13 October 2015

Questions on "Diocese-Shopping"

[[Hello sister ! First, thank you for your blog, I'm learning a lot. I have a question. I read your tag "diocese-shopping", and while I understand it, I have a question. Let's imagine someone who grow up in a diocese (diocese A.), loves it very much, etc... Later, for work, he have no other choice than to move to another city, and another diocese (diocese B.). He's invested in diocese B. life, but when he began to discern an hermit life, he moves to diocese A. because he wants to be an hermit on his native diocese. Is it okay ? Basically, is it okay to change of diocese to discern (and live) an hermit life because you love this diocese dearly, want to be close to the people of this diocese, etc... ? ]]

Thanks for your question. If the situation is as you describe it I can't see anything wrong with doing this. I suspect diocese A would want to be clear about your motives and they would determine you had not been denied admission to profession in diocese B, but if they accepted you for a process of discernment it would be up to them.  I do admit to having a bit of an immediate sense that your language about dearly loving the diocese and its people seems a bit over the top to me. Still, I can completely understand feeling at home in a diocese, especially due to differing dominant languages and culture and wanting to serve the Church as part of that diocese; I think the chancery involved can also see that. (By the way, before you move you should probably ask someone in the chancery if this diocese is open to professing canon 603 vocations at all. Some are not while some have professed people in the past and then become more cautious in professing others.)

After relocating and before contacting the chancery to make an actual request of them in your own regard you would need time to establish yourself as a lay hermit, reestablish yourself in a parish, get a regular director (or continue with the one you are already working with), and find a way to support yourself. If you live as a lay hermit for at least two years then you might contact the chancery with your request to be considered for profession under canon 603. Even though you would be returning to the diocese you would still be looking at living in this way for five years or so before being seriously considered for admission to profession as a diocesan hermit.

I say this first because from my experience you will need to live eremitical solitude for at least this long before you can actually: 1) determine this is not a form of transitional solitude you are living, 2) discern the proper balance between solitude and life and ministry in (parish) community, 3) discern whether it would be better for you and for the Church at large that you live this vocation as a lay hermit, and 4) begin to prepare for canonical profession if you and your diocese eventually discern you are called to that. I also say this because dioceses I know have made 5 years the minimum number of years one must live a directed and supervised eremitical life before they will admit one to even temporary canonical vows. Note of course that even then there is no assurance you will be accepted for public profession, particularly perpetual profession at the end of process that can extend from 5-10 years. (It is true that if the diocese does not consider a person suitable they will not extend the process beyond several years and sometimes they will not admit to a process of serious mutual discernment at all.) I just want you to know there are no certainties in this, especially as you are considering moving.

However, your original question is about "diocese shopping" and as you have described the situation I don't think that would be an issue. My posts on this topic, as I think you gathered, have been in regard to folks who propose to move wherever a diocese has diocesan hermits once they have been denied either serious discernment with the diocese or admission to public profession. Sometimes one hears of folks who have traveled abroad to attempt to get an Abbot to profess them when they have been denied admission in their home dioceses. I think what has to be the bottom line is that one feels called to eremitical life, will live it either as a lay person or one consecrated to do so --- whatever the Church deems best --- and that, generally speaking, they only shift dioceses if the one they are now living in is not consecrating anyone as a diocesan hermit. Gyrovagues and Sarabaites have always been a problem in monastic life and they remain one in terms of canon 603 and eremitical life in the Church today.