Monday, November 19, 2012



Carmelite Way pilgrimage

Tuesday 20 November 2012

By Irene Hayes
LED by Fr Denis Andrew O Carm, Prior Provincial of the Carmelites of Australia and East Timor, a group of 29 people participated in the Annual 43km pilgrimage in the beautiful Yarra Valley. The pilgrimage took place over three days and is the third Pilgrimage organized by The Carmelite Centre Melbourne. This year pilgrims were joined by visiting Third Order Carmelite Johan Bergström-Allen, Projects & Publications Office Director of the British Province of Carmelites. Johan was delighted to join what he described as an ‘Antipodean-style’ pilgrimage.

After being commissioned in a special liturgy at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Middle Park on Sunday 4 November, the group left in two buses supplied by Whitefriars College Donvale and Bethlehem Community Inc, on Friday 9 November at 8am. The group travelled to Lilydale and walked to Mt Evelyn along the Warburton trail. As has become the custom, the pilgrims were joined at Mt Evelyn by Fr Ken Peterson and Sr Kathleen Murphy from the Sancta Sophia Mediation Community in Warburton. Here the pilgrims were welcomed to the Yarra Valley and shared prayer and reflection on finding God in the environment and using walking as a time for meditation and focus. The pilgrims were encouraged to remain open to how this experience may change them over the coming weeks and months as they continued to reflect on and absorb the pilgrimage experience.

After some light rain on the first day, the pilgrims were blessed with perfect weather for walking and enjoying the surrounds, with plenty of sunshine and an occasional cool breeze. This added to the tranquility of the experience.

The pilgrims were transported to and from walking tracks via bus from the accommodation at Pallotti College, Millgrove.

On the first evening Johan Bergström-Allen invited pilgrims to reflect on the Carmelite Rule of Saint Albert and its application for the spiritual journey today. Journey is a key metaphor in Carmelite Spirituality used by St Teresa of Avila (travelling through an Interior Castle) and St John of the Cross speaking about ascending Mount Carmel as a metaphor for the inner life. This theme of journey is significant for Carmelites who have been journeying since leaving Mount Carmel in the thirteenth century and establishing ‘Carmel’ as a space in the heart rather than a physical space.

The walk was broken into three sections with pilgrims walking 16km on the first day, 18km on the second and 9km on the third day taking in part of the O’Shannessy/Aqueduct trail.

The pilgrimage finished at the Sancta Sophia Meditation Community where Fr Denis was the main celebrant in a Mass thanking God for blessing the weekend. This was followed by a BBQ kindly provided by the Sancta Sophia community after which the pilgrims departed.

Feedback from participants indicates it was a special time of solidarity and contemplation that is difficult to find in the hectic pace of day to day living. Pilgrims also commented on the peacefulness of the stunning scenery and the support of being with like-minded people.

The Carmelite Centre Melbourne will have opportunities for other reflective experiences in 2013 and ‘The Carmelite Way’ Pilgrimage will be held again from 8-10 November 2013.

Please contact the Centre with your expression of interest: or

Photo by Johan Bergström-Allen


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