Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Membership in the Secular Order

Membership in the Secular Order

     Membership starts at the beginning of Novitiate when the formand is given the Scapular, the outward symbol of membership in the Order.18 He/she becomes a full-fledged member of the Secular Order by the Promise made to the community in the presence of the Superior of the Order or his representative.
Entry Qualifications:

    * A degree of maturity, understanding and well-being is necessary for the member’s adequate formation and for full participation in the life of the Secular Order. Aspirants should be at least twenty-one (21) years old and not more than sixty (60) years old. However, the Council may make exemptions to this provision if it discerns a candidate to be physically and mentally capable of undergoing formation.

    * There should be no moral, legal and canonical impediments including membership in other Secular Orders and/or organizations that would prohibit the person from participating fully in the life of the Carmelite Secular. Candidates will be required to submit baptismal and/or marriage documents.
     Membership in a Community. Membership has to be in affiliation with a duly recognized OCDS Community or Community-in-Formation (CIF). Members residing far away from their Community may transfer temporarily or permanently to another OCDS Community. If transferring is impractical, they should remain united with their Community through prayer, communications, and payment of membership dues.
Membership Status.


    * Members who regularly participate in community activities and pay their membership dues;

    * Members temporarily assigned elsewhere, with the Council’s explicit permission, for Carmelite formation or the Apostolate of the Order;

    * Members on leave of absence approved by the Council for five (5) consecutive months or less.


    * Members on leave of absence for six (6) or more consecutive months;

    * Members who can no longer attend more than six (6) monthly community meetings within a 12-month period due to sickness, advanced age, personal, family and/or job responsibilities;

    * Members who are absent without permission from monthly community meetings for three (3) or more consecutive months as well as those in arrears without a valid reason in the payment of their membership dues for over twelve (12) months.  Financially challenged, sick and/or elderly members may apply to the Council for exemption from payment of memberships dues.  The Council must find out the reasons why a member cannot pay his/her dues and find willing sponsors if feasible.

Extended Absence.  After six (6) consecutive months of a member’s absence from the monthly meetings without a valid reason, the Council through the President shall in writing invite him/her back to attend the monthly meetings. If the Council does not receive any response from the member within 60 days from receipt of letter, the Council through the President shall send a second letter explaining that if the Community does not hear from the said member within another 60 days, the Community shall understand that he/she no longer wants to be a part of the Community.  After consulting the Provincial Superior, his/her name shall be dropped from the Community roster.

Isolated members.  The Constitutions does not recognize isolated members or members who do not belong to any OCDS community.  A Definitive Promise member who does not belong to any OCDS Community must formally apply with any OCDS Community or request in writing the assistance of the Provincial. The Provincial may ask the Provincial Delegate to evaluate the matter and, depending on the circumstances, may recommend a Community willing to accept the member.

Privileges of Members:

    * Members are entitled to all the rights and spiritual benefits that their status as secular members of the Order implies, such as the right to formation and participation in Community activities, the right to ask for prayers and spiritual support from the community and the Order. They may also ask for voluntary professional assistance and/or temporal aid from the Community and individual members in accordance with Christian charity and the spirit of poverty.

    * Active members who have made at least the Temporary Promise have the right to vote in their Community elections.  Transferees are entitled to vote in their new community after the probationary requirement.

    * Members wear the habit of Carmel which is the Brown Scapular. The community may also adopt as uniform for certain occasions any appropriate brown apparel taking into consideration the culture and traditions of the Community’s locality.

    * Deceased members are remembered20 in the prayers of the whole Carmelite Order.  

     Leave of Absence. Definitive Promise members who desire to take a leave of absence (LOA) for three (3) or more months and Temporary Promise members, novices and aspirants for two (2) or more months, should ask permission from the Council in writing, stating the definite period of the intended leave. The Council’s response shall  also be in writing.

    * A Definitive Promise member who would be absent for less than three (3) consecutive months may ask permission, preferably in writing, from the President or in his/her absence from any Council member.

    * When the absence exceeds one (1) year and the member has not kept in touch with the community and/or is not aware of developments in the Order, the Council will require the Definitive Promise member to update himself/herself on such developments. This may consist of retreats, seminar-workshops, lecture series modules and other formation programs recommended by the Council.

    * Aspirants, Novices and Temporary Promise members who would be absent for one (1) month may, for a valid reason, ask permission from their respective formators.  They should file an LOA for longer periods.  The formator may require the formand to attend make-up classes or to fulfill a special assignment.

    * Members temporarily assigned by the Council elsewhere for Carmelite formation and/or the Apostolate of the Order need not file an LOA as they are considered on active status.

     Transfers. The Council may accept on a temporary or permanent basis a transferee applying from another OCDS community21 whose application for transfer has been endorsed in writing  by his/her Council. Applications22 for temporary transfers beyond one year and permanent transfers need the endorsement of the Provincial Delegate and the approval of the Provincial Superior.

    * There is a normally a one-year probationary period for permanent transfers after which the Council makes the final decision to approve or reject the transfer after consulting the Spiritual Assistant.

    * For Temporary Promise members, Novices and Aspirants, the Council may modify and/or extend the subsequent formation program depending on the readiness of the transferee.

    * The Council should assist members in good standing wishing to transfer for a valid reason by endorsing their application. But both the transferee and the community must pray and discern carefully that their intentions are made in the spirit of Christian charity and zeal for the good of the Order, the Community, and the individual member.

    * Members of OCDS founding Communities may transfer to any of their CIFs within one year from its establishment, with the written approval of both Councils.  Such transfers will be deemed permanent.

Fraternal Correction: All our members should show concern for members who may be undergoing a crisis and give them fraternal support in the spirit of the Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20), guiding them with great kindness and patience (2 Timothy 4:2).

    * In case of any complaint against a member, the Council will first seek or facilitate a dialogue in private in order to ascertain the whole truth.

    * If the problem concerns a grave or serious matter and is potentially disruptive to the Community or to the Order, the Council should meet as soon as possible to resolve it judiciously, and seek the help/advice/decision of the Spiritual Assistant/Provincial Delegate/Provincial Superior as appropriate.

    * If the problem is not resolved, the Council may seek the professional help of neutral persons experienced in conflict resolution.

    * In case the complaint is directed against the President or a Council member, the same process of dialogue shall be applied and the Council shall make a decision, but not in the presence of the accused.

    * In case the complaint is against the Council itself or a majority of its members, the knowledgeable members of the Community should seek a dialogue with the Council members to clarify matters. If such a dialogue fails, the knowledgeable members should submit a written report to the Spiritual Assistant or the Provincial Delegate. The Provincial Delegate will then quietly investigate the case, and report his findings to the Provincial Superior for a decision.

    * The accused will be given the opportunity to explain his/her side in writing.  Great care must be exercised to avoid rash judgment which may result in damage to the good name and reputation of persons.

    * Appeals regarding the Provincial Superior’s decision may be brought to Superior General through the General Delegate.

Dismissal. Grounds for Dismissal must be grave, external, imputable, and juridically proven.  Any person who is dismissed has the right to appeal directly to the Provincial and then to the General. The Council, after allowing the accused member to give his/her defense and/or appeal for reconsideration, and after consulting the Provincial Superior, may dismiss any member under the grounds provided in Canons 316 #1 and #2 of the Code of Canon Law or under any of the following grounds considered as “just cause” in accordance with Canon 308:

    * chronic absenteeism;

    * willful violation of the Constitutions and/or Provincial Statutes;

    * involvement in a public scandal; and

    * grave abuse of authority.

Death of Members:

    * The Communities will maintain a registry of Book of Suffrages for their deceased members, preferably with a brief resume or some basic information about them.

    * The community will offer Masses and recite the Office for the Dead in memory of their deceased members at least once a year preferably closest to November 15.

    * The community will remember their deceased members in their daily prayers.

    * Members who learn of the death of a fellow OCDS should notify the Council.  The President or Secretary of the Council will inform the Provincial Secretariat of a member’s death.

    * The Secretariat will inform the different Communities in the Philippines so that they may offer Masses and recite the Office for the Dead.

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