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Lay Carmel in Britain

Lay Carmelite Communities
Since the earliest days of the Order, lay people have been integral members of the Carmelite Family. You can access information about each of the Third Order Chapters and Carmelite Spirituality Groups in Britain by visiting the Communities section of this website (via the menu on the left) and clicking on the relevant map pins and ensuing bubbles for further information.



What today is the Carmelite Order began not as a religious order but with a small number of mostly lay people who came together and formed community on the slopes of Mount Carmel at the beginning of the thirteenth century. It would be some years before they were given an official status by the Church authorities. Over the centuries many people have felt called to Carmel: some as friars, nuns or sisters; others within the context of married family life and others as single people either living alone or in small informal communities.

Carmel is bigger than any individual expression it may have and is not the private preserve of any particular group. In Britain there are many different people who seek to allow God to touch their lives with the Carmelite charism. Many of these are members of the Carmelite Third Order but there are many others.

Lay Carmelites from the British Province at the International Congress in 2006

Different expressions of Lay Carmel
There are many and varied expressions of the Lay Carmelite vocation flourishing in Britain today, including the Carmelite Third Order (Secular), Carmelite Spirituality Groups, The Leaven Secular Institute, and the Brown Scapular Confraternity. Some of these vocations to Carmel are formally organised, whilst others are more loosely affilated to the Order. Together such groups are sometimes referred to as "Lay Carmel", and are part of "the wider Carmelite Family". (For more information on the concept of "Carmelite Family" please lick on the Carmelite Family to visit the Carmelite Curia website). For information about each form of the Carmelite vocation for the laity, please access the relevant pages using the menus on either the right or the left of this page.

Lay Carmelites celebrating at an international meeting of the Order in Rome in 2006

The Carmelite way of life for lay people
The small mountain range known as Carmel has become a symbol of the Carmelite way of life: grounded, solid, deep, yet reaching high. It was here in the Land made holy by the presence of the Saviour that Carmelite spirituality was given birth to at the beginning of the 13th century in the hearts of a small band of mostly lay people who desired to respond to an extraordinary love. Carmelites are united in a contemplative spirit of prayer, community and the desire to serve God and the people with whom we share the world.
 Carmel is the mountain of the prophet Elijah. Nourished by God's word and drawn to intimacy with God, Elijah sought justice for God's people. Mary, the grace-filled woman of Nazareth, is the the mother and sister of all who seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Her eternal Yes resonates in the hearts of all who find inspiration in the Carmelite way. With eight centuries of history, the Carmelite tradition embraces the heart seeking God. It is an ancient path for today's pilgrim.

Lay Carmelites are just what the name implies: lay men and women who form an integral part of the Carmelite family and who try to live the Carmelite way of life in the ordinary circumstances of our lives.

  • We are ordinary people responding to an extraordinary Love
  • We seek and serve Christ in the daily circumstances of our lives
  • We embrace Mary - Our Lady - and the prophet Elijah as models
  • We find support in an international spiritual family
  • We follow an ancient path for today's pilgrim

Lay Carmelites from around the world at their International Congress in 2006

Could God be calling you to Lay Carmel? If you seek personal growth and spiritual formation in the spirit of Carmel... If you desire an opportunity to share your spiritual journey with others... if you would like to belong to the world-wide Carmelite family... you can make enquiries to:


As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."