Canon Law

Notes, Commentary, Papers and Discussion

User Tools

Site Tools


Associates to Association

the evolution of a movement

Universal Calls to Holiness and Mission

  • Scripture:
    • Created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26), God who is Love (1 Jn 4:8), God's love is holy and missionary.
    • Be holy as God is holy in all manner of living. (1 Peter 1:15)
    • Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • Vatican II
    • Lumen Gentium - …all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; …They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. LG#40
    • Redemptoris Missio - The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission. RM#90
  • Renewal
    • “Throw open the windows of the church and let the fresh air of the Spirit blow through.” John XXIII 10/11/62
    • Evolution in the Church's self-understanding as the People of God, a community of faith, called to be a holy people and a people on mission
    • Evolution in the self-understanding of religious life
      • from the holy people and the people on mission within the community of faith
      • to a holy people and a people on mission for the community of faith
      • to be church for the Church
    • Evolution of the Associate movement
      • rediscovering the calls to holiness and to mission
      • within parishes and with religious communities
      • renewed interest in spirituality, spiritual practices, prayer
      • renewed interest in mission and service
      • renewal occurs within the community of faith and beyond it
      • rich interchange between communities of faith and communities of service
      • also occurring in the wider society
    • “Throw open the windows of the church and let the fresh air of the Spirit blow through.” John XXIII 10/11/62
      • Spirit infuses the Church, the community of faith
      • The Church infuses the wider society
      • The Spirit at work in the hearts and lives of all peoples finds communion with the Spirit at work in the community of faith.

Birth of Associates

  • 70s-80s
    • Individuals inquired and communities invited them
      • A forum for formation and spiritual development
      • Prayer & Spirituality
      • Mission & Service
      • Share in charism of communities and their celebrations
      • Commitment to spirituality and mission in a charism family
    • Individuals in association
      • Initial numbers small
      • Relationships meaningful
      • Participation in events of the community

Growth of the Associate Movement

  • 90s-00s
    • Increasing numbers of Associates
    • Decreasing numbers of Sisters
    • Questions regarding participation
    • Questions about nature of association
    • Questions about the future of religious life
    • Varying understandings and practices among sisters and among associates
      • Prayer group
      • Relation to a sister or ministry
      • Future or successor to sisters
      • Greater involvement in sisters' community and governance
      • Deeper personal commitment to mission and charism
      • Desire by sisters for greater or lesser internal autonomy
      • Emerging sense of “autonomy in relationship”
    • Canonical concerns:
      • Autonomy of the community,
      • Rights of the sisters to have discussions
      • Issues of voting and 'second class' participants in community meetings
      • Differing understandings of appropriate boundaries

Emergence of Association

  • 10s-20s…
    • Emerging notion of an Association
      • Individuals become members of an association
      • The Association develops its own leadership and governance
      • The Association develops its own identity and vocation
      • The Association develops its own sustainability and infrastructure
    • Relation to sisters
      • The two have their own 'center of gravity'.
        • Congregation has its own evolutionary journey
        • Association has its own evolutionary journey
      • The two come into relationship and collaborate
        • Joint committee for celebration of Patronal Feast
        • Joint committee for a mission project
        • Representatives at each others' major meetings (chapter)

Sponsoring Congregation

  • Canon 587: §1 To protect more faithfully the vocation and identity of each institute, the fundamental code or constitutions of the institute are to contain… basic norms about the governance of the institute, the life of the members, the admission and formation of members, and the proper object of the vows.
  • Canon 623: For validity Superior must be finally professed member for a term determined in proper law.
  • Canon 631§2 The composition of the general chapter and the limits of its powers are to be defined in the constitutions. Limited to professed sisters/brothers.


  • A place at the table
  • Equity at the table
  • A table of our own with shared and distinct responsibilities for mission and charism

Stuctural Options

Nonprofit Corporation

  • Current reality
    • Within the civil structure of a religious community
    • Administration, budgeting, and finances
  • A separate civil corporation for the Association
    • moving toward autonomy in relationship.
  • Similar to sponsored ministries.
    • In the religious community's corporation
    • Separately incorporated.
    • Increasing autonomy
    • Long-term viability

Association of the Christian Faithful

  • Canons 298 - 329 - possibilities
  • Canon 298 §1 In the Church there are associations that are distinct from institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life. In these associations, Christ's faithful, whether clerics or laity, or clerics and laity together, strive with a common effort to foster fullness of life, or to promote public worship or Christian teaching. They may also devote themselves to other works of the apostolate, such as initiatives for evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with the Christian spirit.
  • Canon 299 §1 By private agreement among themselves, Christ's faithful have the right to constitute associations for the purposes mentioned in can. 298 §1, without prejudice to the provisions of can. 301 §1.
  • Canon 301 §1 It is for the competent ecclesiastical authority alone to establish associations of Christ's faithful which intend to impart Christian teaching in the name of the Church or to promote public worship, or which are directed to other ends whose pursuit is of its nature reserved to the same ecclesiastical authority.
    • E.g. sponsoring Catholic Schools
  • Canon 303 Associations whose members live on their own but share in the spirit of some religious institute, under the overall direction of the same institute, and who lead an apostolic life and strive for Christian perfection, are known as third orders, or are called by some other suitable title.
/users/ · Last modified: 2023/09/07 13:17 by amycsj