THE ROLE OF LAW IN THE LIFE-CYCLE OF A RELIGIOUS INSTITUTE
An interdisciplinary study of navigating organizaitonal change, this book begins with an historical case study, the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, of which the author is a member. The historical overview focuses on three key moments in the history of the institute, its initial foundation, its establishment in North America and the renewal of the congregation in response to the Second Vatican Council. This case study is used throughout the book as the primary example of the life-cycle of a religious institute. Information from other religious institutes and general statistical information on religious institutes in the United States is also incorporated to enhance a broader understanding and applicability. Though it may be broader in application, for practical reasons, the discussion is limited to the situation of women's institutes of religious life in the United States.
The project turns next to the notion of the life-cycle of an organization, applying studies of this concept to the historical case study presented in the first section, critically evaluating it in view of the central task of understanding the role of law in the life-cycle of a religious institute. Drawn from the field of biology, the application of the concept of life-cycle to an organization came in the mid 20th century from the fields of economics and management studies. Exploring an organization's social system from a longitudinal perspective is particularly helpful in analyzing the role of law in religious institutes, because most of the relevant legal activity of an organization occurs at key moments of institutional change in the life-cycle.
Because a religious institute is greater than the sum of its sociological parts, the third section moves to a theological analysis of the nature of a religious institute, focusing on the development of the nature of the institute through its life-cycle; an institute is not a static institution, but a dynamic entity in an unfolding life.
The final section turns to the central question of the project, critiquing the role that law plays in the course of the life-cycle of a religious institute. It reviews particular points of canon law and civil law that come in to play in the various stages in the life-cycle of the institute, and it seeks to provide guidance for those who find themselves in the states of foundation or ending in the United States in the early 21st century.
It next turns to the issue of the influence and contribution of law and jurisprudence in the life-cycle of a religious institute. Exploring the appropriate use of law in a Christian community as it seeks to follow its particular way of living the Gospel, it examined the methodology of law as a useful tool in helping to engage issues and challenges, and in formulating responses. The legislative process can bring disparate voices together to articulate a common vision and establish the structures and processes that will further that vision. Laws made by the community serve to memorialize that process, and provide guidance for the ongoing life of the community and a point of reference as the members move out in pursuit of their common vocation. External laws can serve as a measure or κανών to help the institute evaluate its way of life and to guide relations ad extra.
As religious institutes grow and change, mature and decline, they find it necessary to change their legal norms to reflect their new reality. Law in religious institutes establishes governance, organizes activities, guides relations within and without the institute in justice and charity, and orients and sustains the entire life of the institute, so that all together, the institute and its members may “follow Christ with greater freedom... under the action of the Holy Spirit.” (Perfectae Caritatis, 1)
SCREENING AND DISCERNMENT WORKBOOK FOR RELIGIOUS LIFE
This workbook is intended as a survey of a wide range of issues that arise in the screening and admission of candidates into a Religious Life. It covers areas that may arise with candidates who significant life experience. It is a screening instrument, intended to identify those areas of a candidate's background that will need more attention and discussion. It is not a substitute for good discernment, but an aid to it.
Each institute will supplement it with questions and conversations that are particular to its particular life, spirituality and mission, expanding the initial inquiry.
This is a workbook – it is not intended to be completed in one sitting. It can be used in a variety of ways.
Give one or a few sections at a time to the applicant. When meeting with the applicant, take some time to go over those sections he/she has completed. Discuss any questions, comments, etc.
Give the applicant the whole workbook – explaining that it is an instrument to guide discernment and explore issues that may arise as the process unfolds. Again, when meeting with the applicant, take some time to go over those sections that have been completed and discuss any questions, comments, etc.
The Inventory of Legal and Financial Matters can be given to the candidate to fill in preliminary answers. This will identify any areas that may need further discussion. Preliminary answers can be discussed with the vocation director after which more documentation may be obtained if needed.
This workbook is help for those discerning a call to religious life with applicants. It does not replace the discernment process. Instead it is intended to help communities and inquirers to explore important areas that may need attention in the discernment process. The workbook is most valuable when it stimulates reflection by the candidate and subsequent discussion with the vocation director. The workbook may raise civil and canonical issues that may need further discussion in the vocation discernment process. Advice of an attorney and/or canonist familiar with vocation discernment may be helpful.
The brief introduction for Applicants on the next page may be given to them when you give or send parts of this workbook to them. The checklist on the previous page is intended to help you keep track of which sections have been given to the applicant, completed and reviewed within the community.
RELIGIOUS LIFE AT THE CROSSROADS
"Those in and around religious life have known for decades that something new was coming, and we have strained the eyes of our hearts to catch a glimpse of what it might look like. We knew that this new development was beyond our imagination, but when it finally appeared, it would do honor to the heritage of religious life. The day is finally dawning and the new form is beginning to emerge in our spirits, imaginations and conversations. The reinvention of religious life for today involves renewed commitment to the choice of radical Christian community that inspired, attracted and sustained the religious of every age."
This book explores the movements in religious life today and the currents that are emerging among the smaller cohorts of younger religious in mainstream communities of women religious. Hereford traces the history of religious life, including the impact of Vatican II, and examines some of the theological sources for the reinvention of religious life today. She explores the current situation of women religious, re-imagines the meaning of vows, community, and mission, and examines how the religious life will fit into an emerging church.
"Fresh and provocative."--Patricia Wittberg, SC
"Her view of the furture is offered through defining chracteristics that will be hallmarks of religious life in the 21st century."--Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA
Amy Hereford is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet from St. Louis. She works as an attorney and canonist, consulting with many religious institutes on a wide variety of legal matters. She has been in religious life for 25 years, part of a minority cohort of post-Vatican II women religious. She has graduate degrees in spirituality, communication, and civil and canon law.