Father Founder, St. Hannibal Mary had a special affection for the Carmelites. One of the expressions of this affinity was felt by the Daughters of Divine Zeal when he gave them the brown habit, entrusting them to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and dedicated the church built near the institute in Giardini to Our Lady.
Fr. Tusino wrote that Father Founder started his works in Avignone without a pre-set plan. Father Founder told Fr. Giacomo Cusmano* that though he had been the head of his pious work for almost six years, he never knew how he lasted that long. Though he is convinced that his Work in Avignone is special, he was convinced that it deserved a leader for which prayed to the Lord. What will he do then once he would have been free? He would have hastened to place himself under the mantle of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
Father Founder’s Carmelite aspirations are renowned. He prayed to Our Lady in January 1888 to be even more worthy to enter among the Carmelites, aside from being accepted as a tertiary member. He studied the works of St. John of the Cross and committed himself to the virtues needed, according to the “Dark Night of Powers and Senses”. He even composed some prayers to St. John of the Cross.
On August 26, 1888, he started his Novitiate as a Tertiary, taking the name “Friar John Mary of the Cross”. The following year, on August 30, 1889, he made his profession at the Church of St. Theresa in Naples. Father Founder himself recounts: “On December 27, 1893, Wednesday, Feast of St. John the Evangelist, after the celebration of the Mass, I felt joyfully in my heart the desire to become a Carmelite discalced, after inaugurating the Little Work and entrusting it to a chosen person.”
While waiting to see properly the will of God about his future, the Father did not lessen at all his diligence and his effective commitment to the progress of the Work. To become a Carmelite, as it was in fact, a pious desire, and to care for the Work was his duty – imposed on him by the concrete situation in which the will of God was evident. And he was looking most of all for the will of God. Later, when the community of the Rogationists was added to the Sisters’, he understood that he needed to give up his dream, but in his spirit, he remained a Carmelite till his last breath. He wanted to be a Carmelite because he felt incapable of being a founder, but when he was already certain of God’s will wanting him to stay among his children, he still kept on refusing to be called founder and considered himself a simple initiator because, as he used to teach, the Founder of the Work is the Eucharistic Jesus.
*Fr Cusmano is the founder of the Work of the Morsel of the Poor and also founder of two Religious Congregations: the Missionaries of the Servants of the Poor and the Sisters Servants of the Poor in Palermo, Italy