Thriving Carmelite Orders?


I am slowly discerning religious life, and I think I may be called to a cloistered contemplative vocation. I have contacted the Carmel in Allentown, PA (O. Carm) as well as the Discalced Carmelites in Loretto, PA. I do not live in Pennsylvania; it just happens that most of the orders I’m interested in are there.

My question is, does anyone on CAF know of any Carmelite Orders “doing well?” Loretto seems to have a few younger members. While I love the Allentown Carmel, they currently only have six sisters and all are a bit older.

Suggestions for discernment please, in any state, or any contemplative orders. I have been looking into different spiritualities; I’m considering the Poor Clares as well.

There is a lovely Carmel I came across when visiting Erie, Pennsylvania. It’s called the Monastery of the Holy Family. You might want to look them up.

Bless you for being faithful to grace!

Get a spiritual director.

Practice interior silence, obedience, and mortification of complaining.

Start locally first. See how different spiritualities “feel.”

You’ll know when you get there when you’ve found the right one.


There is a new Carmel in Canyon, CA (over the hills East of Oakland) called the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Its not built yet so the sisters live in a farmhouse temporarily. I have volunteered helping them get set up there. I think there are 12 of them right now, almost all young. I know they split off from the Carmel in Nebraska. Its a different perspective since theyre literally building a new Carmel. I have contact info if youre interested :slight_smile:

I know of quite a few thriving Carmelite monasteries:

Elysburg, PA
Valparaiso, NE
Buffalo, NY
Terre Haute, IN
Lafayette, LA
Denmark, WI

Thank you all for your replies.I have heard good things about Elysburg, and I’d really like to visit there. Denmark also looks lovely, and their monastery is gorgeous. Though I notice on their schedule it says rising is at 1:50. Is that a typo? I realize religious are early risers, but according to their horarium, they only get three hours of sleep, which is absolutely impossible.

Can anyone tell me more about Elysburg, Denmark, or Buffalo? I’ve heard good things about all of these. Elysburg is supposedly very traditional, which I like. I also like that Denmark’s Carmel seems secluded. Got to love those vast, rolling hills!

The only thing is that I am disabled. I’m not incapacitated, and very capable of living a normal life with no assistance, but I do walk with crutches. I wonder if these Carmels would consider me, perhaps after a physical exam? I know I’ve written Allentown and Loretto, and have yet to hear back. I sent email, though; if they don’t respond by the end of next week, I’ll be writing by hand. I’m sure they prefer that.

EDIT: Just checked the Denmark Carmel again; it’s 4:50, not 1:50! :blush: Oops!

I am going to try to speak with my diocesan vocation director next week. I want to write a letter to Elysburg, but I have no idea what to say. I plan on asking the vocations director then, but if anyone has any ideas about what I should write, please advise. Thank you all so much!

Just be honest with them and tell them your interest. Mention how long you have been discerning and your attraction to Carmel. I’m sure they’ll ask you to make a visit, though not in the cloister, to be able to see the monastery. You could also attend one of their vow ceremonies that are coming up soon. There is a First Profession of Vows on May 31st (The Feast of the Visitation). I’ve always thought it would be neat to attend one. :slight_smile:


I’m not sure your diocesan vocation director will be able to help you much. They are trained to handle vocation inquiries from men interested in the priesthood. I tried to get in touch with mine earlier on in my discernment and was told that they really weren’t able to help me. They don’t know much about religious life. I’d suggest finding a convent in your diocese and ask a Sister there to give you spiritual direction. They’d be much more equipped to handle your discernment. :wink:

Good luck wherever you end up. May God bless you in your endeavors!

Thank you so much, and thank you to everyone who replied. I am seriously considering Elysburg now; I have written my letter, but I won’t be able to send it until after exam week in college. We shall see how it goes. For now, I must concentrate on my reports and presentation due Wednesday. (Never take four English classes at once.)

Just a plug for an O.Carm community in North Dakota:

A long-ago English major agrees absolutely on the last point.

I’m glad to see others’ advice on flourishing Carmels. I also suggest, if you haven’t yet, to leave a prayer request on the web-page of the Society of the Little Flower. Once you offer her your hand, St. Thérèse will grasp it gently & always help you & guide your steps, whether to Carmel, if you’re to be there, or to another Order.

Just a few questions:

  1. What do you mean by “thriving” Carmelite orders?

  2. Are you referring to Discalced Carmelites (O.C.D.) or O. Carm?

When I looked at the pictures on the Elysburg site, I couldn’t tell if this was an extremely conservative Traditionalist monastery or some other type that is not in union with the Church. Does anyone have information to shed light on that?

It doesn’t mention that it is a Carmel of the Diocese of Harrisburg, only that it is located near there.

I hope it’s not a sedevacantist group.

I was only wondering if anyone knew of any Carmelite communities that were larger and had younger members. I’m not trying to pick favorites or anything, but it would be nice to possibly join a community with sisters my age, or at least with a few postulants.

And yes, I am more referring to Discalced Carmelites, but a nice traditional O. Carm community is on the table too.

And to answer your second post, Elysburg, as far as I am aware, is in union with the Church and supports our Holy Father. They just happen to be a very traditional community that prefers the Extraordinary Form. The masses are celebrated by FSSP (sp?) priests and are completely licit.

Here’s a link to the EWTN story of the young Vietnamese nuns who arrived from Hanoi in Alabama to save a convent from shutting down . . .

My first suggestion in regards to discernment is to find a priest, or sister, or spiritual director to help you in your journey.

The second suggestion I would make is to contact and at some time visit a number of communities. Remember in the instance of a cloistered vocation you will not only be called to a particular rule or way of life (such as the Carmelites or the Poor Clares) but also to a particular monastery. So pray and seek advice and visit.

I myself cannot help you in regards to the Carmelites orders but as to Poor Clare communities I can tell you that our vocations are up at many of our monasteries.

One thing you may find though is that due to the “enclosed” life vocations may tend to being older… that is not entirely true but it seems to be a trend in that inquiries are being made more from people in their early or mid 30s rather than early 20s.

Not sure as to what you may mean as to “doing well”… do you mean a large community? Poor Clare monasteries are kept small being between 5- 12 sisters. This is on purpose so as to emphasize the family nature of our vocation.
As you say there is a monastery of Poor Clares near you… in Langhorne.

Here is a little bit of information which may be of help:

There are several types of Poor Clare observances in the United States:

Poor Clare of the Primitive Observance (OSC) observing the original rule of St Clare

We have 16 monasteries in the U.S. and British Columbia.

Poor Clare Colletines

Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration

and there are a few others…

Here is a general website that may be of help:

I hope this helps a little bit… We pray daily for vocations

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