Monday, July 27, 2009

OCDS Philippines, Provincial Statutes


As faithful members of the Church and as secular members of the Order of Discalced Carmelites our life will be characterized by the faithful and religious observance of the 6 Ms – Meditation, Morning and Evening Prayers, Mass, Mary, Meetings, and Mission.

1.    Meditation. We practice this daily devotion under the inspiration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel by devoting at least 30 minutes daily for the practice of mental prayer,1 and accept from the viewpoint of faith, hope and love the works and suffering of each day and observe the practices of mortification recommended by the Church especially during the seasons of Advent and Lent.

2.    Morning and Evening Prayers. We participate in the Liturgy of the Hours by praying daily the Morning and Evening Prayers, and where possible, also the Night Prayer.

3.    Mass.  We endeavor to participate daily in the Eucharistic celebration.

4.    Mary. We live in imitation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, whose way of life is a model of being conformed to Christ and under her patronage as “the Mother of the Order.“

    * We strive, like Mary, to be contemplatives meditating on the law of the Lord day and night.

    * We imitate Mary, our mother, sister and model in her obedience to the Lord and as an example of apostolic service.

    * We give importance to the Order’s Marian devotion imitating Mary’s virtues, participating with the Order in Marian liturgical celebrations, and wearing faithfully the brown Scapular.

5.    Meetings. We express our commitment to the Church through our Promise, made before the members of the community and in the presence of the representative of the Superior of the Order,6 to strive for evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience and through the beatitudes.

Our commitment implies active participation in the regular activities of the OCDS community:

    * monthly OCDS community meetings,

    * required formation classes,

    * and where the member’s state of life permits, the community apostolate as well as community celebrations during solemnities, feasts, anniversaries, and community recreations to develop deeper fraternal relations among members.

Three or more members of an OCDS community may meet more often for faith sharing and spiritual support provided family and job responsibilities are not neglected and the members regularly attend the monthly community meetings and required formation classes.

6.    Mission. We endeavor to live and spread the spirituality of the Teresian Carmelites whenever and wherever possible.

The community may participate in the Apostolate of the Order concretely through:

    * lecture-series, retreats and recollections, websites, pamphlets, brochures and other printed information on Carmelite spirituality and the Saints of the Order;

    * propagation of the brown Scapular devotion;

    * celebration of the feasts of our Saints at the parish or diocesan level;

    * houses of prayer and hermitages where people experience God’s call and learn meditation;

    * prayer groups for faith sharing and spiritual support such as Small Teresian Communities (STC) 10 that are fraternal and committed to proclaiming the Gospel;

    * new foundations and/or formation of OCDS Communities; and  

    * promotion of interest in the Carmelite vocation.

II. Formation

7.    We undergo initial and on-going formation including formation for the Apostolate based on the teachings of the Church, of Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross and the other Saints of the Order, to develop in us our human, Christian and spiritual maturity, and to help us live our commitment as members of the Church and the Order.

    * Initial formation generally takes six years—one year of Aspirancy, two years of Novitiate, and three years of Temporary Promise leading to the Definitive Promise.

    * On-going formation should continue for life.

    * The OCDS Provincial Council in the Philippines (OCDS Philippines) specifies the formation programs by providing a manual to serve as a guide for all OCDS Communities.

8.    Observation Period.  A person interested in Carmel may be allowed to sit as Observer in the monthly meetings of the community after securing permission from the Director of Formation and the approval of the President. Should the Observer desire to pursue membership in the community, he/she may apply in writing to the Council for admission and attend the monthly community meetings for at least three (3) consecutive months prior to acceptance to the Formation Program.

9.    Aspirancy gives both the community and the candidate an opportunity to make an adequate discernment.  This period usually lasts one year from entrance to the Formation Program until invited for clothing as a novice.

10.   Novitiate. The Novice is one who has been clothed with the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and will undergo two years of deeper formation until admitted to make the Temporary Promise.

11.   Temporary Promise.  After making the Promise, a member will undertake for three years a more intensive study of prayer, the Scriptures, the Documents of the Church, the Saints of the Order, and formation in the Apostolate of the Order until invited to make the Definitive Promise for life.

12.    Definitive Promise.  After making the Definitive Promise, a member shall continue with life-time formation to nourish one’s prayer life.

13.    Vows. A Definitive Promise member may be permitted to make the vows of chastity and obedience in the presence of the community after  fulfilling all the following requirements:

    * the member manifests a strong desire to live a deeper commitment of his/her Promise and be of greater service to the Church and the Order;

    * the member’s immediate family gives its full consent;

    * the member’s personal Spiritual Director gives a favorable written recommendation;

    * the Council gives its consent;

    * the Provincial Superior gives his written approval upon the recommendation of the Council.

14.    The formation period may be extended or shortened by the Council if it is for the best interest of the Community:

    * Aspirancy and Novitiate Programs may be extended by one year at each level. Temporary Promise may be extended by a maximum of two years.  Exceptions to the above may be granted in cases where the formand takes a leave of absence for a valid reason and is allowed to come back at a later time to resume or even repeat formation, subject to the Council’s approval, under more favorable circumstances (e.g. improvement in health, family or job stability, among others)

    * The formation period before the Temporary Promise may be shortened by the Council with the permission of the Provincial Superior for a good reason.

    * Formators should evaluate their formands at least every six (6) months as a tool for assessing their growth. The evaluation reports shall be confidential and given to the Director of Formation who shall apprise the Council of each formand’s progress and the possible need for special attention and/or action.

15.    At the end of each level of initial formation, the formator will recommend for the Council’s approval the formand’s acceptance to the next level, or extension at the same level, or dropping from the formation program. The Council will deliberate on the recommendation of the formator and vote upon the formand/s in the following prescribed manner:

    * Proceedings must be held in a place where confidentiality can be preserved. The Secretary will also be present but will not be allowed to vote.  The manner of voting should be such that the others cannot see how each Council member votes.

    * Each Council member will be given two (2) “buttons”, one black and one white; two containers will be provided, one white and the other black;

    * For a 'yes' vote, the Council member will drop the white button in the “white” container, and the black button in the “black” container. For a “no” vote, the council member will drop the black button in the “white” container and the white button in the “black” container.

    * A majority color in the white container will be considered as approval (white) or disapproval (black). A tie shall be construed as

    * The Secretary will tally the votes in the presence of the Council and record the results in the Book of Council.

16.    The President should inform each formand of the Council’s decision in person and in writing. The formand not favorably voted upon should be informed in a constructive and charitable way. However, the Council and the Secretary are duty bound to maintain confidentiality of the deliberation and the voting process.

17.    When a candidate cannot attend ceremonials on the scheduled day for a valid reason, his/her ceremonials may be rescheduled in coordination with the Spiritual Assistant or Provincial Delegate.


18.    Membership starts at the beginning of Novitiate when the formand is given the Scapular, the outward symbol of membership in the Order.18 He/she becomes a full-fledged member of the Secular Order by the Promise made to the community in the presence of the Superior of the Order or his representative.

19.    Entry Qualifications:

    * A degree of maturity, understanding and well-being is necessary for the member’s adequate formation and for full participation in the life of the Secular Order. Aspirants should be at least twenty-one (21) years old and not more than sixty (60) years old. However, the Council may make exemptions to this provision if it discerns a candidate to be physically and mentally capable of undergoing formation.

    * There should be no moral, legal and canonical impediments including membership in other Secular Orders and/or organizations that would prohibit the person from participating fully in the life of the Carmelite Secular. Candidates will be required to submit baptismal and/or marriage documents.

20.    Membership in a Community. Membership has to be in affiliation with a duly recognized OCDS Community or Community-in-Formation (CIF). Members residing far away from their Community may transfer temporarily or permanently to another OCDS Community. If transferring is impractical, they should remain united with their Community through prayer, communications, and payment of membership dues.

21.    Membership Status.


    * Members who regularly participate in community activities and pay their membership dues;

    * Members temporarily assigned elsewhere, with the Council’s explicit permission, for Carmelite formation or the Apostolate of the Order;

    * Members on leave of absence approved by the Council for five (5) consecutive months or less.


    * Members on leave of absence for six (6) or more consecutive months;

    * Members who can no longer attend more than six (6) monthly community meetings within a 12-month period due to sickness, advanced age, personal, family and/or job responsibilities;

    * Members who are absent without permission from monthly community meetings for three (3) or more consecutive months as well as those in arrears without a valid reason in the payment of their membership dues for over twelve (12) months.  Financially challenged, sick and/or elderly members may apply to the Council for exemption from payment of memberships dues.  The Council must find out the reasons why a member cannot pay his/her dues and find willing sponsors if feasible.

Extended Absence.  After six (6) consecutive months of a member’s absence from the monthly meetings without a valid reason, the Council through the President shall in writing invite him/her back to attend the monthly meetings. If the Council does not receive any response from the member within 60 days from receipt of letter, the Council through the President shall send a second letter explaining that if the Community does not hear from the said member within another 60 days, the Community shall understand that he/she no longer wants to be a part of the Community.  After consulting the Provincial Superior, his/her name shall be dropped from the Community roster.

Isolated members.  The Constitutions does not recognize isolated members or members who do not belong to any OCDS community.  A Definitive Promise member who does not belong to any OCDS Community must formally apply with any OCDS Community or request in writing the assistance of the Provincial. The Provincial may ask the Provincial Delegate to evaluate the matter and, depending on the circumstances, may recommend a Community willing to accept the member.

22.    Privileges of Members:

    * Members are entitled to all the rights and spiritual benefits that their status as secular members of the Order implies, such as the right to formation and participation in Community activities, the right to ask for prayers and spiritual support from the community and the Order. They may also ask for voluntary professional assistance and/or temporal aid from the Community and individual members in accordance with Christian charity and the spirit of poverty.

    * Active members who have made at least the Temporary Promise have the right to vote in their Community elections.  Transferees are entitled to vote in their new community after the probationary requirement.

    * Members wear the habit of Carmel which is the Brown Scapular. The community may also adopt as uniform for certain occasions any appropriate brown apparel taking into consideration the culture and traditions of the Community’s locality.

    * Deceased members are remembered20 in the prayers of the whole Carmelite Order.    

23.    Leave of Absence. Definitive Promise members who desire to take a leave of absence (LOA) for three (3) or more months and Temporary Promise members, novices and aspirants for two (2) or more months, should ask permission from the Council in writing, stating the definite period of the intended leave. The Council’s response shall  also be in writing.

    * A Definitive Promise member who would be absent for less than three (3) consecutive months may ask permission, preferably in writing, from the President or in his/her absence from any Council member.

    * When the absence exceeds one (1) year and the member has not kept in touch with the community and/or is not aware of developments in the Order, the Council will require the Definitive Promise member to update himself/herself on such developments. This may consist of retreats, seminar-workshops, lecture series modules and other formation programs recommended by the Council.

    * Aspirants, Novices and Temporary Promise members who would be absent for one (1) month may, for a valid reason, ask permission from their respective formators.  They should file an LOA for longer periods.  The formator may require the formand to attend make-up classes or to fulfill a special assignment.

    * Members temporarily assigned by the Council elsewhere for Carmelite formation and/or the Apostolate of the Order need not file an LOA as they are considered on active status.

24.    Transfers. The Council may accept on a temporary or permanent basis a transferee applying from another OCDS community21 whose application for transfer has been endorsed in writing  by his/her Council. Applications22 for temporary transfers beyond one year and permanent transfers need the endorsement of the Provincial Delegate and the approval of the Provincial Superior.

    * There is a normally a one-year probationary period for permanent transfers after which the Council makes the final decision to approve or reject the transfer after consulting the Spiritual Assistant.

    * For Temporary Promise members, Novices and Aspirants, the Council may modify and/or extend the subsequent formation program depending on the readiness of the transferee.

    * The Council should assist members in good standing wishing to transfer for a valid reason by endorsing their application. But both the transferee and the community must pray and discern carefully that their intentions are made in the spirit of Christian charity and zeal for the good of the Order, the Community, and the individual member.

    * Members of OCDS founding Communities may transfer to any of their CIFs within one year from its establishment, with the written approval of both Councils.  Such transfers will be deemed permanent.

25.    Fraternal Correction: All our members should show concern for members who may be undergoing a crisis and give them fraternal support in the spirit of the Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20), guiding them with great kindness and patience (2 Timothy 4:2).

    * In case of any complaint against a member, the Council will first seek or facilitate a dialogue in private in order to ascertain the whole truth.

    * If the problem concerns a grave or serious matter and is potentially disruptive to the Community or to the Order, the Council should meet as soon as possible to resolve it judiciously, and seek the help/advice/decision of the Spiritual Assistant/Provincial Delegate/Provincial Superior as appropriate.

    * If the problem is not resolved, the Council may seek the professional help of neutral persons experienced in conflict resolution.

    * In case the complaint is directed against the President or a Council member, the same process of dialogue shall be applied and the Council shall make a decision, but not in the presence of the accused.

    * In case the complaint is against the Council itself or a majority of its members, the knowledgeable members of the Community should seek a dialogue with the Council members to clarify matters. If such a dialogue fails, the knowledgeable members should submit a written report to the Spiritual Assistant or the Provincial Delegate. The Provincial Delegate will then quietly investigate the case, and report his findings to the Provincial Superior for a decision.

    * The accused will be given the opportunity to explain his/her side in writing.  Great care must be exercised to avoid rash judgment which may result in damage to the good name and reputation of persons.

    * Appeals regarding the Provincial Superior’s decision may be brought to Superior General through the General Delegate.

26.    Grounds for Dismissal must be grave, external, imputable, and juridically proven.  Any person who is dismissed has the right to appeal directly to the Provincial and then to the General. The Council, after allowing the accused member to give his/her defense and/or appeal for reconsideration, and after consulting the Provincial Superior, may dismiss any member under the grounds provided in Canons 316 #1 and #2 of the Code of Canon Law or under any of the following grounds considered as “just cause” in accordance with Canon 308:

    * chronic absenteeism;

    * willful violation of the Constitutions and/or Provincial Statutes;

    * involvement in a public scandal; and

    * grave abuse of authority.

27.    Death of Members:

    * The Communities will maintain a registry of Book of Suffrages for their deceased members, preferably with a brief resume or some basic information about them.

    * The community will offer Masses and recite the Office for the Dead in memory of their deceased members at least once a year preferably closest to November 15.

    * The community will remember their deceased members in their daily prayers.

    * Members who learn of the death of a fellow OCDS should notify the Council.  The President or Secretary of the Council will inform the Provincial Secretariat of a member’s death.

    * The Secretariat will inform the different Communities in the Philippines so that they may offer Masses and recite the Office for the Dead.


28.    Governing authority in the Church comes from the Holy Spirit and must be guided by charity to promote the growth and unity of its members according to the dictates of the Gospel.  The General Superior, the Provincial Superior, and the Council of the Community are the legitimate Superiors of the Secular Order.

29.    The Local Council is composed of the President and three (3) Councilors and the Director of Formation.  The responsibility of the three (3) Councilors is to form, with the President, the government of the Community and to support the Director of Formation.  The Council should inform the Spiritual Assistant when inviting some other priests to facilitate Community retreats and/or assistance in planning Community formation.  It also acts as steward of the Community property in the spirit of mutual trust and fraternal cooperation.

    * The President is the Council’s spokesperson.

    * One Councilor will be in charge of Spiritual Growth which will include community liturgical celebrations and monitoring of prayer groups.

    * One Councilor will be in charge of the Community Apostolate which will also include new foundations as well as monitoring and/or coordinating individual apostolate.

    * One Councilor will be in charge of Fellowship which will include fraternal bonding within the community and social interaction with other Carmelite/Church communities and/or organizations.

    * The Director of Formation has the responsibility of preparing the candidates for first and definitive promises.  He/she works in collaboration with the Spiritual Assistant with the support of the President. In the absence of the President, the Director of Formation substitutes for any function.

    * The Secretary keeps the Book of Council where the election results, admissions, promises, dismissals as well as summary of Council decisions are recorded, and the Book of Suffrages listing the deceased members of the Community.

    * The Treasurer administers the funds of the Community, keeps custody of the bank books—recording as much as possible all financial transactions and maintaining orderly books of account—and presents a report of the funds to the Council once every six (6) months or when requested, and to the Community and the Provincial Superior or the Provincial Delegate once a year.

    * Council approval is required for capital expenditures (acquisition and/or disposal of property or equipment) and/or donations from Community funds exceeding five thousand (5,000) pesos. Community approval is required when the amount involved exceeds the Community’s total receipts for one-half year based on the previous year’s records. The Council may set lower limits for small Communities or may provide a different set of limits of authority for operating houses of prayer, retreat houses, desert houses, hermitages, etc.

    * Community approval is required for major changes regarding the use/disposition of valuable property and/or trust funds donated to the community for specific purposes. Such donations must be properly recorded and accounted for, pursuing as much as possible the donor’s wishes consistent with the OCDS Constitutions and Provincial Statutes. For example, only the interest generated from endowment and/or trust/reserved funds may be used as specified when the endowment/trust was set up.

    * Where community assets/funds exceed one million pesos, the Council should use the services of a Certified Public Accountant and/or external auditor to prepare/certify the audited financial statements.

    * Where civil law requires it, the payment of taxes and submission of reportorial requirements (Bureau of Internal Revenue, Security and Exchange Commission, etc.) must be properly observed.

30.    Election of the Local Council.  In accordance with the Constitutions, Community elections shall be held every three (3) years.  The following procedure shall be observed:

    * Elections should be scheduled by the Council in consultation with the Provincial Delegate and/or Spiritual Assistant two (2) to three (3) months before the end of its term during the community’s regular monthly meeting and the date, time and venue for elections announced at least two months in advance. The Provincial Superior should be notified at least two months in advance. A representative of the Provincial Superior, usually the Provincial Delegate or the Spiritual Assistant will witness the election process on behalf of the Order. The Provincial Councilor/Regional Coordinator who is not a member of the Community may also be invited to witness the elections.

    * Qualified candidates shall be composed of all Definitive Promise Members on active status.  Qualified voters shall be composed of all Temporary Promise and Definitive Promise members on active status.

    * Voting should be through secret balloting, first for the President, then for the 1st Councilor, afterwards for the 2nd Councilor, and finally for the 3rd Councilor.

    * The presence of three-fifths (60%) of qualified voters will constitute a quorum.

    * The President and Councilors should get at least a simple majority (50% + 1 vote)27 of all qualified voters present.

    * If a simple majority is not reached, a second balloting will take place.  However, only the candidates gathering the three (3) highest number of votes will be considered for the position.

    * In the third balloting, only the two (2) candidates with the highest number of votes will be qualified.

    * In case of a tie, seniority of promise and then of age will rule.

    * An elected officer will be asked if he/she accepts the position. Elected members who are absent must be contacted at once to confirm if they accept the position. In case they cannot be reached or they decline for a valid reason, the election for that position will have to be repeated.

    * For re-election as President or as Councilor, two-thirds (2/3) of the votes cast is required by the 2nd balloting. This will not apply if the incumbent is merely serving the remainder of the term.

    * The elected Council members should convene as soon as possible after elections to choose who among the three Councilors will be in charge of Spiritual Growth, the community Apostolate, and Fellowship. They will also elect the Director of Formation in consultation with the Spiritual Assistant, and appoint a Secretary and Treasurer. In case they choose as Director of Formation one of the three elected Councilors, that person should resign as Councilor, and  the Community will have to elect another Councilor.  

    * In case of resignation and/or incapacitation of the President, the Provincial Superior should be immediately notified.

          o If the unserved term is eighteen (18) months or more, the Community will hold an election for all positions.  The two-thirds (2/3) vote requirement for reelection does not apply in this case.
          o If the unserved term is less than 18 months, the Council will consult the Provincial Superior. In the meantime, the Director of Formation substitutes for functions exercised by the President.
          o If there is a vacancy for any of the Councilors and the unserved term is eighteen (18) months or more, the Community will hold election for the vacated position.  If the unserved term is less than eighteen (18) months, the Council will consult the Provincial Superior.  In this case, a simple majority applies.
          o If the Director of Formation, Secretary, or Treasurer resigns or is incapacitated, the Council will simply elect or appoint his/her successor.

13.    All officials, whether elected or appointed, may hold office for two (2) consecutive three-year terms.  An official may hold office for a third consecutive term only upon approval of the Provincial Superior prior to the elections.  However, officials other than the President may be elected President after serving the maximum allowable terms.

14.    In communities lacking active and capable Definitive Promise members, active and capable Temporary Promise members may be elected/appointed to the Council but not as President or Director of Formation.

31.    The OCDS Provincial Council in the Philippines (OCDS Philippines)

    *  Only canonically established OCDS Communities and Communities-in-Formation will be recognized as members of OCDS Philippines.

    * Affiliated member communities are required to pay a monthly membership fee and a one-time affiliation fee.  OCDS members support the offices of the General Delegate in Rome, the Provincial Secretariat, and the Regional Secretariat.

    * OCDS Philippines shall assist affiliated member communities  in formation and other matters that contribute to the well-being of the members.

32.    The Superior of OCDS Philippines is the OCD Provincial Superior aided by the Provincial Delegate.

33.    The OCDS Provincial Council is composed of seven (7) members—the President, five (5) Provincial Councilors, and the Director of Formation.

    * The OCDS Provincial Council shall not govern the OCDS Communities but assist and provide service to the member Communities.  The local Councils shall remain as the governing authority of their respective Communities.

    * The Philippines is divided into five (5) Regions—North Luzon, NCR and South Luzon A, South Luzon B, Visayas, and Mindanao—with each member of the OCDS Provincial Council assigned as Regional Coordinator for each region.  The Regions may further be subdivided into clusters, each with a Cluster Coordinator assigned to serve as conduit between the OCDS Provincial Council and the Communities in their respective areas.  He/she will also be responsible for updating the Community and individual member profiles.

    * The seven (7) members of the OCDS Provincial Council should be Definitive Promise members. They are elected for a three-year term during the OCDS Provincial Congress. In case a member of the OCDS Provincial Council resigns before the end of his/her term, the OCDS Provincial Council shall appoint his/her replacement in consultation with the Provincial Superior.

34.    The roles of the members of the OCDS Provincial Council are as follows:

    * The President coordinates the activities of the OCDS Provincial Council especially in implementing the goals set for the triennium.  He/She also directs the Provincial Secretariat.

    * The Director of Formation facilitates and monitors the implementation of the Formation Program of every community.

    * The other five (5) Provincial Councilors act as Regional Coordinators for the Regions they represent. They should be available to the Communities in their Regions for consultation and may assume other functional and/or project assignments for OCDS Philippines.

    * The OCDS Provincial Council shall appoint a Secretary and a Treasurer.

35.    A Secretariat shall be created to support and assist the Provincial Delegate and OCDS Provincial Council with the following functions: documentation, central record repository, monitoring, publishing of newsletter and dispensing of communication.

36.    A Provincial Congress shall be held every three years for the election of the officers of the OCDS Provincial Council.

    * The Congress shall be convened by the Provincial Delegate.

    * The Congress shall examine, among other matters, the situation of the OCDS Philippines in general and each Community in particular, and its Formation Program, taking into consideration the reports presented by each community.

    * The Congress shall program initiatives and approve proposals for the good of the Secular Order of the Teresian Carmelites in the Philippines.

    * Each OCDS Community and Community-in-Formation will send up to two official delegates to represent their community; both delegates will have the right to vote. They should as much as possible be Definitive Promise members or at least members of their Local Council.

    * Only the President of the OCDS Provincial Council will be elected by all the delegates. The President will be considered elected through a simple majority (50% plus one (1) vote) of all members who voted. The incumbent President, however, needs a two-third (2/3) majority by the 2nd balloting to be reelected. The incumbent President may not be reelected for a third consecutive term. The number of candidates will be pruned down to the top three by the 3rd balloting, and to the top two by the 4th balloting in case no one still gets the simple majority. The voting process is repeated if no one stills gets a simple majority after the 4th balloting.

    * Five (5) Provincial Councilors, one for each Region, will be elected by the delegates of the Region. Candidates who get a simple majority in each Region will be considered elected. The incumbent Councilor however needs a two-third (2/3) majority by the 2nd balloting to be reelected. No Councilor may be reelected after serving two consecutive terms. The number of candidates will be pruned down to the top three by the 3rd balloting, and to the top two by the 4th balloting in case no one still gets the simple majority. Each outgoing councilor shall make a report to the Assembly at the end of his/her term.

    * The newly Elected President, along with the five (5) Provincial Councilors and the Provincial Delegate will meet to choose the Director of Formation, the Secretary and the Treasurer of the OCDS Philippines.

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