Becoming a Carmelite - Carmelite Monastery - Knock, Tranquilla
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Becoming a Carmelite

A vocation to Carmel is an invitation and a gift from God. This invitation may come in
various ways and at different times in a person’s life. God offers it in love and this love is a
totally free gift, it is personal and as unique as our fingerprints.

For anyone interested in discerning a Carmelite vocation, after initial contact, we extend an
invitation to visit us in person.

To someone seriously interested in our life, we can offer an opportunity to experience what
life in our Carmel involves, prayer, work, community life and living within the monastery
and its grounds; without implying any kind of commitment on either side.

To someone who wishes to enter and try her vocation the Church offers nine years of formation
before a final choice is made. There is a sister in charge of formation, she, attentive to the
Holy Spirit – who is the true ‘educator’ – accompanies those discerning a vocation in a special

way. Formation in our life concerns the whole person. It seeks to harmonise the gifts of nature

and grace so that the one called may integrate in herself her vocation as a woman,

a Christian and a Carmelite.

Stages of Formation:

1) Aspirant: This covers the very beginning of a person’s interest in exploring if she is called to our way of life. Contact may be made by writing or email or through a friend. A personal meeting with our Prioress begins a time of getting to know our way of life and our community spirit. The aspirant lives and works as usual but may spend short or more prolonged times in the monastery. It is a time to explore life, even for a short space, without social media, personal computers, or other media which is limited by our need for silence of the heart and mind in order to pray. It takes time to know if our way of life is something the aspirant feels drawn to and usually a year is given for reflection and discernment on the part of the community and aspirant before going on to the next stage.

2) Postulancy: 

This is a period of transition from lay life to life as a novice lasting about a year. Its primary aim is to help discern a person’s vocation. It allows a flexible adjustment to our life-style and the time, study and space needed for discernment. If, at the end of this time, a postulant wishes to continue and if the community agrees, she receives the Carmelite habit and begins the novitiate.

2) Novitiate

The novitiate lasts about two years. This is the time to lay deep foundations for a contemplative journey that will last a whole lifetime. We learn that our vocation is completely centred on a relationship with Jesus, who sets us free to love as he has taught us. We find out how to look beyond our own needs to the needs of the Church, the community and the needs of all humanity. We deepen our knowledge of Scripture, Carmelite life – its saints and spirituality, our knowledge and love of the mystery of God through worship and study.

Looking to Mary, our mother and sister, we ponder the scriptures as she leads us to ‘Do whatever he, (Jesus) tells you’. Study of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, and the demands and freedom they offer us, is vital before entering the next stage of formation. The rhythm of the daily life is also part of formation, as is life in the community.

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3) Temporary Vows:

Again, if the novice wishes to continue in Carmel, she freely asks the community if she may take temporary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for three years.

The temporary professed sister is still under the guidance of the sister in charge of formation and shares in the novitiate courses for two years.

After this time the young professed takes her place in the community, under the guidance of the Prioress. This time allows her to grow in increasing personal responsibility for her prayer, work, ongoing formation, solitude, and community life. After three years in temporary vows sisters begin what is called

4) The Juniorate for two years and renews her vows yearly until choosing to make solemn vows.

A permanent commitment is not easy in today’s world and every help is offered in order that one can make a free and responsible decision about taking final vows.

4) Solemn Profession

Solemn Profession is experienced both as something accomplished and as a new beginning. The sister is received with joy into the full life of the community.

And she is asked to be faithful to the ministry of prayer and service entrusted to her.

She receives a black veil – the Carmelite sign of consecration – which proclaims that she belongs entirely to Christ.

A Sister makes her Solemn Profession in the hands of the Prioress, who accepts it on behalf of the Church and the community.

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