After the short-lived mission at Merthyr Tydvil in Wales, the Irish Carmelite Province undertook a foundation in far-off Australia, to which Ireland in the past had contributed many inhabitants in the persons of political exiles. Among the deportees to Botany Bay after the Rebellion of 1798, were members of the Third Order or Scapular Confraternity, James Dempsey and John Butler, who arrived in Sydney in 1802. The former was a religious leader in the priestless Catholic community and supervised the construction of the first St. Mary's cathedral. A Carmelite priest, Fr. Samuel Coote, was briefly active in Tasmania, 1824-1825.
In 1881 the Irish Province accepted the invitation of the bishop of Adelaide to undertake the spiritual care of the Catholics in Gawler. The original community consisted of Frs. Joseph Butler (prior), Brocard Leybourne, Ignatius Carr, Patrick Shaffrey and Hilarion Byrne. In 1902, Gawler was abandoned for Port Adelaide; in 1906, the Carmelites moved into Port Melbourne and Middle Park, when these became parishes. These three houses, together with the noviciate in Albert Park, founded in 1928, were constituted a Commissariat General in 1930. Fr. Francis Power was named the first Commissary.
After a house of studies had been erected in 1937, all the elements of autonomy were present; in 1948, the Province of Australia under the title of Our Lady Help of Christians became a reality with 41 members in 7 houses. Fr. Joseph Nugent headed the new Province. In 2001 the Australian Province accepted responsibility for the Carmelite presence in Timor Leste and for the Mission Parish of Zumalai.
At present the Province of Australia and Timor Leste has about 60 religious working in Australia, Timor Leste, Italy and United States.
The Provincial Chapter of the Province of Australia and East Timor held on 25-30 April 2010 were elected:
- Prior Provincial: Fr. Denis Andrew, O.Carm.
- First Councilor: Fr. David Hofman, O.Carm.
- Second Councilor: Fr. Paul Cahill, O.Carm.
- Third Councilor: Fr. Bruce Clark, O.Carm.
- Fourth Councilor: Fr. Sean Keefe, O.Carm.
For further information: Province of Australia and Timor Leste
75 Wright Street
MIDDLE PARK, VIC 3206
Tel. 03-9686 3455
Fax 03-9699 1944