherne Carmel belonging, therefore, to the same tradition as Darlington. The amalgamation has been successful and greatly blessed. It took place on 29th February 1972 under the leadership of Mother Margaret of Our Lady of Sorrows Campbell (Wells Carmel).

In February 1992 Darlington Carmel became the founding house of another Carmel in South Africa, at Mafikeng, in the Diocese of Kimberley, under Bishop Erwin Hecht O.M.I.
  

Notable members

Our early Sisters left home and country, then a difficult undertaking, to follow their vocation and pray for the conversion of England in exile. They had the spirit of the English martyrs and came from the Catholic families in England who had suffered many hardships for the faith since the Reformation and had passed it on to each successive generation. It is an inspiration to read their lives and the testimonies they left behind of their simple, sturdy and Teresian spirit.

Outstanding among them for holiness and mystical graces was our second Prioress Mother Margaret of Jesus Mostyn (8 December 1625 - 29 August 1679) who impressed a spiritual stamp on the Community. Her life was written by her confessor Canon Bedingfield, and published in the nineteenth century by Fr Coleridge S.J. It was re-written by Sr Anne Hardman SND and published by Burns & Oates in 1937. The same author wrote 'English Carmelites'.