What qualifications are required?

View from choir through grating onto chapel sanctuary

'His mother said to the servants,

"Do whatever he tells you."'

~ John 2:5

On the natural level: good mental health, reasonably good physical health, favourable references, intelligence, a sense of humour, COMMON SENSE.

  

On the spiritual level: generous good will, teachability, a determination to persevere even when things get difficult.

The candidate should be a Catholic woman in reputable standing with the Church, who is able to obtain a reference from her parish priest or spiritual director. Certificates of baptism, confirmation and free status are also to be presented before entrance. Please contact the Prioress for more information.

‘See that the bounds of common sense are not exceeded, however,

for common sense is the guide of the virtues.’
~ Rule of St Albert

Is it possible to stay inside the enclosure for a little while to see what community life is really like?

Yes. In order to assist in the task of discerning a vocation and to help those who show true signs of having a vocation to the contemplative life to come to a better understanding of our way of life, the Prioress, if she sees fit, with the consent of the Chapter, may allow them to live inside the monastery for a period of time not exceeding three months. However, it must be said that the only true way of knowing what life in Carmel is like is to take the plunge, join the community and to start actually living the life.

Front door of monastery with statue of St. Teresa

What is involved in initial formation and how long does it take?

Postulant doing card work

The purpose of formation is to bring candidates, who are docile to the action of the Holy Spirit and who respond with love to the gratuitous and loving call of the Lord, gradually to know and live the Discalced Carmelite Nuns' vocation. In order that the candidates may be prepared to consecrate their lives, they will undergo a long period of formation and trial. Its purpose is to enable them to have practical experience of our life and to interiorise its spirit while also giving the community a chance to evaluate their vocation, their attitudes and intentions.

Professed Novice in temporary vows

This process of formation includes the postulancy period (varying from six months to a year and a half), the novitiate proper (lasting one to two years) and the time in temporary vows (at least three years and even up to six years). Thus, in total, the usual time for intial formation is about five years but it will, of course, depend on the individual candidate and the community involved. When the postulant becomes a novice she is given the habit of the Order and a white veil. She then begins to live the full Carmelite life, coming to know its demands and experiencing them, and interiorising our spirit.

Sister on her Solemn Profession Day

However, the candidate only becomes a full member of the Order when she makes her religious profession. She then pledges herself by public vow to live according to the three evangelical counsels and is consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church. She may make a single profession for the entire period of temporary vows or make it for a year with successive renewals. If all goes well, after three years (or maybe a bit more) the religious will be admitted to solemn profession and will make vows committing herself to live according to the Rule and Constitutions of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns for the rest of her life, now receiving a black veil.

'A soul united to Jesus is a living smile that radiates Him and gives Him.'

~ Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Is there opportunity for further study after this time?

Yes. Throughout the life of a Carmelite nun, formation is ongoing, as our relationship with Christ develops and is deepened through silence, solitude, prayer and the support of the community. Holy Mother Teresa always wanted to enrich and deepen her knowledge of God so that she could respond more generously to the gift of His presence and action in the soul. Following her example, and in response to the wishes of the Church and to its laws, the sisters pursue their own spiritual, doctrinal and practical formation for their entire lives. Ongoing formation is an indispensible means for constant personal and community renewal, enabling the Discalced Carmelite nuns to live their vocation and theological lives more fully and faithfully adapt the Teresian charism to the current day. As it also has the purpose of helping the community to grow in unity, formation is normally given to all the sisters within the confines of the monastery.

The vocation of a Carmelite nun is a response to a call from the Beloved, to live with Him and love Him without reservation, offering everything that we are or that we have to Him alone. In every Carmelite cell is a plain wooden cross, reminding us that to follow Him, we must take up our cross daily for His glory and the salvation of souls. It takes a generous heart to live the life of a Carmelite nun.

View inside cell showing large cross on wall