This section describes how, under God’s grace and guidance, various elements came together to provide the unique charism of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham.

From the start we had wanted to combine the prayer of the Carmelites with the poverty of the Franciscans, the zeal for truth of the Dominicans and the liturgy of the Benedictines. But, as we were reminded by a good friend ‘that’ll only be in the parusia!’ The Church in her wisdom requires new communities to choose one of the long-standing approved rules which have been evaluated over time. Hence, we chose the Rule of St Albert as it proved to be the simplest and easiest to adapt to our needs as a ‘contemplative but not enclosed’ community and to root us in the Carmelite tradition. We are experiencing that its deep scriptural base and its particular devotion to Our Lady provide us with the means to be faithful:

  • to humanity and to our time
  • to Christ and the Gospel
  • to the Church and its mission in the World
  • to religious life and our charism in particular

The Community itself arose from the Vocations Disernment Group. This fact and the long-standing link between Vocation and Evangelisation (expressed so well in the 1997 document ‘In Verbo Tuo’) helped us recognise that, although rooted in the Carmelite tradition, our spirituality is a ‘Vocational’ and ‘Incarnational’ one.

We aim to help promote a vocational culture in the Church and in contemporary society by supporting everyone’s growth in freedom so that they can follow their unique call in life – God’s dream for them and, in effect, their heart’s deepest desire. Ultimately it is not important what state of life we are in, what we ‘do’, but our relationship with God and how that unfolds, who we are and how we have lived by love. True joy will only be found in the realisation that each of us can reach the fullness of life by following God’s call to love and serve, wherever we find ourselves.

Walsingham is England’s Nazareth, the place where we remember the joy of Mary’s ‘yes’, ‘let it be’, ‘amen’, ‘alleluia’ to God’s plan for her. We recognise in the spirituality of Walsingham, an incarnational spirituality, the source of our desire to do as Mary has done herself: opening ourselves to the fulfilling of God’s will in our lives and helping others say ‘fiat’ in their lives. Hence, the mystery of the Annunciation is central to our charism.