Caritas Christi members are ordinary Catholic lay women who are committed to the Church and her teachings. They have a deep, abiding desire to incorporate the Gospel Way into their own lives in order to share the Good News of God’s love with everyone they meet.
Although Caritas Christi was co-founded by a lay woman and a Dominican priest, its members embrace many and varied forms of Catholic spirituality. Individuals are free to pray in whatever way the Spirit leads them. However, for its members, the heart of Caritas Christi is a life of deep commitment to the God of love in and through the Church.
Remaining in the place where Providence has placed her, the applicant enters a period of preparation lasting from a minimum of three months to a maximum of one year. Admission to Caritas Christi takes place at its termination and the period of formation begins.
At the end of three years, the candidate then makes her First Dedication at which time a vow of celibacy is taken as well as a promise to practice the evangelical counsels of poverty and obedience for a period of one year. This Dedication is renewed annually for four years and then made for life.
Caritas Christi membership requires a deep and sustained formation. Monthly bulletins that refer to the Gospels and the Institute Constitutions provide the basic formation.
· A sponsor is appointed by the Institute to be a companion to another member walking the same journey.
· Monthly meetings are held for members who live in the same area for continued doctrinal formation.
· Days of recollection and an annual retreat are also held. These help the members create friendships that deepen over the years.
Membership is open to single women who are Roman Catholic and have a desire to live celibate lives. If a woman has been married, she must furnish the death certificate for her husband or proof that the marriage was officially annulled by the Church. Ill health or having a physical disability is not necessarily an impediment for membership.
Members provide for their own material needs throughout their lives. The normal age limit is from 20 to 50 years old but each vocation is judged on its own merit with the approval of the National Council.
Members must exhibit stability, strength of character, generosity as well as moral and spiritual balance in their lives. They must also be mature enough to meet all the difficulties of life without the framework and support of a religious community.
Caritas Christi itself has no "organized" apostolic work but each member is pledged by her Dedication to be an "apostle" in its fullest meaning. The member wants to remain fully secular and does so by not revealing to others her hidden life in Christ and the Church. She thus avoids any distinction that would differentiate her from her neighbors.
A member can and does reveal membership if it will help to spread knowledge of the vocation or for a personal reason. However, she may not reveal the membership of another member without first obtaining the permission to do so.