This last 22nd to the 25th of October, in Leavenworth (Kansas, U.S.A.) a commemoration of the arrival 150 years ago of the first German Carmelites (Cyril Knoll and Xavier Huber) in North America was celebrated. This was the first step in what would lead to the establishment of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary (PCM). The celebrations included a variety of events. The participants were welcomed by the Pastor of Leavenworth, Fr. David McEvoy, O.Carm. on the banks of the river Missouri, where the Prior Provincial, Fr. William Harry, O.Carm. blessed a commemorative plaque and the Mayor of the city delivered an address in which he thanked the Carmelites for the work they have done throughout these years. A carriage parade began from there, recalling the journey of the first Carmelites, and moved to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, where all were welcomed by the archbishop, Joseph F. Naumann who led the celebration of the Thanksgiving Eucharist.
On the 23rd, the participants travelled to Scipio (KS) where they were given a presentation of the history and presence of Carmel in America by the Priors General, Falco Thuis, O.Carm., (who was not able to be present on account of ill health, but sent a video recording of his address), Fr. Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm., and Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm., who led the solemn celebration of the Eucharist. In the small local cemetery, the participants held a very moving moment of prayer by the graves of Carmelites who have been buried there during these 150 years.
The programme included important talks by the theologian, Joseph Schmidt, FSC, on Carmelite Spirituality for the 21st century, and the well-known journalist, and CNN’s Vatican expert, John Allen, whose spoke about the challenges that Pope Frances has been presenting to the Church and to the Carmelite Order in our time. Along with all that there was a concert given by the famous choral group called the Chanticleer.
In addition to the Prior General, the celebration was attended also by the Prior Provincial and the members of the General Curia who belong to this province, (Frs. Raul Maravi and Carl Markelz), the bishop emeritus of Sicuani, (Peru) Michael LaFay, O.Carm., the Prior Provincial of the North American Province of St. Elias, Mario Esposito, O.Carm., Bro. Günter Benker and Fr. Tobias Kraus, of the German province representing the “mother province” in the absence of the Prior Provincial who was indisposed, along with numerous Carmelites from various parts, all of whom enjoyed this wonderful celebration.