Home Page for Carmelite Convent Darlington
Cards for Any Occasions
Mass Cards for death and bereavement
Rosaries and prayers
Mainly for Lent
St Teresa of Jesus (Teresa of Avila)
Feast Day Cards
Mass Cards for the Living
Thank you cards: Floral
Thank you cards: Religious
Thank you cards
Ordination to the Diaconate
New Baby and Baptism
First Holy Communion
Questions and answers
Saint John of the Cross
Medals and other religious items
Contact Information for Carmelite Convent
Links for Carmelite Convent
How many nuns are in your community?
At present there are 7 sisters.
Why do you wear a brown habit?
Brown was one of the cheapest materials there were, when St Teresa started the reform.
Do you take a vow of silence?
Carmelites don't take this vow, but some Poor Clare nuns do. Our vows are Poverty, Chastity and Obedience
How old is the youngest nun in your community?
She is in her thirties.
Don't you find being a nun boring?
On the whole there's too much happening to be bored. Prayer time can become very difficult and some people may call it boring, but if you just keep at it, in time it will yield fruit.
Can nuns get married?
Nuns get married to the Lord. That does not mean women who have been married before cannot become nuns. Under certain circumstances they are admitted. But while a woman is a nun she may not marry a man according to Church laws.
Do you sing?
We sing parts of the Office and parts of Mass.
Do you play instruments?
Anybody who is musical is encouraged to keep it up, but they are not forced to do so. The organ in chapel is played for the Office or Mass and other instruments if there are competent players.
Do you have a garden?
We have three and a half acres of land which includes the house, a pond, some hermitages, an orchard, and some areas for flowers and vegetables.
Do you grow your own food?
We grow some vegetables and some fruit, but not nearly enough for our needs.
Do you ever go out?
We go out for civic duties i.e. voting, for medical reasons like the doctor or the dentist, etc., and we are allowed to go out for shopping when necessary.
What do you do all day?
Our basic timetable:
5.30am - Rise
6.00-7.00 - Private Prayer
7.10am - Divine Office: Lauds (Morning Prayer)
7.30am - Mass & Thanksgiving
After Mass- Divine Office: Terce (1st Little Hour)
Work Time: Cooking, printing, preparing the liturgy, cleaning, dispatching orders for cards, etc.
11.15am - Divine Office: Sext (2nd Little Hour)
Lunch & dishes
12.00-1.00pm - Community Recreation We gather to talk together and usually have some sort of handwork - making rosaries etc.
1.00pm-2.00pm - Work Time
2.00pm - Spiritual Reading
Divine office of None (3rd Little Hour) said privately.
3.00pm - Tea followed by Work
4.00pm - Private Prayer
5.00pm - Divine office: Vespers (Evening Prayer)
6.15pm - Supper & dishes
7.00pm - Free Recreation
7.30pm - Divine Office of Readings
8.00pm - Community Recreation
8.30pm - Divine Office: Compline (Night Prayer)
The above is not set in stone, there is a degree of flexibility.
Every evening there is some free time.
Every Wednesday there is free time instead of Community Recreation.
On Sundays, Solemnities and some Feast days there is no unnecessary work.
Domestic work: Cleaning, Cooking, Etc.
Administration: Accounts, Letters.
Computer/design: Greetings Cards and Book work
Other manual work: Making Scapulars (cutting, sewing, etc), making Rosaries.
In Recreation time the sisters enjoy various craft activities and games.
Can anyone be a nun?
A person would have to be female, free of family commitments and free of wedlock. She must also feel that this is the calling she must follow.
Are there any age restrictions when joining?
People need to have have finished school and had some period of further studies or work.
We are open to accepting late vocations. i.e. people in their 40s or older depending on their health and other commitments.
Why are you enclosed?
The reason enclosure started was for protection. Now it's viewed as safeguard for our way of life; the protection of our silence and our solitude for a life of prayer and reflection on the things of God.
What's inside the enclosure?
It's our house, our garden, our part of the chapel - where we live and work and pray. It is a more or less normal life lived in a limited area with the obvious limitations not going out imposes.
Can people come in and look around the enclosure?
Not usually. Occasionally there will be an open day when people can come in a have a look, but that is very seldom.
What are your bedrooms like?
Each Sister has her own bedroom, it has been that way from the early days of the Order. We refer to the bedrooms as cells. Simply furnished; no TV's and no carpets. There is a table, a chair, a bed, a wash basin and a place to keep extra clothes but this is a limited space.
Do you take vows for ever?
Yes. We take vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. You can see Sr Mary Joseph renewing her vows on the celebration of her silver jubilee. She is the one on the left. They mean a lot to us and we try hard to live by them. This is not always easy as they way of life has changed so much since St Teresa started the Reform in the 1500s.
Do you ever see your family or friends again?
Yes. Family and friends can come and visit, you can also write and receive letters. Depending where the family live you may see more or less of them. Some families visit often others less often.
How do you become a nun?
When you feel called by the Lord and the call doesn't go away, it is time to contact a religious order/community or parish priest. If they feel that you do have a call, they will allow you to join them or advise you on what to do. Nowadays there is usually a period of just living with the community to get a feel. If this feels right you may ask formally to join the community. You then become a postulant for a period of six months to a year, when you ask to go to the next step which is becoming a novice.
As a postulant and novice you are still free to leave. After a noviciate of at least three but possibly five years you may ask to go on to final (in our case solemn vows where you give up the right to all ownership), but once final vows have been taken you are committed for life. You would have to get a dispensation from Rome to leave.
Do you have a Mother Superior?
Each Carmelite community has a Prioress who is the Mother Superior. They may not call her that, but that is her official title. The Poor Clares and other Orders have an Abbess as their superior.
Are you the same as other Carmelite communities?
Each community is autonomous which means we are all independent. The ties we have with each other are ones of friendship and belonging to the same Order. So no community is exactly the same as another one.
What's special/unique about your community?
Darlington is the oldest, English speaking Carmel in the world. The only one left of the ones that were founded on the continent during penal times. We were founded in Lier (as it is now called) in 1648.
Can people come and stay with you for a while?
We have limited facilities, but can put up three or four people as guests or retreatants who wish a private/quiet retreat. If you feel you may have a calling to Carmel there is the possibility if the community feel you are suitable, of living with us for a while.
What do you do for fun?
Some sisters like gardening, handiwork, others enjoy reading. Other sisters enjoy watching videos occasionally. We also have pets we enjoy caring for.