COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE REDEMPTORIST COMMUNITY AND THE LAITY

1
447

Communicanda 1991-1997

COMMUNICANDA 4

Roma, 8 September 1995
Prot. N. 0000 0257/95

DIRECTIVES AND NORMS [1]

INTRODUCTION

01. In recent years, stimulated by the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, the Church has become more clearly conscious of the complimentarity of the religious and lay vocations. Hence collaboration between Religious Institutes and the laity is being promoted as one of the means best calculated to develop the apostolic dynamism of both religious and laity as well as giving clear witness to the evangelizing mission of the ecclesial community (cf. VFiC, ‘Fraternal Life in Community,’ no. 70).

02. The Synod of 1994 on Consecrated Life recommended that the Institutes create new structures and define programs of formation to foster and promote the participation of the laity, while turning to better account the role which belongs to women in the Church and in society. At the same time it called to mind that while united with the laity in closer collaboration the religious must keep their proper identity and their own special dynamic way of life (cf. ILSVC, no. 80; Propositions, no. 33). This marks a significant and complex development in today’s Church.

03. Our Congregation from the beginning has always been close to the people, particularly the poor and abandoned, and has always sought collaboration with the laity in its apostolic work. It will be sufficient to recall, for example, what Alphonsus accomplished with the ‘evening chapels’ in Naples to realize how much he had at heart this nearness to and sharing with the abandoned and with what constancy he endeavored to adapt to simple people in all his missionary activity and writing. St. Clement, especially during his period in Vienna, always sought to associate with the laity and to involve them in his multiple apostolic works so as to have a more profound and lasting effect on the European society of his time.

04. In recent years the Congregation has taken concrete steps to increase evaluate and direct collaboration with the laity. The XXI General Chapter was especially concerned in this project devoting an entire section of the Final Document to “Collaboration with the laity on a basis of partnership” in which:

–    it acknowledges the progress already made in the field of collaboration and encourages its promotion where it has not yet begun (cf. no. 57);

  • it recommends that “the different Units of the Congregation share their experiences in the area of lay collaboration, so that we can learn from each other and begin to evaluate the results of our experiences thus far”(no. 59b);
  • it decides to establish the category of Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer as an active co-worker and participant in the apostolic life of the Redemptorist congregation “(no. 60a);
  • it urges our communities to open themselves up to the laity, so that they may have a greater share in our experiences of life, work and spirituality “(no. 60b);

05. In order that the project of the Congregation with regard to collaboration with the laity might have common points of reference and thus more profitable results, the same General Chapter requested the General Government to propose:

  • “guidelines for such collaboration which the units could adapt to their particular circumstances”(no. 59a).
  • “general norms ” for the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer “which would apply to all units of the Congregation”(no. 60a).

06. After the General Secretariat for the Laity had already presented to the Congregation a general synthesis of the initiatives already in operation in the different units, the General Council on 8 September 1995, approved the following Guidelines and Norms, the fruit of a complex period of study and consultation in which it sought to involve the whole Congregation together with qualified representatives of the laity who are already working with us. These Guidelines and Norms are addressed in the first place to the different units of the Congregation as an instrument to stimulate and unify our research for the most suitable forms of collaboration with the laity. Naturally they concern as well the lay people themselves who are collaborating with us.

07. The decision to present them in one sole document arose from the necessity of showing more clearly:

  • the plurality of forms of collaboration existing between the laity and Redemptorist Communities: for this reason the Guidelines are traced in general terms which should be made concrete according to the circumstances of the different units;
  • the more committed form of active collaboration and participation in the apostolic life of the C.Ss.R which is found in the category of the Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer: thus some General Norms are defined which are to be observed in all the units of the Congregation (no. 60a).

08. The contents of the following pages do not certainly express the full commitment which Redemptorists are called to make in promoting a more mature and generously apostolic laity. Such a commitment is of a much wider dimension and should be present in all our apostolic initiatives. The Guidelines and Norms are concerned solely with “collaboration with the laity on a basis of partnership”, that is such collaboration as visualizes the laity actively participating in the apostolic life of the Redemptorist community. This we have made clear from the beginning and it is in this sense that “collaboration with the laity on the basis of partnership” is to be understood all through this document.

09. Both the Guidelines and the Norms aim at stimulating the units of the Congregation and each confrere to be more positive and creative in their activity, while at the same time drawing attention to some requirements and conditions aimed at fostering a more unified approach which respects the special circumstances of the various contexts.

PART I

GUIDELINES FOR COLLABORATION
WITH THE LAITY

1.1   Collaboration

  1. The fact that the Holy Spirit today is urging lay people to a greater collaboration in the evangelizing of the poor constitutes a precious sign of the times for the ecclesial and Redemptorist community. It is imperative therefore for us, Redemptorists, to be prompt and positive in our response:

–    by encouraging the laity to a more mature awareness of their specific vocation, which is rooted in their baptism, and to a greater promptitude and generosity in their response;

–    by inviting them candidly to participate in the Redemptorist mission and spirituality;

  • by opening up our communities to them and intensifying the formation of Redemptorists so that we may be better disposed to and more capable of collaborating with them;
  • by leaving ourselves always open to be enriched by what the Spirit works in them.
  1. The Collaboration is to be so planned that the Redemptorists and laity are effectively co-workers in the evangelization of the poor. Its realization should always be marked by real co-responsibility and sincere mutual respect. The objective to be attained is “the Redemptorist family” demonstrated at different concentric levels of belonging.
  2. Complimentarity and reciprocity between the charisms in that communion proper to the Church, should constitute the basis of all collaboration. It is imperative, however, to ensure that the Redemptorist community does not become laicized and that the lay people do not become clericalized or sacralized, but that a real reciprocal enrichment is attained. This balance must be constantly preserved in the actual concrete situations.
  3. The basis of collaboration is the sharing of the laity in the mission which is proper to the Redemptorist community. The secular dimension, the specific charisms and the skills of the laity will contribute to make incarnate and more significant the evangelization of the Redemptorist community. The Redemptorist community in its turn will make available to the laity the richness and fruit of its spiritual and material patrimony. In this way a greater thrust and incisiveness will be given to apostolic dynamism.
  4. Fidelity to the abandoned, especially the poorest and marginalized will enable the Redemptorist community and the laity to select the concrete forms of collaboration best suited to the various situations. When all of us are animated by the Alphonsian charism we shall operate in such a way that the evangelization of the poor will make the poor themselves co-evangelizers. This will bring us all together in the school, of the gospel in order to understand and live better its richness.
  5. The forms of collaboration can only be correctly selected in dialogue with the laity themselves. It is necessary therefore that the Redemptorist community be already committed to listening to their aspirations and needs (cf. FD, no. 58e).
  6. There are many criteria for bringing about this discernment. The following, however, must never be omitted:
  • respect for the way forward of the laity in the universal and local Church;
  • the promotion of a clearer awareness of their responsibility for the evangelical transformation of the world;
  • a sincere commitment to inculturation and to being adaptable to the various social sensitivities;
  • listening attentively to the desires and needs of the laity and respecting their requirements taking into consideration their secular and family situations;
  • being in harmony with the pastoral priorities of the community of the (V)Province;
  • the degree of maturity for collaboration existing in the Redemptorist community and the legitimate needs of its community life.
  1. It is imperative to avoid all forms of collaboration which do not make the laity more responsive to their vocation as members of a family living in the world. On the other hand those which allow them to be evangelizers beginning in their own home or place of work must be encouraged.
  2. In all forms of collaboration, the Redemptorist community must be concerned that the requirements of justice be respected with regard to remuneration and social security. As regards reciprocal relations and obligations these should be set out precisely in a written agreement.

1.2   Participation in the apostolic life of the Redemptorist community

  1. Collaboration with the laity shall always be in line with the unified sense of our apostolic life” which comprises at one and the same time a life specially dedicated to God and a life of missionary work” (Const. 1) and has as its essential law “to live in community and to carry out their apostolic work through community” (Const. 21). Collaboration therefore always includes some participation of the laity in the spiritual and fraternal dynamic of the community.
  2. The forms and degrees of such collaboration and participation (that is partnership) should always be realistic in their inspiration and should be based on a sincere desire to grow and develop, taking into consideration the way forward planned by the community and the desires and grade of formation of the laity.
  3. Our lay collaborators have an active role with the Redemptorist community in planning and evaluating common apostolic commitments and moments of participation in the life of the community itself. (V)Provincial statutes [2] must give more precise indications in this respect considering the degree of collaboration and participation of the laity themselves.

1.3   Forms of Collaboration

1.3.1   Criteria

  1. Taking into consideration the desires of the laity themselves and the actual possibilities in the Redemptorist community, collaboration and participation (partnership) can be realized:

–    at the level of individuals or groups;

  • for a limited period of time or in a more stable manner (e.g. one year, five years, lifetime…);
  • according to greater or lesser availability of time and according to possibilities (e.g. part time or full time dedication…);
  • on a voluntary basis or for remuneration.
  1. The Redemptorist community should see to it that the lay people who collaborate with it can meet among themselves also in order to set up these structures which will prove more useful for their life and ministry.
  2. The forms of collaboration with the laity which are actually in place in the different units of the C.Ss.R. must be increased and constantly renewed so that they may the better respond to the evangelization of the abandoned. It is necessary however to be ever attentive to new requirements and new possibilities opening ourselves promptly and creatively to the Spirit who never ceases to inspire the Church. Such animation and discernment belong particularly to the competence of the (V)Provincial government.
  3. The spirit of voluntary service inspired by Christian motives must be encouraged and evaluated in so far as “it is an indication of a deeper understanding of the solidarity which unites all mankind”. We must work out an accurate discernment of the “vocations to voluntary service”, those who are ready to be partners in our specific mission and charism (Propositions, no. 33b).
  4. The special attention which it is necessary to give to young people should lead us to plan “forms of community or of ‘temporary’ consecration, in such a way that the young people are formed in prayer and the apostolate”, while respecting at the same time the ways and means characteristic of the different cultures (Propositions, no. 33c).

1.3.2   The different forms

  1. In many of our houses there are lay people who have placed their ability and their technical professionalism at the service of the Redemptorist community in different ways. While paying careful attention to the requirements of justice and the desires of the laity themselves we shall take steps to see that such collaboration becomes a conscious participation in the Redemptorist mission.
  2. In the various forms of our mission we are often accompanied by lay people who belong to local groups or movements who have already their own spiritual and apostolic outlook. We must respect their specialty, stimulating them and strengthening them in loyal coherence with their own charism. At the same time we must not be lacking in giving faithful witness to our own Redemptorist charism. In this way mutual enrichment will become possible.

If any of these desires a closer collaboration with us in our specific mission, we shall suggest forms which will allow them to participate more deeply in our charism. On the other hand we are frequently invited to give our collaboration to different lay movements. Our community must always be open to such an encounter “showing an attitude of mutual recognition, dialogue and exchange of gifts” (VFiC, no. 62),

  1. At times, on the other hand, we may be requested by the laity to set up groups attached in an explicit manner to the Redemptorist community for the purpose of:
  • a stronger spiritual growth;
  • a more explicit commitment to the evangelization of the poor.

We should welcome and encourage all such with joy and promptitude as an expression of the fertility of our Redemptorist charism. Fidelity to the Spirit who continually enriches our religious family with ever new fruit should suggest ways of discernment and creativity so that appropriate steps are taken in a constructive way for the laity and for the community.

It is good that such groups:

  • should provide themselves with those indispensable structures of organization which will promote their vitality and just autonomy;
  • in dialogue with the Redemptorist community should determine the methods of collaboration and mutual commitments;
  • after the necessary discernment be recognized by the (V)Provincial government.
  1. Finally there are lay people who seek a closer collaboration and participation in the apostolic life of the Redemptorist community. The title of Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer is reserved for them and the Norms concerning them make up the second part of this document.

1.4   Formation

  1. All forms of collaboration and participation must be prepared and supplemented by an adequate formation of both the Redemptorists and the laity in which the following must not be neglected:
  • a more profound reflection on the theological spirituality of the vocation and mission of the laity;
  • a specific apostolic preparation for the areas in which this collaboration is planned;
  • a more profound reflection on the apostolic and communitarian spirituality of the C.Ss.R.
  1. The (V)Provincial government shall define a global plan of formation of the laity and shall animate the different initiatives. They shall make an attentive evaluation of inter-provincial initiatives and those of the local Church.
  2. The formation of the Redemptorist community for collaboration with the laity is equally necessary (cf. FD, no. 59c). It is a dimension which must be given particular emphasis both in initial and ongoing formation.
  3. It is a good idea to have our lay collaborators participate actively in formation sessions of the Redemptorist community, especially at those times when such participation is profitable for them and for the community itself. Their active presence is recommended in the formation of young Redemptorists.

1.5   Coordination

  1. Given its importance for the future of the Congregation the (V)Provincial government should display a particular interest in collaboration with the laity regarding as its special task its animation, discernment and coordination. In this it shall be assisted especially by the Secretariat for apostolic life.
  2. The (V)Provincial government should particularly take care that:

–    a proper formation of the lay collaborators is assured;

–    that they never lack constant spiritual animation;

–    the lay collaborators be evaluated according to their specific lay vocation;

–    the demands of justice with regard to remuneration and social security be respected and with regard to the future as well;

–    good relations develop between the lay collaborators and the Redemptorist communities;

–    that the lay collaborators are made aware of the obligations assumed by them towards the Redemptorist community.

  1. The official recognition of lay Redemptorist groups and the approval of their respective statutes, once the requirements of the canonical norm have been respected, pertain to the (V)Provincial government based on criteria decided by the (V)Provincial Chapter. Such recognition should be expressed in a liturgical celebration by the whole community.
  2. It is a good thing that there be in every (V)Province a group (commission or secretariat) appointed by the (V)Provincial government more particularly charged with the duty of promoting collaboration with the laity. It is appropriate that it be composed of Redemptorists and lay people.

It should be particularly concerned to:

–    stimulate the community to a greater opening with regard to the laity (FD, no. 60b);

–    encourage a more intense preparation of the confreres for collaboration with the laity (FD, no. S9c);

–    select, in the light of the expectations of the laity, the projects of the local Church and the priorities chosen by the (V)Province, the perspectives and aims most likely to be profitable for collaboration (FD, no. 58f);

–    promote an adequate vocational ministry with regard to lay collaboration;

–    provide realistic programs of formation in line with the various forms of collaboration;

–    promote exchanges of information and inter-provincial collaboration especially at regional level (FD, no. 58c).

PART 2

GENERAL NORMS
FOR THE LAY MISSIONARIES
OF THE MOST HOLY REDEEMER

  1. Established by the XXI General Chapter, the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer constitute the fullest expression of collaboration and participation (i.e. partnership) of the laity in the apostolic life of the Congregation.
  2. The Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer must be seen in the context of a more ample and more positive lay promotion and collaboration which already exists in a multiplicity of forms in the Congregation. They wish to be the strongest expression of it.
  3. The Lay missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer are not duplicating as Redemptorist Brothers who are an integral part of our community; nor do they wish to substitute for them. On the contrary they signify a further development of the organization and opening up of the Redemptorist community.
  4. The Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer, though not juridically part of the Redemptorist community in the strict sense, participate actively in its life. Together we try to realize the “Redemptorist family” which in different degrees of belonging and commitment, “follow” to day “the example” of the Redeemer in the evangelization of the poor.

2.1   Identity

  1. The Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer are members of the faithful (men or women, married or single) of mature faith to which they give consistent witness and who called by the Spirit to follow Christ the Redeemer more closely,

–    decide to share the spirituality and the mission of the Redemptorist community;

–    choose a stable form of partnership that is of collaboration and of participation in its apostolic life;

–    commit themselves to carry out the Redemptorist mission as lay people “whatever be the conditions, duties and circumstances of their lives and through these very situations” (LG, no. 41).

  1. The partnership of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer may be temporary or permanent according to the forms provided for in the (V)Provincial Statutes.
  2. The admission of Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer pertains to the (V)Provincial Superior with the consent of his Ordinary Council, having heard the opinion of the local community in which the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer are to be enrolled. It is necessary that the admission be preceded by adequate formation and appropriate time for experience according to the directions of the (V)Provincial Statutes. The General Council must be duly informed.

2.2   Mission

  1. The Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer commit themselves to sharing the mission of the C.Ss.R. (“to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, by preaching the Word of God to the poor”, Const. 1), carried out in accordance with the pastoral priorities of the different units of the Congregation. However, the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer live out this preferential choice for urgent pastoral needs and the option for the poor from their own lay situation (family, work, social responsibilities…).
  2. The Redemptorist community through its Superior shall see to it that the authorities of the local Church are informed of the forms of collaboration realized by the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer within their territory and if necessary request the necessary permission and authorization.
  3. The Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer shall commit them selves to make clearer and more effective the dimension of incarnation and sharing with the people, especially the most abandoned, which is characteristic of the Redemptorist community for the explicit proclamation of the Gospel.
  4. The Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer supported by the Redemptorist community shall inscribe “the divine law in the life of the earthly city” (GS, no. 43) by according a privileged place to the expectations and needs of the poor and most abandoned. In this way they are not only responding personally to the baptismal call to sanctity but they shall also act as a stimulus and support to the other baptized.
  5. The participation of the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer shall help the Redemptorist community to proclaim the Gospel in a way which shall be effectively perceived and lived as a liberation and salvation of the whole person. The evangelical promotion of the fundamental rights of the poor to justice and freedom shall constitute therefore a continual preoccupation of the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer.

2.3   Participation in the apostolic life of the Redemptorist community

  1. The concrete ways and means of collaboration and participation of the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer in the apostolic life of the Redemptorist community shall be determined by the (V)Provincial Statutes in the light of the reality and possibilities of each region and by the contribution of the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer themselves while respecting the norms of Canon Law and our own legislation,
  2. These should be planned in such a way that they in fact respect and promote the religious character of the Redemptorist community and the lay condition of the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer to their mutual enrichment.

Moreover it will be necessary that they permit a more positive recognition and a further development of the charism and role of the consecrated Brother who forms an integral part of the Redemptorist community.

  1. Rooted in and nourished by the same spiritual sources, it is necessary that the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer:

–    participate at least sometimes in the prayer life and Gospel reflection of the Redemptorist community;

–    share likewise some significant occasions of the ‘family’ life of the community itself;

–    have a recognized role in the pastoral projects of the community;

–    collaborate positively in the realization of the pastoral priorities of the (V)Province.

  1. The Statutes of the (V)Province shall determine the ways and means of the active participation of the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer in the process of discerning, decision-making and evaluation of apostolic projects of the Redemptorist community, both at (V)Provincial and local level, at least in these areas which concern their collaboration.
  2. The commitment (temporary or definite) of the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer shall take place in an appropriate community liturgy.
  3. The relations of the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer with the community as regards the economic and social security aspects (salary, insurance, pensions…) should be in line with the local civil law and should be ratified by a written agreement which also guarantees their future. This should be the case whether the service is voluntary or involves a real work contract.
  4. The Redemptorist community should guarantee to the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer, especially those committed for a longer period, fraternal solidarity and assistance especially in old age and in case of illness. The (V)Provincial Statutes should give precise directions in this matter.

2.4   Formation

  1. One does not become a missionary without preparation. This demands adequate previous cultural, spiritual and pastoral formation. For the lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer this formation must continue right through their life. It is a necessity which must be considered a priority not only by the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer but also by the Redemptorist community.
  2. The first person responsible for formation is the Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer himself or herself. They must above all be concerned about developing unceasingly their human and Christian formation according to their specific vocational choices and professional responsibility. This is the radical basis of their spiritual and pastoral formation according to the perspectives typical of Redemptorist apostolic life.
  3. The Redemptorist community for its part shall see to it that means and possibilities for this formation are provided:

–    by outlining a systematic plan for initial and ongoing formation which respects and harmonizes its different dimensions;

–    by inviting the formandi to participate in important occasions of formation planned for the community itself;

–    by designing someone or some group at (V)Provincial level who with the help of the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer themselves will take a more active part in their formation process.

  1. The Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer shall hold meetings periodically among themselves – at (V)Provincial or Regional level – for mutual help, a sharing of experiences and exchange of information, etc.
  2. The Redemptorist community should see in the presence and collaboration of the Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer a precious contribution to its work of formation (initial and ongoing) so that it may the better respond to the needs and expectations of those it is called today to evangelize. It should particularly value their contribution in the preparation of young Redemptorists.

On behalf of the General Council,

Juan Manuel Lasso de la Vega, C.Ss.R.
Superior General

The Italian text is the official version of this Communicanda.

NOTES

[1] Abbreviations:
·   FD: Final Document of the XXI General Chapter C.Ss.R.
·   ILSVC: Instrumentum laboris of the Synod on Consecrated Life.
·   Propositions: Propositions of the Synod on Consecrated Life.
·   VFIC: Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Fraternal Life in Community (1994).

[2] (V)Provincial Statutes may include an appendix to them, provided always that it has been accepted by the (V)Provincial Chapter and confirmed by the General Government.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email