On 15th September 2016 the Prior General of the Carmelite Order (the most senior member of the 800-year-old Roman Catholic religious order) made the trip from Rome to Faversham
in Kent to launch a new book by fellow Carmelite friar Father Wilfrid McGreal.
The book - entitled A Stumbling Pilgrim Guided by Indirections
- is a biography of Father Malachy Lynch (1899-1972), the remarkable Carmelite friar from Ireland who re-established the Order's presence at Aylesford Priory
in Kent. Known locally as "The Friars", the Carmelites returned to Aylesford Priory in 1949, and under Malachy's leadership it grew to become a Christian shrine that now attracts a quarter of a million pilgrims and visitors every year.
Fr. Wilfrid (left) being introduced by fellow Carmelite friar Fr. Joseph Chalmers.
Fr. Joseph welcoming people to the book launch.
Addressing almost 100 people at the Carmelite friary site on Tanners Street in Faversham, the Prior General, Most Reverend Father Fernando Millán Romeral, said that he was delighted to be present at the launch because of three causes for celebration.
Fr. Fernando paying tribute to the new book and its author.
Firstly, Fr. Fernando said, he wanted to celebrate the life and work of Fr. Wilfrid. Wilfrid has served in many different roles in his nearly 60 years as a Carmelite friar and Catholic priest, including as Prior Provincial
(senior brother of the Order in Britain) and as Prior of the Carmelite communities in both Aylesford and Faversham. The Prior General said that it was a fitting tribute to Wilfrid that so many people had come to celebrate the launch of his book, including colleagues from his work in broadcasting. The presence of Christians from various different churches bore testimony to Wilfrid's role as a leading figure in the cause of Christian Unity in Kent.
Fr. Wilfrid and Fr. Fernando at the book launch.
Secondly, the Prior General wanted to celebrate the launch of the book itself, which highlights the contribution that Malachy Lynch made to Church and Society as a priest in Kent, in Wales, and in his native Ireland. Malachy was one of three brothers who became Carmelite friars, and all of them were significant figures in the Order. The eldest of the three, Elias Lynch, established the National Shrine of Saint Jude
alongside the Catholic Church in Faversham, and was the subject of a previous biography penned by Fr. Wilfrid, entitled Friar Beyond the Pale
Fr. Fernando spoke of the 800-year-old Carmelite Order having
both a history and a story worth sharing with the wider world.
Thirdly, the Prior General said that he wanted to celebrate the contribution that the British Province of Carmelites
has made to the life, culture, and spirituality of the Order worldwide.
Fr. Wilfrid being presented with a specially-prepared hardback edition of his book.
Father Wilfrid then spoke about his motivation in writing the book, which he accomplished despite being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the course of it. Wilfrid described Malachy Lynch as a much-loved and revered Carmelite priest who had the heart and soul of a poet and mystic. Wilfrid said that Malachy's personality came across both in the personal reminiscence
s of those whose lives he had touched, and from perusing the newsletters which Malachy sent out to thousands of supporters of Aylesford Priory in the 1950s and 60s.
Fr. Wilfrid spoke of Fr. Malachy with warmth and affection.
The book, which is lavishly illustrated, is published by Saint Albert's Press
in Faversham, and retails at £9.95 (plus postage and packing).
Attendees purchasing copies of 'A Stumbling Pilgrim'.
Fr. Wilfrid signing copies of his new book. He has written a number of books on prayer, counselling, and the spirituality of the Carmelites.
Among those wanting Fr. Wilfrid to sign their copy of the biography was the nephew of Fr. Malachy who had made the trip to Faversham specially from Ireland.