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The Florida Catholic

Parishes celebrate ‘Carmel feast day’ with investiture and enrollment

VERO BEACH  |  On the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, St. Helen Parish in Vero Beach held an investiture and enrollment to the brown scapular following the 8:30 a.m. Mass. 

The enrollment ceremony began with a welcome, a prayer and Gospel reading by Father Matthew DeGance, parochial administrator of St. Helen. He explained the history of the brown scapular in layman’s terms.

“Our Blessed Mother appeared in 1251 to St. Simon Stock (who) began this prayer years previous, ‘Mary, you have to help us. We are in terrible trouble. The world is falling apart,’” Father DeGance said. “My gosh, this sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Our Lady then appears and says to him, ‘Take courage. This will be my sign of protection.’”

The priest then gave a warning after reciting “the promise” given by Mary to St. Simon Stock. “The words are clear: ‘For those who die wearing this cloth shall not suffer eternal fires.’ But be careful. This is not a trinket or a lucky rabbit’s foot. No, I must live in a state of grace,” he said.

“Live as though you are consecrated always to your baptism to Christ. If you say a rosary, if you commit yourself to our Blessed Mother and say prayers regularly, the graces of the Carmelites will flow.”

“Sacramentals are weapons, spiritual weapons. We are in battle, but our weapons are not of our hands. They are not of this world,” Father DeGance said. “They are weapons of the Lord — truth, justice, love and forgiveness.”

Many times, after becoming invested and enrolled in the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular, this leads to the “next step,” a desire for a more contemplative prayer life. In the Diocese of Palm Beach, there is the (Third Order Secular) Edith Stein Lay Carmelite community at St. Jude Parish in Boca Raton and the St. John of the Cross Secular Carmelites at St. Helen.

“Being a Carmelite is a responsibility. Responsibility does not mean burden. It means the ability to respond to God, who calls us to respond to the world that needs to know God,” said Virginia Corbett, director of the St. John of the Cross Secular Discalced Carmelites at St. Helen.

At St. Jude in Boca Raton July 15, the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Edith Stein Lay Carmelite community held a profession and investiture ceremony in the Church. Carmelite Father John Horan, pastor of St. Jude, presided at the liturgy.

Lorna A. Awit, director of the Edith Stein Lay Carmelites, said, “I have been a Lay Carmelite for 14 years. I was attracted to the Carmel charism of prayer, family and commitment. We have 23 members.”

Meetings are held at St. Jude in Boca Raton on third Sundays from 1:15-3:30 p.m. For more information, call 954-907-4774. At St. Helen in Vero Beach, the St. John of the Cross Carmelites meet every third Saturday of the month after the 8:30 a.m. Mass. For details, call Virginia Corbett at 525-509-9411. For more, visit or

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