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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Guides: Questions about Communities

These are not all mine, this is a combination of questions from various threads on Phatmass (in the interest of not plagiarising, you can find those here and here).

  • Obviously don't ask all these questions at once!
  • Some of these will be answered simply by visiting and experiencing the community life
  • You will find that an answer to one question may in fact answer several of the questions
  • Not all questions will be applicable to all communities
  • Very individual considerations such as medical needs and dietary requirements are not included
  • This list may be edited or added to!

Spiritual Practices

Prayer & Liturgy
  1. What is the main form of liturgy that is celebrated?
    1. Is their liturgy in the vernacular or in Latin (or both)?
    2. Do they have both forms of the Mass? How often are each celebrated?
    3. Do they have a daily Mass?
    4. If not, how often is Mass celebrated? How often are they able to receive the Eucharist?
  2. How often does the community pray together?
    1. What form does their prayer take? Divine Office, Morning and Evening prayer, etc.
    2. Do they have regular Adoration?
    3. Do they pray the Rosary together?
    4. Is there any other communal prayer that may take place?
  3. How often is there time for private prayer?
    1. Do they observe any periods of silence?
    2. Is Lectio Divina practiced or encouraged?

Charism and Spirituality
  1. What vows do they take?
    1. Do they take an ‘extra’ vow? What is it, and what role does it play in their life?
    2. What is their understanding of each of their vows?
  2. How do they live out the charism of their founder/foundress?
    1. Have they ever undergone a reformation? If so, why and how did it impact the community?
    2. How did they incorporate the spirit of Vatican II (if applicable)? In what ways did they change?
    3. Have their constitutions ever changed? If so, how and why?
  3. What forms of penance do they practice?
    1. Do they practice fasting? How often?
    2. Do they practice corporal penances? What and how?
  4. Will you have access to a regular confessor or spiritual director?
    1. Will you be able to seek direction from someone outside/not directly connected to the community?

Entrance and Formation

  1. What is the process of application like?
    1. What experience of the life and community is given before entrance?
    2. Do you need to take a psychological exam? Will you be expected to pay for this?
    3. Do you need a medical exam? Will you be expected to pay for this?
    4. What references will you need?
    5. Any other aspects of application?
    6. What schooling or academic study is undertaken?
  2. What requirements or restrictions are there for potential applicants?
    1. Educational level - do they require a degree or just to have completed compulsory schooling?
    2. Do they have any age limits, either upper or lower?
    3. Any other requirements or restrictions?

  1. What is the process of formation?
    1. How long are the various stages of formation?
    2. How is one ‘eased’ into the life? What adjustments are made for new entrants?
    3. Are some stages variable? What affects this?
    4. Where might formation take place?
    5. Do members change their name? What input does one have in their name?
  2. How does the community handle it if someone in formation wishes to leave?
    1. What if they were asked to leave? How would this be handled?
    2. What help would the community offer you in leaving?
    3. What is the ‘dropout’ rate of those who enter?
    4. What would happen if you became seriously ill during formation (either before or after temporary vows)?

  1. What sort of financial responsibilities are there?
    1. Is there a dowry? How much is it?
    2. Do you need to provide your own medical insurance during formation?
    3. Are there any other costs you will need to take care of?
    4. Will you be expected to pay for psychological or medical tests at entrance?
  2. How does the community provide for itself?
    1. Do they rely on donations and benefactors?
    2. What source(s) of income do they have?

Communications and Contacts

  1. How often do you communicate with friends and family?
    1. How often may you receive letters from family? How often may you write to them?
    2. How often may you receive letters from friends? How often may you write to them?
    3. Is your correspondence read by your superior?
    4. Are there any other restrictions?
  2. Do they have good relations with the community they live in?
    1. How do they interact with them?

  1. How often do you get home visits (if applicable)?
    1. When do these home visits typically occur?
    2. Are exceptions or changes made if a family member is sick or dying?
    3. Are there any other restrictions?
  2. How often do you get visits from friends and family?
    1. How often may family visit? Would exceptions be made if a close relative was sick or dying?
    2. How often may friends visit? Are you allowed visits from single opposite-sex friends?
    3. Are there any other restrictions?

Apostolate and Work

  1. What is their main apostolate (if applicable)?
    1. If they have multiple apostolates, how are assignments given?
    2. Do you you have any input in your assignment?
    3. Are they politically active?
  2. Would you potentially move between houses of an order or go to another country?
    1. Would you have any input in where you went?

Work (not an outside apostolate)
  1. What form does their work (not outside apostolate) take?
    1. How are work assignments given?
    2. Do you have any input in your work assignment?
  2. How do they balance work and prayer in their life?
  3. How do they actively live the corporal works of mercy?
  4. Do they offer hospitality to others?
    1. What form does this take?


  1. Do they wear a habit or distinctive garb?
    1. Has this changed at any point? Why or why not?
    2. How do they feel their garb reflects their way of life?
  2. If you have a special talent or hobby (music, arts, etc.), would you be allowed to continue it or would you be asked to give it up?
  3. How is the community governed?
    1. How is it organised?
    2. In the case of a living founder, is there another body in place?
  4. How are problems within the community dealt with?
    1. If you felt you needed therapy or counselling of any kind, would that be allowed? Would it be seen as a weakness or a problem?

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