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Alumnus Called to Carmelite Ministry

A DeSales alumnus is embarking on a unique journey this week that will connect him with a special part of DeSales's past.

Dustin Hungerford, a 2006 graduate, is set to move to Chicago, IL, where he will begin a one-year pre-novitiate program with the Carmelite Order.  Located on the campus of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Hyde Park, the program introduces candidates to the Carmelite way of life.  One of his first experiences with the community will be a retreat during the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel during the third week of July.

Another DeSales graduate, Fr. Bill Harry, O. Carm. '72, is currently the prior provincial, serving as the primary authority in the province.

The DeSales connection to the Carmelite Order resounds within the school.  The Carmelites were invited by the Archdiocese of Louisville to operate DeSales when it opened in 1956.  Dozens of Carmelite priests and brothers served as administrators and faculty at DeSales while living in the DeSales monastery.  It wasn't until 1983 that a lay person was hired to lead the school as principal, and the last Carmelite left the school in 2004.  Their legacy continues to shape much of the school's spiritual identity.

This new direction in Dustin's life follows a four-year high school teaching career that included a year at Mercy Academy and three years at Sacred Heart, where he served as a member of the religion faculty.  He majored in theology and philosophy at Bellarmine University before receiving a masters degree from St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.

So when did this vocational calling to religious life first become present to him?

"Second grade," he said, without a pause.

Dustin's decision to seek membership within Carmelite Order followed a discernment process that included inquiries into the Jesuit and Dominican Orders.  His interest in the Carmelites grew as he considered the personal growth it would offer him, as well as the opportunities it would provide for serving the community.

"The charisms of the Carmelite Order include a focus in prayer life and a personal quest for spirituality that are both really important to me," Dustin noted.  "But I am also drawn to the intersection of ministries within the order that include serving in schools, parishes, or retreat programs, both here in the states, and internationally."

If he decides to stay with the Carmelites after his first year in Chicago, Dustin will spend a year as a novice in Middletown, NY, before undertaking a two-year internship.  He would then choose between non-ordained ministry as a Carmelite brother, or further education at Catholic University to become an ordained priest.  For now, as with any education, he is taking things one step at a time.

There are nine other men visiting Chicago this fall as part of their own Carmelite discernment.  Dustin will be one of five to enter the pre-novitiate.

(Pictured L to R: Dustin Hungerford '06, DeSales president Doug Strothman, Carmelite vocations director Fr. Paul Henson, associate director of alumni relations Justin Lewis '05, and director of advancement Joshua Blandford)