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 of God.
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 Councilors and support staff live there. The Order is divided into “provinces” each under the leadership of a “Prior Provincial” and his Council. There are about 40 Provinces throughout the world including North America, Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia. The Vicariate of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Nigeria belongs to 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: You have to be a baptized and practicing Catholic and ought to have completed your secondary education with the desire to live the religious life in general and an interest in living the Carmelite lifestyle in particular. Other requirements are:
- Being between 18 and 24 years of age with SSCE (with a minimum of six credits including Mathematics and English Language) or its equivalent or slightly older with a diploma or degree.
- Possessing good health of mind and body
- Having the right intention with some level of personal integration and consistency with your professed Christian ideals
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 an the email provided above.