Powerhouse of prayer in the Archdiocese celebrates 70th anniversary

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Home > Media > News > Powerhouse of prayer in the Archdiocese celebrates 70th anniversary
Powerhouse of prayer in the Archdiocese celebrates 70th anniversary

The arrival of the Carmelite community in Tasmania 70 years ago was ‘a day of first rate importance in the Catholic Church in Tasmania’, according to the Catholic Standard of the time.

The Standard reflected in an editorial on June 24, 1948, that: “Catholics generally feel that there is something special about the Carmelites.”

“The presence of a Carmel in Tasmania will mean that a constant stream of fervent prayer will go up to God for all of us …”

Six sisters, with Mother M. Teresa as Prioress, arrived in Launceston from Adelaide on June 15, 1948, and went on to the former Presentation Convent at Longford.

Among the original sisters was a young novice aged 19. Now, 89, Sr Mary of the Holy Ghost is the oldest member of the Carmel community, still active, and a source of constant inspiration.

The current Prioress of the Carmelite Monastery, Mother Teresa Benedicta of the Cross OCD, explained that after establishing in Longford, the monastery moved to West Launceston in 1975, to be nearer to the priests and people.

While 70 years have passed, many aspects of daily life have remained constant. The community of nine Sisters, seven of them aged 50 or younger, still live a simple life in strict papal enclosure, featuring prayer (daily Mass, the Divine Office chanted in Choir seven times a day, two hours of silent prayer daily), spiritual readings, silence and solitude, community life and work.

“Life at Longford was more rural as the community had a farm,” Mother Teresa Benedicta said.

“We use a combination of English and Latin in the liturgy now and a few minor customs were revised following Vatican II, but really the most striking thing is that our life is the same now as it was then in all the essential elements.”
The monastery provides an oasis of prayer for the people of Tasmania, Mother Teresa Benedicta said.

“I hope that the presence of Carmel in Tasmania has helped to give people a deeper sense of the power of prayer and intercession through the knowledge that they are held constantly before the Lord by the Sisters in all their needs and that they are supported by this prayer as they seek to do the Lord’s will in their own lives of faith.

“I hope also the monastery both at Longford originally and now here in Launceston provides an oasis of prayer, silence and peace in the midst of the busyness of modern life; a place where people can come to find space and time for God in their lives more easily and to know His presence and love more deeply.”

Mother Teresa Benedicta’s hopes for the future are simple.
“I would hope that our Carmel will continue to be a powerhouse of prayer for the Archdiocese for many years to come and that a new generation of Catholics will come to know and love Carmel and so grow in their own love for prayer, too,” she said.

“I also hope that we will continue to be blessed with many new vocations, especially some young women from Tasmania to join us in offering their lives to the Lord for the sake of the Church in this beautiful state. I hope that all who do enter now and in the future will find deep peace and joy while growing in intimacy with God so they can be His instruments for the Church and the world.

“We will continue to support our Archbishop, priests and people, offering the sacrifice of praise each day with fidelity and love.”

Archbishop Julian celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Carmelite Monastery on June 9 to mark the anniversary, along with Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ from Port Pirie, and several concelebrants, including Fr Paul Maunder OCD representing the Carmelite Order, Fr Anthony Walsh OP, Provincial of the Dominicans in Australia, and Fr Pius Mary Noonan OSB, Prior of Notre Dame Priory, Rhyndaston; as well as Tasmanian priests.

Photo: Rod Le Lievre