In October this year, the Church will once again commemorate two great figures of the Carmelite life, both of whom have been named as Doctors of the Church. On the 15th of the month Saint Teresa of Avila, the foundress of order of the Discalced Carmelites will be remembered and on 1 October Saint Therese of Lisieux, who was only 24 when she died, but whose „Little Way“ to this day inspires countless thousands of people all over the world to live in complete and loving trust in God.
The Discalced Carmelite sisters live in strict enclosure and pursue a life of contemplation and prayer. „I want to be love in the heart of the Church“, wrote Saint Therese of Lisieux, describing her chosen vocation. Although she never again left her convent, which she had entered at the age of just 15, she has been declared Patroness of the Missions, since prayer such as she practised embraces the whole world and is not bound by time or place.
Since the political changes in the former Soviet Union there has once again been a Carmel in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. At the earliest possible opportunity, in 1991, Carmelite sisters from two Polish convents came to Kiev in order to help by their prayer and presence in the spiritual reconstruction of post-communist society there. Initially they lived in very cramped conditions in quarters adjoining the Holy Cross church. At the time this was the only Catholic church in Kiev that still functioned as a place of religious worship. The other two Catholic churches had been confiscated and turned into a museum of atheism and an organ museum. But eventually, in 1994-96 the sisters were at last able to move to a suburb of Kiev, to the site of a former state farm, and build a new convent in the midst of the fields and orchards there.\
Today there are eight Carmelites living there. They pray a great deal, above all for peace in the world, but also for the many personal needs that are entrusted to them by others. For many people turn to the sisters, asking them to include in their prayers family members who are sick or living in difficult or unhappy situations.
One of the major challenges facing the sisters is supporting themselves through their work. For although they bake hosts, fashion wax crib figures and sew liturgical vestments and other items, and although they grow fruit and vegetable for their own consumption – and live very modestly as well – it is still not enough to cover their living costs. And even the annual collection in the immediate area brings in little enough, for the faithful are very poor themselves and prices are rising as the economic situation in Ukraine visibly worsens.
ACN is also supporting these sisters – who once a month have a special Mass celebrated for all our benefactors and who include you all in their prayers – and this year we are doing so again, having promised them a contribution of 4000 Euros towards their living costs.