Making a Carmelite
The process of forming a man in the traditions and skills necessary to be a Carmelite priest or brother takes several years. Prayer, patience and hard work are needed to fully integrate a person into the Order. Here you will find an overview of the various stages of formation that candidates travel through on the journey to becoming a Carmelite priest or brother.
The pre-novitiate is an introduction to the Carmelite way of life. It is an opportunity for the candidate to experience Carmelite life as it is lived and to prepare for future studies with the Carmelites. It is also a time of discernment when both the community and the candidate determine whether the candidate has a vocation to the Carmelites.
Place: The pre-novitiate community at Carith House is located on the campus of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Hyde Park, Chicago.
Duration: At least one year and possibly two for those who already have completed two years or more of undergraduate work. College-age students in their 1st and 2nd year of college will spend one or two years at Saint Xavier University, Chicago, completing an undergraduate degree in philosophy and religious studies or at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, for philosophy and pre-theology studies or to begin a Masters degree in Divinity.
Purpose: The novitiate introduces the Carmelite novice to the religious life where he may experience with us the call to conversion, simplicity, faith and love. The purpose of this year is two-fold. First, it enables the novice to embrace the following of Jesus Christ through living the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience according to the particular spirit of our Carmelite Order. Second, it prepares the novice to make a decision in faith about the future direction of his life. It is in living a life of faith in prayer, community and ministry that the novice discovers the value and meaning of the vows and the particular spirit of our Order. This life experience raises the questions and provides the challenges that make it possible for the novice through prayer and the support of others to make a decision about his vocation. At the completion of the novitiate year, novices profess temporary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Carmelite.
Place: Brandsma Priory, Middletown, New York
Duration: A year and a day
Purpose: The Carmelite internship allows the professed Carmelite student to experience community living in a Carmelite house other than a house of formation and to participate in the life and ministry of that community as a full-fledged member. The student learns to integrate the initial formation experience within a different life setting. Students perceive how theology, the tradition of the Church and our Carmelite charism shed light on community living and on contemporary pastoral situations.
Place: One of the Carmelite Communities in the United States, Canada, or Mexico
Duration: One to two years
Purpose: The post-novitiate formation readies the student for solemn vows in the Carmelite Order and prepares him for ministry as a priest or brother. During this time, students grow into a mature relationship with God through payer and living God’s word in a contemplative fraternity in the midst of God’s people. He continues to become incorporated into the Order, growing in identification with it. He is prepared academically and equipped practically for ministry.
During the Whitefriars years, the student takes final vows and prepares for ordination – if he is to be a priest – or non-ordained ministry if he is to be a brother. If he is to be a priest, he is then ordained to the diaconate and then the priesthood. He is then a Carmelite priest, ready to be assigned to a community and a ministry.
Place: Whitefriars Hall, Washington, DC, and Catholic University of America
Duration: Ordinarily four years