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The Carmelite Order traces its origin to a group of hermits who lived on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land at the beginning of the thirteenth century. These hermits grouped themselves around a little Chapel which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary whom they honoured as their Queen and Mother. They were soon known as the Brothers of St. Mary of Mount Carmel.
Mount Carmel was sacred to the memory of Elijah the Prophet and when the hermits began to inhabit the caves of Mount Carmel, they turned to the great Prophet Elijah for their inspiration and ideal: They adopted as their motto his two exclamations: "The Lord God is living in whose sight I stand" and "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts."
In 1238, due to problems, the community of hermits returned to Europe. Once their Rule had been approved by the Pope, the Carmelite Order grew with great rapidity in Europe. In 1452 Blessed John Soreth, who was then Prior General of the Carmelites, incorporated the enclosed nuns and secular members into the Order.During the late Middle Ages, the Church including the religious orders , was in decline and the Carmelites too suffered from plague, lack of numbers and the general malaise of the age.
All this was to change with the Catholic Reformation and the Council of Trent. God raised up two great reformers for the Order in St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. St. Teresa began the reform of Carmel by opening a new convent, St. Joseph's, in Avila in 1562 and in 1568 St. John of the Cross began the reform of the friars. Their aim was to search for greater intimacy with God through prayer and a burning zeal for the unity of the Church recently divided by the Reformation.
After many initial hardships and struggles the Reformed Carmel became an Order in its own right, spreading all over Europe and beyond to the Middle East, India and South America. This missionary zeal was added to the initial seeking after union with God and zeal for the Church.
Our Lady of Carmel, Stella Maris
Further Expansion of the Discalced Carmelite Order in the East 19th - 20th Century
The Carmel of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in LISIEUX, France, founded the first Carmel in the Far East, in Saigon, Vietnam in 1861. Carmels were founded successively in Shanghai, China, in 1869; in Mangalore, India, in 1879; in Sydney, Australia in 1885; in Iloilo, Philippines in 1923; Hong Kong in 1931; Macao in 1941; and Taiwan in 1954.
Pope Pius XI published his encyclical "Rerum Ecclesiae" which underscored the importance of the contemplative life for the Mission apostolate in 1926, and in the following year, named St. Therese of the Child Jesus, a contemplative nun, the Co-Patroness of the foreign missions. These two events gave further impetus to the foundation of these contemplative monasteries in the mission territories. A series of monasteries were established in Asia, Africa, and Oceania, so that by the time of Vatican II in 1962, there were more than 70 Monasteries in these three areas of the world.
Moreover, Vatican II in its document on the Church's Missionary Activity encouraged the establishment of Contemplative Monasteries: "The contemplative life should be restored everywhere, because it belongs to the fullness of the Church's presence." (Ad Gentes no.18). Hence there had been a continuous expansion of the Order throughout the world since Vatican II.
When did the Carmelites come to Mantin, in our Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur?
This Carmel, inaugurated in Mantin on 17th October 1982, traces its roots to the Carmel of Lisieux where St. Therese lived.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia 1919
Bangkok, Thailand 1925
17th October 1982
20th July 2007
Relocated to Seremban on the 20th July, 2007