ABOUT THE INSTITUTE ON RELIGIOUS LIFE
In 1974 under the leadership of His Eminence, John Cardinal Carberry, a
number of bishops, priests, religious and lay people organized the Institute
on Religious Life. Among the founders were: Cardinal Carberry; Most Reverend
James J. Hogan, Bishop of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Father John A.
Hardon, S.J., theologian and author, who was given the task of bringing
interested people together to organize the Institute by the (then) Sacred
Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes; Mother Angela Cettini,
Superior, American Delegation of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and
former Mother General of the Congregation; Mother Mary Claudia Honsberger,
I.H.M., Mother General of the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of
Mary, Immaculata, Pennsylvania; Sister Mary Raphael, C.S.S.F.; and Mr.
William J. Isaacson, Lawyer, Chicago, Illinois.
A Board of Directors and an Advisory Board were established to formulate the
policy and programs of the Institute. At present eight Cardinals and
twenty-five bishops serve on the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board,
along with thirty-five priests, religious superiors, and lay men and women.
The policies and programs are carried out through the offices of the
Institute located at 3051 North Christiana Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, and 24
Frank Lloyd Wright Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan, under the direction of the
Executive Director, Father James Downey, O.S.B.
Bishop Hogan was elected first President of the Institute. Cardinal Carberry
succeeded Bishop Hogan in 1980, but resigned for reasons of health in 1981.
Bishop Glennon P. Flavin, Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, followed Cardinal
Carberry in 1981; in 1987 Bishop Hogan again took up the office of President.
In September, 1992, Bishop James C. Timlin, Bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania,
became President and remains in office at this time.
PURPOSE AND PROGRAM:
Concerned about the secularization of the life of many religious
communities, the large numbers leaving religious life and the drastic drop in
vocations, the organizers set a threefold purpose for the Institute:
a. to bring together bishops, priests, religious and the laity to
work together to find solutions to the problems confronting religious
communities, all in accordance with the authentic teaching of the Church
and of Pope John Paul II and his predecessors;
b. to promote authentic religious life as taught by Vatican Council II in
its Constitution "Lumen Gentium," Chapter VI, and the Decree "Perfectae
Caritatis" and their implementation by the Holy See;
c. to encourage vocations to the religious life.
To carry out its aims, a six-point program was established, namely:
1. Prayers and Sacrifices of its members;
2. Study and Research;
3. Education and Information;
4. Advice and Consultation;
5. Publicity and Communication;
6. Regional and National Meetings of the Members and
National Symposia and Congresses.
There are five ways of being a member: 1) Voting Members: persons who are
actively involved in the organization, administration and operation of the
Institute; 2) Associate Members: those who assist the work of the Institute
by their services, whether spiritual, personal, professional, financial or
any other. Associate Membership dues are $15.00 per year. 3) Auxliary
Members: those who support the work of the Institute by their prayers and
sacrifices. Auxiliary Membership dues are $15.00 per year. 4) Sustaining
Members: local councils or chapters of Catholic organizations and individuals
that endorse the purposes and programs of the Institute by supporting the
works of the Institute financially. Sustaining Membership dues are $50 to
$100 per year according to means. 5) Affiliate Members: religious communities
or provinces or other Catholic organizations engaged in work or activities
which are related to the Institute. These religious commmunities, provinces
and organizations a) agree to assist the Institute on a continuing basis in
carrying out its programs; b) must be approved by the Board of Directors for
membership. Membership dues for Affiliates are $100 per year. The
different types of membership were devised to encourage participation by both
religious communities and by individuals, bishops, priests, religious and
laymen. Members of the Institute subscribe in writing to its purposes.
At the present time there are 147 religious communities of men and women
affiliated with the Institute with a total membership of about 20,000 with
additional communities joining steadily. In addition, twelve Catholic Lay
Organizations are affiliated with the Institute.
About 1,530 individuals belong as Associate or Auxiliary members, about half
priests and religious and half lay men and women. There are 130 sustaining
members. Most of the sustaining members are local Councils of the Knights of
Columbus and local Courts of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. Members
of the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board are voting members.
WHY SHOULD THE LAITY BE INVOLVED IN AN INSTITUTE ON RELIGIOUS LIFE?
The prayers, support and encouragement of the laity are needed by
religious so that they can remain faithful to their sublime calling.
The laity need the example of religious to inspire them to live a fully
Christian life. As the Constitution "Lumen Gentium" of Vatican II teaches,
"AIl members of the Church should unflaggingly fulfill the duties of
their Christian calling. The profession of the evangelical counsels
(that is, religious life) shines before them as a sign which should
effectively inspire them to do so" (No. 44).
WHAT SPIRITUAL BENEFITS DO MEMBERS ENJOY?
First, The Institute is consecrated in a special way to the Immaculate
Heart of Mary; second, the Holy Sacrifice is offered every Saturday and
the principal feasts of the year for the intentions of members and
benefactors; third, all share in the prayers and sacrifices of our
Affiliated communities with a combined membership of approximately 20,000;
fourth, all share in the prayers and sacrifices of all the members.
"Consecrated Life". This is the English edition of "Informationes-SCRIS,"
the journal of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for
Societies of Apostolic Life.
"Religious Life". This is the monthly newsletter of the Institute. It carries
news of Institute members, talks of the Holy Father, articles on
spirituality, book reviews, commentaries and reflections by noted writers on
the Church's teaching and on spiritual life.
National and Regional meetings are held to promote the teaching of the Church
on religious life and to foster vocations. Sixteen national meetings of the
Institute have been held: 1975 in Kansas City, Missouri: 1976 in Chicago,
Illinois; 1978 in St. Louis, Missouri; 1981, 1982, 1983 in Chicago; 1984 and
1985 on the campus of the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.;
1986-1993 in Chicago. Meetings have featured speakers of National and
International repute. Regional meetings have been held in six regions of the
country from the East Coast to the West Coast.
PRO FIDELITATE ET VIRTUTE AWARD
In 1986 the Institute initiated the Pro Fidelitate et Virtute Award,
conferring it on someone who has been outstanding in their faithfulness to
the teaching of the Church in promoting religious life and defending
authentic religious life. John Joseph Cardinal Carberry was the first
recipient; Father John A. Hardon, S.J., Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer, O.S.B.,
Mother Mary Claudia Honsberger, I.H.M., Mr. William J. Isaacson, Esq., Mother
Teresa, M.C., Most Reverend James J. Hogan, and Sister Mary Assumpta Long,
O.P. have received the award in the succeeding years.
Two formation programs - in Chicago and Monroe, New York - are sponsored by
the Institute. In these programs, religious can take classes from priests
who are completely faithful to the Church and loyal to the Holy Father.
Theology classes for the laity are conducted in Chicago and Ann Arbor.
GOOD COUNSEL SUMMER SCHOOL:
In 1987 a summer school for Novice Mistresses and Formation Directresses was
started at Good Counsel Retreat House in Waverly, NE, the retreat house of
the diocese of Lincoln. The summer school is a four week session of study and
prayer; the classes are accredited by the Notre Dame Apostolic Catechetical
Institute in Arlington, VA. Sessions were held at Good Counsel Retreat House
in 1987 and 1988. In 1989 the summer school was moved to the Sisters of St.
Joseph the Worker convent in Walton, KY. The 1989-1993 sessions also were
OUR LADY OF MERCY SUMMER SCHOOL
A one week summer school for Novice Masters and Formation Directors was
started at the Fathers of Mercy, South Union, KY in 1989. The summer school
also was held there in 1990-1993.
FORUM OF MAJOR SUPERIORS
The need for an association through which the Superiors of the communities of
Women Religious affiliated with the Institute could meet and exchange
information, ideas, give each other support and encouragement was first
discussed at the National Meeting of the Institute in 1986. As a result of
that discussion Mother Mary Assumpta Long, O.P., then Superior General of the
Nashville Dominican Congregation of St. Cecelia, was appointed chairman of a
committee to explore the proposal and report to the 1987 National Meeting.
Mother Assumpta's proposal to the 1987 meeting was that an informal
association be formed of the Major Superiors of communities affiliated with
the Institute; that the association not be a separate organization, but that
it have a distinct identity within the Institute. This proposal was adopted
and Mother Assumpta was elected President, Mother Marilyn Renninger, O.S.F.,
Superior General of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Mokena, IL,
Vice-President, and Mother Mary Ingeborg Rohner, O.S.F., Provincial Superior
of the Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George, Alton, IL, Secretary.
Meetings of the Forum were held each year at the National Meeting of the
Institute; in addition meetings were held at Eternal Word Network studios in
Birmingham, AL and at the Novitiate of the Little Sisters of the Poor in
Queens Village, NY.
In 1989 Sister Mary Bernard du St. Esprit, L.S.P., Provincial Superior of the
Little Sisters of the Poor in Baltimore, MD was elected President of the
Forum; Sister Ellen Curran, S.J.W., Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph the
Worker, Walton, KY, Vice-President and Mother Mary Ingebord was reelected
Canonical approval was given June 13, 1992 by the Congregation for Institutes
of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life of the Council of
Major Superiors of Women Religious. This Council -assisted in its formation
by the Institute, the Forum and the Consortium Perfectae Caritatis - was
formed under the guidance of His Eminence James Cardinal Hickey, who had been
appointed to be a liaison with the Holy See for those Sisters who did not
belong to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The Forum and the
Consortium ceased their activities in favor of the new Council.
ANN ARBOR OFFICE
In the summer of 1990, hearing that the Institute was looking for new office
space, Mr. Thomas S. Monaghan, owner of the Domino Pizza Co. offered the
Institute free office space in his Domino's Farms office complex in Ann
Arbor, Michigan. Although it was not possible to move all the operations of
the Institute to Ann Arbor, it was decided that Father James Downey, O.S.B.,
Executive Director of the Institute, would move to Ann Arbor and open another
office there in hope of improving the Institute's ability to get its message
across through the communications facilities at Domino's Farms. Father James
opened the office in Ann Arbor in April, 1991.
For information on the Institute, contact:
Rev. James Downey, O.S.B. (Executive Director)
Institute on Religious Life
P.O. Box 354
24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48106
(FAX) (313) 668-2448
Rev. Dudley Day, O.S.A. (Associate Executive Director)
Institute on Religious Life
P.O. Box 41007
Chicago, IL 60641
(FAX) (312) 267-2044
The Institute sells audio and video tapes of well-known individuals who have
taught courses or spoken at Institute meetings. The Institute also sells
books, pamphlets, and documents. Contact the Chicago Office of the Institute
for a copy of its current catalog.
Send mail or messages [in "Priests, Religious, and Vocations" Section of
the Catholic Resource Network Forum (GO CRNET)] to:
(Mr.) William Fairman, 72113,1517
Father James Downey, O.S.B. [ID to be posted soon]