THE DISCALCED CARMELITE FRIARS

            

Friars Pictured at top from left to right: Fr. Philip Sullivan, OCD, Fr. Bernard Perkins, OCD, and Fr. Albert Bunsic, OCD


St. Therese Catholic Church is currently staffed by five Discalced Carmelite Friars. The first two are the Pastor, Fr. Philip Sullivan, OCD, and the Associate Pastor, Fr. Bernard Perkins, OCD. Third is Fr. Albert Bunsic, OCD, who is in residence at the Carmelite Monastery.  Fourth and fifth are Deacon Bro. Matthias Lambrecht, OCD, and Bro. Jason Parrott, OCD.  You may find the contact information for each of them by going to the CONTACT page of this website.

If you or someone you know may be interested in becoming a Discalced Carmelite Friar, check out this video by clicking here X.

BIOS OF THE FRIARS

FR. PHILIP SULLIVAN, OCD:  

Fr. Philip, the fifth of six children, was raised--together with his three brothers and two sisters--in a good Catholic family in Garden Grove, California.  His father, Richard Sullivan, was a Junior High School teacher and his mother, Shirley, was a physical therapist.  While in high school, Fr. Philip's family moved to Arizona. Upon his graduation from high school, he attended Arizona State University with the hope of earning a degree in illustration. 

As a young adult, Fr. Philip worked for many years in the restaurant business in Phoenix, Arizona, and in Orange County California. With the encouragement of his father (who had once tried his own vocation as a seminarian), his mother, and a diocesan priest friend of the family, he began to consider a religious vocation. In discerning his call to the priesthood, he considered nine other religious communities and the Diocese of Orange before deciding that it was with the Discalced Carmelite Friars that he felt at home. 

Fr. Philip entered the California-Arizona Province of the Discalced Carmelite Friars in 1998 and made his first Profession of Vows in 2000, taking the religious name Philip of Our Lady of Guadalupe because of his special devotion to her.  After seven years of study at Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon, Fr. Philip was ordained a priest in 2007. 

Since his ordination, he has served the Province as an Associate Pastor of Santa Cruz Church and as Pastor of St. Margaret Mary Church--both in Tucson, Arizona.  In the Summer of 2011, he was assigned to be Pastor and Superior here at St. Therese. He also serves the Province as a member of the Provincial Council (elected in 2011 and reelected in May 2014).   

A well-known fact about Fr. Philip is that he has a great sense of humor.  A little known fact is that he is an accomplished iconographer and character artist. 

FR. BERNARD PERKINS, OCD:

FR. ALBERT BUNSIC, OCD: 

“Have Sacraments, will travel,” says Fr. Albert.  During nearly 60 years of religious life, he has done just that, serving wherever and however he was needed. Now in residence here at St. Therese Church, Fr. Albert was born on May 7, 1936, and grew up in Binghamton, New York, with his twin brother, Fred, and an older brother, John Paul.  As a youngster, his grandmother was a great religious influence in his life. He states, “When I was very young, she instilled in me a sense of gratitude. She taught me how to pray, and my prayer was to say ‘thank you’ to God every day for every thing.”  

After attending two years of junior college, Fr. Albert received a scholarship to play football for the University of San Diego, which was then the location of the diocesan seminary.  There he met two young seminarians who led him to discover the Discalced Carmelite Friars. Ultimately, Fr. Albert was the only one of them to pursue a vocation to the priesthood, but the three remained lifelong friends. “God used them to help me in my discernment,” says Fr. Albert.  He entered the Carmelite novitiate in September of 1958, professed first vows the following year, and took solemn vows on September 8, 1962. 

In 1965, Fr. Albert undertook further formation at the Carmelite House of Studies in Washington, D.C.  He was ordained a priest on June 3, 1967, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  “It was such a thrilling day for me. My parents  were there, and they were really happy.  It was a time to thank them for all they did.  I still get goosebumps when I think about it.” 

His years of ministry had him zigzagging between California and Arizona. He served not only in various parishes but also in formation and retreat ministry.  For six years, he was superior of the House of Prayer in Oakville, California, followed by three years as the superior of the novitiate in San Jose, California.  He has also served as Associate Pastor of St. Margaret’s and Santa Cruz in Tucson.  Since 2013, he has been at St. Therese Church (his third or fourth stint here—the first time was in the 80’s!).  

Although technically “retired,” Fr Albert continues to serve.  “I can’t do everything,” he says, “but I am able to contribute by hearing confessions, anointing the sick, and celebrating Mass.  I’m happy to do those things.” 

“It’s a joyful thought that God chose the Discalced Carmelite Community for me,” Fr. Albert concludes.  “These men always challenge me to be the best version of myself.  When a person is the best version of themselves, they are genuinely holy.” 

HISTORY OF THE DISCALCED CARMELITE ORDER

The origin of the Discalced Carmelite Order came about near the middle of the twelfth century.  A group of pilgrims settled on Mt. Carmel to lead an eremitical life in imitation of the Prophet Elijah. The main elements of Elijah's life—solitude, penance, prayer, and contemplation—became the way of life for the first Carmelites.  The Rule of the first Carmelites was given in 1209 by St. Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem. 

After spreading throughout the Holy Land, the Order broadened to Western Europe. However, the European people did not readily accept them.  Because of this, the Order was in a crisis until, in 1247, a prominent English Carmelite, St. Simon Stock, adapted the eremitical life to make it more practical—without changing its essentials. St Simon's adaptations inaugurated a "golden age" for the Carmelites, giving the Church many mystics, saints, and theologians.  It was also to St. Simon that Our Lady appeared under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, bestowing to him the Brown Scapular. 

A mix of political and social conditions prevailing in Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth century adversely affected the Order.  Many individual Carmelites and even whole communities succumbed to contemporary attitudes and bore less and less resemblance to the first hermits of Mt. Carmel. But in the sixteenth century a Spanish Carmelite nun, St. Teresa of Jesus (1515-1582), renewed the Carmelite Order and strengthened its commitment to intense prayer.  It was after this renewal that they were then known as the Discalced Carmelites (the word "discalced" translates to barefooted).  In 1562, Teresa founded her first monastery in Avila, Spain, and restored the earlier Carmelite traditions of the “spiritual desert” of silence, solitude, poverty and prayer.  She also worked with St. John of the Cross, a Spanish Carmelite friar who lived in from 1542 to 1591),  to establish a similar renewal among the Carmelite Friars. Both St. Teresa and St. John are now Doctors of the Church due to their eminent teachings on prayer.  

St. Teresa’s call to build up the Church fully evolved when the immense project of the missions dawned on her. St. John of the Cross was preparing to join a Carmelite mission in Mexico at the time of his death. Later, Fr. Andrés, Fr. Antonio, and Fr. Antonio were part of that mission. The Vizcaino Expedition gave them the opportunity to spread the Gospel and take the spirit of Carmel to a remote but promising new shore in California.  St. Teresa never dreamed her Carmels would extend beyond Spain.  However, by the time she died in 1582, there were seventeen convents of nuns (all but two of them personally founded by her), and fifteen of friars.  The Discalced Carmelite Order now encompasses the globe!  Following are the four branches of Carmelites in this Province that make up the Carmelite family tree.

FIRST MASS BY A CARMELITE FRIAR IN CALIFORNIA:  On the West Coast of what is now the continental United States, Carmelite friar Fr. Antonio de la Ascension, accompanying explorer Sebastian Vizcaíno, whose ships struggled up the coast of Baja, California, offered the first Mass in present-day California on November 12, 1602, at a site at Point Loma in present-day San Diego, and continued up the coast to a site at Monterey Bay, where he celebrated another Mass on December 16, 1602.

The California-Arizona Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars dates from 1912, when friars working in Mexico—originally from CataloniaSpain—fled to Arizona to escape persecution. At that time they established two parishes in the Diocese of TucsonArizona

• Santa Cruz Parish (1919) and • St. Margaret Mary Parish (1951).  However, in the Summer of 2013, the Carmelites gave St. Margaret's back to the Diocese of Tucson, and it is now run by Diocesan priests.

In 1924, two Carmelite friars from Ireland established our first permanent foundation in Alhambra, California (St. Thérèse Parish).  New foundations followed:

• El Carmelo Retreat House, RedlandsCA (1952)
• House of Prayer, OakvilleCA (1955)
• Carmelite Novitiate, San JoseCA (1959)
• St. Cecilia Parish and Institute of SpiritualityStanwoodWA (1989)
• Carmelite House of Studies, Mt. AngelOR (1999)

In 1964, the Catalonian Carmelite Friars in Arizona affiliated with the Friars in California. The official name is the California-Arizona Province,  It includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, IdahoNevadaNew MexicoOregonWashingtonWyoming, and Utah.

Within this geographic area, there are also 16 monasteries of Cloistered Discalced Carmelite Nuns, two congregations of active Carmelite Sisters, and 45 communities of Secular Order Discalced Carmelites for lay people.

Due in part to the tremendous popularity of such Carmelite Saints as St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Thérése of Lisieux, and St. Edith Stein, the Province is experiencing an unprecedented increase in vocations.

After much prayer and discernment, on November 12, 2002—the exact 400th anniversary of the first recorded Mass on the West Coast of the United States by the Discalced Carmelite Friars (see above)--the Province officially began a new mission in Uganda, Africa (including schools).  It continues to be staffed by Carmelites from this Province and is attracting many new vocations from that area.