Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Wentworthville - a Carmelite Family Parish

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Carmelite Family


Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish is in the care of the Carmelites.  The first Carmelite Priory in Wentworthville was established in 1956 when the Carmelites arrived in the parish.

The Carmelites were established in the 12th Century, beginning as a group of lay hermits who lived on Mount Carmel, on the Israeli coast. Drawn by the spirit of the prophet Elijah, they placed themselves in the care of Mary. They were given a rule by St Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem and became the "Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel", coming together to eat and pray and minister to passing pilgrims. In 1247, Pope Innocent IV changed the Carmelites' hermit way of living into a community life. From that time, the "Whitefriars" grew in number, opening houses in Europe and moving further into a ministry of preaching and spiritual direction.

The first Carmelites in Australia were two lay convicts, John Butler and James Dempsey, who arrived in 1802, transported for their part in the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The first official Carmelite foundation in Australia was made at Gawler, South Australia, in 1881 by the Irish Carmelites. They took over Sandridge Parish (now the Parish of Port Melbourne and Middle Park) in Melbourne in 1882, and established a novitiate in Albert Park in 1928. Since then, they have ministered to parishes in Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Perth and New Zealand, as well as Wentworthville.

Members of the Carmelite community may work in parish ministry, as well as other areas such as chaplaincy, retreat facilitation and education. Some serve in roles within the order worldwide. The members of the Carmelite community in Wentworthville are:

Fr Denis Andrew (Prior)
Fr Anthony Scerri OCarm
Fr John Powell OCarm
Fr Paul Gurr OCarm (Chaplain, Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo)
Fr Martinho Da Costa OCarm

Read a reflection on story of the Carmelites in Wentworthville, wrtiten by the Late Fr Bernard Shah OCarm on the occasion of fifty years of Carmelite ministry in Wentworthville.

The Carmelitesi in Australia and East Timor

Thank God for the Carmelites

Carmelite figures


Lay Carmelites

Who are Lay Carmelites?

We are ordinary people seeking to know and to love God, and to make God known and loved.
We seek to be contemplatives, friends with God, who form praying communities at the service of all God's people.
We find support in an international spiritual family.
We follow an ancient path for today's pilgrim.

Lay Carmelites are just what the name implies: we are 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 offer you space and support for:

  • Reflection: looking for the hidden signs of God in your life and in the world

  • Formation: developing a closer relationship with God through prayer and community

  • Transformation: a gradual path of change and conversion of spirit

A way of life in a spirit of true communion with the entire family of Carmel into which we are fully accepted and incorporated.

What do Elijah, the Old Testament propher, and Our Lady have in common with us?

In seeking to serve and follow Christ in the daily circumstances of our lives we draw our inspiration from the lives of Elijah and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Elijah, "because he is the prophet constantly ready to hear the voice of God and sensitive to the most profound needs of the people" (Carmelite General Chapter).

Mary, "because of her living presence in the history of salvation" (Carmelite General Chapter).

After their example we seek experience and witness to "the presence of God in life through openness to reality and to the signs of the times" (Falco Thuis OCarm)

Lay Carmelite life

The purpose of our life in Carmel is the cultivation of a deeper interior life and a constant conversion that seeks God:

  • in openness of heart and mind to the realities of life and history

  • in contemplative and prayerful reflection on Christ as he is revealed to us in the Scriptures (Luke 2:19 & 5)

  • by a sincere sense of fraternity that extends to all, but especially to the poor and marginalised, and implies an active concern for issues of justice and peace in our world

  • by faithful fulfilment of the will of God according to the commitments arising from each member's individual status in life.

We invite you to explore living the Carmelite way

There is a Lay Carmelite community in Wentworthville. If you are interested in exploring the Carmelite way of life, you can contact the parish office, which will put you in touch with our Lay Carmelite community.