California – Arizona Province of St. Joseph

Ancient Roots

Carmelites trace their roots and their name to Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. There, in the 13th century, a band of European men gathered together to live a simple life of prayer and witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Their first chapel was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They called themselves the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.

In the 16th century in Spain, St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) renewed the Carmelite Order. With St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), she strengthened the Order’s commitment to follow Christ through an intense life of prayer for the good of all the Church. They and their spiritual descendants were known as the Discalced—or reformed—Carmelites.

California – Arizona

In 1924, two Carmelite friars from Ireland established our first permanent foundation in California at St. Thérèse Parish in Alhambra. Following this initial foundation, several others followed:

  • St. Thérèse Parish, Alhambra, CA (1924)
  • El Carmelo Retreat House, Redlands, CA (1952)
  • House of Prayer, Oakville, CA (1955)
  • Carmelite Novitiate, San Jose, CA (1959)
  • St. Cecilia Parish and Institute of Spirituality, Stanwood, WA (1989)
  • Carmelite House of Studies, Mt. Angel, OR (1999)

Prior to the 1924 California Foundation, Discalced Carmelite Friars working in Mexico—originally from Catalonia, Spain—fled to Arizona to escape persecution. Their first foundation in Arizona was at Winkelman in 1912. The friars founded Holy Family Parish in 1913 in Tucson, Arizona. Then, another parish was founded in Tucson which still remains under the pastoral care of the friars today:

  • Santa Cruz Parish, Tucson, AZ (1919)

In 1964, the Catalonian Carmelite friars in Arizona affiliated with the friars in California. In 1983, we officially became the California-Arizona Province. Our jurisdiction includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and Utah.

Following the encouragement of Pope St. John Paul II to spread the Gospel through missionary efforts, our Province established a Mission in East Africa:

  • Carmelite Mission, Jinja, Uganda (2002)

In 2008, this foundation obtained the status of a House of Studies and still continues to form Discalced Carmelite Friars today. 

A Vibrant Province

Within our geographic area, there are also 16 monasteries of cloistered Discalced Carmelite nuns, a congregation of active Carmelite Sisters, and 69 communities or groups of Discalced Carmelite Seculars (OCDS) for lay people.

Due in part to the tremendous popularity of such Carmelite Saints as St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Thérése of Lisieux and St. Edith Stein, our Province continues to receive vocations today.

Provincial Office

Fr. Adam Gregory Gonzales, O.C.D.
Provincial Superior
P.O. Box 8700
Redlands, CA 92375
(909) 793-0424

Nellie Lara
Assistant to the Provincial Superior

Vocation Office

Fr. Matthias Lambrecht, O.C.D.
Vocation Director
P.O. Box 3420
San Jose, CA 95156
(408) 251-1361 x324

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