COVENANT OF UNITY
In joyful association with the Gethsemani Abbey community we, the Lay Cistercians of Gethsemani Abbey, pledge ourselves individually and in community to devotion to Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Rule of Benedict, the life of prayer and work as maintained by the Cistercian charism. We pledge constant effort to conform our lives toward love of God and our brothers and sisters. To effect this devotion our local communities and the members thereof affirm, adopt, and dutifully implement the following Covenant of Unity.
With the Gethsemani Conventual Community:
1. LCG is privileged to be recognized by the Conventual Chapter of Gethsemani (vote 3/18/12) and affirms its great responsibility to respect the monastic enclosure and Cistercian charism.
Local Community Guidelines:
1. The founding local communities of Lay Cistercians of Gethsemani Abbey are: Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Northeast, and Tennessee.
2. We confirm that a local LCG community preferably should meet at least eight times a year.
3. Local communities must maintain a minimum of six members.
4. Community leadership must be democratically selected and leaders will serve no more than four consecutive years.
5. Communities must maintain liaison and participation in the wider community of LCG with no more than two representatives on the LCG Advisory Council.
6. Once each two years each community will be visited (in person or by telephone) by the leader of another community in a spirit of common inquiry and devotion to assess the health, goals, programs and spiritual devotion of the community and members. The criteria and effect of this visitation shall be made in the spirit of our common devotion to the goals of LCG, the spirit of Gethsemani Abbey, and Cistercian charism.
7. Should a community be unable to maintain these guidelines the community will be offered a period of probation and discernment during which concerted effort and support will be offered by LCG and the constituent communities to address and overcome any perceived deficiencies.
8. If a local community, after a discernment period of at least three years, is unable to revive and maintain local community standards, the community shall no longer by recognized as an LCG local community, and existing members thereof will be accorded Solitary status.
9. All who are attached to LCG shall be aware of and affirm our common heritage and specifically the elements common to lay Cistercians developed in the attached Identity document.
10. We recognize a calling by laypeople seeking a close relationship with the Cistercian charism as lived at Gethsemani Abbey and by LCG sisters and brothers. In response our local communities welcome inquiries and, as appropriate, facilitate the creation and nourishment of daughter communities at some distance from the existing community. Daughter communities shall be mentored and responsible to the mother community and at least annually shall be visited and reviewed by a member of another local community consistent with LC Guideline #6 until such time as the Council approves it as an LCG local community.
1. LCG recognizes three degrees of attachment: Friend, Member, and Solitary.
2. Members have successfully completed the candidate formation process offered by LCG, have consistently maintained their acknowledged dedication to and participation in the activity of the local community, and have formally acknowledged their pledge of commitment to the LCG community. Members must also maintain their active participation in ongoing formation as provided by their local community and by the LCG, consistently meet with and support their local community brothers and sisters, and retreat at Gethsemani Abbey at least once each year.
3. Friends are those interested in and supportive of the Lay Cistercians of Gethsemani but who are unable or unwilling to become/remain members. LCG actively encourages people to be Friends who, by their interest and support, affirm their dedication to and prayers for LCG.
4. Solitary Attachment: LCG recognizes the vital importance both to the Member and the local community of full participation by the members in the local community. Occasionally, a Member shall be considered solitary when for reasons of health, geography, and otherwise s/he is not able to actively participate in the local community. Solitary members are accorded this condition by vote of the local community which shall be reaffirmed annually by the community and member. Solitary membership affirms a person’s continuing and devoted filiation with the LCG but recognizes that due to personal circumstances full membership participation is unattainable at this time. It is recommended that such persons annually retreat at Gethsemani and continue to offer prayers for LCG and the Gethsemani community.
1. The LCG Advisory Council is composed of representatives of the recognized local communities and consistent with the adopted bylaws of the Council.
2. The Advisory Council affirms and maintains close relationship with Gethsemani and the Abbot’s appointed representatives. The Council shall keep Gethsemani liaisons informed of local community developments and, in conjunction therewith, develop programs and guidelines to effect the quality and constancy demanded by our dedication to the Rule of Benedict, the Abbot of Gethsemani and the coenobitic community, the International Association of Lay Cistercian Communities, and the guidance and spirit offered by the OCSO.
3. Paramount among projects is attention to the formation of members. The Council shall develop and consistently evaluate the ongoing formation of candidates for membership, provide materials and programs for continuing formation of members, and shall make effort to provide for the wider community the materials to enable others to taste and savor the joys and advantages of the Cistercian charism.
4. Local communities are authorized and affirmed by the Advisory Council. Such communities shall conform to Guidelines approved by the Council.
5. Recognizing the advances of electronic communication, the Council shall consciously and consistently be attuned to methods whereby a wider community of those devoted to the charism may access and progress in their spiritual journey through these means.
6. To assure consistent and devoted attention to formation and mentoring the Council shall implement a program to guide mentoring and formation of LCG members. It is suggested that implementation shall include periodic training of mentor-leaders at Gethsemani Abbey.
Covenant April 13, 2013
Amended/Adopted April 17, 2016.