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Do You Think You May Have A Carmelite Vocation?
The Oakville Monastery served as Novitiate for the California region for many years. Here, candidates for the Carmelite Order received their initial formation, before going on for further studies to San Jose, founded a few years later. Hence, Oakville could be called the cradle of the future Carmelite Province. In 1981, when the Novitaite was transferred to the San Jose Monastery, Oakville was designated as a House of Prayer and Retreat Center.
The Carmelite Order was in existence long before it came to Oakville: over seven centuries ago. Carmel has the distinction of being the only religious order in existence to have been founded in the Holy Land. It was in the vicinity of Mount Carmel, about the year, 1214, that St. Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, gave the original rule to the first Carmelite Monks. Very likely many Crusaders from Europe who, after serving in a military capacity against physical enemies now decided they wanted to wage a war in "spiritual combat" against the ones who as Jesus said should be the ones we should really fear, not those who have only the power to kill the body but even more importantly those who have the power to kill the soul. As a result of the adverse conditions of the crusading effort they mitigated to the West: Cypress, France and England, then eventually all over Europe, where they became part of the great mendicant movement with the Franciscans, Dominican and Augustinians.
In the 16th Century in reponse to the cal of the Council of Trent to renew religious life, two saints, and later Doctors of the Church, St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross, set about the revitalization of the Carmelite Order in Spain. This renewal spread throughout the world, to Ireland in 1625, to Alhambra, Los Angeles in 1924, and Oakville in 1955.
Who Are the Discalced Carmelites?
Qualifications for Entry
- A firm desire for union with God through prayer and service to the Church.
- Age: 19-35 (exceptions may be made)
- Good psychological and physical health.
- Free of dependents and financial debt.
- Some college (preferably attainng a B.A.) or work experience.
"It was towards evening of a hot day, September 5, 1955. The first shades of dusk were settling peacefully on the quiet hills around the lonely mansion, deep stillness. Weary in body but elated in spirit four of us climbed the small reise of ground to our new monastery, to a future for our order and had finally arrived in northern California, a significant milestone on the road to new horizons of achievement to self-determination"Type yo
These were the words Fr. Edward used to describe in his diary the manner in which he and the other three founders took possession of the mansion, which was to become the first Monastery in Northern California.
The Doak Mansion, which was eventually destined to become the Carmelite House of Prayer was built by David Perry doak, a steel and railroad industrialist. The structure began in 1917 and completed in 1921 at the cost of $250,000. Weeks and Day of San Francisco were the designers. landscaping was provided by John Mclareen who had gained national acclaim with the landscaping masterpiece we all know as the world famous Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Unfortunately David Doak was not able to enjoy the work of his great endeavor. He died February 26th, 1921 shortly after the completion of the the Mansion. Frieda, David Doak's widow, married Colonel John McGill.
The Doak Mansion was originally situated on 2,000 acres of land extending from the foothills of the Napa Valley to what would eventually become Highway 29. The Colonel offered it to President Calvin Coolidge as a summer residence. However, the President eventually decided to set up his residence in Colorado. The Doak Mansion was even caught the eye of two famous Hollywood actors, Bing Crosby and , who just happened to be cruising through the Napa Valley one day and stopped in and inquired about purchasing the Mansion.
From about 1930-1945 the Doak Mansion was without residentts and largely neglaected. In 1945, the entire property was sold to the wealthy Napa Valley rancher, Martin Stellings. He was interested in the prime agricultural land and never lived in the mansion. Through caretakers, he kep the house from serious deterioration although quite a lot of vandalism took place.
In 1955, Noel Sullivan, brother of Mother Agnes of Santa Clara, and art collector, came to the help of the Carmelites. he donated $60,000 to purchase the vacant mansion and the 29 acres of the surrounding property. Noel died in 1956 leaving a further bequest to the Carmelites for the building of the present Chapel. Paul Ryan was the architect responsible for this magnificent tribute to the height and greatness of the worship our God deserves. Walking into it is a feeling so overwhelming many are at a loss of words to describe it. So important is it to the Napa Valley it is even considered a historical monument.
In the Chapel is a memorial to Noel Sullivan fittingly placed under the altar of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The marble plaque on the altar reads
"In loving memory of Noel Sullivan, most generous benefactor of the Order of the Clessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Revered for his great love of God, of mankind and of all living things, one which he poured out great largess and kindness. Born Decemeber 25th, 1890-died September 15, 1956"