CASTILLEJOS, Zambales, Apr. 10, 2016 – The Carmelite nuns of Zambales have finally settled down in their new home on top of a hill in Barangay Looc, Castillejos town.
It was “Ascent of Mount Carmel” made physically real as visitors climbed their way up the monastery overlooking the Zambales mountains.
“On behalf of my community, the Carmel of the Holy Spirit of Looc, Castillejos, Zambales, and the whole Carmelite order, we thank God for His mercy, and love,” said Prioress Marianne Binarao, OCD, in her speech.
According to her, their new monastery is a “concrete expression of thanksgiving to the greatest gift of all,” Jesus Christ risen, the Eucharist.
“We will continue to speak about Jesus Christ, to praise Him, thank Him, and worship Him. It was He whom we have heard, seen, and touched,” added the Bicolana Carmelite.
Binarao also expressed gratitude to David and Fredesvinda Consunji and family, especially Victor who donated the land and the building.
Designed by Architect Susana S. Castillo, the monastery and chapel were solemnly blessed and dedicated Saturday, April 9, by no less than Cáceres Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona.
The Carmelite prelate also presided over the first public Mass in the monastery chapel, with Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro C. Bacani, San Fernando Archbishop Emeritus Paciano B. Aniceto, Iba Diocesan Administrator Fr. Daniel O. Presto, and members of the local clergy concelebrating.
Founded by Mother Mary Natividad of the Holy Spirit, OCD of Manila Carmel, the small community of the Discalced Carmelites of the Holy Spirit transferred from their original compound in Mangan-Vaca, Subic.
They had occupied the site since Nov. 19, 1976 upon the request of the Henry Byrne, MSSC, first Bishop of Iba.
But over the years, persistent flooding rendered the old monastery less conducive to the monastic life of prayer and silence, prompting the nuns to make the eventual move to their present hilltop location.
The Congregation for Institute of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, following the recommendation of then Iba Bishop, now San Fernando Archbishop, Florentino G. Lavarias and the Discalced Carmelite Order (OCD) on Feb. 6, 2014 gave the go signal for the transfer to the current site. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)