The plan to have a Carmelite Monastery in Alabama originated with the desire of Father Frank Casey, SSE (Society of Saint Edmund), superior of the Edmundite Fathers in Selma, Alabama.. Father Casey wanted a cloistered community to be founded in the area because he was convinced of the power of prayer. Father Casey asked Archbishop Thomas J. Toolen to invite a community of nuns to Selma, AL. Archbishop Toolen, however, insisted that the foundation be made in the See City of Mobile.
Archbishop Toolen and Father Casey appealed to Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston, Massachusetts, for money to purchase the Holcombe estate, a farmhouse located at 716 Dauphin Island Parkway.
Mother Gertrude, Prioress of the Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia, was contacted by Archbishop Toolen and four nuns volunteered to come to Mobile. The nuns arrived in the “Deep South, the heart of Dixie,” on October 7, 1943, feast of the Holy Rosary. On November 2, 1943, the nuns moved into their monastery. Archbishop Toolen celebrated the first Mass and established enclosure the following day, November 3.
The tradition of the Carmelite Order holds that from the days of the prophet Elias there was an uninterrupted succession of hermits on Mount Carmel in Palestine. The modern history of Carmel begins with St Berthold of Malifray, who was appointed the first Prior General of the Carmelite Order in 1155. Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila) and Saint John of the Cross reformed the Order in the middle of the sixteenth century.
The Order of Carmel is contemplative and apostolic. The contemplative life of Carmel is modeled on the life of Mary the Mother of God. It is a life of prayer and sacrifice, destined to procure the glory of God by the personal sanctification of the members of the Order and by the continual intercession for the needs of the Church, the sanctification of priests, and the salvation of souls.
On February 20, 2011 eight Carmelite Nuns from the Nha Trang Carmel in Vietnam arrived in Mobile at the request of the Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi to continue their life of prayer and sacrifice.