THE CONGREGATION

OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

 

Statutes

 

 

THE NATURE
OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

 

The Basis of the Congregation

The Congregation of the Good Samaritan is a religious community established under the canons of the Anglican Catholic Church.  The Rule of the Congregation is based upon the ancient Rule of St. Benedict.  However, we recognize that no Benedictine Order in the 21st Century is able to meet fully all the details of the Rule as written in the 6th century.  In good Anglican tradition we will look to The Rule of Saint Benedict (which is firmly rooted in Scripture), to tradition and to reason in establishing the organization of the Congregation.

Communal life is essential to the overall concept of The Rule of the Congregation of the Good Samaritan (hereinafter referred to as The Rule).  Although a “community” may be only one or two members, such a community lacks most of the essential precepts of community.  The 21st century finds Religious life on the decline—houses of all Orders are threatened by dwindling numbers.  Certainly those in the Anglican Catholic Church are no different.  The Congregation of the Good Samaritan invites any and all of the Religious Orders within the Anglican Catholic Church to share in the communal life of our Congregation. We invite all Religious communities within the ACC to join with us in a unified Congregation preserving the Religious Rules and Charisms of these groups insofar as they are compatible with The Rule of the Congregation of the Good Samaritan.  We will form the Aspirants and Novices according to the dictates of The Rule of the Good Samaritan, adapting as is possible to the charism of the Religious rule of their choice. Where similarities exist, we can blend together as one community; where differences separate us, we will work to accommodate those differences.

In addition, although Religious houses have always considered those sisters and brothers who reside in the monastery as “community,” traditionally even in the earliest times, men and women who chose a simpler attachment to the community, the Oblates who did not make vows but rather simple promises, were also considered to be a part of the community.  It is our sincere hope that, in addition to the vowed members of the Congregation, God may see fit to call others—Oblates—some of whom may choose to live within the Congregation and some who, although they live apart from the Congregation, will find many opportunities to join in the community life. To that end, these statutes will make every effort to include both intern and extern oblates in the rules and customs of the house whenever possible.  The term “members-in-residence” is intended to include all intern Oblates and those extern Oblates who are at that moment present in the House.

The Purpose of the Congregation

The religious life is constituted and expressed by the voluntary undertaking of certain obligations in response to the call of God.  It involves the profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, normally by vow.  Life thus consecrated to God is a stable form of living in which those who are called are enabled by the grace of the Holy Spirit to follow Christ more closely.

The Character of the Congregation        

It has been the privilege of Religious Orders for centuries to pray for and on behalf of God’s Kingdom on earth, the Church, and all who are in need.  It is our intent to continue this tradition and to rejoice in its responsibility.  Our prayer life is our call and our gift from God.  In thanksgiving and on behalf of all for whom we pray, we offer the Divine Offices each day.  Our prayer, whether corporate or individual, permits us access to the throne of God and joins us with the Heavenly Host. 

Our work, then, is our prayer and our prayer is our work.

The charism of the Congregation

Our charism is our prayer propelled into action.  We have not been called together to teach, to work with the poor or to nurse the sick and dying.  We have been called together to pray—to seek God and God alone and to listen to His Call and His Will for us.  It may be that tomorrow He will ask us to do His work in a school, a hospital or on the streets.  He may indeed call us to a purely contemplative life of prayer.  We must be diligent in our prayer and in our listening.  We must give our lives and our self-will over to God so that His Will may be done here on earth, through us.  He will call us; He will lead us; He will help us; and He will let us know when we are done.  He will show us when it is time to move on.

Within the unlimited boundaries of the Anglican Catholic Church, we will be open to His call and will work tirelessly to answer it.

At this time He seems to be calling us to extend our love, our care and a helping hand to the poor and broken families who have been overlooked in our society.  He has planted us in Bridge City, to grow and to bloom amongst some of our country’s poorest families.  He has called us; He will lead us; He will help us; and He will tell us when our work in this place is done.

Our Apostolate, then, is to listen, to follow, and to be open to God’s Will—as it says in the Book of Common Prayer—“to comfort and succour all those who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.”

The Regulation of the Congregation

Following the injunction of Blessed Paul the Apostle, the Congregation desires that all things be done decently and in order.  It therefore establishes these Statutes for the governance and organization of the Congregation of the Good Samaritan.  Once accepted by the Bishop Visitor, they shall be changed only with his agreement and that of the General Chapter and that of the Governors of the Congregation. 

The details of community life shall be set forth in a Customary which shall be approved by the Bishop Visitor and shall be binding upon all members of the house for which it is written.


AUTHORITY
IN THE CONGREGATION OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

THE LAW

The Civil Law

The Congregation shall be incorporated as “The Congregation of the Good Samaritan, Inc.” (or similar title, if an identical corporation already exists) with the State of Louisiana as soon as a Board of Directors is elected.  Provisions of the Articles of Incorporation shall be the minimum required, reserving most matters for the Bylaws.  Application shall be promptly made to the United States Internal Revenue for an Employer Identification Number and for 501(c)(3) status under the Revenue Code.

The Canon Law

Congregation shall function in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Original Province of the Anglican Catholic Church, especially the provisions of Article XIX, and insofar as applicable in accordance with the Canons of the Diocese wherein a House may be established.

The Local Diocese

Members of the Congregation serving in ministry of any kind within the local diocese are subject to the authority of the Bishop Ordinary of the diocese.  No member may be transferred into a diocese without the express, written permission of the Bishop of the diocese, and members being transferred out of a diocese will do so only after notice is given the Bishop Ordinary, and reasonable time allowed for arrangements to be made for uninterrupted ministry.

Bylaws

The Board of Directors will adopt by-laws which will define their duties and responsibilities, as well as fulfill any necessary legal requirements of the Church, the State or the Federal Government and provide for the efficient and effective operation of the Corporation.

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Membership

In accordance with the Laws of the State of Louisiana, and for the good order of the Congregation, a Board of Directors is established, consisting of 3 members.  All must be members in good standing in the Anglican Catholic Church.  The Governor General and the Governess and either the Bishop Visitor or the Diocesan Bishop may serve as additional ex-officio members of the Board.  The Board must meet at least annually, at the time of General Chapter (on or around March 25th) or at a time convenient and agreed upon by the Board.

Responsibilities

The Board will be responsible for the orderly fiscal life of the Congregation, but may be called upon at times to help with fund raising activities or other activities of the Congregation. 

Election and Term of Office

The Board of Directors shall serve without pay on a rotating schedule for a period of three years, at which time the remaining Board with the approval of the Council shall appoint new members to the Board.  Board members may serve consecutive terms.

The Governor General and Governess

A Governor traditionally holds the place of Christ in the monastery.  He or she is the spiritual father/mother of the Houses within the Congregation. The Governor bears ultimate responsibility for and is the final arbiter of the life of the Congregation.  When possible, it is appropriate for the Governor to be present when one of the members of the Congregation is being advanced and the Governor General will have the option of presiding over or of celebrating the accompanying Conventual Mass, if ordained.  The Governor aids the development of the House in visits to benefactors whenever it seems appropriate to do so.

The first Governors, one for the Brothers and one for the Sisters, should then be appointed by the Bishop Visitor with the approval of the governing council of each house for a period of seven years.  After seven years, the Congregation meeting in full General Chapter may elect a Governorfor a term of seven years.  A Governor may be re-elected for any number of terms.

As the Congregation of the Good Samaritan is a congregation of men and women, and since no man shall have charge over a woman religious, and no woman shall have charge over a man religious, the male and female houses are separate, yet joined together through the Governors.  The Governors shall act together, frequently consulting one another and fully participating with each other in the government of the Congregation.

The Governess

Each House of women in the Congregation is governed by a Governess whose vows shall be under the Rule of the Congregation of the Good Samaritan. The Governess is in the first instance, appointed by the Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of New Orleans, where the first established House is located.  She shall be appointed for a period of seven (7) years, at which time, if the Chapter consists of at least five (5) Senior members, a Governess will be elected by the Senior Class.  The term of office is for a period of seven (7) years and the Governess can be re-elected by the Seniors if that is their wish.  If at any time there are not five (5) Senior members of the House, the Bishop Visitor will then appoint the Governess from the Senior Class for a term of seven (7) years.

The Governess is steward of the patrimony of the House.  She is the general administrator of the resources of the House.  She appoints all officials for the administration of the House.

The Governess convokes and chairs chapter meetings.  In general, she is responsible for the agenda of Chapter meetings.  She posts the time and agenda of Chapter meetings.

The Governess shall, with the approval of the Bishop Visitor and the Bishop Ordinary, appoint a priest within the Anglican Catholic Church to serve as Chaplain for the House and she shall make arrangements for his stipend to be paid as agreed.

The Governess shall be responsible for all other duties as designated in the Customary of the House and/or required by the Bishop Visitor or the House of Bishops or requested by the Chapter.

The Governess also governs any foundation until such time as it is qualified to elect its own superior. 

The Governess shall be responsible, to the best of her ability, to govern “non-CGS” religious as is called for under the religious rule they have chosen to follow.  She must make every effort to accommodate these Rules and should report any difficulties to the Chaplain or the Bishop Visitor for mediation, advice and assistance.

The Governor General

The Governor of the House of men shall be addressed as the Governor General.  His appointment, election, and duties are identical to those of the Governess described in the preceding section. In the instance where the elected Governor General is not ordained, he will still be addressed as Governor General, although he will have no Sacramental Authority.

OTHER OFFICials of the House

Other officials necessary to the work of the House will be appointed from time to time by the Governor from those members of the House-in-residence or from members not-in-residence, as well as from outside the organization.  Care should be taken that such officials have the best interest of the House and understand the circumstances and limits of their appointment.

MEMBERSHIP
IN THE CONGREGATION OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

Internal MEMBERS

Aspirants

To initiate the process of acceptance into the Congregation, a letter or prescribed form requesting admission must be directed to the Governor of the Congregation who shall determine, in consultation with such advisors as he or she will, whether the application shall be considered further.

Normally, anyone being considered for the candidacy shall make one or more vocational visits to the House prior to entrance, at which time he or she shall be interviewed by the Governor and the Chaplain (as well as the vocation director and the novice master, when such are appointed) before being accepted.

No candidate shall be considered until he or she has finished at least a high school education or its equivalent and is at least eighteen (18) years of age. 

Governors are responsible for assessing the suitability of candidates and should initiate any inquiries judged to be necessary and appropriate, in the course of which the Governor shall ask for names of persons willing to provide references on behalf of those seeking admission.  It is desirable that one of the referees should be a priest.

Certificates of baptism and confirmation shall be required and reference made to other communities where the candidate may have previously tested a vocation.

A certificate of health shall be procured from the candidate’s doctor, and the Congregation may require medical examination by a doctor of its own appointment.  The Congregation shall also require a psychological assessment be made, which may be done by a mental health professional of its own choosing.

Divorced persons may be considered for admission to religious vows, so long as the person to be admitted did not instigate the divorce against an unwilling and well-intentioned spouse for reasons that are deemed malicious or trivial and so long as there are no minor or otherwise dependent children, either financially or psychologically, who are the offspring of the marriage.  Advice of the Visitor should be sought prior to admission and the possibility of an annulment should be discussed.

Generally, the period of Aspirancy will be lived in the Aspirant’s secular state for a period of not less than six (6) nor more than eighteen (18) months. 

Novices

A novice is a probationary member of the Congregation who, having given adequate signs of a definite purpose and intention, has been admitted to formation and to training in the life and discipline of the Congregation.

Admission is accorded by the Governor.  The rite of admission of a novice is a Community, rather than a public, event, since it marks an entrance into training, not an acceptance into religious life.  It takes a simple form including the reading and exposition of scripture within a Community office or other gathering, in chapel but not necessarily at the Eucharist.  Admission to the Novitiate is signified by the giving of the habit. At this time, the Novice may submit a name to the Governor, and if deemed appropriate, the name will be ordered at the time of the ceremony and the Novice will be known by this new name in religion from this time forward.

Novices are expected to maintain their health insurance until entrance to profession. 

The Novitiate normally lasts twelve months, but may be extended up to twenty-four months, and no longer, if either the Governors or the novice feel this will be helpful in determining vocation.

The Governor and others responsible for the training of Novices shall make the recommendation that the novice be advanced to profession.

Before temporary profession, the novice should make a living will and assign power of attorney. 

Juniors

After completion of the novitiate, a novice shall make temporary annual profession for three years. This period of time is referred to as the Juniorate.

A Junior retains his or her monies and possessions until solemn profession, although he or she is not free to use them during the Juniorate. 

Before solemn profession, the Junior is to make out a will, valid in civil law, in which he or she disposes of all he or she possesses as he or she chooses.

Professed

Profession is the external and public act by which a person freely binds his or her life to God by vows of the evangelical counsels; poverty, chastity, and obedience, as well as stability.  Profession takes place after due probation, training and acceptance by the Congregation.

In addition to being a solemn promise made to God, a vow includes recognition by the individual of the need for grace to fulfill what is undertaken, and a request for that grace.  In the scriptural sense a vow is therefore a prayer as well as a promise. This undertaking is binding upon the conscience until either the vow is discharged by its fulfillment, or a dispensation or commutation is granted by a competent spiritual authority.  No person has the power to dispense himself or herself from the performance of vows willingly made.

Poverty, chastity and obedience are primarily ascetical spiritual aspirations, but the vow of Poverty most notably has certain juridical aspects.

By the vow of poverty, the sister or brother, in imitation of Christ who ‘although he was rich, for our sakes became poor’, seeks dependence on God alone and detachment from all material things, which implies a right use of material goods.  To this end the Sister or Brother freely renounces all rights over property of any kind.  All property and goods of the religious are given to the Congregation, or otherwise disposed of, at life profession; but even under Junior vows, although property is retained in the legal name of the Sister or Brother after his or her profession, property may not be administered or disposed of without permission of the Governors.  He or she may not alienate any property without express permission, nor make over any of it to the Congregation.

In the event of difficulties with a member preparing for life profession to surrender all material properties to the Congregation, legal and binding contracts shall be drawn up by an attorney authorized to practice law in the State of Louisiana or the state where the motherhouses are should they move that ensure the protection of the community from financial harm and allow the professed to maintain the assets in name only. All proceeds, benefits and uses of the assets will be surrendered to the Congregation, as well as reasonable responsibilities for maintenance and other obligations of the asset. In the event of the death of the religious, all assets will become the property of the Congregation provided for by a Last Will and Testament. In the event of the departure of a member, whether by his or her choice or by decision of the Congregation,  who has maintained such assets in his or her name, the assets shall become the property of the Congregation with the necessary provisions provided for as above.

Should the above mentioned asset become a liability that the Congregation cannot reasonably meet, such as a building with a mortgage, arrangements shall be made with the religious holding the title in name only to liquidate the asset in the most expedient way possible.

External MEMBERS

Aspirants

The process of acceptance of an Oblate into the Congregation is similar to that of one seeking profession.  The application for admission must be directed to the Governor of the Congregation who shall determine, in consultation with such advisors as he or she will, whether the application shall be considered further.

No candidate shall be considered until he or she has at least sixteen (16) years of age. 

Governors are responsible for assessing the suitability of candidates and should initiate any inquiries judged to be necessary and appropriate.  Certificates of baptism and confirmation shall be required and reference made to other communities where the candidate may have previously tested a vocation.

Generally, the period of Aspirancy will be very short, lasting only as long as it takes to complete the required paperwork and to make arrangements for receptions 

Novice Oblate

A Novice is a probationary member of the Congregation who has been admitted to formation and to training in the life and discipline of the Congregation as an Oblate

Admission is accorded by the Governor.  The rite of admission of a Novice Oblate is a Community event.  It takes a simple form including the reading and exposition of scripture within a Community office or other gathering, in chapel but not at the Eucharist.  Admission to the Novitiate is signified by the giving of the Novice’s cross. 

The Novitiate normally lasts twelve months, but may be extended up to twenty-four months if either the Governors or the Novice feel this will be helpful in determining vocation.

The Governors and others responsible for the training of Novices shall make the recommendation that the novice be advanced to full Oblate status.

At this time, the Novice Oblate may submit a name to the Governor, and if deemed appropriate, the name will be ordered at the time of the ceremony and the Oblate will be known by this new name in religion from this time forward.

Oblate

At the ceremony of Oblation the new Oblate makes promises which are read aloud and signed at the Altar.  The Oblate promises to order his/her life as defined in the Rule of the Congregation of the Good Samaritan, taking into account the state of life to which he/she is called.  These promises take the form of poverty, chastity and obedience, and are deemed to be in effect for a period of one year.  These promises should be renewed annually by a simple statement of intent addressed to the Governor General or Governess.

Associates

Associates are not formally members of the Order, but may be considered to be “friends” of the Order.  Oblates, on the other hand, are  formal members of the House sharing in the rights and responsibilities of the internal membership as it can be applied to their state in life.  Associates do not share these rights and responsibilities but have a different relationship to the Congregation.  A person wishing Associate Status should request an application from the Governess and, if approved, may be received in a simple ceremony either in the House or Church, or in some other meeting place.  Associates will receive an Associate cross and a copy of the Rule of the Congregation of the Good Samaritan..  The relationship between the Associate and the House will be determined by the desires and needs of the Associate, but can include visits, counsel, and prayers.  They also will be expected to assume the responsibility of supplying some financial aid to the House, and sharing in the intercessory prayer life of the Congregation.

CHAPTER and council

Classes of Chapter Members

There shall be three classes of Chapter members included in all General Chapter meetings.

House class

The House Class consists of all Novices, and Extern Oblates in-residence at the time of the meeting.  This group shall be seated with voice but shall not have vote. 

Junior class 

The Junior class consists of all members in Junior vows and all Intern Oblates.  This group shall be seated with voice and vote. 

Senior class

The Senior class consists of all fully professed members of the House. This group shall be seated with voice, vote, and veto power with a two-thirds majority vote.

Legislation

All legislation passed by the Chapter shall be recommended to the Governors for action. The Governors have the final determination and may overrule the Chapter.  While the Rule of the Good Samaritan recommends that the Governors seek counsel from the membership, all decisions are left to the Governors.  The Governors must agree to overrule a recommendation of the Chapter. In the event the Governors cannot agree on any legislation, the Bishop Visitor shall be consulted to make a ruling on the matter. The Bishop Visitor’s decision will be final and binding.

Meetings of Chapter

A full (General) Chapter Meeting must be held at least once during any calendar year.   Notice of any Chapter meeting must be posted 20 days in advance together with a proposed agenda.  This Notice must be posted by U.S. Mail and may also be distributed by electronic mail or facsimile transmission.  Such Notice of the meeting must be made to absent Chapter members (including Extern Oblates) that they may be able to attend or to voice their opinion in advance of the meeting.  No proxy voting is permitted. 

THE Council

The Council shall consist of the Governors, the Senior-in-Residence if there be such, one member elected by the Senior Class and up to two members elected by the Junior Class.  Elected members shall serve in this capacity for a period of one year with the possibility of re-election.

The Council shall meet at the call of the Governor of the House, or at the request of any two other members of the Council.  The purpose of the Council is to advise the Governor in matters of the House which will include but not be limited to matters concerning finance, the apostolate, and the advancement of individual members in the House. 

FOUNDATION AND CLOSURE OF HOUSES

New Foundations

At the recommendation of the General Chapter and at the Order of the Governors, the Congregation of the Good Samaritan may, in time, feel the urging of the Holy Spirit to make a new foundation.  The Bishop of the Diocese in which the new Community proposes to settle shall be approached by the Bishop Visitor of the Congregation for permission to establish the Congregation in his jurisdiction.  During the initial stages of the foundation, formation of Aspirants and Novices will remain under the control and authority of the Mother House.  The General Chapter with the consent of the Governors will determine when permission will be granted to the new house to receive new vocations.

Closure of the House

It is recognized that the vocation of a community is subject to the will of God and the time may come when the Congregation has completed its vocation.  As the individual Christian lives in daily preparedness for death, so the Congregation of the Good Samaritan should remember that it may be called upon to die.

Falling numbers and lack of aspirants may reduce a community to such small size that there is no hope of recovery and the fact of imminent dissolution must be accepted. This decision is left to the Governors with the support and counsel of the General Chapter and the Bishop Visitor.

Of primary concern must be the future of the remaining members.  If transference is a possibility, this should be explored.  For some members, permanent exclaustration without secularization may be the kindest and best pastoral solution.  For elderly members, placement in nursing homes near enough to be visited frequently by clergy and other members of the Community is important.  The first claim upon any financial resources must be the care and safety of elderly members of the Congregation who will not be able to support themselves.

In all cases, the advice of the Visitor shall be sought.  The Visitor will ensure that full legal advice has been obtained, as well as proper pastoral care taken for the members of the Congregation and others for whom the Congregation has responsibility of any kind. 

After the future of remaining members of the Congregation has been secured, all remaining assets of the Congregation will be distributed as allowed and directed in the document of incorporation.

DEPARTURE FROM

THE ANGLICAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

            As the Congregation of the Good Samaritan is created by, and under the Canons of, the Anglican Catholic Church, it cannot remove itself from the Anglican Catholic Church, nor unite itself with another body.   Should any members of the Congregation of the Good Samaritan decide to depart the Anglican Catholic Church, they do so as individual members only.  Should such a departure result in the inability for a house to remain open, the procedure for “Closure of a House” shall be followed.
 
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