The dream of a new Carmelite community in regional NSW is one big step closer to reality with the purchase underway of a property to house four Sisters in the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese.
The property is a modest five bedroom home on a 20-acre block located at Mathoura in the southern part of the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese.
The purchase price of $330,000 is well below the local organising committee’s original estimation of $850,000 to buy the land required for an enclosed monastery.
“Although the house is humble, it has a lovely character and the countryside surrounding it has a peaceful ambience,” says committee member Georgina Brazier.
“The Sisters are very well aware of the hardships facing the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese and in particular they are acutely aware of the drought and the consequences to the good people of the diocese, who are going without so many luxuries and even foregoing necessities just to keep themselves afloat,” she said.
“They will be entering the diocese in a spirit of sharing the pain and suffering that the people are enduring.”
Settlement on the property is expected by late November 2018 and it is hoped that the Sisters, Discalced Carmelites from communities in the US who use the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and Divine Office, will be able to arrive by Christmas.
Two of them are Australian; Sr Francis, originally from Canberra, and Mother Mariam Joseph, Georgina’s daughter, who is currently Acting Mother Superior at the Elysburg convent.
The organising committee is continuing to raise funds to support its purchase and various start-up costs with the goal of allowing the Sisters, who will be self-supporting, to have a suitable chapel and begin their foundation debt-free.
Wilcannia-Forbes Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green told The Catholic Weekly in April that he had been keen for a long time to get a contemplative order into the diocese, so long as they could be self-funding.
“The main reason we want them is that contemplative religious are the powerhouse of any diocese, in their prayer and their witness,” he said.
“They are the heart of the Church. Because ours is a rural and remote diocese, the nuns will be a great source of consolation for clergy and our people.
“The second thing is that we’ve had the tradition of the Carmelites here at Parkes, which ended when they joined the community at Dulwich Hill to form the monastery at Varroville in the late 1980s.
“I’m really looking forward to the possibly of having a Carmelite powerhouse in my diocese again.”
Members of the order lead a simple life of prayer and work largely free of modern conveniences, comforts, and technology.
For more information including how to donate see carmeljmj.org.au