The Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community (hereafter referred to as ‘the Community’) is a Private Association of Christ’s Faithful having juridical personality by decree of competent authority for the territory wherein the Community is located (refer CIC cc 298-299, 304-310, 321-326, 114/1-2, 1257/2).
These Statutes address the Community’s purpose, objectives, governance, conditions of Membership, and the manner in which its activities are conducted (c. 304/1), under the following headings:
iii. Living Arrangements
vi. Temporal Goods
vii. Relationship with the Local Church
viii. Dissolution of the C01mnunity
ix. Review and Amendment
1.1 The Community was born from an amalgamation of two Covenant Communities. This amalgamation took place in September 1994 between the Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community, established in Sydney in 1979, and Hephzibah Covenant Community, established in Canberra in 1982.
1.2 The Community consists of single, married, consecrated and ordained Members.
1.3 The Community is located in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines, and is open to establishing in other locations as led by the Holy Spirit. Appendix I lists the current contact details for each location in which the Community is found.
1.4 The Community has been formed by and continues to seek and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit in its life and mission. The process of attentiveness to the Holy Spirit involves prayer and discussion, seeking a common mind. The Community affirms ‘unity in diversity’ whereby the unity of the Community is enriched by the particular gifts and characteristics of each of the Local Communities, and ‘subsidiarity’ whereby the Local Leadership is responsible for the pastoral care and decision-making of the Local Community in accordance with these Statutes.
1.5 The Community’s vision statement is Disciples of Jesus: A Catholic Community on Mission.
1.6 The Community is a founding Member of the International Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships, itself a Private Association of Christ’s Faithful.
Consistent with the vision statement of the Community, Disciples of Jesus: A Catholic Community on Mission, and true to the images of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles and the call to renewal of the Second Vatican Council, Members subscribe to the following objectives:
- a personal commitment to form Christian community manifesting the charismatic gifts and sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in all things
- a commitment to liturgical prayer, especially the Eucharist, and to personal prayer
- a desire for a common mind and purpose and therefore support for each other in both spiritual and temporal needs
- faithfulness to the Magisterium with a particular commitment to evangelization.
III. LIVING ARRANGEMENTS
3.1 While most Community families live independently, extended households consisting of a family and one or more single adults may be formed in order to enhance the life of the Community.
3.2 Structured single men’s and single women’s households exist to encourage the development of brotherhood and sisterhood amongst single adults.
3.3 Cluster living is experienced where family households and/or single households exist in close proximity to each other. Membership of such households is voluntary and is subject to pastoral oversight by the Local Leadership.
4.1.1 Persons who have completed their sacramental initiation in the Catholic Church and have attained their majority ( eighteen years of age) may be admitted to Covenant Membership of the Community.
4.1.2 Married couples who have completed their sacramental initiation join the Community as a couple and not as individuals. Children of Members of the Community are encouraged to be involved in Community activities.
4.1.3 Admission to Membership of the Community is subject to the discernment of the Local Leadership and the Covenant Members, who will jointly discern with the person their suitability to contribute to and derive benefit from the life of the Community.
4.1.4 Persons baptised into another Church or ecclesial community may become Members of the Community provided they accept the Roman Catholic identity of the Community.
4.1.5 Persons who are not baptised may be admitted to Underway Membership of the Community, while undertaking the RCIA journey to full sacramental initiation and subject to the discerned acceptance into the Community by the Local Leadership (c. 206).
4.2 UNDERWAY COMMITMENT
4.2.1 After a period of initial fonnation, including a Life in the Spirit Seminar and introduction to the Community’s history and the expectations of Community Members, a person makes an Underway Commitment and becomes an Underway Member.
4.2.2 A period of three years formation and teaching follows, usually lasting three years. During this period, an Underway Member engages in the life of the Community and enters into active discernment of the Lord’s call.
4.3 COVENANT COMMITMENT
4.3.1 On completion of the Underway program and with the discernment of the Local Leadership and Covenant Members, Underway Members are invited to take Covenant. The Covenant is understood as a lifelong commitment to the Community.
4.3.2 Persons who have signed the Covenant are termed Covenant Members of the Community.1
4.3.3 A copy of the Covenant is appended to these Statutes (Appendix II).
4.4 THE MISSIONARIES OF GOD’S LOVE
4.4.1 The Missionaries of God’s Love (MGL) Communities, Brothers and Sisters, were founded within the Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community.2 Being true to this origin, each Member of either Community of the MG Ls, is also a Member of the Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community. Individual MGLs seek to live the life of the Covenant Community, while also committed to the life of the MGLs.
4.4.2 The leadership of both MGL Communities is to consult with the leadership of the Covenant Community on any matters where an initiative of theirs would have a significant impact on the life and mission of the Community.
4.5 TERMINATION OF MEMBERSHIP
4.5.1 Membership of the Community may be terminated either at the initiative of the Member, preferably with the agreement of the Local Leadership, or at the initiative of the Local Leadership.
4.5.2 The Local Leadership would terminate Membership only for serious reason(s) and only after the failure of an info1mal facilitated process of restoration, the outcomes of which would be noted. Some reasons for which termination may be considered would be serious and repeated violations against Christian doctrine, morality, or other commitments of a Covenant or Underway Member (c.308).
4.5.3 The basis of the decision to terminate Membership must be communicated in writing to the Member. Therein the Member will be informed that the decision will be effective in fourteen days from receipt of the letter, unless within that time the Member gives notice in writing of his or her intention to show cause why the termination should not be implemented.
4.5.4 Within one month of receipt of the letter of appeal, the Local Leadership shall set a date for the hearing of the appeal. The Arch/bishop must be notified of the appeal. The basis of the Member’s appeal can include documents, character references, sworn statements and personal witnesses.
4.5.5 The decision of the Local Leadership is binding with respect to the Community, though a negative decision might see the Member consider canonical redress otherwise.
5.1 LOCAL LEADERSHIP
5.1.2 Local Leadership is exercised by a Local Council of men and women with a Local Coordinator.3
5.1.3 Each Local Council, after consultation with its Covenant Members, is free to determine how it will appoint Council Members and the Local Coordinator.
5.1.4 The term of office for Council Members shall not exceed three years and the term of office for the Local Coordinator shall not exceed five years. These terms could be renewable, though it is recommended that they do not exceed two successive terms.4
5.1.5 An exception to the term of office for Local Coordinators is for current Elders, that is, those Elders who have leadership of a Local Community at the time these Statutes were endorsed by the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn. Respecting their lifelong response to the Lord ‘s call and the Community’s recognition of that call, no term of office is specified for such Elders. However, if they continue as a Local Coordinator, confirmation of their ongoing leadership must be sought from the Local Community at least every five years. When they cease as a Local Coordinator the norms for the term of office for other Council Members could apply to them.5
5.1.6 The Local Council is responsible for overseeing, directing and caring for the Local Community. They are accountable to their Local Covenanted membership, the Local Bishop and the International Council.
5.2 INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP
5.2.1 International Leadership of the Community is exercised by an International Council (IC) of men and women led by a Coordinator.
5.2.2 The IC will be made up of:
One delegate appointed by each Local Community with an additional delegate if the Local Community has more than one hundred adult Members6; and
One delegate from each of the MGL Communities, the Youth Mission Team and the Asia-Pacific School of Evangelization.7
5.3 THE ROLE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL
5.3.1 The IC is responsible for those matters held in common pertaining to Vision, Governance, Fellowship and Support, National and International Works and Finance and Administration (see Appendix III).
5.4 DECISION-MAKING AND ACCOUNTABILITY
5.4.1 Decisions on major matters will be made by the IC after consultation with Covenant Members and with a two-thirds majority vote of the IC. All other decisions would be made by a two-thirds majority of the IC.
5.4.2 A summary of decisions and proceedings of the IC will be made available to the Covenant members, to the Local Councils, and to the Bishops in whose territory the Community is established.
5.5 EXECUTIVE OF THE IC
5.5.1 The Executive of the IC consists of
The Assistant Coordinator
Two or three other IC Members
5.5.2 The Members of the Executive and Office Bearers will be chosen by a two-thirds majority of the IC; an exception to this process is for the Coordinator, as addressed below.
5.5.3 The Role of the Executive is to implement decisions made by the IC.
5.5.4 The Executive will serve a term of three years, renewable for one term only.
5.6 THE ROLE AND APPOINTMENT OF THE COORDINATOR
5.6.1 Nominations for Coordinator will be made by Members of the IC in consultation with their Local communities. Those nominated may or may not be current Members of the IC. Based on the nominations, the IC would elect one person as Coordinator.
5.6.2 The appointment would be for a term of three years, renewable for one term only.
5.6.3 The role of the Coordinator includes:
a) ensuring the efficient functioning of the IC by calling and presiding over meetings, developing meeting agendas, and overseeing the implementation of IC decisions.
b) promoting unity across the Community, including ensuring good communication and collaboration.
c) speaking on behalf of the IC, although the IC may appoint someone else to represent it on occasion.
d) any other functions identified by the IC or the Executive ( consistent with its role to implement the decisions of the IC).
5. 7 THE RATIFICATION AND REMOVAL OF LOCAL LEADERS BY THE IC
5.7.1 The IC ratifies the appointment of Local Leadership and appoints leaders of National or International Works.
5.7.2 The IC also has the authority to dismiss a Local Leader. This could occur only after consultation with the Local Community and Local Bishop and only in circumstances concerning grave misconduct.8
VI. TEMPORAL GOODS
6.1 Temporal goods of whatever nature acquired by Members of the Community as individuals, by either natural or positive law, remain the property of the Member.
6.2 Notwithstanding the above provision, Members of their own volition, in consultation with the Local Leadership, may contract to hold any or all of such goods in common, either within groups of Members or within the Community as a whole.
6.3 The Local Leadership has responsibility for the acquisition, administration and alienation of the temporal goods of the Local Community, but does so assisted by direction from the IC and subject to the Code of Canon Law and the rules of the Community’s incorporated status.
VII. RELATIONSHIP WITH THE DIOCESAN CHURCH
7.1 The Community is accountable to and under the authority of the Local Bishop in recognition of his position as chief pastor of the Local Church ( c.323). Accordingly:
a) The IC and the Local Councils shall regularly report to the Bishop to inform him of developments in the life and mission of the Community.
b) The Bishop shall be encouraged to visit the Local Community to observe at first hand the life of the Community.
c) The Local Council shall, on request, submit its formation program to the Bishop to ensure it is in accordance with the teachings of the Magisterium.
d) The Bishop shall assist the Community to work in harmony with the overall diocesan pastoral plan.
e) All major works of the Community shall be subject to the agreement of the Bishop.
VIII. DISSOLUTION OF THE COMMUNITY
8.1 The Community’s status as a Private Association may be dissolved by a decree of the Bishop in whose ten-itory a Community is located. The decree would be issued either at his discretion in accordance with c.326 (subject to appeal cc.1732-1739) or in response to a formal written request of the IC made to him (subject to appeal by the Local Community to the Arch/bishop).
8.2 Upon dissolution of the Community, in part or in whole, the IC shall consult with the local Bishop as to the disposal of the temporal goods of the Community. These goods will in the first instance be assigned to other Community locations or works, then to organizations with similar objectives, and then to advance the work of the Local Church with due regard for acquired rights and the will of the donors.
IX. REVIEW AND AMENDMENT
These Statutes shall be reviewed by the IC every five years in consultation with the Covenant Membership. The results of the review shall be notified in writing to the Local Bishop.
The Appendices may be reviewed by the IC more frequently but must remain consistent with the Statutes. Reviewed Appendices must be forwarded to the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn for his approval.
Further, the IC or the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulbum may propose an amendment to these Statutes in writing at any time. A proposed written amendment will be considered by the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn or the IC as the case may be, and responded to in writing within two months of its receipt.
THESE STATUTES WERE CO-SIGNED BY:
His Excellency Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn & the Coordinator, Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community
- A list of Community Members (both Covenant and Underway Members) is maintained by the Public Officer of the Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community Inc, which is an incorporated association in New South Wales and a Registrable Australian Body.
- The MGL Brothers and priests are a Public Association of Christ’s Faithful, erected by the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn in 1992, the Constitutions of which have been written with the view to their becoming a Religious Institute. The Moderator in Council of the MGL Brothers and priests governs the Association and is answerable to the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn.
The MGL Sisters are in the process of developing Constitutions in order to become a Public Association of Christ’s Faithful, with a view to becoming a Religious Institute. The Leader of the MGL Sisters, who also acts with her Council, governs the Sisters in all aspects of their life, and is answerable to the Archbishop.
- If at a particular time it is not feasible for a location to appoint a Coordinator, then it may enter into an alternative arrangement with approval, from the International Council.
- There may be circumstances, such as a small number of members in the Community, where it is necessary to have more than two successive terms for the Council and/or Local Coordinator. Trus should be with the agreement of the International Council. See 5.2 – 5.7.
- Even if an Elder ceases to be the overall leader of a location, their status as an Elder continues in recognition of their lifelong commitment.
- The IC Members, while chosen from the Local Communities, gather to address the good of the entire Community life, mindful of the aspirations of the Community they represent. It will be up to each location to decide how they will choose their representative(s) to the IC. Each representative must be a Covenant Member with a mature faith and commitment to the Community’s good.
- If necessary, the IC could add to their membership from those responsible for National or International Works.
- Grave misconduct would include serious sin or violating Community order in a serious way.