Laywoman makes vows with Carmelite community


By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Barbara Grothe, a member of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf, has been a part of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites for nearly 20 years. She is the Moline, Ill., community’s formation director and has served as president and secretary in previous years. Last month, she made a lifelong commitment to the order.

Last month, the Secular Discalced Carmelite Community of St. Joseph and the Prophet Elijah witnessed the temporary promise of Jackie McKnight, left, and the vow of Barbara Grothe. Also pictured is Father John Thieryoung, the community’s spiritual assistant.

“My Carmelite community means a great deal to me,” she said. “It is, in the very depth of my soul, a home.”

Secular Discalced Carmelites make promises of poverty, chastity and obedience lived in accordance with the individual’s state of life. Members must be practicing Catholics 18 years of age or older and have discerned a calling to the vocation. Men, women, married persons, single persons or diocesan priests may be members. Grothe is retired and has been married to husband David for more than 50 years. She grew up Lutheran and converted to Catholicism about 45 years ago.


The Secular Discalced Carmelite Community of St. Joseph and the Prophet Elijah has been meeting in the Quad Cites for more than 50 years. “I was attracted to this community initially because I began praying the Liturgy of the Hours before daily Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral (in Davenport) in 1993. I loved this prayer of the church,” Grothe said. “I was invited to a St. Joseph and the Prophet Elijah community meeting.

When I found they were required to pray the hours twice a day I knew this community was for me and I wanted to learn more about the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.”

She was admitted into the community in 1999 and received the scapular. Two years later, she made her temporary promise and in 2005 made her definitive promise.

Ten years later, Grothe began thinking about making vows. “I prayed and discerned if that was what God was calling me to at this time …Following about two years of prayer, discernment and fasting, I was confident God wanted me to make vows.”

She made vows June 23 at St. Anthony Parish in Matherville, Ill. The Mass was celebrated by Father John Thieryoung, pastor of the Illinois parishes of St. Catherine Parish in Aledo, St. Anthony in Matherville and St. John in Viola. He is the spiritual assistant to the Community of St. Joseph and the Prophet Elijah.

The ability to share her spiritual journey with others as a Secular Discalced Carmelite is deeply satisfying for Grothe. “It is a bond like no other. I am grateful God has given me this grace.”

About the Secular Discalced Carmelite Order

The Secular Discalced Carmelite Order is an arm of the Discalced Carmelite Order. The three “arms” — friars, nuns and seculars — share the Rule of St. Albert, which is also shared by the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance. The friars, nuns and seculars each have their own constitution. Each province has its own statutes. The Moline, Ill., group’s community is in the Eastern Province of the United States, the Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary — also referred to as the Washington Province after Washington County, Wis.
The Quad-City group meets once a month at St. Mary Parish in Moline.

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