Welcome to Sadbhavana : Carmelite Provincialate



Carmelites exist in the Church as witnesses and teachers of authentic spiritual life. Holiness is the effect of God’s encounter in human life. It is what happens to you when God meets you. This was the self-awareness of those who founded and lived through the charism of Carmel down the times. It is this heritage that the Carmelite Order has the mandate to transmit to the universal church and the humanity. It is from this imperative that the Carmelites have reached out to others and others have sought after the Carmelite mystics and saints as guides on their spiritual journey.

A Glimpse into the Distant Past:
The roots of Carmel are to be traced in the life and spirit of Prophet Elijah who experienced the power of the living God on Mount Carmel and then his burning zeal for Him on Mount Horeb. The primitive rule given to our forefathers by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Albert the Great, is the concretely laid blueprint of our charism. Then our Holy Parents, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, enhanced that charism through their masterly writings and have left behind an enriching legacy of prayer though their invaluable life experiences. No matter to what spiritual tradition one may ascribe oneself to, the spiritual criteria established by St. John of the Cross AND St. Teresa of Avila as well as by St. Therese of Lissieux remain fundamental to every authentic spiritual ascent.

Given these short details on Carmel, we focus our attention on the spiritual apostolate of the members of Karnataka-Goa-Maharashtra Province founded in 1981. The province has ever been conscious with the roots that remind us of our great contemplative tradition, and conscientious in making the spiritual wealth savored and relished by the hungry millions.

The Early Days:
Ever since the Order was re-established in the western region of India in 1938 our communities have been known and accepted in the localities as houses of prayer that provoked in the faithful a desire for spiritual life. They keep frequenting our communities for sacramental confession as well as spiritual and moral counselling even to this day.

When in 1981 the unit was declared independent in administration from the Kerala Latin Province known as Munjummel Province, we had just three houses: one at Margao, another at Mangalore and the third one at Mysore. At the very inception, our Province, our founder fathers thought it fit and expedient to hold on, review, and deepen the charism of Carmel through prayer and contemplation. By then, all these three houses were sources and centres of prayer and God Experience, and were radiating abundantly the Carmelite contemplative spirit among people around. Moreover, in the given and limited area of our apostolate of spirituality the members of our province were breathing the spirit of prayer in their spiritual ministry, through preaching retreats in the parishes as well as in religious communities, giving teaching on spiritual matters at higher levels and being chaplains to various convents and offering selfless service to parishes around. To be an example of prayer and contemplation was the primary concern of our fathers, who showed tremendous zeal in proclaiming our Charism as if with twice the spirit of Prophet Elijah.

Life Witness Comes First & Counts Most
No doubt such a fidelity to the charism of prayer starts at home and our province members were deeply committed to the practice of what we call the daily “two hours” of mental prayer, strongly recommended by Holy Mother St. Teresa of Avila. Even as the number of vocations increased, and the members had the extra responsibility of preparing the budding Carmelites a conducive atmosphere for their prayer and formation, they were conscious of this witness value of being persons of prayer before we go out to teach others. No doubt the priority was to build structures that could accommodate the growing number of vocations to Carmel. The first of major formation houses was constructed in Mangalore in the year 1984, as the official formation house for all the major seminarians. In the early stages of formation our seminarians were given the thrust of prayer through inputs and personal examples of our fathers. Simultaneously formation houses were set op in Mysore, Madanthyar (for Pre-university Students) and prayer was given top priority in these houses. The practice of prayer without basic amenities required great sacrifices and spiritual maturity, self-discipline, silent atmosphere, training, teaching and finally a lot of good will.

Our members were greatly empowered with the spirit of creativity combined with prayer. They knew that prayer couldn’t lead to stagnancy of thought and action. We notice a lot of creativity in the life of our Holy parents even. The type of life they lived in their own monasteries accommodating them to the need of the time was an example to this creativity. Their humor, their words, their very concrete life examples are the real vibrations of this creativity. Any casual visitor of our houses one will find that spiritual liveliness, creativity, joy, humor and the abundance of life in every member of our province.

When we look at our province today we find also the spirit of Flexibility. The members are flexible enough with the vocations that sprouted in all the regions. The members knew to live anywhere in any circumstance with the spirit of our Holy parents. Real praying person can never be rigid in life. Flexibility does not mean pleasing all. It means adjust-ability. Prayer brings out our hidden abilities. Responsibility means that we build within us an ability to respond to the need and circumstance.

In 2000 as a mark of renewal within the province in the Holy Year, a special prayer house dedicated to our lady of Mt. Carmel was opened at Koteshwar, near Kundapur as a spiritual animation center for the members of the province wanting to spend times in silence and prayer.

Humble Beginnings:
All great things start from insignificant efforts in the remote past as great oaks start from tiny seeds. In the life of our province too there were innumerable types of circumstances and situations that required ability to decide and take responsibility. We needed to respond to the requirement of the situation, for example, the slow and steady growth of the Shrine at Mangalore; the formation house at Mysore; Novitiate at Kushalnagar, the recently built new Shrine at Mysore, the different types of spiritual apostolate at Margao, Xellim. Bellary – Hoovina Hadagalli, the spiritual initiatives at Sadbhavana and Geddalahalli through spiritual counseling, preaching, conducting retreats, directed retreats, service offered to people at Mira Road – St. Joseph Church.

In these ways we reach out to be the taste giving salt to the dry earth of human strivings and enlivening ferment to the society where ambition and achievement syndrome leads to easy desperation and self-annihilation.

The Bold New Initiatives:

  1. Dhyanavana, International Spirituality Centre – Mysore
    Dhyanavana is an international Institute of Spirituality affiliated to the Pontifical Institute of Spirituality, Teresianum in Rome. Instituted in the 1993, it was the first major venture of our province for a qualified spiritual apostolate in India. Since 1997 it offers a diploma course in Christian Spirituality lasting from July to March, recognized in all catholic faculties world over. The teaching staff is chosen from among the best in qualification, pedagogy and probity. Co-curricular activities complete the experiential side of the formative programme so that the participants are challenged and empowered to live their faith in Christ Jesus with greater radicality of personal commitment and generosity in service. It is situated in an esthetically well-planned environment in the vicinity of the Carmelite shrine of Infant Jesus at Mysore, very much conducive to personal prayer and growth. It has been also offering other short programme in spirituality like research seminars on spirituality, prayer seminar, retreats, community animation and leadership seminars etc. Through out the year it accepts smaller groups for short duration courses or retreats. In these few years of existence it has been a home to at least 2000 persons for their spiritual healing and growth.

  2. Dhyana Sadhana, Holistic Centre of Spirituality – Mysore
    Dhyana Sadhana ‘vehicle to interiority’ is an autonomous institute that offers many shorter duration spirituality courses. It is the twin institute of Dhyanavana and in collaboration with it offers a certificate course in spirituality that begins in October and lasts till March. It also is located in an idyllic environment of palms and greenery, at Bogadi on the South Eastern side of Mysore. It was instituted in 2004 in response to the growing demand for such a programme. Ever since has been made use of by various groups, including priests and cloistered nuns for short-term courses on spiritual renewal as well as many annual retreats.

  3. Anubhav, Spirituality & Inter-faith Dialogue Centre – Mumbai
    This institute is established at Mira Road in the outskirts of Mumbai within the archdiocese of Mumbai, taking into account the needs of the Church in North India and particularly in Mumbai archdiocese. It was inaugurated on December 6, 2004 The Mumbai diocese owes much to the Carmelite Prelates who established the diocese and served it from 1720 until 1846. Now the Carmelites want to offer to this cosmopolitan mega-city that epitomizes the modern Indian situation of dichotomies of life styles, religions and cultures. As the Church in North western India is still involved markedly in evangelization and collaboration with persons of other faiths it was thought important to be able to reach out to church personnel involved in these challenging situations and offer them a qualified spiritual ministry that responds to their social situation and spiritual needs. As the diocese of Mumbai has a sizable lay catholic population too, it was necessary to open our doors for their spiritual growth as well, through short-term courses.

  4. Ryshivana, Centre for Indian Christian Spirituality – Ranipura, Mangalore
    Ryshivana, is an institute of higher learning in spirituality, situated of Mangalore city on the banks of River Nethravathy with an exotic panorama that invites one to peace and interiority. Indian Church is at cross roads to invent a language to speak to the Indian mind, especially after the advent of Hindutva forces on the national scene who dogmatize the rich Hindu scriptures, age old meditation aids and holistic health formulae. The Church cannot sy away from offering a platform for a mature, respecuful and existential dialogue on such matters to arrive at mutual respect and better understanding. And so the Carmelite order is on the forefront of such a impetus. This institute will also offer short-term courses for Church personnel and religious to back up the formation they have received with an opportunity for experiential as well as academic revival.

  5. Dhyanashram, Retreat Centre – Rajodi, Vasai
    Is a center for prayer and spiritual revival situated Rajodi village in the diocese of Vasai, Maharashtra. The purpose of instituting this center has been to offer hospitality to various groups of laity, clergy or religious who would need to escape from the hustle bustle of noisy metropolis to be able to spend time in spiritual healing and renewal. This institute has been much sought after by various parish associations in Mumbai even as the location of the center is very close to the Arabian Sea and offers very salubrious climate and refreshing breeze throughout

  6. Sadbhavana, Socio – Spiritual Animation Centre – Bangalore
    Sadbhavana, though a section of which is used to house the central administration of the Province, was intended to be, and often has been serving as a easily accessible locus for retreats and seminars in heart of the city of Bangalore. Even CBCI has conducted annual programme on social media of communications, and so many religious have benefited from this institute for courses on financial administration, Chapters and courses.

  7. Carmelite Monastery cum Retreat Centre – Margao
    This community of ours in Goa, which served as a novitiate to train the young friars for many years has been a desired place for retreats for the clergy and the religious in small groups or as individuals. The structure is quite monastic in outlook evoking a sense of prayer and silence. The recent modification and furnishing of the edifice will make this place a true oasis of grace and interiority for the church in Goa.

  8. Carmelite Retreat Centre – Xellim, Goa
    This institution situated near Polem Beach in very rural context of southern Goa, has attracted youth from urban centers in Goa in search of silence and prayer. Being surrounded by forest, it offers a lot of space to breath in healthiest air and thus refreshes mind, body and soul.

  9. Carmel Retreat Centre – Benoni – Johannesburg, South Africa
    The Church in South Africa is in spiritual ferment ever since the country moved away from apartheid. The need of the hour was to offer the church the possibility inner healing and opportunity to deepen Christian faith-experience. Keeping this in mind, and with the active collaboration of the cloistered nuns of Benoni we are prophetically responding to this need of the church in South Africa since 2003. This center is well known through out South Africa and many important church conventions are held there.
    Thus these institutions have enabled us to streamline the spiritual ministry in such a way as to be accessible to any one who needs. For the person who is able to encounter God in the intimacy of his heart really manifests integral growth and immense capacity to love and forgive. He will never remain stagnant.

    Karnataka-Goa-Maharashtra province has shown remarkable resilience and ability to respond effectively to the spiritual needs of the western region of India as well as in Africa. The Carmelite Mission in Tanzania too has its own structures for the qualified ministry of the spiritual life. Write up on those initiatives will be found in the specific article that deals on the Tanzanian Mission comprehensively.

    These initiatives are the outpouring of our own process of spiritual growth and change over years, not just a need to be useful. May the Lord who calls each soul to the deepest communion with him and offers the humanity of the fullness of life may lead us all to that perfect communion with Him and every human being in the world, especially those who need peace, joy and meaning of life most amidst the challenges and struggles of modern day living.



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