Why would someone be interested in becoming a co-member?
Women and men find in a formal relationship through co-membership an opportunity to nourish their spirituality and to contribute their support and skills to the ongoing Gospel mission of the Community in its commitment to peace and justice.
What obligations do co-members have?
Co-members make a personal, individualized commitment with the Community. (If life circumstances change, the commitment can be revised to better reflect the co-member’s ability to honor their commitment to the Community.) Co-members do not have canonical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Co-members are asked to contribute their time, talent and treasure to working for justice and acting for peace. They participate in Community Groups (the basic organizational structure of the Community) and gatherings, and work cooperatively with other members. They support the values of the constitution of the Sisters of Loretto, “I Am The Way.” They read Community literature and respond to issues, and participate in and contribute to the mission and functioning of the Community.
What is the financial relationship with the Community?
Co-members do not have a financial obligation to the Community, and the Community has no financial obligation to the co-member. Co-members are invited, however, to make a financial contribution on a yearly basis. Many co-members do make a pledge every year, but it is not a requirement for initial or continuing membership.
How is co-membership involved in Loretto’s mission?
In their private lives co-members participate in many of the same areas of mission as the vowed members do. In many cases co-members work with vowed members in such areas as social agencies and on behalf of Loretto on committees. Also, each person in the Community supports others’ work by virtue of being a Loretto member. Many co-members, as well as vowed members, contribute to such Loretto projects as the Loretto Hunger Fund and funds that continue Loretto’s presence internally and in society.
How long has co-membership been in existence?
Co-membership began in 1970 by decision of the Chapter (now referred to as the General Assembly). It began because of a request of former vowed members to retain their close relationship with the Community and to have a way to participate in the mission of the Community without having canonical vows.
Are there restrictions on religious affiliation?
No. There are co-members from several faith traditions. The important characteristic is a desire to believe in Loretto’s spirit and values in following the Gospel message that impels the Community.
What is the length of the process?
The usual amount of time to become a co-member is between two and five years. There is not a defined length of time, however.
What are the steps of the process?
The process for admission to co-membership in Loretto includes four phases: Information Phase, Preparation Phase, Commitment Phase and the Admission and Celebration Phase.
– The Information Phase provides opportunities for the individual to develop relationships within the Community and to learn more about Loretto, especially if they are not already in relationship with the Community. An initial interview helps determine that co-membership may be a good fit for the individual and that the person is ready to enter the co-membership process.
– The Preparation Phase begins with a personal discernment plan for the co-member-in-process. Focus on developing opportunities for mission, community and spirituality is developed based on the individual’s needs and desires through study; volunteer options; attendance at peace and justice presentations, social events and spiritual gatherings; at least one visit to the Loretto Motherhouse; and deepening and broadening of relationships within the Community.
– The Commitment Phase includes the preparation of the Personal Life Review (formerly the autobiography) by the co-member-in-process, obtaining references from Community members and participating in a final interview.
– Admission and Celebration includes a review by the Community Forum of the candidate’s request for admission into the Loretto Community. Once the candidate is accepted into co-membership by the Loretto President, a celebration provides the opportunity for the new co-member to share publicly her/his journey in Loretto and her/his personal commitment to the Community.
What support is there during the process?
The candidate for co-membership has a contact person who accompanies the candidate throughout the process. It is the job of the contact person to make sure the candidate is invited to events and to help to answer any questions that arise. The contact person sends in an update report twice a year.
A member of the Co-membership Team is a liaison for the contact person and is available to answer or relay any questions and concerns to the team.
Do co-members participate in elected leadership?
Co-members can be elected to the Community Forum, which is made up of the Executive Committee plus five co-members. The Executive Committee serves the President both as an advisory group and as a decision-making group. The Community Forum advises the President on decisions that pertain to mission.
Co-members may be coordinators of networks and committees and serve in any other capacity within the Community that is not restricted to vowed members. These positions are not usually elected but are chosen by the networks and committees.
What are some examples of services within the Community that co-members are involved in?
Some co-members serve on the Co-membership Team or serve on the Central staff, along with vowed members. In that capacity, they may provide research, planning and other services to groups and individuals and to the Community as a whole. They also may serve on committees and as coordinators of networks, and in many ad hoc capacities, such as planning committees for events.