The Carmelite Third Order (Secular)
Lay Carmelite Communities
Members of the Carmelite
Third Order normally belong to a Lay Carmelite community that meets on a regular (usually monthly) basis. Most Lay Carmelite communities meet for a few hours every month to share time together in prayer, formation (usually discussion on a particular topic), social time, and sometimes a form of social outreach or charitable work. Some communities meet on church premises or at a community of Carmelite religious; others meet in members' homes.
Lay Carmelite communities offer spiritual and social nourishment.
Those who cannot attend a regular community meeting because of perhaps geographic distance or illness are known as 'distance members', but they are still linked to a particular community who will seek to provide them with a source of support.
In the British Province there are two types of Lay Carmelite community: 'Chapters' of the Third Order, and Carmelite Spirituality Groups. Essentially both types of community have a lot of features in common. Both provide formation in the Carmelite tradition, time for prayer, and sharing socially. Traditionally Third Order Chapters have been open only to those who want to commit to the Carmelite way of life as members of the Third Order, whereas Carmelite Spirituality Groups are broader in their membership, welcoming both tertiaries and enquirers together, as well as people from different Christian denominations and varied walks of life.
In the British Province communities vary in size from perhaps just 3 or 4 members up to groups exceeding 30 or 40. As of 2012 there were approximately 30 groups across Britain, as listed on the map of communities.
Members of Leeds Carmelite Spirituality Group sharing time together.
Unlike the friars, nuns and apostolic sisters, Lay Carmelites do not
usually live together in a physical community but meet at least once a
month for prayer and formation in Carmelite spirituality. Such meetings
are a time to grow together in friendship and a deeper commitment to the
values of Carmelite life.
Gathering for the Eucharist is sometimes a feature
of Carmelite Third Order Communities where a priest is available.
In addition to monthly meetings, most Lay Carmelite communities in Britain arrange special events such as socials, pilgrimages, retreats, or quiet weekends.
York Carmelite Spirituality Group