September 19, 2014
I am happy to announce the completion of my doctorate in Canon Law, for which I completed a dissertation entitled The Role of Law in the Life-Cycle of a Religious Institute. Beginning with an historical case study of my own community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the project explored the notion of the life-cycle of an organization, applying this concept to the historical case study to shed light on the dynamics of the evolution of a religious institute from foundation and growth, through change and adaptation, to decline, and even death. The study then moved to a theological analysis of the nature of a religious institute in the various stages of its life-cycle.
With this as a basis, the project critiqued the role that law plays in the course of the life-cycle of a religious institute. It reviewed particular points of canon law and civil law that come in to play in the various stages in the life-cycle of the institute, and it sought to provide guidance for those who find themselves in the states of foundation or decline in the United States in the early 21st century. Law in religious institutes establishes governance, organizes activities, guides relations within and without the institute in justice and charity, and orients and sustains the entire life of the institute, so that all together, the institute and its members may “follow Christ with greater freedom... under the action of the Holy Spirit.” (Perfectae Caritatis, 1)
I also wish to thank all the religious in the USA and beyond with whom I have worked over the past many years. As I assisted your institutes in working with a myriad of vexing legal issues, you shared your stories, your homes and your insights into the living of the religious life. This experience forms an integral part of the development of my thinking about law and religious life. I look forward to sharing the results of my research, both in writing, and in working with congregations as they face the challenges of our times.
If there is any way I can be of service to you or your community, please do not hesitate to contact me.