Order of Carmelites: Ancient Observance (O.CARM.)
Carmelites seek to live in allegiance to Jesus Christ, taking Our Lady and the prophet Elijah as models which embody the virtues that they strive to imitate.
The original Carmelites were poor men, pilgrims and hermits, who lived in the Holy Land on Mount Carmel in the 12th Century. They were given a Way of Life by Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1208. This Rule is very short and emphasises reflection on Scripture, in silence and solitude with a community life modelled on that of the Early Christians in Jerusalem. The Prior of the community is seen as a servant and conscience of the community.
Further reading: At the Fountain of Elijah The Carmelite Tradition by Wilfrid McGreal O.Carm. Darton, Longman and Todd (1999).
THE CARMELITE FRIARS IN SOUTHWARK
The origin of the friars in the Diocese goes back to the earliest days of the Order when the hermits had to leave Mt Carmel and find a home in the west. One group was given land at Aylesford and it was there that the hermits adopted the way of life of friars and in doing so brought contemplation to the towns and cities. The Carmelite priories, like other religious houses, were dissolved in 1538. However, there was always a hope of returning to Aylesford. James 11 was asked to help it happen but the return of the friars had to wait until the 20th century before the return to Aylesford. In 1926 the friars were given the care of the parishes of Faversham and Sittingbourne. This was seen as a possible step towards the purchase of Aylesford should it become available. This happened in 1949. Since then the friars have also had care of the parishes of Hartley and Walworth for a time but are now concentrated in Aylesford and Faversham where they also serve the shrine of St Jude.
Information for Aylesford Priory is available on the website www.thefriars.org.uk. Newsletters are published quarterly and retreat and pilgrimage programmes annually. These are available from the newsletter office or Reception at The Friars, Aylesford, ME20 7BX or 01622 717272. For Faversham and the Shrine of St Jude as well as further information about the British Province of Carmelites see www.carmelite.org
There is a strong lay Carmelite presence throughout the British Province. A Third Order of Carmel community meets at Aylesford and a Carmelite Spirituality Group at Faversham. For more information contact John Berry, Provincial’s Delegate via the websitewww.laycarmel.org