The first qualification looked for in those who wish to join the Discalced Carmelite community is a divine vocation, which is shown by ardent desires. In her Constitutions, St. Teresa specifies that candidates should be “persons of prayer, sincerely aspiring to perfection and despising all worldly things. For if they are not detached from the world, they will hardly bear the observance prescribed in our Order.”
This means that to enter Carmel you must be resolutely determined to sacrifice yourself totally with Jesus Christ in a life of contemplative prayer for the Church.
Other necessary requisites are:
A high school education
Good judgement and common sense
Sound mental and physical health
Ability to participate in the Divine Office as a lifelong commitment
We accept dedicated women age 19 to 35. Aspirants must be mature, mentally and emotionally well-balanced, and living the full Christian life in the world before being ready to enter Carmel. Although a college education, graduate work or specialized training is not obligatory, such studies are advantageous. What is most important, however, is not technical knowledge but rather the ability to grasp the depth and purpose of Carmel’s apostolic way of life. Exteriorly, it is very simple. Interiorly, it calls for uncompromised surrender to God. Viewed in light of supernatural values this is to be expected, for such are the challenges of true love. What sacrifice can be compared with the privilege, peace and joy of belonging entirely to Him?
After becoming acquainted through letters and phone calls, one may ask to come for a visit. This allows the aspirant a certain taste of our life (though not within the monastery enclosure) and familiarizes her with the community. For those seriously interested in our life, we have a pre-entrance formation program to acquaint you with and give you some insights on life in Carmel.
If the decision is made to continue the process, the applicant is accepted as a postulant. The postulancy is a one year of formation. This time allows the applicant to make the transition from lay life, to experience more deeply the rhythm of Carmelite life, and to make adjustments to community living.
After the period of postulancy, the aspirant becomes formally incorporated into the community as a novice. The novitiate begins with the Rite of Initiation in which the candidate is given the habit of the order with the white veil. This is a two-year period during which the novice learns and interiorizes Carmelite spirituality as taught by our Rule, by our founder St. Teresa, and by additional Carmelite Doctors and Saints.
Temporary profession follows the novitiate. By religious profession, the sister pledges herself by public vow to live according to the three Evangelical Counsels: Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. This is a period that extends from three to six years during which time the sister increases her practical understanding and knowledge of Carmelite spirituality in order to interiorize it more completely and prepare herself adequately for the definitive consecration of solemn vows.
Carmel is a mystery, an intense participation in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. It is a wholehearted response to a divine call to listen to, to live with, and to love without measure the Most Holy Trinity, dwelling within us.
As a Carmelite aspirant enters the enclosure, she is given a crucifix to kiss, as if to say, “Here is your divine Companion, the One you seek.”