ORIGINS OF OUR MONASTERY
Our Carmel of the Child Jesus of Prague and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Goonellabah, was founded on 25th April 1966 from Dulwich Hill Carmel, Sydney.
Goonellabah, meaning red flame tree, is an Aboriginal name for an attractive tree that flourishes in our area. Once farmland, Goonellabah has developed into a residential area, while retaining the beautiful scenery provided by the lovely northern mountains. The northern view from Carmel is of the Night Cap Range, part of the Great Dividing Range. Our monastery church is part of Saint Carthage's Cathedral Parish, Lismore, and parishioners come here daily for Mass.
In 1966, the founding sisters travelled by train from Sydney to Casino, where they were welcomed by Father Donnelly on behalf of Bishop Farrelly, and by many local people. They completed the remaining 32 kilometres to Lismore by car - Goonellabah is just outside Lismore, so often we are called "Lismore Carmel".
Because the building of the new monastery was not quite complete, the Carmelites accepted the generous hospitality of the Presentation Sisters before moving into their new home. After one week the move into the new building was possible, though many finishing touches had to be made! During this time, the sisters met people who were to remain friends throughout the years, many becoming members of the Friends of Carmel Auxiliary. Official Inauguration with the establishment of Papal Enclosure took place on 19th June, 1966. A timber cottage that had stood on our site for over 100 years was still in excellent condition in 1966, so was incorporated into the building. This cottage had been the venue for the first ecumenical prayer meeting in the area. The cottage provided us with space for a choir, sacristies and workrooms, as well as a room for visiting priests. It was demolished only when a new and larger church was built in 1991. Dedication of the new church took place on 22nd March, 1992. This was a day of great joy for us all. Over the years we have extended the area of our enclosure. In the 1980s a hermitage was built in our grounds. We have our own cemetery, in the centre of which stands a beautiful statue of Our Lady. Beyond the cemetery is an area that we call "Little King's Park" because at its centre is a shrine of the Child Jesus of Prague. We are very grateful for the blessings we have received as the years have passed. Five of our foundresses have died, but the Lord has called young women to take their place. We thank Him in advance for the blessings of the future.