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/.

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.


  1. You mentioned that a community should not wait too long before an inquirer is invited to be an aspirant. Our community has ceremonies once a year, the Aspirancy class alway begins in June and the Candidates are clothed in May of the following year. Inquirers who come to our meeting in September thru May are asked to wait until June to enter Aspriancy. That seems like a long time from September or even December. How do other communities handle that type of situation?

  2. “Some communities have an Inquirers' Class. I don't know what they cover exactly, but I know there are such things. It might be an opportunity to spread the practice of prayer and the use of the Liturgy of the Hours even for those who don't continue into Formation. Everyone should know something about personal prayer and participating in the Liturgy of the Hours, and maybe a little about our three Doctors of the Church. Even if they don't continue into Aspirancy, they'd have something to think about for their own personal benefit.”

  3. “The manner in which communities respond to this varies from community to community. What is important, and necessary, is that each community council find an answer which fits within the maximum two year parameter specified in the OCDS Provincial Statutes, Section IX, paragraph 3, which reads:

    “Sufficient contact with a Community is understood to entail an Aspirant’s attendance at the meetings of the Community for not less than 1 full year [cf. Const. #36a]. If it is in the best interest of the Aspirant, this period may be extended for another year; but in no case longer than two years.”

    In this case, an Aspirant arriving in September, asked to wait for the next June class, presumably because it is in their best interest, would be clothed in 21 months which remains within the maximum 24 month limit.”