On June 9, 2014, Sr. Julie, Sr. Cyril and I attended the Ceremony of Simple Profession at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Middletown, NY. The Brothers who were professed were Brother JosephThinh Tran, O.Carm. and Brother Francis X. Hai Pham, O.Carm. from the Saint Elias Province; Father Cyril Farmer, O.Carm., Brother Kenneth Ketterlin, O.Carm., Brother Felipe Navarette-Diaz, O.Carm., from the Most Pure Heart of Mary Province; and last but certainly not least, Brother Matthew Tonini who was later to be professed in Melbourne, Australia on June 22nd. It was a true privilege and honor to be able to witness our brothers in Carmel pronounce their First Vows of Obedience, Poverty and Chastity to God according to the Rule and Constitutions of the Order of Carmelites. You could feel the joy and love that radiated from everyone who attended. These celebrations are constant reminders of our love for Christ and our fellowman. Standing in solidarity with our brothers in formation helps to inspire us to persevere in our growth in Carmel.
As luck would have it, Fr. Greg Houck, O. Carm. was in attendance as well. He and I have a long history together. It was under his teaching and guidance that I became an altar server prior to my entrance to Carmel, and later a Eucharistic minister, at my home parish of St. John the Evangelist in Leonia, NJ. He used to refer to me as a “career altar server” and it was with great delight that I was able to embrace him as a fellow Carmelite. I do remember him as being a bit taller and not having so much gray hair in his goatee! It truly is amazing how the Holy Spirit works. Who knew that 20 years down the line we would meet up again and that his influence on my spiritual growth would have made such an impact on my life? He is no longer just “Father Greg” but now he is my brother in Carmel.