Photo: Latrobe Carmel Chapel

A Brief History of the Charter of Life

The history of Carmelite Communities Associated’s Charter of Life began as early as 1971 in Richfield, Ohio where the association had its first meeting after organizing in 1970. This meeting centered on the Teresian Charism. Each community was asked to dwell on a particular aspect of he charism and to present its reflections to the assembly. Thus, the seed for an articulation of our experience was sown.

Icon Written by Sr. Mary Grace, OCD
Terre Haute Carmel

The following year at the second meeting in Richfield, as the association’s goals and objectives were being formulated, the need for an inspirational document that would express our lived experience became apparent. The seed took root and through the next three years it slowly grew.

Then, in 1975 at the meeting at Holyoke, Massachusetts, the sisters focused on the history and tradition of our Carmelite Order. By the end of the meeting the desire for a charter had emanated from the group. Subsequently, this project was entrusted to the Chairperson and the Coordinating Committee. The time had come and the seed had blossomed. By August of that same year, the Charter of Life Task Force was established and the work begun. Throughout the years, different sisters generously served as members of this task force.

The communities showed their commitment by their excellent responses to various letters and requests from the task force. When in 1976, the Workbook, a tool for intra-community dialogue and study, was sent out, the response was phenomenal. Each community sent in material, and everyone gave of herself in an effort to articulate our experience of Carmel today. A communal expression evolved through prayer, study, dialogue and growth. The deeper mutual understanding which resulted from fine involvement of the communities was one of the finest fruits of this endeavor. Thus, the Charter manifests our unity, trust, and love.

We realize that we can never completely express the essence of our Carmelite contemplative life, however, in the Charter we have attempted to symbolize it in a poetic fashion. Since the meaning of poetry surpasses the words, our Charter of Life challenges us to go beyond the written word, beyond our present lives, and to move into the future seeking His Face in an ever continual search.

Sister Carol Sachse, O.C D.
Chairperson of CCA
August 24, 1979
Feast of St. Bartholomew

Click to read -CCA Charter of Life