Discalced Carmelites of the Australia Oceania Region

Sharing Stories

This photo was taken in April 2009 when two members were received into Formation and four made their First Promise. Gary and Louise share the stories of what led them to this occasion.

Gary, Patricia, Anne, Fr Johny, Floryse, Louise, Jacky.

 Photo: Gary, Patricia, Anne, Fr Johny, Floryse, Louise, Jacky.

Gary's Story: My Journey in Carmel 

My journey to Carmel began with a growing appreciation for the silence, solitude and poverty of the spirit that defined the desert fathers and later monastic and eremitic traditions. The writings of Thomas Merton had led me to the writings of Saint John of the Cross, in whom I discovered the most lucid, powerful and confronting advice on living in a spirit of detachment that was driven by one thing: the loving pursuit of union with God. I was drawn to prayer and meditation, and had no idea of the riches that lay within a community such as the Discalced Carmelites.

In researching the Carmelite tradition, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the existence of a lay branch, or secular branch of the Discalced Carmelite family. Lay members of the Carmelite Order share the charism of the Friars and Nuns, but live in the world and maintain their lives as seculars: their jobs, partners, families and every other blessing and burden we share in the world. With a full time job, a wife and two young children, Carmel is a means to marry the life I have with the search for a discipline and tradition that will draw me ever closer to God.

Inspired by the blessed model of our faith, Our Lady, who pondered the word of God in her heart; the writings of the great Carmelite saints, such as Saint John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and Therese of Lisieux; our biblical father, Elijah; and the original group of hermits that gathered at the foot of Mount Carmel in dedication to the Lord and Our Lady; each day I seek the face of God in my daily living. In the practice of praying the office and dedicating time to prayer, every element of my life has taken on a new focus, a new feel, as my prayer has begun to seep into every element of my life.

In Carmel, I seek to pursue the virtues of faith, hope and charity to challenge and usurp the faculties and habits that can traditionally separate me from our Lord. I cannot exaggerate the extent to which it has reoriented my understanding and appreciation of life around me, in every detail and element. As we seek to live in detachment from the things around us, I’ve learnt to love and appreciate them in a different way: as a means to draw closer to God in gratitude for the blessings showered upon me. The bittersweet challenges and losses I face are opportunities for humility, a true understanding of my dependence on the Lord and the impermanence of our earthly existence – reminders that true peace and hope can only come from God’s indwelling presence and the pursuit of the life that is promised us.

Meeting with the community once a month is an incredible blessing, to learn from those who have walked this path for so much longer and draw inspiration and guidance in the process of initial formation: which is a period of the journey that takes at least two years, before, God willing, I’ll be able to make my first promise. I can only encourage anyone who is drawn to prayer or a devotion to Our Lady, or fired by the writings of our Carmelite saints, to contact the community and explore what could be an incredible vocation. And I thank God for drawing me here, in his incredible, subtle and inimitable ways.


Louise's Story: The Father's Love

Your constant Love,
My thrashing fight,
One last blow suffered
While You held me tight.

I stopped the struggling,
Let the world pass away,
Collapsed from exhaustion
But You were here to stay.

Tears of sorrow and joy
and relief too brim,
My heart has melted,
Allowed Love to come in.

No more do I struggle
or seek to flee,
Choked with delight,
Your Love overwhelms me.

The first time in her life,
This child can see,
Love Himself has come in
and set her heart free.

This poem expresses Louise’s feelings at the time of making her First Promise.