Carmel began in the Holy Land. A group of hermits in the early part of the 13th Century lived on the slopes of Mount Carmel, following the spirit and way of life of the prophet Elijah. Carmel flourished in Europe in the consequent centuries and the nuns were founded with the aid of Blessed John Soreth.
But by the 16th century Carmel needed a reform, as did many other Orders that mitigated their rules after the devastating effects of the Black Plague of the late Middle Ages. St. Teresa of Jesus, the great Spanish mystic from Avila, was called by God to do this work and renew the Order of the Blessed Virgin. The Carmels of Jesus, Mary & Joseph trace their roots back to one of the initial foundations of St Teresa of Avila in Caravaca, Spain. That Carmel oversaw the establishment of a Carmel in Puebla, Mexico. And from Puebla there was a Carmelite foundation in Guadalajara, Mexico.
These Carmelites were the victims of great persecutions in Mexico in the 1900s, so to preserve their vocations and lives they were forced to leave their monastery and live out their vocations in small groups in private homes in the disguise of lay clothing. But this was not the vocation outlined in their Rule or in their hearts and so they literally took their lives in their hands and escaped in secret to San Francisco. From there, a pioneer group was invited to make a foundation in Las Vegas (1988-1999), which subsequently was redirected to Lincoln, NE (1999). From this foundation, a new Carmel in Elysburg, PA (2009) was also formed, along with others in Kensington, CA (2013), Post Falls, ID (2017), Philadelphia, PA (2017) and Fairfield PA (2018).
Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE DD invited the Carmel in Lincoln to establish a new foundation in his Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes (Australia), commencing in 2019. From Lincoln, three sisters along with another from Elysburg have established a new Carmel. Two of the founding sisters were born and raised in Australia before moving to the USA to pursue their vocation.
The Carmelite Monastery
Typically, each monastery that is formed quickly fills with new postulants. The Carmelite Sisters devote their lives to prayer, strive to live a life hidden with Christ, and honour the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The primary mission of the Carmelite Order is to pray and offer oblation for the Church and the world. The use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and Divine Office sets this monastery apart and their observance of the Rule and Constitutions is part of an unbroken tradition stretching back from Mexico to Spain to Mount Carmel itself in the Holy Land.
Just like St. Teresa of Avila and St. Thérèse the Little Flower, the nuns practice all the traditional and recognisable aspects of Carmelite and monastic life: the full habit, mental prayer, fasting, abstinence (the nuns observe a meatless diet), enclosure (walls, grills), austerity, personal and communal pursuit of virtue, and union with God.