Monday, December 02, 2002

Some Oratorian information (with emphasis on official stuff)
In The Catechism of the Catholic Church, there is a mention of the category of religious community which includes Congregations of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri.
930. "Alongside the different forms of consecrated life are societies of apostolic life whose members without religious vows pursue the particular apostolic purpose of their society, and lead a life as brothers or sisters in common according to a particular manner of life, strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions. Among these there are societies in which the members embrace the evangelical counsels' according to their constitutions.[Cf. CIC, can. 731 ## 1 and 2.]" ( Catechism of the Catholic Church )

The Congregations of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri fit into this category. Each Oratory is a community of priests, and in some cases brothers, who live in community but do not take vows. The ones who are priests make promises of celibacy and obedience as diocesan priests do. However, the obedience is promised not to the local bishop, but to the Oratorian's "ordinary", which is the Provost of the community. ( I know. I've been to several ordinations of Oratorian priests. The Bishop asks "Do you promise respect and obedience to your Ordinary ?" )

There are somewhere between 600 and 700 Oratorians proper in the world, in 75 Congregations present in Europe, Latin America, North America, and Africa. The representation is somewhat lopsided in that 51 of the 75 are in Europe, with 17 of those in Italy. There are currently seven Congregations in the United States. Though there is a Confederation, each Congregation is self-governing under the General Constitutions, and each house tends to develop its own customs to a certain extent.

When a man joins an Oratory, it is, if all goes well, for life. There are usually no transfers between Congregations. One could say that men do not have vocations to belong to "the Oratorians", but that men have vocations to belong to the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Pittsburgh, or the Congregation in Rome, or Birmingham, England, or Pharr, Texas, or any of the others. (I remember one lady, unfamiliar with the community, asking one of our priests how long he would be assigned here, and she was startled to get the answer "God willing, until I die." )

The Secular Oratorians, of which I am a member, are laity who are, to the best of our abilities, living the charism of the founder outside of the community life of the Oratorians proper. However, like the Oratorians proper, we are also associated with a particular Congregation... the one in Pittsburgh, in my case. One of their priests is our 'Father Prefect' who leads us in prayer at our bi-weekly meetings, and we assist in their apostolates as we can. We are also known as "the Little Oratory", and this is the name we actually use most ourselves, but I tend to use the term 'Secular Oratory' with those unacquainted with us, since people are often familiar with Secular Franciscans and such, and it's sort of similar. (We're not a 'third order', since Oratorians are not 'order' priests or brothers.)

O.K., that's my blog on the official stuff. I've already blogged on the founder's life and the history of the Pittsburgh Congregation. I'll try to blog more on our spirituality and apostolate later.


Post a Comment

<< Home