Q – What do Councils do about those Definitively Professed members who don’t come to meetings anymore?
A – You know, every community has this same struggle regarding people who feel they have graduated and no longer need to attend.
There are two changes in our Provincial Statutes that we must request from the General Definitory in Rome. The first is in paragraph #6 in Section XIII (page 64). It reads:
“If a member has been absent for a year with no communication, the local Council should consider sending a first letter encouraging the member to return to the regular monthly meeting. If there is no response after eight weeks, a second letter should be sent informing the member that, if there is no response within eight weeks, procedures will be initiated to dismiss him/her from the Order with release from his/her promise or vows after consulting with the Provincial Delegate [cf. Const. #47e]. After this time has elapsed, the Council will send a formal letter of dismissal.”
We can’t dismiss someone from the Order. It is contrary to canon law, unless there are grave circumstances with faith or morals. So the change will be to change the wording to “dismiss him/her from the community.”
You still need to write the letters, but the final one should charitably, but effectively say something such as, “you are no longer a member of our community. We have no further obligations to you and you have no further obligation to us. Should you wish to return at some later date, please contact the Council and the Provincial Delegate.” They are removed from the roster, with no communication from the community or Central office. They are inactive members. The Council decides if it should receive him or her back.
People who are now in formation need to learn and understand from the very beginning that they are members of the Order so this is not a problem in the future. It is usually a problem with those who were never really formed in our Legislative Documents.
If someone ever heard that attendance is not required, whoever said it was making a sarcastic statement. Attendance is not optional. In the same Section XIII paragraph #4 (page 64) it states:
“Because Community life is central to the Teresian Carmelite charism, attendance at the monthly meetings is required. Lack of regular attendance without excuse or notification is a negative indication of a vocation. For this reason, the Council may have to consider taking action under Constitutions #47a and #47e.”
Attendance at meetings is one of the 6 M’s of Fr. Deeney’s. They are: 1- Meditation 2- Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and if possible Night Prayer 3- Mass 4- Mary 5- Meetings 6- Mission.
This will always be a struggle because we live at a time when people are not strong in their commitments. We need to keep reinforcing that this is a vocation; it is a commitment they must keep as long as they are able.