Apia Carmel, Western Samoa
Welcome to the Carmel of St Joseph, Apia, Samoa
Our Carmelite Monastery is located in Apia, Samoa which is in the heart of the South Pacific Islands. Samoa is close to the Dateline Grind and its closest neighbor is Tonga. The population is about 250,000. The climate is mainly tropical. The people speak in their mother tongue, Samoan as well as English. The people live a simple life with Religion, Family and Cultural Traditions holding a very important part in Samoa.
The history of Our Carmel goes back to 1959 when on 15th April, seven Carmelite Sisters from the Carmel of Christ the King, Christchurch, arrived in Samoa to establish the Carmel in the vicariate of Samoa and Tokelau in response to the request of Bishop George H. Pearce S.M. These great Foundresses were: Mother Anne of Jesus (Rae, from Australia, Prioress), Sr Marguerite (McClintock from N.Z., Sub-prioress), Sr Agnes of Jesus (Rae, from Australia), Sr Mary Madeleine of Jesus (Creighton - from N.Z.), Sr Mary of the Holy Spirit (Mulcare, from N.Z.), Sr Mary of St John of the Cross (McEntyre, from N.Z.), Sr Mary Joseph of the Child Jesus (Perkins, from N.Z.). Our dear foundresses worked hard in planting the seed of Our Holy Mother’s spirit in our Carmel in the Pacific giving witness to a life of solitude and prayer and the supremacy of God before all things.
We work hard to support ourselves by baking and cutting Altar Bread, sewing and painting Vestments, Altar Linen & Albs as well as mending and painting statues and other works like painting banners and painting Paschal Candles. Our Samoan people are generous by nature and they always give us monetary donations and other goods.
We follow a very tight horarium waking up at 4.30 a.m. and retiring at 10.30 p.m. filling a whole day between prayer and work. Our mission and apostolate in the Church as you know is a life of contemplative prayer and sacrifice for the needs of the Church and for the salvation of souls. We ring the bell seven times a day to gather the Sisters to recite the Prayer of the Church, the Divine Office and two hours of mental prayer – one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. We treasure an hour of Spiritual Reading every day. We also enjoy two hours of recreation each day – one hour after lunch and one hour after dinner.
Our Sisters in formation have six years and three months in the process. When a young person hears the call, she comes to visit or writes to the Prioress and we learn a lot about the young person from her frequent visits or how often she writes her letters and showing eagerness to follow her call. When all the requirements of the Constitutions are met then we set a date for her entrance to come and see the life as an observer. After two or three months she will go back home to make up her mind and reapply. If we agree with her suitability and if the candidate wishes to continue her vocation we accept her request but if we see that she is not suitable for our life then we do not accept the request. If she is accepted then we set a date for her re-entrance allowing enough time to be with her family and collect all the required documents like Birth Cert., Baptism Cert.and Confirmation Cert., her references from work, the last school she attended and from the Parish Priest. Any other School Certificates we are happy to include in her documents not forgetting her medical certificate. We need strong subjects to endure the solitary life.
When the candidate re-enters she now starts her postulancy which lasts twelve months at the end of which she will receive the Habit of the Order and begins her Novitiate. The Novititate lasts two years, the first year being the canonical year. During the Novitiate the young Sisters learns to follow Christ in the Scriptures, Carmelite Spirituality, Church & Carmelite History, Catechism, Liturgy, Human & Spiritual Development etc. At the end of the two years Novitiate if she still perseveres in her desire to follow her Carmelite Vocation and the Community agrees with her suitability then she will make her Profession of Temporary Vows during which period she will interiorize what she had learned in the Novitiate. Our Sisters make their Temporary Vows for one year and be renewed annually if all goes well. The last renewal being her Final Profession offering her life completely to God in our Carmelite Life for the rest of her life.
Our Community is a multi-cultural community. We have one Sister from New Zealand, one of the pioneers, Sr Mary of St John of the Cross, one Sister from Australia, one Sister from New Caledonia, one Sister from Wallis, three Sisters from Tonga, fourteen Samoan Sisters – including our Sisters who are helping overseas who will all be returning next year please God. We still try to preserve the spirit and the Carmelite charism that our dear Mother Anne and dear foundresses had implanted in our Carmel. The other founding Sister Sr Mary of the Holy Spirit is transferred permanently to Varroville Carmel.
In 2003 one of our foundresses Mother Mary Joseph of the Child Jesus led a band of six Sisters to establish a new Foundation in Wallis & Futuna, another island of the Pacific. In July 2006 they had the joy of the Blessing of their Monastery of St Therese and are now canonically erected. Mother Mary Joseph was their first elected Prioress and they are doing very well. Their number now is going up to eleven. In the near future we are going for another foundation in Tonga in response to the request of Bishop Soane Foliaki S.M. now retired but his responsibilities have been taken up by his successor, the Most Rev. Bishop Soane Patita Mafi who is most supportive of the new Foundation. We thank God for the many graces and blessings of this foundation starting of course from our grandmother Carmel in Sydney, Australia, now Varroville Carmel. We are looking forward to celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the Samoan Carmel on 15th April, 2009; although the Jubilee starts this year.
Tel: +685 21 731
Email: Prioress, Apia