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PhuturePriest

Community Of Saint John

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PhuturePriest

Has anyone else heard of them? I've known Father Antoine Thomas pretty much all my life, and he's such an amazing man. Definitely my favorite Priest/religious. I saw him again this past weekend, as well as Brother Leopold, and I got to speak to both of them. I didn't get the opportunity to talk to Father Antoine about the Community as he had to leave, but I did get to speak to Brother Leopold (Who has the coolest French accent ever, next to Father Antoine), and he gave me all sorts of amazing information about the history and what they do. When I asked what their apostolate was, he said "We pray. We don't have a specific apostolate." They basically just do whatever the Lord calls them to do. Father Antoine speaks at conferences and of course does his Eucharistic adoration with children all over the world, and now he has been tasked with going to New Zealand and evangelizing there (Father Antoine spoke about the amazing difficulty of evangelizing there because of how secularized it is). Brother Leopold said "What sold me on the Community was the intense study that we do. Our Priests don't go to seminary, as we study so much philosophy and theology by ourselves that we're allowed to just get ordained without seminary."

 

Just thought I'd share about the Community of Saint John and see if anyone else had any experiences with them. I know this is mainly populated by girls, so if you are interested, they have both active and cloistered sisters. Here is their website:

 

http://www.communityofstjohn.com/

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Lilllabettt

They are a lovely, very attractive community. 

One thing to keep in mind is that they are still new.

They, like many young communities and institutes, went through some significant organizational turmoil recently which required rather serious Vatican intervention. A few months ago it was revealed that their founder, who is recently deceased, had broken his vow of chastity with women under his spiritual direction.

Many of the new,  "good," "flourishing," "orthodox," communities have gone/are going through this type of thing. It's very important to realize that and take it into discernment.

 

This article is from last month; it goes through the crises in the different branches of the community recently:

http://www.dici.org/en/news/france-the-conduct-of-the-community-of-st-johns-founder-denounced/

 

 

 

Edited by Lilllabettt

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Cherie

They are a lovely, very attractive community. 

One thing to keep in mind is that they are still new.

They, like many young communities and institutes, went through some significant organizational turmoil recently which required rather serious Vatican intervention. A few months ago it was revealed that their founder, who is recently deceased, had broken his vow of chastity with women under his spiritual direction.

Many of the new,  "good," "flourishing," "orthodox," communities have gone/are going through this type of thing. It's very important to realize that and take it into discernment.

 

This article is from last month; it goes through the crises in the different branches of the community recently:

http://www.dici.org/en/news/france-the-conduct-of-the-community-of-st-johns-founder-denounced/

 

I cannot tell you how sad I am to read of the troubles that community is experiencing. It really does make my heart ache.

 

Thank you for bringing it to our attention, though, Lilllabettt. It's important for discerners to know this beforehand.

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PhuturePriest

They are a lovely, very attractive community. 

One thing to keep in mind is that they are still new.

They, like many young communities and institutes, went through some significant organizational turmoil recently which required rather serious Vatican intervention. A few months ago it was revealed that their founder, who is recently deceased, had broken his vow of chastity with women under his spiritual direction.

Many of the new,  "good," "flourishing," "orthodox," communities have gone/are going through this type of thing. It's very important to realize that and take it into discernment.

 

This article is from last month; it goes through the crises in the different branches of the community recently:

http://www.dici.org/en/news/france-the-conduct-of-the-community-of-st-johns-founder-denounced/

 

I wouldn't consider them to be too new. They have over five hundred men in the Community, not including the women. If they are new as in the past thirty years, I will be surprised. However, that aside, I don't see why this scandal would affect my interest in them. If I like a Community, I like it like a girl: She isn't perfect, but nobody is, and if I can't get past her imperfection, I should focus a little less on hers and a little more on my own.

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Lilllabettt
I wouldn't consider them to be too new. They have over five hundred men in the Community, not including the women. If they are new as in the past thirty years, I will be surprised. However, that aside, I don't see why this scandal would affect my interest in them. If I like a Community, I like it like a girl: She isn't perfect, but nobody is, and if I can't get past her imperfection, I should focus a little less on hers and a little more on my own.

 

 

Newness is not determined by the number of professed in an institute or community. They were founded in 1975.  Many popular, tradition-minded communities were founded during that time.  They have flourished rapidly with many vocations. They are a gift to the Church. But many of them are experiencing significant problems.

 

You are right that we all have imperfections. But if an imperfection is serious, it should not be dismissed, just because we all have them.  If your girlfriend has an addiction, for example. She may be a wonderful person, and it is no judgment on her soul or character, but you may or may not be called to be her boyfriend in light of her addiction. 

 

If there is internal division within a community, strong enough that it has become public and required Vatican supervision -- well that is something important to know in the context of discernment.  If  there have been abuse allegations and apostolic visitations, if the matter of a communities charism is unsettled -- discerners must know these things.   Many people continue to follow a call to a troubled community, but if they are to persevere it is best to go in knowing what the difficulties are. Otherwise it can lead to so much heartbreak.

 

They are a wonderful community. With very kind, joyful Sisters. I believe they are strong enough to move past the present problems. But a see-no- evil approach isn't  healthy discernment.

 

 

 

Edited by Lilllabettt

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PhuturePriest

Newness is not determined by the number of professed in an institute or community is. They were founded in 1975.  Many popular, tradition-minded communities were founded during that time.  They have flourished rapidly with many vocations. They are a gift to the Church. But many of them are experiencing significant problems.

 

You are right that we all have imperfections. But if an imperfection is serious, it should not be dismissed, just because we all have them.  If your girlfriend has an addiction, for example. She may be a wonderful person, and it is no judgment on her soul or character, but you may or may not be called to be her boyfriend in light of her addiction. 

 

If there is internal division within a community, strong enough that it has become public and required Vatican supervision -- well that is something important to know in the context of discernment.  If  there have been abuse allegations and apostolic visitations, if the matter of a communities charism is unsettled -- discerners must know these things.   Many people continue to follow a call to a troubled community, but if they are to persevere it is best to go in knowing what the difficulties are. Otherwise it can lead to so much heartbreak.

 

Perhaps it's because I'm young, but I don't consider 1975 as "new". That's twenty one years before I was born.

 

I wasn't suggesting that we should brush off every imperfection because we all have imperfections. But if there is an issue because of a deceased member (Founder or nay), I don't personally find it a very big issue. The person is gone and that makes fixing the matter 10x easier. That may be an issue for someone else, so it's good to point out; but for me personally, I don't see why it would affect discernment with them.

Edited by FuturePriest387

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Lilllabettt

The issue with the founder is a very recent revelation.

The organizational problems go back more than a decade.

 

http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/108780-under-the-eye-of-the-vatican-translated-from-french/

 

Please understand I don't mean to discourage you or anyone from discerning with any branch of this community.  But only go in with eyes wide open.

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krissylou

Newness is not determined by the number of professed in an institute or community. They were founded in 1975.  Many popular, tradition-minded communities were founded during that time.  They have flourished rapidly with many vocations. They are a gift to the Church. But many of them are experiencing significant problems.

 

You are right that we all have imperfections. But if an imperfection is serious, it should not be dismissed, just because we all have them.  If your girlfriend has an addiction, for example. She may be a wonderful person, and it is no judgment on her soul or character, but you may or may not be called to be her boyfriend in light of her addiction. 

 

If there is internal division within a community, strong enough that it has become public and required Vatican supervision -- well that is something important to know in the context of discernment.  If  there have been abuse allegations and apostolic visitations, if the matter of a communities charism is unsettled -- discerners must know these things.   Many people continue to follow a call to a troubled community, but if they are to persevere it is best to go in knowing what the difficulties are. Otherwise it can lead to so much heartbreak.

 

They are a wonderful community. With very kind, joyful Sisters. I believe they are strong enough to move past the present problems. But a see-no- evil approach isn't  healthy discernment.

 

Prop.  Prop.  Prop.  Prop.  Prop.

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krissylou

Perhaps it's because I'm young, but I don't consider 1975 as "new". That's twenty one years before I was born.

 

 

In the grand scheme of things, it's crazy new.

 

The community I am close to was founded in 1914.  That's still pretty new in Catholic terms.

 

Now, every community is new sometime.  That's far from a condemnation.  If we didn't have new communities pop up we'd only have Benedictines and would be much the poorer for it.

 

(Oh dear, now the Carmelites are going to come after me with torches and pitchforks as I know they say they had hermits on Mount Carmel way before Benedict did his thing ...  But truly, that particular issue is not the point I'm trying to make!)

 

One thing I've heard the sisters say is that you don't really start to grow up as a community until your founder passes away, which for them happened in the early 1970s, more than fifty years after founding and after they'd received pontifical recognition and had lots of vocations and had spread around the world.  That's when they started to grow up as a community.

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beatitude

FP, Lillabett gives good advice. I know the sisters and I heard the founder speak once, at the National Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham (UK). Everyone raved over him at the time, and I remember feeling slightly disturbed at how cult-like the adulation felt. I thought it was just me, but then when the problems in the community came to light (problems that were still happening very recently) I saw that cultic behaviour and attitudes had drawn concern from others, from people very close to the community.

 

They have a beautiful spirituality and I do believe that they can weather this storm. But do not minimise the severity of it.

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PhuturePriest

FP, Lillabett gives good advice. I know the sisters and I heard the founder speak once, at the National Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham (UK). Everyone raved over him at the time, and I remember feeling slightly disturbed at how cult-like the adulation felt. I thought it was just me, but then when the problems in the community came to light (problems that were still happening very recently) I saw that cultic behaviour and attitudes had drawn concern from others, from people very close to the community.

 

They have a beautiful spirituality and I do believe that they can weather this storm. But do not minimise the severity of it.

 

I'm not saying we should minimize the severity of it. But I also don't think we should make a bigger deal out of it than it is. As long as everyone keeps their cool and cooperates, this problem won't be a problem at all soon enough.

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TheresaThoma

I have had contact (and maintain contact) with members of the community and they are wonderful. Are there issues within the community? Certainly but it is reassuring to see the Community being willing to work with it out in the open. I believe it is good to know about these issues and be realistic about them, especially with regards to discernment. 

(Something else to keep in mind, as closely as the three branches of the St John family work together they still maintain their own separate governance, financials etc.)

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Norseman82

This was the community that the last lady I dated broke up with me to join.

 

 

They are a lovely, very attractive community. 

One thing to keep in mind is that they are still new.

They, like many young communities and institutes, went through some significant organizational turmoil recently which required rather serious Vatican intervention. A few months ago it was revealed that their founder, who is recently deceased, had broken his vow of chastity with women under his spiritual direction.

Many of the new,  "good," "flourishing," "orthodox," communities have gone/are going through this type of thing. It's very important to realize that and take it into discernment.

 

This article is from last month; it goes through the crises in the different branches of the community recently:

http://www.dici.org/en/news/france-the-conduct-of-the-community-of-st-johns-founder-denounced/

 

I will have to follow this more closely. 

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Benedictus

All orders have initial teething problems and continue to do so for decades, if not centuries, and the Franciscans are a good example, Founders by their nature tend to be charismatic and assertive so they can motivate and encourage people. This has many blessings, but also obvious risks.

In some ways this teething process never stops happening -  communities just get better at ironing (or excluding) what causes problems for them until they are forced to address it (or die).  New institutes are created in attempts to renew or reform  the ones that have grown stale, staid, corrupted or lax in their religious life and so the wheel turns again. I guess all orders go through their spring, summer, autumn and winters (much like the spiritual path).

I agree that discerner's need to have their eyes wide open when considering new institutes, but also older or established ones. Often the established institutes come with customs and constitutions that may be moving in a direction the discerner may not anticipate and they could find it hard to have a voice amongst those who were formed with ideas that differ to the renewal many of the newer institutes seek to address. This can also be a tough situation to be in and cause internal struggles, and risk a vocation, if not considered early on. 

Edited by Benedictus

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nunsense

All orders have initial teething problems and continue to do so for decades, if not centuries, and the Franciscans are a good example, Founders by their nature tend to be charismatic and assertive so they can motivate and encourage people. This has many blessings, but also obvious risks.

In some ways this teething process never stops happening -  communities just get better at ironing (or excluding) what causes problems for them until they are forced to address it (or die).  New institutes are created in attempts to renew or reform  the ones that have grown stale, staid, corrupted or lax in their religious life and so the wheel turns again. I guess all orders go through their spring, summer, autumn and winters (much like the spiritual path).

I agree that discerner's need to have their eyes wide open when considering new institutes, but also older or established ones. Often the established institutes come with customs and constitutions that may be moving in a direction the discerner may not anticipate and they could find it hard to have a voice amongst those who were formed with ideas that differ to the renewal many of the newer institutes seek to address. This can also be a tough situation to be in and cause internal struggles, and risk a vocation, if not considered early on. 

 

 

This.

 

ALL communities have teething problems. Just look at the Discalced Carmelites. While St Teresa and St John were trying to found their reformed Order, just some of the scandalous things that happened were: St John was imprisoned and beaten, St Teresa was forced to go back and be Prioress of the community she was trying to leave, even though she didn't want to, later she was sent back to her own convent for 5 years and told not to found any more, and because of jealousy and ambition in the community after Teresa's death, the Prioress of Seville and Father Gracian (Teresa's superior at one time and also her spiritual director) were falsely accused of sexual misconduct - the Prioress was removed from office and imprisoned in her convent and Gracian was expelled from the Order. St John was sent into a kind of exile at a remote monastery until he died. Just on the surface, it looks like an Order in complete chaos. And yet, the Carmelites have now been around for 400 years.

 

I have recently read a book from a former nun about a community that was started about 50-60 years ago. On the outside it looks perfect to everyone else, but from what was written, I can see that it is just like every new community - because every community is comprised of human beings, who are fallible and weak. It wasn't a shock to me because I had read a similar one about them by another nun who had left for similar reasons. The thing that makes it hard for communities to change though, is when bad things are swept under the carpet because no one wants to admit or face the truth. Bringing things out into the open gives them a chance to be healed - which is good for everyone involved and good for the Church in the long run, even though it might sting a little when first revealed.

 

Lilllabettt is right though - best to know all the facts about a community in order to make an informed decision and not to romanticize anyone or any community. There is nothing wrong with admiring a community or their founder, as long as one maintains an objective view of things. It is far too easy for any religious community to start assuming the traits of a cult, and that way lies disaster. Discernment means just that - discern.

 

I'm not saying anything about the community of St John - I don't know them. This is a general principle for any discernment - use reason and common sense and not just emotion.

 

Edited to add that the devil will attack new communities - that's why so many saint founders have problems - and that's why obedience to the Church, openness to correction, and humility are required attributes of a founder/ress.

Edited by nunsense

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