History and Founders
Brief HistoryFounded in 1962, Carmel Catholic is jointly sponsored by the Order of Carmelites (O.Carm.) and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). In 1960, the Archdiocese of Chicago invited these two religious communities to build a co-institutional Catholic high school in Lake County.
The Order of Carmelites
The Carmelite Order traces its origin to hermits who settled on Mount Carmel in Palestine more than 800 years ago at the time of the Crusades. Ruins from that first foundation show that the early Carmelites led an eremitical lifestyle, living in individual dwellings which surrounded a chapel dedicated to Mary, the "Lady of the Place."
These hermits consecrated themselves to “walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ,” that they might serve him, “clothed in the habit of religious poverty,” persevering “in holy penance” and forming a fraternal community. Sometime after 1206, these hermits asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Albert, to draw up a way of life, outlining how they might live in constant relationship to God. This rule is a formula for living that still influences the Carmelites' life today. With references to the scriptures throughout, it gives practical guidelines for those seeking the face of God in the ordinary things of life.
The Order of Carmelites, which sponsors Carmel Catholic High School, has foundations in Canada, the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, and Peru. Carmelites work in parishes, schools, universities and retreat centers as well as chaplains in hospitals, health care centers and Catholic organizations. Other Carmelites work in administration, formation and the media.
Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Five Irish laywomen, Mary Frances Clarke, Margaret Mann, Rose O’Toole, Eliza Kelly and Catherine Byrne left Dublin to minister to the needs of immigrants in the United States. They arrived in Philadelphia in September 1833, and with the help of Reverend Terence J. Donaghoe, formed a religious Congregation which came to be known as the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs). In 1842, the sisters accepted Bishop Mathias Loras’ invitation to the remote Iowa Territory and by 1843 the total community of 19 had settled in Dubuque.
In response to the pressing needs of the day, these sisters began to establish schools and to teach in parishes. Mount Carmel in Dubuque remains their spiritual home but for more than 170 years the sisters of the BVM have developed ministries and served across the United States and abroad. Today, animated by the pioneering, prophetic and prayerful qualities that have characterized the Congregation from its founding, the BVMs minister in 20 states as well as in Ecuador and Ghana.
Spanning three centuries, the spirit of Mary Frances Clarke has inspired the life and mission of some 4,500 women pioneering in church and society. Going wherever needs are greatest, followers of Mary Frances Clarke still live out the Congregation’s core values: freedom, education, charity and justice.