What is God’s plan for you?
“I have often felt an innate attraction
to Carmelite spirituality.”
Fr. Paul Leonard,
Portsmouth Diocese Priest.
You may feel a call but do not really want to go there!
Perhaps it is not what you had planned for your life.
You may feel unworthy of a call to religious life. Do not
be afraid! Anyone who has ever contemplated a
vocation to religious life, knows how challenging and
frightening it can be. All of us have walked this path and
felt the vulnerability of not knowing what these feelings
might mean for us. But do not be afraid, a vocation to
religious life, like any other worthy vocation is built on
time, prayer, wisdom and friendship. Take your time,
there is no rush, talk to someone you trust, listen to your
heart especially at times of prayer. You can contact us at
any time for an informal chat about who we are and our
charism or simply about where you feel the Lord might
be calling you.
Fr John McGowan talks a little about his travels and how this led him to become
our Carmelite Vocations Director based in Kensington Priory
Frequently Asked Questions
Undoubtedly, those interested in the Carmelite way of life will have numerous questions. Thus, you are invited to contact us with these questions. In the meantime, the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) section below can help answer some fundamental questions about who we are.
Q: How do I know if the Carmelite way of life is the right one for me?
A: The first question to ask yourself is “do I feel drawn to that way of life, do I find it attractive”? God often works in our lives by giving us desires for beautiful things. If what we desire is good and true, the desire is likely of God. Prayer and discernment are necessary to discern the quality of a desire to see if it is God’s call.
Do speak to a priest about your discernment.
Q: Why would someone join this Order today?
A: Carmelites are dedicated, interesting, happy, and holy people who do a lot of great things. Men join because they want to live and work with these people. The Carmelites have a rich tradition of spiritual guides – unarguably some of the best in the Church! To be a Carmelite is to be a part of something bigger than yourself. And the Carmelite life leads you into the heart of God – people like Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, Edith Stein and Titus Brandsma!
Q: What does the Carmelite way of life have to offer a world torn by terror and impoverished materially and spiritually?
A: Life is so complex, a mix of sorrows, joys, sacrifices and gifts. The Carmelite life does not falsify this complexity. Recognizing our own sinfulness, we open ourselves to God’s healing love. Recognizing the incompleteness of the Kingdom of God in the world, we strive to reach out in prayer and service to all people. In all this we find inestimable joy, the joy of Mary who witnessed the joy of the redemption of the world in the sacrifice of her son.
Q: Where is the Order based?
A: The Order began on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land about 1200 A.D. The international headquarters is now located in Rome, Italy. The Prior General and his Councillors and support staff live there. The Order is divided into “provinces” each under the leadership of a “Prior Provincial” and his Council. The English Region is part of the Anglo-Irish Province.
Q: What is a typical Day in a Carmelite Community like?
A: While the schedules from one community to another may vary a little, according to the ministries and make-up of a particular community, they will all share a basic structure which is comprised of a few key elements: daily mass, liturgy of the hours, about two hours of personal (mental) prayer, time for meals and recreation and some pastoral work.
Q: Does the Order have a certain habit you wear today? What does it look like?
A: The Order has a religious garment known as habit. Our habit consists of a brown tunic (held around the waist by a belt when worn) with a scapular and capuche (hood). On special occasions and when we are buried – we wear a milk cloak called mantle.
Q: Are Carmelites cloistered?
A: While Carmelite nuns are cloistered, Carmelite friars are not. The Carmelite Order (the friars) belong to the Mendicant Orders in the Church; that is, members of a religious Order who move about preaching and earning their living thereof. However, the contemplative dimension of our life means we must have to balance our various activities with a life of intense prayer. Note that there are also Carmelite sisters who are not cloistered. They might work in hospitals, schools, etc. where they are out among other people.
Q: What are the basic requirements for joining?
A: The following are the basic requirements for becoming a Carmelite friar:
- Between 20 and 40 years of age
- College degree preferred
- Free of substantial debt and without dependents
- Certificate of Baptism and Confirmation
- Several visits to our monasteries
- Live-In retreat
- Letters of Recommendation
- Successful completion of physical and psychological examinations
- Other background information as requested
Q: How do I apply to the Carmelite Order?
A: Application to the Carmelite Order usually signals the commencement of the process of discerning whether one is spiritually, physically, and psychologically healthy for the spiritual ascent of Mount Carmel. Depending on the part of the country where you reside, you write a letter of application to one of our following postal addresses closest to you or simply write to our vocation director on the email provided below.
Vocations Director for the UK and Ireland:
Fr Jim Noonan OCD Contact number is +44-7598-913986.