American-Cassinese Congregation

The Constitutions and the Directory

 

Part III: Matters Pertaining to the Congregation

Chapter II: Visitations

C 126. Visitation is the personal evaluation of a monastery by authorized representatives of the Congregation in order to assess monastic life and observance, to stimulate growth, to aid in the correction of deficiencies, and to assist the local community in the solution of any problems.

C 127.1. An ordinary visitation of each autonomous monastery of the Congregation is to be held at intervals of not fewer than three and not more than five years according to the procedures established in the proper law of the Congregation.

C 127.2. If special circumstances arise in a community, a special visitation may be requested either by the abbot of that monastery or by a majority of the members of the council of seniors, after they have informed the abbot.

C 127.3. The President, with the consent of his council, may require a special visitation when circumstances indicate that this would be beneficial.

C 128. It is the responsibility of the President of the Congregation to provide for a visitation, either ordinary or special, according to the procedures established in the proper law of the Congregation.

D 128.1. 1. Any capitular of a monastery of the Congregation may be appointed as visitator. The President is to develop a roster of potential visitators from recommendations made by capitulars of the general chapter and from other sources.

D 128.1. 2. In the case of an ordinary visitation, the team of visitators is to consist of at least two members, one of whom is to be an abbot. A single visitator is to be assigned only in exceptional cases.

D 128.1. 3. The procedure for the selection of visitators shall be as follows:

  1. The President, after consulting his council, is to assign a team of visitators for each monastery to be visited, taking into consideration the requests of the local community.
  2. The names of the proposed visitators shall be communicated to the abbot of each respective monastery.
  3. The abbot, after consulting his council, shall inform the President of his concurrence or shall make alternative suggestions.
  4. The final decision is to be made by the President.
  5. The President is to appoint one member of each team as chairman.

D 128.1. 4. In the case of a special visitation (C 127.2 and C 127.3), the visitation team is to consist of a minimum of three members, including the President and at least one member of his council.

D 128.2. 1. The abbot, with the consent of his council, determines whether the ordinary visitation of his monastery should be conducted at an interval of three, four, or five years after the previous ordinary visitation.

D 128.2. 2. At least a year in advance of the time thus determined, the abbot, after consulting his council, is to suggest to the President one or more suitable dates for the visitation.

D 128.2. 3. The President, in consultation with the visitators, then selects the date of the visitation and so informs the abbot.

D 128.2. 4. The abbot is to notify all the members of the community of the date of the visitation and the identity of the visitators in good time after receiving this information.

D 128.2. 5. Preparation for the visitation is to be determined by the local community and undertaken at an appropriate time.

D 128.2. 6. No less than two weeks before the opening of the visitation the abbot is to send to all the members of the community, including those stationed outside the monastery, a reminder of their rights and duties regarding the visitation, together with whatever information is available about the visitation schedule, especially about arrangements for scheduling an interview with the visitators.

D 128.3. At least one month before each scheduled visitation, each of the visitators is to receive from the abbot of the monastery to be visited a copy of the following documents:

  1. the reports made to the abbot and to the community, respectively, at the previous visitation;
  2. the implementation report filed with the President within a year following the previous visitation;
  3. a report on any preparations that have been made for the forthcoming visitation, and the results thereof.

D 128.4. Sufficient time should be available for the visitation, according to local needs and circumstances, to give unhurried attention to all aspects of the process.

D 128.5. At the beginning of the visitation:

D 128.5. 1. The chairman of the visitation team is to address the community regarding the nature and method of the visitation.

D 128.5. 2. The abbot is to submit to the visitators for their inspection:

  1. the minutes of the meetings of the chapter, of the quasi-chapter of any dependent houses, of the council of seniors, and of any significant committees;
  2. a list of all the members of the community and their assignments;
  3. any other pertinent documents requested by the visitators.

D 128.5. 3. The visitators are to meet separately with the abbot and with the council of seniors.

D 128.6. 1. Each member of the community, including juniors, novices, and postulants, is to avail himself of the opportunity for an interview with the visitators. Those who do not present themselves spontaneously may be summoned by the visitators.

D 128.6. 2. Monks stationed outside the monastery who are unable to come for the visitation may submit comments in writing or be interviewed by telephone. The visitators may also, to the extent that this is feasible, go to visit those who are stationed in the vicinity of the monastery.

D 128.6. 3. Monks who are involved in the same work or who share similar concerns, and whose common interests may affect their monastic life, may request a group meeting with the visitators.

D 128.7. Visitators have an obligation to preserve the confidentiality of any information imparted to them that is of a confidential nature.

D 128.8. 1. At the conclusion of the visitation the visitators are to provide two written reports, one for the abbot and one for the chapter.

D 128.8. 2. The report for the abbot is to be discussed privately with him by the visitators.

D 128.8. 3. The report for the chapter is to be discussed first with the abbot and then with the council of seniors, and their reactions should be considered in preparing the final draft for the chapter. This final draft is to be made available to the community in writing and, after they have had sufficient time to examine it, is to be discussed with them at a community meeting.

D 128.8. 4. A copy both of the report for the abbot and of the report for the community is to be forwarded to the President by the senior visitator immediately after the visitation.

D 128.8. 5. The judgments of the visitators expressed in their reports may be classified according to the following categories:

  1. commendations, which recognize and commend favorable trends in the community’s life and encourage their further development;
  2. observations, which draw attention to problems that do not directly concern the central monastic witness of the community and, while they may be important, are not of a serious or urgent nature in themselves;
  3. directives, which in more serious or urgent cases define specific problems and impose the obligation to seek solutions to them;
  4. mandates, which in the case of very serious problems or abuses define specific solutions that the community is obliged to adopt, with due regard for the prescription of D 128.8.6.2.

D 128.8. 6. 1. Directives promulgated in the visitation reports are effective immediately.

D 128.8. 6. 2. Mandates expressed in the visitation reports take effect only when they have been confirmed by the President, with the consent of his council, and when the President has notified the community of their confirmation.

D 128.8. 7. The office of the visitators ceases when they have submitted their reports to the President. The President, however, may consult them in regard to matters that may arise in the implementation of the judgments that result from the visitation.

D 128.8. 8. After examining the visitation reports, the President, with the consent of his council, may in more serious cases impose alternate or additional directives or mandates upon a monastery.

D 128.8. 9. If there are serious difficulties on the part of the local community about the fulfillment of the directives or mandates mentioned in D 128.8.6 and D 128.8.8, the abbot, with the consent of his council, is to communicate these problems or objections to the President within thirty days.

D 128.9. The implementation of a visitation is to comprise the following steps:

D 128.9. 1. Within a month after the close of a visitation, a report on the visitation process itself and on the visitators is to be submitted to the President by the abbot, after consulting his council. Upon request, a visitator may receive from the President a summary of the community’s estimate of his performance.

D 128.9. 2. All directives and mandates are to be fulfilled within one year, unless another deadline has been specified by the visitators or by the President.

D 128.9. 3. Within a year after the visitation, unless the President specifies an earlier date, the abbot, after consultation with his council of seniors, is to send a report to the President to inform him of what steps have been taken to implement the visitation.

D 128.9. 4. If a directive or mandate has not been carried out within the time specified, or if the abbot and the monastic chapter or council of seniors request postponement or cancellation of it, it is the responsibility of the President to determine the most appropriate course of action in the circumstances.

D 128.10. 1. The ordinary visitation of a dependent monastery is the responsibility of the abbot of the founding monastery, acting either personally or through others.

D 128.10. 2. The visitation of a dependent monastery by the Congregation is to be undertaken only when requested by the abbot of the founding monastery, by the quasi-chapter of the dependent house with the approval of the abbot, or by the visitators of the founding monastery.

D 128.11. 1. The expenses of the visitators are paid by the Congregation. Each monastery visited will reimburse the Congregation an amount to be periodically determined by the President with the consent of his council.

D 128.11. 2. The expenses of a visitation of a priory dependent upon an abbey of the Congregation are paid by the founding abbey.


 

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