Recipe for a Carmelite

The journey of anyone seeking to embrace the contemplative life is to be encouraged. The harvest is indeed ripe, and workers are needed for the work at hand. Many, however, seeking a quick, easy approach will be disappointed. Like “Simon the magician” who sought to buy the power of holiness, attaining authentic faith and spirituality requires effort. The process of forming a person in the traditions and skills necessary to be an ICC Carmelite priest, brother, or sister takes several years. Prayer, patience and hard work are needed to fully integrate a person into any Religious 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.

1. Pre-Novitiate

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.

Duration: At least one year and possibly two of training and instruction.

2. Novitiate

Purpose: The novitiate introduces the Carmelite novice to the religious life where the novice 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.P

Duration: A year and a day

3. Internship

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.P

Duration: One to two years

4. Theology

Purpose: For those seeking ordination to Holy Orders, 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 prayer 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 these 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.P

Duration: Ordinarily four years

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