Contemplatives in action: Discalced Carmelites devoted to prayer and spirituality

The friars of the Province of St. Therese and the nuns of the San Antonio and New Caney, TX, communities at the Basilica.

The St. Thérèse Province, based in San Antonio, is a community of 15 Discalced Carmelite priests and religious brothers with five communities in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Along with the Discalced Carmelite Nuns, who live in six communities in four states, the friars serve the Church through a life of contemplative prayer. They also promote Carmelite spirituality through retreats, spiritual direction, conferences, publications, and parish ministry. Sharing their Carmelite vocation are the Secular Order Discalced Carmelite (OCDS), who number about 880 members in 37 communities.

“The OCDS is an essential part of the Province,” said Fr. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, Provincial Superior. “They have an important mission: to share our vocation wherever they are. They bring new life to our Order.”

The six friars who direct the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower are the only contemplative religious order still active in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. To fulfill their mission, the friars collaborate with the local OCDS, a group of 41 members. Together, they are spearheading the development of Carmelite faith formation programs centered on the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower.

The San Antonio OCDS group with Fr. Henry Bordeaux, OCD.

The goal of this collaboration is to renew the Basilica as a center for the evangelization and instruction in the Carmelite charism (prayer, silence, solitude, zeal for the Church).

This summer, the OCDS launched “Get to Know Your Basilica” tours to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the 20th anniversary of the declaration of the shrine as a Basilica. Further tours are scheduled for Dec. 8 and Feb. 2.

The group also began a series of talks on Teresian contemplative prayer at the Basilica in September, to continue in January. The talks are free and open to the public.

“The talks are intended not as information only, but to prepare and touch hearts, leading participants into an encounter with Jesus and encouraging them to seek God in prayer,” said Jane Bernal, OCDS, one of the presenters. “As Carmelites, we are privileged to have been given the precious charism of prayer, and we want to share it with all of God’s Church.”

The primary apostolate of the OCDS canonical community is to share Carmelite spirituality with others. Membership in this religious Order is a lifetime commitment to prayer, devotion to Carmelite spirituality, and evangelism. The San Antonio OCDS has been active as a full community of the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites since 1956.

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