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I have heard about a new women's monastery in the Eparchy of Parma called 'Christ the Bridegroom'. They supposedly live a traditional form of Eastern Monasticism and refer to themselves as nuns. However, I was told by a priest from Parma that they are not a canonical community in that they are not officially recognized by the Church as a religious community. Yet they present themselves as religious nuns and wear the traditional habits. They are also raising a lot of money for renovations. Their Blogspot does not mention their non-canonical status. Isn't this rather deceptive? Enlighten me, anyone!

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You either misundersttod the priest or he is being completely dishonest. A monastery is not founded overnight. A group of aspirants approach the local bishop and petition to be recognized as a Private Association of the faithful, then a Public Association of the Faithful, finally a Monastery of Eparchial Right. Christ the Bridegroom is fully recognized by Bishop John who has tonsured Mother Theodora a nun and gave her leadership of the community.

http://www.parma.org/monasticism.html


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I certainly agree that a monastery does not develop overnight. Actually I know from a priest who is a close friend to 'Mother Theodora' and some of the other women that they are NOT a community of Eparchial Right and that Bishop Kudrick gave them permission to wear a habit and call themselves 'sister'. Also, they even spent part of their novitiate in an Orthodox monastery which seems contrary to the Canons of the Eastern Church. Besides, a bishop's recognition does not a nun make. Would you not agree that there are Canons that must be followed? Personally I think having monastics in an Eparchy is very desirable. But I have a problem with those who present themselves as something they are not, at least not as yet. I know of a young woman who expressed interest in their community but was not told anything about their status. Is this the transparency that we always say is important today in the Church? Even a Public or Private Association of the Faithful is not recognized as a religious community which can profess canonical vows. I pray for the success of Christ the Bridegroom community because there is great need of such monastic life. I'm just calling for clarification, honesty and transparency.

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John Michael,

As I understand it, the community has not yet reached the canonical status of a monastery but it is recognized and encouraged by the Church. Indeed, the community came into being in response to a letter from the bishop. If you explore their website a little, you will see that Bishop John himself has indeed presided at all the entrances and professions. I haven't visited the monastery but I am eager to do that sometime soon. They appear to be a very energetic (and young!) community.

http://www.christthebridegroom.org/

Caleb

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Everything at Christ the Bridegroom has been done with the approval and supervision of Bishop John. In the Eastern Church a bishop's blessing is the only thing that can make a nun. Mother Theodora and Sr Cecelia were given the liturgical rite of monastic investure by Bishop John, they are nuns. Their website states quite clearly they are working toward full canonical establishment. Holy Resurrection Monastery went through the same procedure. As to spending part of the novitiate at an Orthodox Monastery, this didn't break any canons and was sadly necessary because no traditional Eastern Catholic women's monasteries exist near them. Again, I would not rely on your priest friend for info, as he has seemingly not kept up with the progress of the community. If you have concerns I would contact Bishop John directly: 216-741-8773 ex 221


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Fr. Deacon Lance,
I would greatly appreciate it if you would refer me to the particular canons that support what you say. I have read through the canons and also orthodox references in regards to monastic profession, etc. I am afraid I still fail to see the validity of what you say. Granted, Orthodox Bishops seem to have greater flexibility in this area but Eastern Catholic bishops are required to follow the Code of Canons of the Eastern Church. Giving the Little Schema to a woman who is not already a canonical member of a legitimate monastery is irregular even for the Orthodox. Bishops are not little popes who can act independently of the law. I commend your support of Christ the Bridegroom community and we both want to see it succeed. But is there not a right way and a wrong way to go about it? If they are not at least community of Eparchial Right then they are not officially nuns as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. If I am incorrect, please refer me to the appropriate canons so that I can stand corrected. In fact, nothing would give me more delight than to be proven that I am wrong regarding Christ the Bridegroom 'Monastery'. Peace.

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Mother Theodora was already a professed nun of the Order of St Basil the Great when she asked to be released from the Order so that she could start an authentic Greek Catholic Monastery for women. She was re-professed as a Stavrophore by Bishop John. Two women have been tonsured as Rasophores. Rasophores do not profess vows and this stage lasts at least three years and can continue for a fourth. I would assume this is the reason the monastery is not fully canonically erected. Until they have a few more fully professed nuns you can't have a fully erected monastery. I am not sure what your problem with this is. How do you expect a new monastery to get started? You seem to want to catch them in some sort of catch 22: No monastery, no nuns. No nuns, no monastery. Expecting them to advertise as "Christ the Bridegroom Public Association of the Faithful waiting to be canonically erected into a Monastery" is a bit much. Again, Holy Resurrection Monastery started the same way. They were a Public Association of the Faithful before full canonical erection but always called themselves a monastery.

Canon 462

1. The monastic state is definitively assumed with perpetual
profession, which includes the three perpetual vows of obedience,
chastity and poverty.
2. In the making of profession the prescriptions of the typicon and the liturgical books shall be observed.


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Fr John Michael,

I just noticed you state in your profile you are a priest. Latin Church I assume? May I ask what Diocese you are incardinated in? As you are accusing Christ the Bridegroom Monastery and Bishop John of Parma of canonical impropriety, a serious accusation, perhaps you concerns would best be handled through a conversation between your bishop and Bishop John?



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Originally Posted by John Michael
I have heard about a new women's monastery in the Eparchy of Parma called 'Christ the Bridegroom'. They supposedly live a traditional form of Eastern Monasticism and refer to themselves as nuns. However, I was told by a priest from Parma that they are not a canonical community in that they are not officially recognized by the Church as a religious community. Yet they present themselves as religious nuns and wear the traditional habits. They are also raising a lot of money for renovations. Their Blogspot does not mention their non-canonical status. Isn't this rather deceptive? Enlighten me, anyone!
Did you read this on their blog?:

Quote
Our History

In January of 2008, Bishop John Kudrick outlined his vision for the foundation of a monastery in the Eparchy of Parma as a response to Pope John Paul II's call for the revitalization of Eastern Monasticism in the United States in the Pope's apostolic letter Orientale Lumen (Light of the East). We responded to that call. We were blessed with a house and property in Burton, Ohio, from the Social Mission Sisters who formerly resided there, and in the process of renovations undertaken with the help of many volunteers, we moved in on April 3, 2009. On March 29, 2010, Bishop John received our community into the eparchy. Mother Theodora was tonsured as our first stavrophore ("cross bearer"/life-professed) nun on November 20, 2011. We continue to work towards full canonical establishment as a monastery.

I don't see anything deceptive about them.

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I never intended to make anyone angry but to put the question out there about Christ the Bridegroom community. The canonical references that Deacon Lance provided did not include the other relevant canons regarding monastic establishment and profession but so be it. The fact is that I have learned from several people, clergy and lay within the Diocese of Parma, that my concerns are shared by them also. There are three of you at least that are strongly supportive of the community and what Bishop Kudrick has done. Perhaps my questions would best be answered by a canonist who is knowledgeable in the Eastern Code. I confess that I have information that I have not shared in this Forum which warranted my post in the first place. I have learned from my many years in the Church that bishops, priests and religious do not always follow the canons of the Church. I very much want to support young, developing religious communities, especially in the Eastern Church where there are so few. I just want to make sure that my support is going to the right place and I just can't do that for Christ the Bridegroom community at this point. The only thing I can do at this time is pray for the community. God's peace rest on all of us!

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"They are raising a lot of money for renovations." They probably have "hopes" of raising a lot of money, but I'm not sure that its really happening.

Also "they present themselves as religious nuns" .....we (myself included) call ourselves Christians, but do non-Christians think we really are.

If one is knowledgeable about the first monastics one knows that they just picked up and went into the desert. They had no formal community nor patriarchal consent and there were no canons giving them such rights. Perhaps all this formality and legalism is why monastic communities are disappearing and there are no replacement communities.


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Hear, hear!
This is an especially hard road to hoe as traditionally Eastern Christians do not organise their communities with the piped-in infrastrucure of orders. As is evident, it is in the bishop's hands. Bishop Dudick, of blessed memory, had always included monasticism in his chief projects but nothing really ever stuck. Monastacism had a rocky history in another Byzantine eparchy...Monassticism is so essential to Eastern Churches it is hard to imagine the one without the other. For a long time certain Orthodox jurisdictions had minimal to zero monastic presence and one wonders how they manage to maintain.

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Is this a normal practice for those who want to enter the order?

http://www.gofundme.com/VictoriaOlsen

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Not that I'm aware of . . .

But I think I'll make a donation . . .

Alex

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Quote
Is this a normal practice for those who want to enter the order?

http://www.gofundme.com/VictoriaOlsen

This young lady, like many people of my generation, has a lot of student loan debt and is using gofundme to help raise money to pay the loans off. It is a normal practice for someone to be debt free when entering the monastic/religious life. I've seen many Roman Catholic laymen/women using this site to help them.

Her raising money has nothing to do with the monastic community, other than it having a requirement of being debt free before entering formation.

Last edited by Nelson Chase; 01/25/15 04:41 PM.
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