As many of you already know, this parish has been entrusted to the Carmelite Friars for quite some time. Despite having a long history of the Carmelites being present in this parish, many parishioners probably still do not fully know who the Carmelites are.
The Carmelites belong to the same grouping of religious orders known as the Mendicants. “Mendicant” is the term used to describe religious orders that started around the 13th century and focussed on an active manner of living religious life. Just before the Mendicants started, if a person wanted to be a priest, or follow a religious vocation, they mainly had the choice to either be a diocesan priest or join a monastery.
The people who started the mendicant orders wanted to follow Jesus in a radical way, focussing on a way of life which they thought mirrored the life of Jesus and his early disciples. They wanted to live lives of poverty and simplicity while focussing only on spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Unlike the monks who remained in only one monastery for their entire lives, the mendicants wanted the freedom to travel around freely in order to fulfil their vocation to help in building up the kingdom of God. It was in this context that the founders of the major mendicant orders emerged.
St. Francis and St. Dominic are fine examples of people who were filled with zeal in serving God in this style of life and who also attracted many companions. St. Francis is the founder of the Franciscans and St. Dominic is the founder of the Dominicans. The Carmelites on the other hand, do not have one key founder, but instead were started by a group of similarly zealous men who wanted to follow Jesus in this radical manner of life and service. You will read more about these first Carmelites in the next newsletter!