Expect the unexpected!
I’m always amazed at the surprises in religious life. Carmelite life is full of them. Since entering Carmel in 1972 right out of high school, the journey has been very exciting, very challenging and often unexpected.
The prayer life of Carmel is what initially attracted me to the Order of Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel – our full title. When I was in my final year of high school, I was handed some vocations literature by a De La Salle Brother who asked me to prepare a display – nothing like the magnificent displays we see these days! Yes, I was considering religious life then and he knew I would be interested in this project, and he was right. What caught my eye was the brochure on the Carmelites. I was hooked from that moment onwards, so much so that I even convinced one of my best friends to join the Order too. We both entered the novitiate in 1972.
My earliest years in religious life were not easy. After some years of studying for the priesthood, I (re)discerned my calling and realized that I was being called to Carmel but not to the priesthood. I’m often asked why I’m not a priest to which I simply respond – it’s not my calling. Discernment is about what God is calling us to, not we think or imagine we’d like or what others would like us to be. Once I discerned this calling very carefully, I can honestly say that, without a doubt, it has been a very rich and fulfilling life. Struggles are part of our lives, and they help us to see situations more clearly at times. I’ve certainly had my share.
The three pillars of Carmelite life – prayer, community and ministry – continue to sustain me on this journey. In Carmel, we call this the Journey of Transformation. Being a Carmelite, living in allegiance to Jesus Christ, at the service of the Church in the midst of the people under the protection of Mary, our Mother and Sister, with Elijah, the Prophet of Mount Carmel is a gift.