The Discalced Carmelites – case study

History

Unlike many other Roman Catholic Religious Orders, the Carmelite family finds it origins not with a particularly inspired individual, but with a group. Its founding story identifies a collection of essentially solitary souls, in the late 12th or early 13h Century, coming to the same location – a mountain in Northern Israel called ‘Carmel’ – to seek intimacy with God. From these modest beginnings there has grown a worldwide association of friars, sisters and lay people in two closely related spiritual families – whose primary focus remains the inward life of prayer and contemplation.

Context

In 2002, Mark Davis was honoured to be invited to facilitate the Provincial Chapter of the Anglo-Irish Province of the Discalced Carmelite Friars – the first lay person in the long history of the Order. In itself, this was a sign of the times as the attention of the friars was increasingly drawn to their relationship with lay people and how their unique charism may be shared with others. From that time, Mark has been engaged by the Province in a number of capacities both in the UK, Ireland and Australia.

Tasks and Response

Developing Collaboration – the design and delivery of new models of engagement and ways of working with lay colleagues associated with Carmelite houses.

Promoting Carmelite Spirituality – the creation of ‘Carmelite Conversations’, an approach and a resource designed to introduce Carmelite spirituality to a wider constituency. Emerging from this work was the authorship of a brief, beautifully illustrated introduction to Carmelite spirituality entitled, ‘Glimpses of the Carmelite Way’.

Training Facilitators – delivery of a training process for facilitators of small groups in the UK, Ireland and Australia so that they would confidently accompany groups of people coming together to explore some key themes arising from Carmelite spirituality.

Refining Retreat-giving – adding to the portfolio of different forms of retreats available in Carmelite houses. Introducing a style of retreat-giving which is both participative and conversational.

Carmelite Spiritual Accompaniment – designing a model for the training of lay spiritual guides informed by the Carmelite tradition

Recent Work

Helping in the transition of three  convents of Carmelite sisters into a new house – facilitating their efforts to come together as a single community.

Accompanying the retreat team at Tabor Carmelite Centre in Preston, England through a process of reflection and conversation, designed as a way of deepening close working relationships.