Parish priest of the Carmelite Order?

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I am considering entering the seminary to become a Catholic priest.

If I were to enter the seminary I would be a priest after seven or eight years and I would get to serve in a parish. However, I’m wondering whether, as a parish priest, I could also be a Carmelite priest. I am highly attracted to Carmelite spirituality and if I became a priest I would really want to be a member of the Carmelite order. However, I do not want to live in a monastery away from the world – I would rather be a priest in a parish amidst families, youth, etc.

A large part of me desires to have a meaningful life, and I feel that this could be better accomplished in a parish than in a monastery.

Are these things exclusive? If I become a parish priest, can I also join the Carmelites and wear their habit? Or, to be a Carmelite priest, do I have to be living in a Carmelite monastery?

Thank you. Please pray for my discernment.

There are a number of Carmelite parishes in Australia. The priests live the Carmelite charism in communities of at least three, and minister in the parishes. I believe this isn’t unusual. I’m more familiar with the Carmelite O’Carm priests who are centred in Melbourne.
I could send you some addresses or contact numbers if you wish.

There are a lot of parish priests who are enrolled in the scapular confraternity or who in other ways profess an ongoing interest in Carmelite spirituality. Diocesan priests can also join the the Carmelite third order (as can secular people) and continue to live in the world in the way appropriate for them but nevertheless share in the charism of the order.

To be fully both a Carmelite friar and a priest, you would have to apply to the first order of either the observant branch (O. Carm, to which I belong) or to the discalced branch (OCD). Religious life is not synonymous with priesthood, and so part of your application and also your formation would be discerning whether priesthood is right for you - just the same as when in a seminary, really. Admission to formation in either life is not a guarantee of progression through to vows and/or ordination. In both cases this is ultimately determined by your ordinary - either the bishop, or the religious major superior.

Carmelite friars do not live in monasteries, but in priories, and are always engaged with the world inasmuch as they are mendicant, going where the work is rather than remaining in enclosure. The Carmelite charism does emphasise contemplation, however, so a balance between work and prayer is always sought. Many Carmelite houses are parish-based, with their men working as parish priests.

Your fundamental discernment in approaching a religious institute must be on whether the life and charism are right for you, and are God’s will for you. However, important it may be, priesthood is secondary to this. We are all brothers first, and some are priests second, just as was the case for the first Carmelites 800 years ago.

Best wishes on your journey.

You will need to speak with your spiritual director on this. I cannot speak for Australia, but in the U.S. there would be jurisdictional complications.
As a Diocesan priest you would fall directly under the Bishop of that Diocese. As a Carmalite you would fall under the jurisdiction of the order - seperate from the Bishop.

Now - being a “religious” AND being a parish priest are not mutually exclusive either. However the religious order, in this case Carmelite, must be invited, or obtain permission, from the Bishop to operate within his diocese. Even then there can be complications due to the jurisdictional issues. That is why, at least in the U.S. threre are few “religious” parish priests.


Hello Ilyusha,

Perhaps it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway–you’d need to be Catholic, first.

I can only speak of the discalced carmelites and say that, no, being a parish priest and carmelite are not mutually exclusive. You might still live in a ‘monastery’ even while ministering at a parish.


One of the parishes in our diocese will be getting 2 Carmelite priests this month. The parish’s pastor is being moved to another parish (part of the annual June change-up) so I imagine one of the new priests will be the pastor.

That sounds exciting.

Would feeling that a particular order’s charism is a core part of one’s identity and looking forward to the journey(e.g. life as a young brother, seminary) as well as the outcome be indicative of a true desire for religious life?

I would say yes.

For me it was a need to have community at the core of my journey.

Then I found the religious order/community that fit.

That is very interesting. Thank you, Brother David.

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