Within the context of community, the friars observe a simple life of prayer and solitude, which are balanced with daily liturgy, work and love of neighbour. Today the order is focused on the spiritual. Even though it has experienced a drop in its congregation over the past few years, its location has allowed it to remain more active than most churches.
“We have six Masses a day, and we do nearly 30 hours of confession every week. Because of the location we get a lot of tourists in, and this year we’ve had many requests from bus tours to have Mass. Normally you’d get about one or two groups, but this year I had to make a list out to keep track of them all,” says FR James Noonan. “We also get a lot of people in on a Sunday afternoon. They pop in to light a candle. A lot of that goes on. It’s a lovely place to just take a breath.”
Fr James is one of 11 friars at St Teresa’s, ranging in age from 23 to 89. “It’s an office you hold for three years, and it can be held for another three, in that you have a contribution to make and then someone else has another contribution to make.”
Fr. Jim Noonan ODC is a Discalced Carmelite based in St Teresa’s church in Dublin. He has held various leadership roles in the Province and served for ten years in the Carmelite Mission in Nigeria. He has extensive experience in pastoral work, retreat giving, formation, prayer guidance and has recently completed the formation course at the Institute of Religious Formation (IRF) at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He currently holds the post of Prior at St Teresa in Dublin. He also works with members of the Secular Order in Scotland and Ireland.
The Discalced Carmelite friars have also reached out to a modern audience through social media. They have almost 4,000 followers between Facebook and Twitter – but remain focused on their main remit of a life of prayer.
“We are strongly community based, stronger than most religious orders. We live a common life together. We gather to pray and for recreation. We get up around 6.30am and are in the prayer room at 7am. We then have the office readings and quiet prayer, after which we’d have morning prayer. Then somebody might have a Mass, so that would have to be covered. At 1.15 we have midday prayer, then lunch, evening prayer, and night prayer.”