ASK FATHER: Can a deacon enroll people in the Brown Scapular?

From a reader…


A couple of years ago, I attended an investiture of the Brown Scapular at my local parish. The ceremony was officiated by one of the parish’s permanent deacons. A priest was not present. A few days ago, I came across an article that stated only a priest may enroll someone in the Brown Scapular. I went on to read several other articles saying the same thing. My question is, was my investiture licit? Can a deacon officiate? Can a priest or bishop delegate this responsibility?

No, a deacon cannot do this.  No, this cannot be delegated to a deacon or anyone who isn’t a priest.  A priest must do this.

It used to be that the priest had to be a Carmelite. That is no longer the case.  Any priest can enroll you in the Brown Scapular.

Here is a good page with answers to frequent questions about the Brown Scapular.  HERE

Bottom line: Ask a PRIEST to enroll you in the Brown Scapular.

UPDATED in the combox.

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  1. drforjc says:

    Please see “Rite of Blessing and Enrollment in the Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel” confirmed Congregation for Divine Worship and for the Discipline of the Sacraments , Nov. 29, 1996. Prot. 2243/96/L for the current legislation.

  2. drforjc:

    Firstly, thanks for making a comment.

    Secondly, no thanks for making a cryptic comment. As we say in the biz, mentio non fit expositio. If you are going to add something, add what is pertinent.

    Third, provide a link. I hunted it down. HERE

    Fourth, that rambling document has at 18. 3: “A person given authority to act in the name of the Order may receive people into the confraternity of the scapular.”

    Fifth, this is a bad idea, since it seems that any person, in the sacerdotal state or not, can perform the enrolling. I recommend that a priest do it. “It was good for Chesty Puller, and it’s good enough for me.”

    Once again, a blurring of roles of priests and laity.

    “But Father! But….er… um… Ordained Minister! You are being clericalist and probably misogynistic and you for sure are a white supremicist homophobe. And YOU HATE VATICAN II!”

    Lately, Milo suggested that when people say things to you like this, or ask you stupid questions, the best answer is always, “Yup.”, and then move on.

  3. Edward says:


    I was enrolled about 60 years ago when I attended a Carmelite High School. I wore the cloth scapular until it was in tatters and did not replace it. In 1987 my parents visited the Vatican and purchased gold scapular medals for all us kids in the shop just inside Vatican Square on the left. The shop is still there. I have worn that medal since.

    I just had some serious surgery and was told that no jewelry was permitted. I explained what it was and that I never took it off and was permitted to wear it through surgery. Our Lady has some influence still! The surgery went well and now recuperating.

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    Hi Fr Z, “enrollment” in the Brown Scapular is different from joining the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular, which is an organization. [Yes. I know.] A lot of people are confused about this! [I’m not.] I remember when I was enrolled in the Brown Scapular the secular priest who did so had this confusion and said we were joining the confraternity. That was NOT TRUE. ANY priest can enroll people in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. But one can only join the Confraternity where it exists and it only exists where it is erected by the actual Carmelites.

    A related question is about indulgences. In the past there was an indulgence associated with enrollment in the Brown Scapular. That is not true anymore. There are no indulgences and no obligatory practices (ie praying the Little Office). It is stipulated today that wearing the Carmelite Scapular (a version of their religious habit) should include some form of Carmelite spirituality, at minimum the practice of the Catholic Faith, devotion to the Eucharist and to Our Lady. One is welcome to also pray the Little Office of course. One is welcome to have confidence in Our Lady’s powerful intercession on Saturdays or any other day, now and when we are in purgatory.

    The Church does provide indulgences associated with several different liturgical feast days relevant to Carmelites to canonical members of the actual canonical Confraternity of the Brown Scapular. Although I have known quite a few both OCDS Secular Carmeltes and O.Carm Lay Carmelites I have never personally met any members of this Confraternity of the Brown Scapular. I think it might exist in certain places, for instance I have it in mind that the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance (Calced) at Darien, IL may have a Confraternity of the Brown Scapular. Also I think I heard of it existing in association with Discalced Carmelites in San Antonio Texas when I visited their church there. The fact that you cannot join the Confraternity except where it is canonically erected by actual Carmelites does emphasize the point that the Brown Scapular devotion is a devotion to the Carmelite habit and is a way to associate oneself with the graces possessed by that Order, which has Our Lady as patroness.

    By the way, Secular Carmelites and Lay Carmelites do not get the indulgences either—only the rarely encountered Confraternity!

    The Carmelites sell a brown booklet with all the info, titled something like “Catechesis and Ritual of the Brown Scapular”.

  5. G1j says:

    LOL…This blog sent me to the bookstore again today— ICS Publications for the above mentioned” Catechesis and Ritual for the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” I had my family enrolled/invested after they came into the Church about 15 years ago. I remember being invested at my first communion back in 1970. Our parish priest, when my family was invested, was the priest serving the Carmelite Order in our diocese. Sacramentals are so important when raising a family and teaching them the faith as head of the Domestic Church. I hope others that read the blog, if they aren’t invested, petition their parish priest to invest themselves and their families. Thanks again Fr. Z for the blog and all you do to foster the faith.

  6. G1j and ALL: Bookstore? If you are shopping online, please use my link to Amazon. I will get a percentage of each sale. It really helps.

    Everyone: Online shopping? Use my link to enter Amazon.

    Repeat now, three times: “Use Fr. Z’s link.”

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