Third Order Lay Carmelites at St. Francis
Most of us are familiar with different orders of priests, such as the Franciscans, and nuns such as the Benedictine community on Cuba Hill Road, but there are orders of lay people as well. One is active here in our parish, known as the Third Order of Lay Carmelites, an association of people who choose to live the Gospel in the spirit of the Carmelite Order and under its guidance.
The Third Order is not a club or organization, but a religious order committed to a calling to serve God in community. Known for devotion to Mary under her title as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, members do not live in community as priests or nuns do, but they meet regularly, engage in formal study to deepen and strengthen their faith, and practice their devotion through group and individual prayer. The Carmelite communities date from the time of the prophet Elijah, who called upon God at Mount Carmel. He left behind a group of hermits who lived there until after the last Crusade, when the order relocated from the Middle East to Europe. Today the Third Order Lay Carmelites practice throughout the world.
As with all religious orders, priests, and nuns, a central commitment of the Carmelites is to pray the Holy Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours. These are prayers said every morning, evening, and night by all members throughout the world, in effect a community of prayer united within the Church.
The community at St. Francis has about 18-24 members, and though there is a process to follow to be received as a member of the order, anyone who is interested in learning more can attend meetings held on the third Sunday of each month in the lower church, at 1:30pm. Formation consists of study on how to pray the office, learning about the Carmelite saints, and the history of the order. Once received, members continue to grow in faith and formation through continued study, participating in meetings, and community prayer. Becoming a full standing member takes time, yet for those who are called to it, it is an opportunity to grow in faith and community in a unique way.
Please contact Ellen Lobasso for more information at (631) 486-2155, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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