Visit of the Provincial Superior to Benoni, South Africa
and blessing of the foundation stone for the proposed Retreat Centre

July 1st 2018 was a very special day for the Carmelites working in South Africa. As Provincial officially ended the Pastoral Visitation to South Africa, all five priests working in the land came together to celebrate the Eucharist and bless the foundation stone for Retreat Centre at Benoni.

The Superior of Benoni Community, Fr Arvin Tauro welcomed Provincial Rev. Fr Charles Serrao, the Cape Town friars Fr Marie Joseph and Fr Antony Stephen, and his two community members Fr John Cyrus D'Souza OCD and Fr Boniface D' Souza OCD, who came together to celebrate this occasion. Fr Arwin welcomed and thanked the architect and other benefactors who were present and all the members of the community who have worked enthusiastically and tirelessly for the parish.

Fr Charles briefly sketched the origin of the Carmelite Order and outlined the work and focus of the Order in Southern Africa and worldwide. 200 years ago the Catholic faith was introduced into Southern Africa and we also celebrate 20 years since the Carmelites first started working in South Africa. Fr Provincial praised the service of friars working in South Africa. At Benoni, since Virtual Parish status was granted some two years ago the parish has flourished and many groups have been formed to cater for the various needs and spiritual development of the community. The Springs of Carmel - Bible Diary for Southern Africa was also first published for the Southern African Dioceses 2018. All these developments are due to the great enthusiasm and commitment of the priests and community members from parishes they serve.

Fr Arvin took advantage of this visit to have Fr Charles bless the foundation stone for the envisaged Retreat Centre. The Fund Raising Committee members are very dedicated and innovative and have organized several successful events and programmes, raising a remarkable amount of funds in a relatively short space of time, so it is hoped that the envisaged Retreat Centre will take shape soon.

Parishioners and benefactors enjoyed refreshments after the blessing of the foundation stone and were able to meet with all the priests and to greet Fr Marie Joseph, who was here for many years and in now based in Cape Town. Fr Charles expressed his joy and satisfaction for the work of all the local friars and was happy to confirm that the local Bishops also valued their work and gave them added responsibilities for their dioceses.

Fr Charles met the members and aspiring secular (OCDS) members and outlined the focus of the Secular Order which is to develop a deeper spirituality and prayer life, becoming ever more intimate with God. He pointed to the holiness of Carmelite doctors and saints, seen in proportionately greater numbers than other Orders. Thereafter, the priests and OCDS participants enjoyed a tasty lunch together.

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