Blessed Titus Brandsma, the Dutch Carmelite friar who was martyred in 1942 for speaking out against the Nazi regime, will be canonised by Pope Francis on the 15th May. The far-reaching legacy of the friar continues to break down boundaries today and teaches of faith in action, generosity and above all, love.

Titus lived his life by the second Law of Love – to love your neighbour as you love yourself. He believed that God was present in all human beings and to love and serve them means to love and serve Jesus. He is known for his generosity to all those in need regardless of religion, ethnicity, race, class or nationality and for his fight for equal rights for his neighbours regardless of their background, religion or social class. Titus’ teachings are something we can all take notice of in our own lives.

One example of how Titus’ legacy continues to impact today’s world is through the Titus Brandsma Shelter in Indonesia. Dedicated to the friar in 2018, the shelter is run by Carmelites and volunteers and reflects Titus’ teachings through the work carried out in the community. Located in one of the poorest slum areas in the town of Malang in East Java, the shelter provides for the homeless and those in need. The shelter’s main principle is to care for any person in need, regardless of their religious background or ethnicity.

In addition to providing help for those without a home, the shelter also functions as an informal school for children from poor families and, in line with Titus’ teachings, students with different religious backgrounds participate actively together in the school. Although lessons cover the main staple subjects of Maths, Science and Reading and Writing, the difference between this informal school and more formal schools in the area is that the process of teaching is founded on Love. Students are accepted as they are, with their own personal strengths and weaknesses. Each student is taught and cared for as an individual as the leading belief is that every child is unique. Students are invited to respect themselves, be open to others, accept differences and love their neighbours regardless of their backgrounds. The school also offers performance and creativity classes with the aim that the students are encouraged to develop themselves and to be independent.   

The shelter is testament to the valuable teachings of Blessed Titus Brandsma and a true example of loving our neighbours as we love ourselves. We thank the Carmelites in Malang and the volunteers at the shelter for their valuable hard work and celebrate the continued impact that Titus Brandsma is having on the world today.

To support the work of the Carmelites and to make a regular or a one-off donation to projects like the Titus Brandsma Shelter in Malang, Indonesia, follow this link.