I have an interesting question for you this week. I’m sorry for the long answer It still doesn’t seem as if I've adequately addressed this very important topic but I must stop for now. If anyone would like a clarification or followup don’t hesitate to contact me.
Guidance for Phase I or Phase II members who do not regularly attend community meetings (much less than 75% — family issues, have to work, etc.). Understandable reasons but miss many community meetings. Can they be received, make professions? Can they be inactive Phase II members?
We have a number of resources to help us when explaining to Candidates for Reception, Temporary Profession and Final Profession our attendance requirements. I’ve listed them below:
R • E • S • O • U • R • C • E • S
Carmel’s Call, Part II, Chapter 9, No. 17 (page 90) states “New members, those just beginning formation, should attend all the regular meetings of their community and demonstrate the sincerity of their call to Carmel....”
The Community Manual states in regard to formation “In all Phases attendance at monthly community meetings is also required.” (page 14).
And again during the interview process prior to acceptance into the Phase I formation program the inquirer is notified “Initial formation occurs over a period of at least 6 years with usually 2 required meetings per month during the first 3 years....” At that point a series of questions are asked as to whether they are willing or able to fulfil those requirements (Appendix A-2, No. 1)
Phase I Candidate Workbook
Finally, the Phase I Candidate Workbook states (page 3) that two-hour community meetings AND two-hour formation meetings will be expected.
So I believe it is fair to say that as long as the Formation Director/Team are following correct entrance procedures, the Candidate/Member knows what will be expected from the very beginning.
Chronic absences generally mean that this is not the right timing for Candidates to move forward in formation. I might add that full participation is expected in that chronically leaving early or arriving late to meetings is not acceptable and if continued frequently should result in discontinued formation and/or membership.
Please understand that this is not disciplinary action or rejection of an ultimate Carmelite vocation. It simply is the recognition that now may not the right time to explore Carmel given an existing family or work situation. The community would hope that a situation that keeps a Candidate from fulfilling the commitment made is rectified but we certainly know that some things are beyond our control. We acknowledge that over the course of a lifetime many situations may come up where time will need to be spent away from community but at least in this initial formation period, if something unexpected happens in one’s life, we do ask that they step away to give it full attention without the serious commitment of exploring and developing a Carmelite vocation.
So the short answer to the question is that there is no provision for an inactive member or a Leave of Absence in initial formation. Also, it would be unwise to agree to forward a Candidate into Reception, Temporary Profession, or Final Profession if attendance is less than 75%. We could discuss “why” it is unwise for a long, long time but for now let’s just agree that the more members we have with 75% attendance the better chance there is of developing leadership for future directors, formation directors and councilors. 75% attendance is vital to the health of your community.