Companions General Constitution

Title I:

Our Identity

1.       The Companions of Saints Francis and Dominic is an evangelical fraternity which has its historical and spiritual origins in the Order of Friars Minor and Order of Preachers.

2.       The members of this Order strive to realize their vocation to holiness, initiated at Baptism, which they have in common with all Christians.  Their examples are Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic who chose to follow the Lord Jesus by living the Gospel Way in continual conversion.  Like Saints Francis and Dominic, they freely bind themselves to live in fraternity to observe the Gospel counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience.  They dedicate themselves to contemplation, to the apostolate and to the works of mercy, giving special attention to the poor.

3.       All the friars of the Order have the same rights and fully participate in its life and works.  Depending on their ministerial state, however, the obligations of some friars may differ.

Title II:

Acceptance into the Order

The Increase of Vocations

The responsibility for the increase of vocations rests on the whole fraternity and each individual friar. This responsibility comes from the consciousness of offering to others a way of life rich in human and Gospel values.  All the friars should fulfill their duty to promote vocations first of all by example of their lives, and also through evangelizing activities and constant prayer.

Formation in General

4.       The candidates are to be trained in strength of character and learn to prize qualities which are held in high regard such as sincerity of heart, constant concern for justice, fidelity to one’s word and work, courtesy of manner, discretion and kindness in speech.

5.       Candidates in formation are to become accustomed to living intimately with Christ as friends.  They are to learn how to seek Him in meditation and especially in the Eucharist, to see Him in their ministries and their brothers, and in their daily activities and especially among the poor and marginalized.

6.       Candidates are to be introduced to a personal and communal style of poverty so that they may be able to live in conformity with Christ and share in His poverty and preaching.

7.       With special care, they are formed into religious obedience that is free and responsible, and through which they choose true Gospel freedom and a total surrender to God.

Formation in the Charism of the Order           

8.       Formation in the Franciscan and Dominican ways of life must have a pre-eminent place, for it fosters a spiritual bond among the brothers and the mission of the Order.

Thus, formation in the religious life must be animated by the Seraphic spirit through Franciscan studies, the history of the Order, the writings of Franciscan spirituality and the heritage of the Order of Preachers as laid forth by Saint Dominic.

Formation in Apostolic Life

9.       The purpose of formation in apostolic life is to prepare the candidates, in accord with their capabilities, to announce the Gospel everywhere by their word and example.

Ongoing Formation

10.  Even after the period of basic formation is ended, the friars shall diligently continue with their own spiritual, doctrinal and practical formation, so that in their vocation they may remain committed to their ongoing renewal, after the example of Saint Francis and Saint Dominic.

Directors

11.  Friars in formation are entrusted to a Director who has immediate responsibility for them.

12.  Directors of Formation should be carefully chosen and be mature, well-balanced persons.  They should be well prepared in doctrine and studies related to formation.  They should also have appropriate pastoral experience and special spiritual and pedagogical training.

13.  The task of the Director is to form each member in the Franciscan/Dominican religious life, provide discipline and help him/her mature as a person able to live the Gospel way of life.

Stages of Formation

14.  Postulancy – Postulancy is the first stage of formation and the period in which a candidate makes the initial decision to live in fraternity in our Order.  The postulant gradually comes to know our life and our work, while the fraternity has the opportunity to get to know and to evaluate his/her vocation.

15.  Novitiate – Life in our Order begins with the novitiate.  The right of admission to the novitiate rests with the Provincial Minister with the consent of his Council.

16.  Admission to the novitiate is made when the candidate has a clear awareness of God’s call and has reached a spiritual and human maturity to be able to make a decision to answer that call.  Admission to the novitiate is invalid for those who have not completed 18 years of age.

17.  The formation of novices is entrusted to one director.

18.  The purpose of the novitiate is to help the novice more fully understand the essential demand of the vocation to which he/she feels called so that he/she may live the Evangelical Counsels according to our charism.

19.  To complete the formation of the novices, one or more periods of time for apostolic work must take place.  The nature and scope of such activity is to be mutually agreed upon by the director and the novice.

20.  The period of novitiate is one year.

21.  Profession – Through religious profession the friars assume, by public vows, the observance of the three Evangelical Counsels.  They are consecrated to God through ministry of the Church, and are incorporated into the Order with rights and duties.  In our Order, temporary profession is made first and then solemn profession.

22.  For profession in our Order, the following formula will be used:

Since for the praise and glory of the most blessed Trinity, The Lord has given me this grace of living more perfectly and with firm will the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I, Brother N.N. in the presence of the assembled friars and into your hands, Father N.N., vow for three years (or one year or for the rest of my life) to live in obedience, in poverty and in chastity according to the Rule and Life of the Companions of Saint Francis and Saint Dominic and profess to faithfully observe this promise according to the General Constitution of this Order.

Governance

23.  The Companions of Saint Francis and Saint Dominic are bound together in a fraternity of provinces.

24.  The Minister Provincial is the local authority in his province.

25.  The Ministers Provincial will seek the counsel of each other to insure that there is a common consistency in the apostolic and spiritual life of the Order.

26.  The Ministers Provincial and an elected delegate from within each respective province shall meet once a year for a General Chapter.

27.  Prior to the General Chapter, a President of the Chapter will be elected.

28.  The President, with counsel from the Ministers Provincial, will arrange the location and order of business for the Chapter.

29.  Decisions reached at the Chapter by a simple majority vote will have the effect of current law within our Order.

30.  The Minister General of the Companions is the local Ordinary of the Order.

Amendments

Amendment 1:   The General Constitution of the Companions of Saint Francis and Saint Dominic is a living and organic reflection of our ministry to live and preach the Gospel Way of Life.  As such, it may be amended to suit the needs of the Order and its members as allowed for in the existing General Constitution.