OCDS Questions and Answers

To ask a question please send an email to any of the OCDS Provincial Council members of the California-Arizona Province of St. Joseph. They are listed on our website in the contacts http://www.ocds.info/.

September 14, 2010


Our community meets 11 months of the year from August to June.  Our ceremonials are in June.  Therefore, I would like to know if the year required for any member to discern her desire to make vows which the Statutes require would mean 11 months in our Community's case or would he/she have to go from June to June to make sure he/she discerned for exactly 12 months.  We have a member who would like to make her vows in June of 2011 which would mean she would be discerning from August to June (11 months).  Would she have to wait till June 2011 to make her request and be approved by council and then make her vows in June 2012?

June 14, 2010

A Convert's Admission into the Order

Q - How long does a convert have to be a Catholic before they can attend the aspirant program or be clothed?

A - The governing criteria for admission into the Order can be found in OCDS Constitutions #1, #36 and #47a and OCDS Provincial Statute, Section IX, paragraphs 1 through 3.

In no case is a specific period of delay specified for a newly confirmed member of the Church. On the other hand, a newly confirmed member of the Church will be required to have an aspirancy of not less than one full year which may be extended for up to one additional year, but in no case longer than two years [OCDS Provincial Statute, Section IX, paragraph 3].

The local Council must therefore be prepared to make an assessment of the aspirant's viability and potential vocation, as a member of the community, within two years.

This is not easy to answer definitively because so much depends upon the convert involved. However, it is safe to say that a new convert needs to take time to live as a Catholic. Conversion is a tremendous step in which the Holy Spirit is particularly present to the new Catholic in guiding his or her commitment and growing maturity in the faith. If there is a true vocation to Carmel, a convert will be willing to wait until the Council decides the appropriate time to accept him or her into the aspirancy program. At least six months after being confirmed in the faith is not an unreasonable time to ask a convert to wait. While waiting, the person can be given the legislation, the Statutes, guidance on saying the Liturgy of the Hours, and general information on the Carmelite Order's history and saints.

Wear the Large Brown Scapular at Burial

Q - In the Provincial Statutes it states that we are allowed to wear the Large Brown Scapular when we are buried. Are we still allowed to wear the religious habit of the nuns or friars?

A - The Statutes made specific mention of the large brown scapular as the appropriate garment for burial because that is the Secular Carmelite habit.

The scapular is the prime habit of all three branches of the Order.

The religious wear what is appropriate to their consecrated life - the scapular and the uniform clothing that signifies their branches of the Order.

Seculars wear the large scapular because it signifies their place in the Order as lay members of the Order and the Church. It is no longer deemed appropriate for Seculars to wear at burial what they never wore while living.

Wearing the large brown scapular at burial is a clear sign to all that the person was professed in the Order and lived in the world as a Carmelite in every sense of the word.

May 30, 2010

Initial Inquiry to Carmel

Q – How are communities to handle persons who are making an initial inquiry to Carmel? Are they considered Aspirants? What do we call them? How do we handle their entry into a formation period? Doesn’t it seem that a good screening process in the beginning would alleviate some problems down the road?

A – People who are asking about the Secular Order life can be called inquirers. Each community or group has its own way of getting to know inquirers and of introducing them to meetings. Our new vocation brochure is an excellent tool for answering inquirers’ questions. But personal contact is always best. It is always preferable to get to know an inquirer before inviting her/him to attend a meeting. Otherwise, it might be difficult to tell the person that you do not feel she/he has a calling to your community/group. Ideally, inquirers should be able to attend monthly meetings, except for the formation classes. That is how they really get to know us, and that is how we really get to know them. Ideally, it is not good to make an inquirer wait too many months before formal classes would begin for a group of inquirers. We can lose good inquirers if we make them wait too long for classes to begin for them.

Procedures Manual

Q – We hear that the Provincial Council is working on a procedures manual. Please elaborate on this. What will it address? When will it be done?

A – It is taking us a long time to work on this procedures manual because we want it to be succinct. We want it to be a practical help to the Province, and not a burden. This Procedures Manual would not be a Legislative Document, but rather a reference. These are the topics probably to be covered in our Procedures Manual: categories of membership (active, infirm, extended, inactive); leave of absence; excused absence; establishing an OCDS bank account; secretarial duties; the OCDS religious title; retreat planning; sample monthly meetings; index to Constitutions; index to Provincial Statutes.

Encouraging Long-Time Members

Q – For those long-time members who have displayed a reluctance in trying to learn the new Constitutions and cooperate during the Ongoing Formation class, what approach should be taken in order to encourage them to be involved and participate?

A – These are years of transition between the old Rule of Life and our 2003 Constitutions. Keep emphasizing to long-time members the importance of docility, teachability, and growth at every stage of the spiritual life. The Pharisees thought they knew it all and did not need to change. We too can unconsciously slip into that way of thinking.

Central Office Dues

Q – When do we send our dues to the Central Office? February or June?

A – Dues should be sent to the Central Office early in the year.