Chapter 5 - Members
Chapter 5 - Members
Members in the General
51.--The members of the Congregation of the Mission are followers of Christ who have been called by God to continue his mission and have been admitted into the said Congregation. They strive, according to their abilities, to respond to their vocation by working according to the teaching, outlook, and instructions of St. Vincent de Paul.
- §1.--Among the members, all of whom share in the royal priesthood of Christ through baptism and confirmation, there are clerics and brothers, but all are known as missioners.
- 1 Clerics, that is, priests and deacons, according to the order received and after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is Priest, Shepherd, and Teacher, fulfill their vocation through the exercise of this three-fold function in every kind of apostolate which can contribute to achieving the purpose of the Congregation. Included, too, in this category are those members who are preparing to receive orders.
- 2 The lay persons, who among us are called brothers, are destined for the apostolate of the Church and the Congregation. They carry it out by the work which is appropriate to their status.
- § 2.--All of these are either only admitted members or are also incorporated members, according to the Constitutions and Statutes.
Admission into the Congregation
- § 1.--A candidate is admitted into the Congregation when, at his request, he is received for making the period of probation of the internal seminary.
- § 2.--The right to admit candidates into the internal seminary belongs, established norms being observed:
- 1 to the superior general, after hearing his council, for the entire Congregation;
- 2 to the provincial, after hearing his council, for his province.
- § 3.--In regard to the requirements for admission, universal law must be observed.
- § 1.--The total time in which preparation is made for incorporation into the Congregation should not be shorter than two years nor longer than nine years from the time of reception into the internal seminary.
- § 2.--One year after admission into the Congregation a member, according to our tradition, manifests by means of good purposes his intention of dedicating himself to the salvation of the poor for his entire life in the Congregation according to our Constitutions and Statutes.
- § 3.--The right to admit to good purposes belongs, established norms being observed;
- 1 to the superior general, after hearing his council and the director of the internal seminary, for the entire Congregation;
- 2 to the provincial, after hearing his council and the director of the internal seminary, for his province.
- § 1.--Our vows are perpetual, non-religious, and reserved, so that only the pope or the superior general can dispense them.
- § 2.--These vows must be faithfully interpreted according to the intention of St. Vincent as approved by Alexander VII in the briefs "Ex commissa nobis" (the 22nd of September 1655) and "Alias nos supplicationibus" (the 12th of August 1659).
56.--The right to admit to vows belongs, established norms being observed:
- 1 to the superior general, with the consent of his council and after consulting the candidate's moderators, for the entire Congregation;
- 2 to the provincial, with the consent of his council and after consulting the candidate's moderators, for his province.
- §1.--The permission to take vows given by the major superior after a request by the member brings with it, when the vows are taken, incorporation into the Congregation. Reception of the diaconate by a member brings with it incardination into the Congregation.
- § 2.--A member not yet incorporated into the Congregation cannot be admitted to orders. Incorporation of a member already a cleric incardinates him into the Congregation.
- § 1.--The taking of vows must be done in the presence of the superior or of a member appointed by him.
- § 2.--According to the custom of the Congregation, both the request for, and the attestation of, the taking of vows should be in writing. Furthermore, the superior general should be informed of the taking of vows as soon as possible. Vows should be taken in the Congregation of the Mission according to one of these formulas:
- a) Direct formula: Lord, my God, I, NN., in the presence of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, vow that I will faithfully dedicate myself, in the Congregation of the Mission, for the whole time of my life, to the evangelization of the poor, after the example of Christ evangelizing. Therefore, with the help of your grace, I vow chastity, poverty, and obedience, according to the Constitutions and Statutes of our Institute.
- b) Declarative formula: I, NN., in the presence of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, vow to God that I will faithfully dedicate myself, in the Congregation of the Mission, for the whole time of my life, to the evangelization of the poor, after the example of Christ evangelizing. Therefore, with the help of God's grace, I vow to God chastity, poverty, and obedience, according to the Constitutions and Statutes of our Institute.
- c) Traditional formula: I, NN., unworthy (priest, cleric, brother) of the Congregation of the Mission, in the presence of the Most Blessed Virgin and of the whole heavenly court, vow to God poverty, chastity, and obedience to our superior and his successors, according to the Rules or Constitutions of our Institute; I vow also that I will dedicate myself, in the aforesaid Congregation, for the whole time of my life, to the salvation of the poor country people. For this purpose, I humbly call upon Almighty God to help me with his grace.
Rights and Obligations of Members
- §1.--Unless the contrary is clear from the nature of the case, all members of the Congregation enjoy the rights, privileges, and spiritual favors granted to the Congregation according to the norm of universal law and our own law.
- § 2.--All members incorporated into the Congregation enjoy the same rights and are bound by the same obligations, according to the norm of universal law and our own law, with the exception of those things that involve the exercise of orders and the jurisdiction attached to it. However, those who are only admitted members of the Congregation enjoy rights and are bound by obligations according to the Constitutions, Statutes, and provincial norms.
60.--According to universal law and our own law, members incorporated into the Congregation enjoy the right of active and passive voice, unless they have lost it according to the norm of law.
61.--Members who have been incorporated into the Congregation for three years and who are twenty-five years of age enjoy the right of passive voice to all offices and duties, provided that the other conditions laid down in universal law and our own law are observed.
62.--The members of the Congregation, besides the obligations to which they are held according to our own law, are also bound by the common obligations of clerics as stated in the universal law in canons 273-289. Not only are the clerics bound to these canons, as is evident, and especially in regard to wearing ecclesiastical dress (canon 284) and to praying the liturgy of the hours (canon 276), but the lay members are also bound, unless the contrary is clear from the nature of the case or the context.
63.--All must observe the Constitutions and Statutes and other norms in force in the Congregation with an active and responsible obedience.
64.--In the same way, they should observe the norms promulgated by local ordinaries, without detriment to the right of exemption.
Attachment of Members to a Province or House
65.--Every member of the Congregation of the Mission should be attached to some province, and to some house or some group constituted as the equivalent of a house, according to the norm of our law.
66.--In a province, and in a house or a group constituted as the equivalent of a house, members have:
- 1 rights and obligations according to the Constitutions and Statutes;
- 2 their own immediate local and major superior;
- 3 the exercise of active and passive voice.
- §1.--A member who has obtained permission, either from the superior general or from the provincial with the consent of their respective councils, to live outside a house or community, should be attached to some house or community, so that he enjoys rights and is held to obligations in it according to the norm of the permission granted to him.
- § 2.--This permission, however, should be granted only for a just reason, and not beyond a year, except to treat an illness, to study, or to serve in an apostolate in the name of our Institute.
Departure and Dismissal of Members
68.--Universal law and our own law are to be followed in regard to the departure and dismissal of members.
- §1.--A member not yet incorporated into the Congregation can freely leave it, manifesting his intention to his superiors.
- § 2.--A member not yet incorporated can also, for just reasons, be dismissed by the superior general or by the provincial, after their councils and the member's moderators have been consulted.
70.--The superior general, with the consent of his council, can for a serious reason allow a member incorporated into the Congregation to live outside the Congregation, but not beyond three years, and with the obligations that can be compatible with this new way of life. A member in this situation remains under the care of the superiors of the Congregation but lacks active and passive voice. If, however, the member is a cleric, the consent of the ordinary of the place where he must reside is also required, and the member remains under the care of the ordinary and dependent upon him, according to the norm of canon 745.
71.--The superior general can, with the consent of his council and for a serious reason, grant to a member departure from the Congregation and dispense him from his vows according to the norm of canon 743.
- § 1.--A member incorporated into the Congregation who dissociates himself from it and from the authority of his superiors should be sought out with concern by his superiors and given help by them, so that he may persevere in his vocation.
- § 2.--However, if the member does not return after six months, he is deprived of active and passive voice and, according to the norm of article 74, § 2, he can be dismissed by a decree of the superior general.
- § 1.--A member is to be held automatically dismissed from the Congregation if he:
- 1 has notoriously abandoned the Catholic faith;
- 2 has contracted marriage or has attempted it, even civilly.
- § 2.--In these cases the major superior with his council, after gathering together the evidence, shall without delay make a declaration of the fact so that the dismissal is juridically established according to the norm of canon 694.
- § 1.--A member must be dismissed according to what is established in canons 695, 698, and 699, § 1.
- § 2.--A member can be dismissed according to what is established in canons 696, 697, 698, and 699,
- § 3.--In a case of grave external scandal or of extremely grave and imminent harm to our Institute, a member can be immediately expelled from the house by the major superior or, if there is danger in delay, by the local superior, with the consent of his council, according to the norm of canon
75.--The decree of dismissal should be immediately communicated to the member concerned and he should be given the option of having recourse to the Holy See within ten days from the reception of notification. The recourse has a suspensive effect. For the decree of dismissal to have force, canon 700 must be observed.
- §1.--By lawful dismissal, vows and rights and duties which a member had in the Congregation automatically cease. But if the member is a cleric, he is bound by the precepts of canons 693 and 701.
- § 2.--Those who lawfully leave the Congregation or are lawfully dismissed from it, cannot claim from it anything for work done in it.
- § 3.--The Congregation, however, should practice equity and evangelical charity toward a member who is separated from it, as is stated in canon 702.