Yet another "Third Orders" Post

Well I actually have a couple of questions.
The first one is that I have been discerning a while on whether God is calling me to join a Secular Third Order (Discalced Carmelites) and I believe that is what He is calling me to do.
First of all…where do you find one? I’ve found links that led me to many websites with addresses and emails…do I just write them a letter or email and they tell me what to do?
How does this work? How long is the process?

Second question…If we needed to make it any harder…There is a very good chance that I will not be in the same state next year, and I can’t just fly out of state every month for a meeting…and I haven’t looked incredibly hard yet, but I’m afraid there won’t be any around me. Is that going to be a problem?

Third…I’m incredibly afraid of rejection, and I’m a bit afraid of rejection, especially since I’m MUCH younger than most people that tend to go into these things. People rarely take me seriously because I’m so young…so I mean…what happens if I do get rejected? Is that possible?

**Praise God for your desire to grow closer to HIM!

Couple points about third orders (all of them). The third order of any religious order is the same call for the ordained, religious and lay people. The main difference is the way this call/vocation is lived out. The other difference is - where ordained and religious of any order take vows - third order members take promises. These promises are not to be taken lightly - they are promises before the community and a Spiritual Director.

So with the Carmelite call - the third order is the same call. You need to read as much as you can about being a third order Carmelite. It is not an easy process and will take years. That is a good thing.

Read the book Welcome to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites**, published by Institute of Carmelite Studies (ICS Publications).

I would write to everybody around and wait for the replies.
I would dialogue through emails first.
Unless you want something specifically.
Put yourself in God’s Hands.
Let nothing worry you. After all you want to want to be a nun. A nun is someone who is in God’s Hands to do His Will.
So, relax.
If God’s way is for you to be a nun, you will be a nun.
If God’s way is for you not to be a nun, you will be rejected or something on your way (a boyfriend for instance) will impede the way. Do not fear rejection for it is God’s way to saying His Will.
And you should do His Will not yours.
Step by step you will be going towards the Master.
Do not put so many problems at once.
Live day by day, moment by moment, that is the Way od God.
He has got it all planned so let yourself go…

I am 32 and in formation for the Secular Franciscan Orders. Your best bet is to first research charisms and narrow it down to ones that interest you. Once you have narrowed it down - look up the National websites for the third orders and get in touch with the minister of the closest Fraternity. Pray on it - the Holy Spirit will most likely let you know where you should start your discernment. Remember a Vocation is a call from God, Confirmed by the Church.

But I don’t want to be a nun! Well yet…or at all…because I’m married…which is why I would join a Secular order^^

Of course we never quite know what God has planned for us…so who knows…my husband could die at a young age, but I certainly hope not!

Maybe I missed it but I haven’t seen anything about becoming a nun.

My bad - I just saw it - sorry.

A third order is different from being a Nun/Sister. It is not helpful to give advice on things which are not understood.

Most people seem to be addressing the other aspects of your post. I want to address your second and third question.

If you are moving soon I highly suggest waiting until you have moved. Formation for most of the Third/Secular Orders takes a long time. It is one thing to start the process then have to move, another to plan on moving after it has started. You may also find that you might not be interested in the local fraternity where you move to but a fraternity of a similar charism might actually be better. This can all be part of the proper discernment.

As for your age. As long as you are over 21 it shouldn’t be a problem. Under 21 it may be a problem depending on the rules of the particular Third Order.

I’m 20 and a half roughly…The thing is…I won’t be moving until next fall for school. I guess there a 50% chance I’m staying in state, and a 50% chance I’m going out of state. I would much prefer to be out of state as I like those two colleges better.

I know I probably shouldn’t…I don’t know…get too excited and rush into it, but I’m so excited! Haha^^ I think I’m getting to anxious and maybe it would be best to wait and see what’s there, but what am I going to do for the three months I’m at home in the summer? Either way there doesn’t seem to be a good way to go about it.

What do I do?

It’s good that you have such an enthusiasm for the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, but it would be best to wait until you have moved and are certain that there is an OCDS Community or Group relatively close to you. However, being able to make the monthly meetings is a requirement you must be able to meet (realizing, of course, that illness and other serious matters will occasionally preclude attendance); since you will be away from school for three months each year, this would be an impediment for the time being.

Making contact is as easy as giving the contact person for the Community a call or sending an e-mail. Most OCDS Communties have a new inquirer attend as a Guest for several months while their is mutual discernment as to a vocation to the Order; once accepted as an Aspirant there will be ongoing discernment until such time as a person makes his or her Permanent Profession.

The chapter that I visited will not allow you to apply to be an aspirant until you have been a visitor for a year.

To the OP, I would take a look at this thread. It may help you in your discernment.


In addition to the advice by FCEGM, he mentioned attending during your discernment process but if Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites is like SFO there is no requirement that you ever join. You can attend as a visitor indefinitely. In SFO you can basically do everything everyone else is doing as a visitor except vote or hold office.

I would suggest attending as a visitor while you are in college then after you graduate and decide where you are going to live long-term then start the formation process. As has been said, most secular Orders have attendance requirements both for formation and normal meetings. Meeting these requirements can be tough in college, especially if you live on campus without transportation. Some secular Orders like the Franciscans have outreaches to people in your age range like YouFra that you might want to investigate.

it is not about being a nun, read the poster above who explained the difference in lay persons in the world, professed religious, and the ordained who are each called to the charism of a specific order, and how that charism works out differently according to their different vocations.

we cannot answer about a specific order, you would have to research with the order to which you are attracted and search for monasteries that support seculars.

try the contact info in the sticky on the topic

With the OCDS Guests may attend for a given period of time (set by each Community/Group, with no less than six months being recommended), but not indefinitely. With our Formation we break into smaller groups depending on where a person is in Formation: Guest, Aspirant (1 year) , First Formation (2 years), Second Formation (3 years).

Check this out:

Part of the Pauline Family. Vatican approved, consecrated life for married and widowed people, wholive in their own homes, caring for their families etc…consecrate themselves to God. Just as priests, brothers, and nuns consecrate themselves to God through their vocations, married couples and widowed persons consecrate themselves to God in their vocation as married people.

You start as a postulant, then move on to novice, first profession, renewal(2 x’s), and final vows. I believe the entire process takes approx 7 years. They have a yearly retreat in Ohio in Sept.(not required but recommended) and are required to write a monthly(snailmail or email) letter to Fr. Tom. Each month you receive reading materials and a cd to listen to, to guide you in your spiritual formation.

Need more info check out the website, call Fr. Tom Fogarty, feel free to PM me. I made my first profession in July.

God bless,

As a Secular Discalced Carmelite myself, here’s my advice:
Wait until you either move or know you won’t be moving. If you truly have a vocation, it won’t be lost by waiting.
In the meantime, you can learn more about the Order by reading Fr. Deeney’s “Welcome to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.” You could also read other Carmelite works, especially St. Teresa’s “Way of Perfection.”
If you don’t already pray the Liturgy of the Hours, begin learning that. We pray Morning and Evening Prayer daily, and Night Prayer is highly recommended. We also attend Mass daily as far as is possible.
These will begin to give you an idea of the OCDS life.

I tried to get this book, but it’s hard to find for under $100. Do you know where I can purchase it online?

ICS Publications:

A treasure-trove of Carmelite works!

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