History of the Society in the UK

As the 20th century drew to a close, the Carmelite Order was in a phase of expansion. It moved into many countries where it had never worked before: Bolivia, Mexico, El Salvador, Lithuania, Ukraine, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Timor Est, Papua New Guinea and  Vietnam. There were moves to better the lives of many people in very poor countries like Timor Est. However it was clear that just as the Order was expanding in some parts, it was getting older and shrinking in other parts. This meant that those provinces which in the past had provided funds for missions and had sponsored them in many ways no longer had enough resources to meet their own needs and those of the missions. It was going to be very difficult to finance some of the missionary projects in the future. Indeed, more and more provinces asked the central administration, or General Curia, of the Order for help.

With this in mind, Fr Joseph Chalmers, O.Carm wrote to various Carmelites around the world to ask their advice about how the General Curia of the Order could make sure that we would be able to continue to pay for these very important activities. The response he received from Carmelites in the USA was most encouraging. A Carmelite founded and managed organisation known as “The Society of the Little Flower” had existed there since 1923 with a two-fold purpose: to spread devotion to St. Thérèse, the Little Flower, and to raise funds for the pastoral activities of the Carmelites. He was offered the possibility of establishing another similar society to spread this devotion more widely and to raise funds for our many and growing missionary activities.

He accepted this very generous offer and decided to go ahead with establishing the Society in Europe. The obvious place to begin was in England and so the Society in the UK started. There were many teething problems at the beginning but slowly and surely things settled down. The first mailing was sent out in April 2002 more in hope than in expectation and the response from people who loved the material on St. Thérèse that had been distributed was astonishing. The generosity of people who wanted to support the Carmelite missions was overwhelming.  In the first year of operation the Society was already able to send some help to our missions and from there things have only got better.

The success of the Carmelite missions is the consequence of the love and prayers of those who have supported the Society of the Little Flower over the years. The heart of Carmelite life is to cultivate a relationship with God and to share this with others.  This support and the outcome is the wonderful way in which the Carmelite Order has spread across the world. They could not have done it without the help of the friends of the Little Flower..

There are now more than 500,000 active friends of the Society of the Little Flower throughout the world. They take great pride and joy in their devotion because she has touched their lives many times with her "shower of roses." She continually leads them to discover God's love in their lives. This is why they try to imitate her "little way" each day and spread her devotion. Devotees of Therese share a closeness with her that is truly inspiring.

Society of the Little Flower is a community of faith and prayer. Six times each year friends join in novenas of Masses honouring St. Therese and asking her intercession. Friends share a love for her "little way" which they will try to live each day.

Friends also use the services offered to them by the Society. These include beautiful gift memberships, Mass cards for living and deceased, religious articles, books and devotional literature.