From April 16 to 20, the German Province OCD met at the retreat house Birkenwerder for their annual ongoing formation week. As it has become an appreciated tradition by now, this yearly event is dedicated to fraternal encounters and the presentation and discussion of a topic relevant to Carmelite religious life. For some years already, it has proved a good practice to invite to this week not only the members of the Province but also members of the other Provinces working in Germany and of the different branches of the Teresian Carmel. Thus, this year nine members of the German OCDS communities, three Carmelite sisters and eight friars belonging to the Malabar Province took part in the week together with sixteen participants (15 friars and a postulant) from the German Province. Moreover, since Fr. Łukasz Kansy’s Pastoral Visitation of the German Province was scheduled for April 2 to 20, the last phase of his tour coincided with this provincial event so that he could also be present at some meetings, at the Eucharistic celebrations, the community prayers and the meals. On April 20, he presided at the Eucharist that closed the week before meeting with the members of the German Province in order to present his visitation report and have a final exchange with the confrères he had visited.
To prepare this year’s formation week, the Provincial Council had chosen “Heimat und Heimatlosigkeit” as the guiding topic. To render these very German terms in English, one might suggest for “Heimat”: being and feeling at home/rootedness/sense of belonging; and for “Heimatlosigkeit”: inner homelessness/ rootlessness/being/feeling a stranger. Fr. Michael Jakel OCD had been entrusted with the task to give the talks that provided the input for the week. He first unfolded the subject in general terms and went on to apply it to the biographic and spiritual itineraries of Thérèse of Lisieux, her parents Louis and Zélie Martin and her sister Léonie. Drawing on his profound knowledge of the historical and spiritual implications concerning the Martin family, he shared with the participants the rich contribution this family has made to the heritage of the Church and invited them to reflect on where and how they personally experience “Heimat” and “Heimatlosigkeit” and deal with it in the concrete circumstances of their lives.