The Third Order of Carmel (TOC), or the Secular Carmelite Order (SCO) is an international public association of laity erected by Apostolic privilege with the purpose of working towards Christian perfection and of dedicating themselves to the apostolate. It does this at the very least by offering prayer and sacrifice for the needs of the Church and by taking its place in the world according to the Carmelite charism. It sets out to do this by living the Gospel in the spirit of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel under the supreme direction of the Order itself.
VISION AND IDENTITY
The Third Order of Carmel or the Secular Carmelite Order of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel commit to the spiritual nourishment of the Carmelite family in the Philippines and in the world. It shall be part of building and creating a Carmel responsive to the signs of the times, finding strength and motivation by “pondering day and night the words of the Lord.”
Responding to the challenges of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II, 1991), we seek to participate more fully in the life of the church and in its tasks of mission, together with the clergy and religious, as a community of disciples. The Secular Carmelite Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (historically known as the Third Order) is an association of mainly laypersons. Its members, responding to a special call of God, freely and deliberately commit themselves “to live in the following of Jesus Christ” according to the traditions and spirit of Carmel under the authority of the Prior General of the Carmelite Order. The members, though not in Religious Life, choose to live out their baptismal commitment according to the spirit of the Carmelite Order. Carmelite spirituality stresses purity of heart and “vacare Deo,” the emptying of self so that God can be our all. The call to Carmel, a call to seek God’s will in the ordinary circumstances of everyday life, roots Lay Carmelites in a love of those with whom they live and work, in the search for God’s face, and in solidarity with God’s people everywhere.
History of Philippine Lay Carmel
1954: The 1st TOC Community was started in Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Parish, Cubao, Quezon City by Rev. Fr. Fidelis Limcaco, then a Carmelite Friar of St. Elias Province of USA.
1957: The O.Carm. Dutch Province accepted the invitation of Bishop Epifanio Surban, Diocese of Dumaguete to establish a Carmelite Mission in Negros.
1958: The Carmelite Friars started a Parish Community in Escalante, Negros Occidental. Mount Carmel College was established in Balintawak (now New Escalante), Negros Occidental.
O.Carm. Nuns from Maravillas, Spain started a Monastery in Dumaguete City and they organized a TOC Community (Dumaguete Cathedral) soon after.
Msgr. Fidelis Limcaco with some TOC members from Cubao started a TOC Community in the Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish, Sta. Ana, Manila.
1963: Mt. Carmel Seminary was established in New Escalante. Fr. Paul Medina O.Carm. was the first Filipino O.Carm. and a product of the Seminary. Thus, started our own local Carmelites.
1967: The O.Carm. Dutch Province opened a Mission in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur.
1968: O.Carm. Nuns established the Holy Family Monastery in Meycauayan then moved to Guiguinto, Bulacan.
1978: The Holy Family TOC Community in Guiguinto, Bulacan was organized by the Nuns.
1983: The Our Lady of Miraculous Medal TOC Community in Project 4, Quezon City was founded by Remedios Padilla, TOCarm, a member of Cubao TOC Community.
1984: The Our Lady of Nazareth TOC Community in Cabanatuan City was organized by the Nuns.
1985: The TOC Community of the Immaculate Conception Major Seminary was started. Male TOC members of Guiguinto were integrated into the community.
1986: The Our Lady of Maravillas TOC Community, Sibulan, Negros Oriental, a Monastery-based community was established by the Nuns when the convent was transferred to Sibulan.
1989: The 1st TOC National Consultation was convoked by Fr. Peter Kramer, O.Carm. for the purpose of coming up with “a Common Formation Program and to look into the possibilities of sharing our resources and respond to the demands of our Society and our Church today.” In his letter of invitation dated March 7, 1989 to all TOC Communities, he further wrote: “To realize this, we have to have a National Structure that shall facilitate the coordination of Tertiary activities. This is the reason why we call a National Consultation of Third Order of Carmel.”
Thus the 1st TOC National Consultation was held on April 21-23, 1989 at the Sacro Costato House of Prayer, 13 Scout Magbanua St., Q. C. with the following objectives:
a. To have a common TOC vision.
b. Towards a coordinated Third Order activities.
c. To have a cooperation among Third Order chapters in the Philippines for sharing of resources.
1990: The 2nd TOC National Convention with the theme “Carmel in the Philippines Towards the Year 2000” was convoked by Fr. Peter Kramer, O.Carm. and held on April 19-22, 1990 at the Immaculate Conception seminary, Guiguinto, Bulacan. Facilitator was Fr. Paul Medina, O.Carm.
1991: The St. Rafael TOC Community, Balut, Tondo was started by members from the Sta. Ana Community.
1992: The 3rd TOC National Convention was convoked by Fr. Peter Kramer, O.Carm., National Director and scheduled for April 23-26, 1992 at the Maria Assumpta Seminary, Cabanatuan City. Facilitator of the Convention was Fr. Paul Medina, O Carm. The theme was: “Organizing TOC Towards the year 2000”. A draft of the Local Statutes was prepared by an ad hoc commission and same was ratified during the convention.
Fr. Paul Medina, O Carm, then the National Director of the Lay Carmelite of the Philippines initiated the printing of the Amended Blue Book Manual.
1993: The Divine Mercy TOC Community of Sikatuna Village, Quezon City was started by Ester Pascua, TOCarm, a member of Project 4 TOC Community.
1994: Two TOC Communities was founded: a) Our Lady of the Assumption TOC Community in Guinobatan, Albay by Lourdes Nuyles, TOCarm, a member from Project 4, Quezon City b) Our Lady of Mount Carmel TOC Community of New Escalante, Negros Occidental.
1995: The foundation of the Sacred Heart TOC Community in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur. Also, the Immaculate Conception TOC Community, Sta. Cruz, Laguna was started.
Fr. Paul Medina, O.Carm., presided over the 1st National Formators Convention for the TOC.
1996: The 5th TOC National Convention was held at the St. Joseph Seminary, Sibulan, Negros Oriental on April 11-14, 1996 with the following theme: “Journeying in Carmel Towards AD 2000”
1998: The following TOC Communities were founded:
a. Our Lady of the Rosary TOC Community, Rosario, Agusan del Sur.
b. St. Michael TOC Community, Bahbah, Prosperidad, Agusan.
c. San Isidro Labrador TOC Community, Palawan
d. Our Lady of Fatima TOC Community, Las Piñas City.
The 6th TOC National Convention was held at the Maria Assumpta Seminary, Cabanatuan City on April 24-26, 1998 with the following theme: “Deepening Commitment in Carmel Towards the Year 2000”.
2000: Our Lady of Pilar TOC Community in Las Piñas City was established.
The 7th National TOC Convention was held in Titus Brandsma Center on April 28-30, 2000. The theme of the Convention was: “Witnessing in Carmel Towards the New Millenium”.
2002: Mater Carmeli TOC Community in Mater Carmeli Monastery, Tarlac and Mary “Star of the Sea” TOC Community in the Monastery of Mary “Star of the Sea”, Tanay were established. However, the Tanay community was dissolved after a year.
The 8th National Convention was held at the St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dumaguete from April 9 to 11. The theme was “Towards a Deeper Commitment in the Third Order of Carmel” where Sis. Nimfa Tangcuangco was elected as National Prioress.
2003: Two foundations were made at this time, one in Bacoor and another in Caloocan. However, the Caloocan group did not prosper but the one in Bacoor continued. Thus, the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage TOC Community was established at Queensrow, Bacoor, Cavite. Also, the Prior General of the Carmelite Order, Fr. Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm. came to visit and had an audience with the TOC.
2004: Thematic retreats for TOC was implemented to harmonized the formation program. Star of the Sea TOC Community in Tanay, Rizal was suppressed. The Holy Family TOC Community located in the Carmelite Monastery in Guiguinto was divided into three: the mother community, the Immaculate Conception TOC Community in Malolos, and the St. John the Baptist TOC Community in Calumpit.
2005: Foundation of the Regina Decor Carmeli TOC community at the Parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Pulong Buhangin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.
The 9th National Convention was held at San Francisco, Agusan del Sur from April 19 to 22 with the theme “Towards a Deeper Involvement in Carmelite Ministries”. Sis. Nimfa Tangcuangco was re-elected as National Prioress.
Our Lady of Fatima TOC Community was suppressed.
2006: St. Teresa of Jesus TOC Community in Barasoain Church and St. Therese of the Child Jesus TOC Community in Sta. Elena, Hagonoy, Bulacan were established.
The members of the National Council resigned and an interim-National Council was put up under the helm of Rosalie Castro as National Coordinator and Fr. Pete Manilag, O.Carm. as the Provincial Delegate.
Fr. Pete Manilag, O.Carm. succeeded Fr. Toto Jaranilla, O.Carm. as the National Spiritual Director of the TOC.
2007: Ruel Santos was sent as representative of the Carmelite Third Order of the Philippines to the 2007 General Chapter of the Order at Sassone, Rome.
2008: The 10th National Convention was held at the Bukal ng Buhay Retreat House, Bustos, Bulacan with the theme “Buhay Karmelita: Bokasyon, Pagpapatotoo, Pag-aalay Buhay”. The new national statutes was approved and the following were elected as officials of the National Council: Rosalie Castro – National Coordinator; Cynthia Penalosa – 1st Councilor; Ruel Santos – 2nd Councilor; Flor A’ Jose – 3rd Councilor; and Mila Exconde – 4th Councilor.
Establishment of Sts. Elijah and Elisha TOC Community of the Parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Sabang, Baliuag, Bulacan.
2009: The St. Teresa of Jesus TOC Community of Barasoain Church was suppressed. Establishment of St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi TOC Community at the Parish of the Holy Spirit, Alido Heights, Malolos, Bulacan.
The Bl. Maria Sagrario de San Luis Gonzaga TOC Community was established at the Parish of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Poblacion Sta. Cruz, San Luis, Pampanga.