The Carmelite Nuns & Seculars
The Carmelites had no affiliation of Carmelite nuns, until 1452. The first official convent of nuns was at Florence, in Italy. It was followed by a rapid growth of Carmelite convents in Europe. The Carmelite nuns follow the Rule of St. Albert and the Constitutions written by St. Teresa of Jesus, and in recent years adapted according to the Second Vatican Council. Besides welcoming women into the Carmelite life, at the same time the Prior General, Blessed John Soreth, obtained permission from the Pope for the Order to accept laity as members.
The Discalced Carmelite Origins
In August 1562 Saint Teresa founded a new style of Carmelite community in Ávila, Spain. It was to become the first of a new Order: the Discalced Carmelites. [The term 'discalced' means 'barefoot' and comes from the practice of wearing sandals.] Teresa tells us she founded her community so that women could contribute to the life of the Church which, at the time, was being torn apart by the Reformation. The nuns were to dedicate their contemplative lives of prayer and friendship with Christ for the unity and holiness of the Church. In 1567 she received permission to make more foundations of nuns and to begin communities of friars. She wanted the friars to live the same contemplative life as the nuns so they could support and guide them while also being available for apostolic and missionary work.
Discalced Carmelites in Australia
The Carmelite nuns came to Australia from Angouleme in France in 1885. The friars came from Ireland in 1948. The community of the Angouleme Carmel in exile came to Parkes NSW in 1949. There are now seven communities of Nuns in Australia and three houses of Friars. There are seven communities of the Secular Order throughout Australia. The Carmelite Missionary Sisters, a religious congregation founded by Bl. Francis Palau in 1860, came to Australia in 2004.
Discalced Carmelites in New Zealand & the Pacific
The Carmelite nuns in Sydney founded communities of Nuns in Christchurch in 1933 and Auckland in 1937. The Carmelite nuns went to Papua New Guinea from Autun in France in 1934. In 1959 the Carmelite Nuns in Christchurch founded a community of Nuns in Samoa, which went on to found Carmels in Wallis in 2003 and Tonga in 2011. There are three communities of the Secular Order in New Zealand, and also communities in Samoa and Tonga.