History of the Carmelite Sisters in Malaysia

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This Carmel was the idea of His Grace Archbishop Dominic Vendargon. After his ordination as Bishop of Kuala Lumpur in 1955, he tried without success to persuade the Carmel of Singapore to make a foundation in his diocese. At the beginning in 1981, the Archbishop again renewed his request. Father Pierluigi, a Carmelite Friar, who preached the retreat of the Carmelite nuns of Singapore in January 1981, not only encouraged the Prioress, Mother Josephine of Mary to make the foundation, but he also went personally to see His Grace Archbishop Gregory Yong of Singapore and obtained his consent for the foundation. The Carmelite nuns of Singapore then agreed to make the foundation.

Three Sisters from Singapore went to Kuala Lumpur on 5th May 1981. On the following day, His Grace Archbishop Vendargon brought them to Mantin and offered them a small abandoned school for their use. As the brick building was too small for a monastery, the Archbishop agreed to their proposal to demolish a dilapidated wooden building nearby so that they could build an extension to the brick building.

Many prayers were offered for the speedy approval of the plan and construction of the monastery so that the inauguration of the monastery could coincide with the 4th centenary of the death of their Holy Mother Foundress, St. Teresa of Avila on 15th October 1982.

The construction began in April 1982 under the supervision of Father Henriot the administrator of the Parish of Mantin and the President of the Parish Council. Then 2 Sisters traveled to the site a few times to check on the progress. They were very grateful to the Holy Infant Jesus Sisters in Seremban who hospitably provided for their needs during their stopovers and who later offered them two beautiful statues and pews for the Monastery Chapel as well as much needed cutlery.

early Carmelite nuns in Mantin.jpgWhen the Monastery was nearing completion, some Sisters went on the 23rd September 1982 to clear it up. That very evening Father Henriot kindly celebrated the first Mass in the Chapel and blessed the whole Monastery.

When one of the parishioners saw the Sisters scrubbing the floors, he arranged with the Principal and two teachers of the Government school in Mantin to let their students come to help the Sisters. The students of Form 3 and 4 and their teachers helped wash the first floor of the new building. For this, the Sisters are very grateful.

The Parish Council of Mantin invited the Sisters to meet them and offered their help on the occasion of the inauguration of the Monastery and to provide lunch for them. The Sisters are very grateful to them and to all the parishioners who have generously helped them in various ways down through the years since their arrival in Mantin.

The three Sisters returned to Singapore Carmel to make their annual retreat with the community from the 5th to the 11th October 1982.

early Carmelite nuns in Mantin 3.jpgFive Carmelite Sisters left Singapore Carmel on the morning of 12th October 1982, arriving in Mantin in the afternoon.

On the 15th October 1982, the Mass in honor of Our Mother St. Teresa was celebrated in the Chapel of the Mantin Carmel by four priests; Father John Wang, Father Hsiong, Father Simon Tang, and Father Leo Chang to whom this Carmel is indebted for his help in various ways.

During the three days of "Open House", the visitors went around the whole monastery eager to see what was behind the walls. At 11 a.m. on 17th October 1982, the inauguration ceremony of the Carmel began in the Parish Church of St. Aloysius with the concelebrated Mass by His Grace Archbishop Vendargon and twelve priests in the presence of over a thousand people who filled the Church and its grounds. At the Offertory, Father John Wang's youthful Parishioners offered a beautiful wooden almost life-size crucifix. It has since become the centerpiece of the Chapel of the Carmelite sisters. Mass was followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament from the Church to the Monastery Chapel. 

The nuns and two postulants entered the Choir. After blessing the people with the Monstrance, His Grace, the Archbishop, installed the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle. Then he read the Rescript from the Sacred Congregation for the Religious and Secular Institutes in Rome, authorizing the foundation of the Carmel in Mantin. He declared the Papal Enclosure of the nuns and locked the door of the Choir Grille and handed the key to the Vicaress. The ceremony ended with the hymn "Teresa" composed specifically for the occasion of the 4th centenary celebration of the death of St. Teresa of Avila.

early Carmelite nuns in Mantin 2.jpgTwo of the five Carmelite Nuns who came from Singapore, being Singaporeans, had to return as they could not obtain a permanent visa in Malaysia. Other Malaysians, however, came to join the remaining Sisters.

During the past eighteen years many events have taken place in our Carmel. Limited space permits us to recall only the most important events.

  • The annual Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel continues to draw people from nearby towns and even those further afield. They come to join us to celebrate and honor Our Lady who is our Patroness, our Mother and Queen of Carmel. We are grateful to His Grace Archbishop Soter Fernandez for his presence when His grace can come to concelebrate the Mass for us, and to his delegates when he could not.

  • We have had a number of Solemn Professions.

  • Marian Year Pilgrimage to our Chapel for the Religious Brothers and Sisters of our Archdiocese on the 16th July 1998.

  • The Opening of the 4th Centenary of the Death of St. John of the Cross on the 14th December 1990 with a concelebrated Mass on 14th December 1991 again with the Archbishop Vendargon as main Celebrant.

  • St. Therese of the Child Jesus known as St. Therese of Lisieux of the Little Flower, died on 30th September 1897. We began the celebration of the Centenary of her death on 1st October 1996 with a concelebrated Mass with our Archbishop Soter Fernandez and Archbishop Vendergon as the main celebrants. In order to honour her and to make her teachings known, the community decided to invite various Church Groups once a month to spend an evening with her at our Carmelite Monastery. The Program for the evenings began with a talk by priests who were invited to speak on one of her teachings. This was followed by 2 videos; one on the life of St. Therese and the other, the life of our Carmelite Nuns in Mantin. After a short break, Mass was celebrated and all present were treated to light refreshments before we bade them "Sayonara". The groups invited were the Orang Asli, Seminarians, Youth, Marriage Encounter, Legionaries, Language groups, Charismatic groups. The end of the Centenary year climaxed with a concelebrated Mass with Bishop Pakiam as main Celebrant and with Archbishop Vendargon and 8 Priests concelebrating. All the groups who had journeyed with us during the year were present with their symbols. It was truly beautiful Mass with great participation by all present. Many thanked us for having brought them closer to St. Therese.

  • Jubilee of Consecrated Life; Since we could not attend the celebrations in Montfort Boys Town in January, we invited the Religious of the Archdiocese to our Carmel on the 16th July 2000. All arrived at about 3:30pm and we had tea together in the parlour. At 4.00pm Brother Raj introduced the Forum; Witness of the Christ in the World: The Consecrated Life in view of the celebration of the Jubilee Year 2000 by our Father General, Camillo Maccisse ocd. At 5.00p.m. Mass was celebrated by Fr. Paul Chong O.F.M. Vespers followed, ending at 6.30pm. All then had dinner followed by an enjoyable sing-a-long recreation ending with a song composed for the occasion and St. Paul's Prayer for the Ephesians which the Carmelites sang for the Religious.

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