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Catholic Vancouver Sep 21, 2017

Carmelites open new Stations of the Cross trail

By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Father Charles Serrao, OCD, blesses the first station on the trail behind Little Flower Monastery in Deroche. (Photos by Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

DEROCHE, B.C.—Carmelite priests living east of Mission are hoping their new Stations of the Cross trail is deepening the faith of pilgrims and retreatants visiting their monastery.

“It’s a popular devotion,” said Father Rudolph D’Souza, OCD, the regional superior. “Since we started this whole journey of installing the Stations of the Cross, people have been inquiring and visiting and they are very happy to have this facility, to come to a place of prayer.”

Fourteen stations depicting Jesus’ passion and death have been placed along a steep trail leading up the mountain behind the discalced Carmelites' Little Flower Monastery in Deroche. The installation took about 10 months and $750,000 to complete.

“We thank the Lord for all the blessings he has showered upon us,” said Father D’Souza before cutting the ribbon officially opening the Stations of the Cross trail Sept. 18.

Eva Maria Richter, a secular Carmelite, has already climbed up the steep trail to pray.

“It’s the real thing. It’s so inspiring. You meet Jesus on the way, up to the tomb,” she said.

“I didn't realize it was such a big hill. It was very steep. When you are up, you have the view over all the regions, which I have never seen. It’s very beautiful.”

The first station depicts Pilate condemning Jesus.
Trail behind the monastery.

The monastery only opened two years ago and has already become a popular destination for pilgrims and retreatants, said Father D’Souza. The monastery is already booked up for 2018 and there are requests for 2019 and 2020 coming in.

Going to Carmel Hill “is a wonderful experience that adds to their own spirituality and enriches them and strengthens their bond with Christ and the Church,” Father D’Souza said. He believes the Stations of the Cross will enhance that experience.

The major installation was helped along with a generous sum from the same donors who chipped in to help build the monastery itself: Helen Tiampo and her family.

Father Rudolph D'Souza, OCD, cuts a ribbon to officially open the Stations of the Cross.

Father D’Souza said he’s hoping the Stations of the Cross trail, retreats, and other happenings at the monastery will bring about miracles in the lives of those who use them.

“We don’t require healing of people and coming down of water and fire,” he said. “What we need is the transformation of people to become better people and spread Carmelite spirituality and Christian spirituality.”

On the same day, two secular Carmelites made their first vows during a special Mass in the monastery chapel: Jessie Wong and Virginia Conoon. Another hopeful secular Carmelite, Luc Bengono, was welcomed into the community.

Religious and secular Carmelites smile at Little Flower Monastery Sept. 18.