Discernment of our Vocation - Carmel in Burundi and Rwanda

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Discernment of our Vocation

OCD Vocation

How to discern

How do I go about discerning a vocation to the Discalced Carmelites?
A vocation, is a calling from God, and demands a free response and total dedication from those who receive it.
Every effort must be made to help one to become aware of their calling, and to follow it with enthusiasm.
In order to best discern one’s calling it is best to be truthful about all aspects of one’s life that are called into question. This openness goes both ways and will aid the discernment process.
It is good to spend periods of time within the communities, getting to know the way of life. This is also a way for the community to get to know the searcher too.

How do I know God is calling me ?


God calls each of us to live in love with him. We live that love in marriage or single life, in priestly or religious life.

A call to religious life can start with a sense of emptiness and a need for something more in life or an attraction
to a life of deeper prayer and community. You may know someone in religious life and feel attracted to that way of life.

You may feel a call but do not really want to go there!

Perhaps it is not what you had planned for your life.
You may feel unworthy of a call to religious life


The first step for guidance is prayer, trusting that God will lead you wherever is best for you. God wants your happiness and will lead you into a way of life that will make you happy.

Prayer of a Searcher

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
I praise you.
Purify my soul,
Live in me, and love through me.
Show me how to serve you peacefully today
And lead me along the path in my life
That will give most glory to you.

Can speaking to others help me to discern if I have a vocation

It is good to talk about the sense of call you feel.
Talk to someone you trust – a family member or friend.

If you know a priest or religious you might consider sharing your thoughts with them.

Basic requirements of becoming a Carmelite friar

What are the basic requirements of becoming a Carmelite friar?
Candidates must be:

  •    Between 20 and 27 years of age.

  •    College degree preferred.

  •    Free of substantial debt and without dependents.

  •    Certificate of Baptism and Confirmation.

  •    Several visits to our monasteries.

  •    Live-In retreat.

  •    Letters of Recommendation.

  •    Successful completion of physical and psychological examinations.

  •    Other background information as requested.


What is postulancy and why is it important?
Once candidates are accepted, they begin as postulants at the monastery in Butare in Rwanda.
This is a one-year program, and importantly it focuses on adjustment to community living and gives an introduction to Carmelite spirituality and prayer.
A postulant is always free to leave, just as the Formative Team
is free to ask him to leave.


What is the purpose of the noviciate?
The novitiate is a year in length with a greater concentration on learning the doctrine of our Carmelite doctors and saints. It ends with first profession of vows.
The novitiate, helps the novice to recognise his call from God and specifically to the Order.
It gives him the opportunity of experiencing the way of life of the Order and of testing his intention and suitability. The noviciate is only entered into after the candidate has reached a degree of cultural and spiritual maturity sufficient to enable him to appreciate the demands of our way of life, and freely embrace it.

Temporary & solemn profession

What is the difference between temporary & solemn profession?
At the end of the novitiate the Provincial may admit the novice to temporary vows.  This temporary profession is made for a time, which may not be less than three years nor more than six.  When this period has elapsed, the vows are renewed or solemn profession takes place.
By solemn profession, a religious definitively becomes a full member of the order. They undertake by public vow the observance of :
chastity, poverty, obedience
They are consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church and they are incorporated into the Order.

Studies required to become a Carmelite friar

What studies must one do to become a Carmelite friar?
In order that our friars may be prepared for the offices and ministries that will be entrusted to them, they are to be given adequate spiritual, doctrinal, technical, cultural and apostolic formation.  This formation goes hand in hand with their Carmelite religious formation.
Following the completion of novitiate and first profession, student friars prepare for ministry by taking the appropriate course of studies for priesthood, or other necessary preparation for brothers.
Solemn profession normally comes five years after first profession.
Students preparing for ordination must make solemn vows before being ordained deacons. The deacon spends about a year of ministry in one of our parishes. Then he is ordained to the priesthood.

Brothers complete their initial formation with solemn vows, although they may complete their studies earlier and be assigned to a ministry within the province.

Where to find info

Where can I get information about the religious life?

Most religious orders have a website where you can find out about their way of life and the work they do.  As you read about the different orders in all likelihood you will feel attracted to some more than others.   This is an indication of where you might explore further.

If the sense of call continues and you feel you should follow it consider talking to a vocations director.  He will help you recognise whether or not a particular order would be the best one for you.

Above all be patient!
Be patient with yourself!
Recognizing or discerning a vocation is a gentle and gradual process and can take quite a bit of time.

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