Advisory Council for Anglican Religious Life in Australia (ACARLA)
The aim of the Advisory Council for Anglican Religious Life in Australia is to advise and inform the Bishops' Conference of the Anglican Church on the Religious Life as lived in the communities and by individuals in Australia. Members of the religious communities and individuals living the Religious Life may receive from the Bishops' Conference both advice and direction on the role of the Religious Life in the Anglican Church.
The Advisory Council consists of the following persons:
- A Chair from among the members of the Bishops' Conference appointed by the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia.
- A Bishop and two other persons appointed by the Bishops' Conference, after consultation with the Advisory Council. The appointment is to be for five years and renewable.
- Leaders of Religious Communities recognised by the Advisory Council. Where leaders are not available they may appoint a member of their Community to represent them.
- Leaders of Anglican Religious Communities and any liaison Bishop outside Australia may be invited to share in the work of the Advisory Council.
The Advisory Council shall appoint from among its members a secretary and a treasurer.
- A member from the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes [ACLRI] may be invited to attend meetings of the Council.
- The Advisory Council may invite representatives from Communities in formation at attend its meetings.
1. To advise Bishops:
a] in their oversight of Religious Communities and individual religious by providing them with the procedures for the accrediting and recognition of new expressions of Religious Life;
b] on the protocol for receiving life vows;
c] on any other person referred to it by a Bishop.
2. To be a clearing house for receiving, promoting and distributing information about the Religious Life.
3. To encourage relationships with those following other forms and expressions of Christian community living.
4. To sponsor and organise Religious Life conferences which embrace Religious Communities, individuals in vows, other interested parties in the Church, and religious groups from other Churches.
5. To encourage relationships with people living the Religious Life in other communions.
6. To assist in the nurturing of those who are living the Religious Life.
7. To raise the awareness of the Church that religious Life is an inherent part of the normal life of the Church.
8. To keep a record of Communities and individuals recognised by the Advisory Council.
9. To encourage relationships with other Advisory Councils within the Anglican Communion.
The Holy Spirit never ceases to call into existence new forms of the religious life responding to the needs of the times. Consequently there will be Christians who feel called by God to live together in new ways of life in the Church, exercising new forms of ministry or expressing new visions of commitment.
The following guidelines are suggested for the development of new communities, without any intention of restricting freedom of response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
a] Members of a Community in formation should live under a simple rule in order to test capacity for the common life and to clarify their aims.
b] When the common life has reached a stage at which its distinctive spirituality can be expressed, it is desirable that the advice of the Advisory Council be sought in formulating a rule and constitution.
c] When the Community has lived under the rule and constitution for a year, the Diocesan Bishop, or a Bishop appointed by him, should be asked to approve the establishment of a novitiate.
d] After a period of not less than two years, the Community, following consultation with the Advisory Council, should ask the Diocesan Bishop for permission to elect a Visitor who will authorise admission for not more than three years.
e] Vows should not be taken for more than three years at a time, and are renewed as long as necessary until there are sufficient numbers to form a stable community, all of whom have completed at least three years in vows. At this stage the Advisory Council may admit the Community into membership of the Council.
f] Before a developing Community proceeds to life vows, the approval of the Advisory Council should be sought.
g] During the initial stages Community property shall be held by Trustees, some of whom should not be members of the Community.
h] When a group within an already existing Community proposes to found a new Community, the Bishop of the Diocese in which the new Community wishes to settle should consult the Visitor of the parent Community and the Advisory Council.
Consecrated Single Persons
The term 'solitary religious' or 'solitaries' is normally only used of persons who have been members of Religious Communities for a number of years before their vocation to solitude has been recognised, and while they may live apart, they remain a member of their Community.
There have been since early Christian times, men and women who believe that they are called by God to dedicate themselves by vow and live a consecrated life without living in a Community with a specific leader and rule. This autonomous vowed life has been recognised by both eastern and western Churches as an authentic Christian vocation. Since their vocation shares many of the characteristics of Religious Communities living with vows, the Advisory Council offers the following guidelines:
a] Single persons who believe themselves to be called to such a life and have been encouraged in this conviction by a wise counsellor should be sponsored either by their Parish Priest or another appropriate spiritual guide, who will, when they judge the time is right, present the candidate to the Diocesan Bishop or other Bishop appointed by him. The Bishop may make arrangements for the candidate to receive further guidance and advice. If the Bishop is satisfied the candidate manifests signs of a valid vocation, the Bishop then receives the candidate's vows. At this stage the candidate should make a temporary commitment for a specific period, which commitment may be renewed until such time as the Bishop considers that life profession is appropriate.
b] Consideration should be given as to whether it is more appropriate for the person to make a single vow, normally chastity, perhaps in the form of vowing to live simply in the unmarried state in the world for the sake of the gospel, rather than, for example, vows relating to poverty. obedience or stability, which may be difficult to fulfil in a situation where the person is self-supporting and not living under obedience in a Community. The Bishop should decide whether it is more appropriate for the vow to be received privately or publicly in the presence of the local congregation.
c] The person who has taken the vow is accountable to that Bishop who has received the vow, and shall report to the Bishop at least annually.
d] This individual is best advised not to adopt any kind of quasi-religious habit or dress, although a badge or medal may be appropriate. It is not normal for the individual to take a new name in making the vow.
e] In receiving this vow, the Bishop should make it clear that neither the Diocese nor the Bishop is responsible for providing work, accommodation or stipend. As chief pastor of the Diocese, the Bishop accepts pastoral and spiritual responsibility for the person, but may delegate these to the Parish Priest or some other suitable person. If for good reason, the individual moves to another Diocese, the Bishop who watched over the vocation and received the profession should commend the individual to the Bishop under whose jurisdiction the individual now lives. Equally, if the Bishop who received the vows retires or leaves the Diocese, the individual should be commended to the Bishop's successor.
f] It is important that any vow which is received by the Bishop should be recorded with the secretary of the Advisory Council so that a permanent record is available to Bishops and others of those who have taken such vows.