1. The Companions promise to support and encourage one another as they practice living a life based on the Gospel commandment to love as God loves. We seek to emulate Christ and the saints who made their priority loving service to God’s people.
2. We support each other in the ministry of being a loving, safe, and sacred presence to the queer community. It can often be solitary work. We are to offer strength to each other to help increase our courage, to keep us on this path of service and to keep us outward focused.
3. Companions provide stable and loving relationship to the queer communities on the margins that we serve. We do not seek to change minds. We seek only to love and serve and through that relationship to share the knowledge of God’s love the experience of holy friendship. Companions use their gifts, skills and training in ministry, counseling, pastoral care, liturgy, etc. to care for our friends and meet their needs in these areas when requested.Companions not only support the ministry of their fellow Companions, but also the ministry of the people we serve by recognizing and honoring those ministries and offering practical support when requested.
4. Companions, through their ministry and their way of relationship in the queer community, have the opportunity and obligation to witness to their faith communities the realities, needs and concerns of the LGBTQ community outside the institutional church.
5. Companions who are able, leave the expectations of their world behind and live among the community that they serve. Where there is no personal impediment, Companions may live together under one roof or close to each other in the fashion of our beguine foremothers.Companions who are dispersed will communicate regularly and seek counsel from each other and be companions to each other. They will remember that not only are they sisters, brothers, or __________ to one another, they may also be called to be mothers to each other, using the example of Mary the mother of Jesus and the Blessed Father Francis who exhorted his brothers to be mothers to each other. And Jesus asked “who is my mother, my brother, my sister.”Companions are to support each other as new family with our presence, our prayers and our practical support as they are able.
6. This same redefining of family will be undertaken in service to the queer community. We offer ourselves and our hearts to these people who care for. We offer ourselves as mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, and/or ___________. When offered, we receive them into our lives as family.
7. Every action that we take, every word we speak, every silence must be reflected on as we realize that through these relationships of presence, we represent not only ourselves and the integrity of all Christian people and Church bodies, but the integrity of Christ, his Mother, and the faithfulness of God toward all Creation.
We make no defense. We can only make amends by our healing presence. We offer our presence and willingness to be in relationship as a free gift. We do not proselytize. We only witness to the love of the Gospel. We have no expectation of receiving anything in return. Our presence is an offering. We are servants of God to a people greatly harmed by the Church.
8. Our common worship life is in the catholic tradition. We commit to sharing corporate prayer at least once daily. Prayer is the foundation of our support of one another and the people that we serve who embody God with us. We commit to study in the areas of scripture, ministry and in our own fields of ministry.
Our witness to our own denominational communities is an obligation. We must be in relationship with our own denomination even if that is a relationship characterized by a struggle that mirrors the struggle of the community we serve.
The Conditions of Life
9. Obedience is a keystone of Christian and religious life. We are called to obey the Gospel’s commandment to love one another. We are called to obey the teachings of our Church in so far as our conscience allows and when we have a struggle with those teachings to work for change. We are called to obey any vows we have taken and are still attached. These may include but are not limited to marriage, religious or ordination vows. Companions do not take vows, after the fashion of our beguine foremothers. We do make promises to support and encourage one another and conduct our ministry in agreement with our Principles. These promises include agreement to obey the decisions of the Chapter and the Executive Council.
10. Poverty: As in the fashion of the beguines, members of the Companions will retain their own financial resources and are responsible for their financial affairs. Companions, whether they live in common or are dispersed will conduct their financial affairs with integrity. They will live by the work of their own hands. Donations to the work of ministry will be used only for ministry needs and shall be handled in a transparent way, with monthly accounting if in a common house or a yearly report to the Chapter and to the Protector. This will be published. Chapter and the Protector may ask for accountability at any time.
11. Chastity is demonstrated by holy caring in all our relationships. This is accomplished by being ever aware of the danger of using those we promise to serve to meet our own needs. As human beings we all have needs. We must be sure that our needs are being fulfilled in healthy ways. We must ever be on our guard to not use the people we minister with to meet our own human need. We are called to be servants, not to be served. Chastity in our personal, family, professional and church community relationships should model holy relationships and inspire trust that allows effective ministry to flourish.
12. The spiritual, emotional, and psychological health of the Companion allows the flourishing of the Franciscan notes of love, joy and humility in the heart and mind, which radiates outward and thus be an attraction to those people the Companion encounters in the ministry of service and witness. All these areas must be tended. Ministry cannot be joyous and selfless without this self care. Companions will seek the support of their fellow Companions and professional caregivers when needed. They will whenever possible have a spiritual mentor. They will be accountable to the Companion community for their continued growth and support.
13. We take as our primary inspiration God with us, Jesus Christ and his teachings in the Gospels, especially the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes and the Golden Rule. We study and pray with the scriptures and meditate on the examples of holy relationships in the persons of Jesus, Mary his Mother, and his followers in the early church. We acknowledge the struggles of their human relationships with each other, with the world and in trying to understand God’s call to them. We look to their struggles in order to remain faithful to God’s call to us as we struggle with our humanity.
14. We honor the following as patrons and examples of holiness who struggled faithfully with the Church even while incurring the Church’s suspicion for their radical approach to the love and service of the Gospel life: Our Seraphic Father Francis, who renounced his family and their wealth; who in spite of his own fear,kissed and washed the lepers; who struggled with the Church and yet did not renounce it; who struggled with the brothers and sisters and tertiaries in his order and still loved and served them.
We look to our beguine foremothers who heard a call from God to renounce a secular life in order to live together, following the Gospel and serve the people in need in their urban environments.
We look to Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker Movement, who gave up a typical family life to answer God’s call to serve the poor and witness to the Church and the world.
15. We look to holy women and men throughout history who guide us and teach us to listen to God’s will for us and give us courage to be faithful in spite of our fears. We look to holy women and men during our own lifetime who inspire us with their humanity, courage, and faithfulness. Study of the holy saints of God bring their inspiration into our life and work and they become our companions as we strive to be Companions to those we seek to serve. It’s important to be open to the saints of all cultures and traditions as we are all creatures of the same Creator and God choses different ways of speaking to God’s diverse creation.
16. We take as our inspiration the people we seek to serve, seeing fully the face of God in each one, recognizing the love and care in the queer community. We honor the faithfulness of relationships; recognizing and honoring the formation of new families of care; honoring and supporting their service and ministry to those most marginalized by the world. It is one of the Objects of the Companions to be supportive of this selflessness.
Inspirations – Dorothy Day, Beguines, St. Francis, Anthony Turney.
If you’d like to support the valuable work of The Companions, we are currently under the fiscal sponsorship of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. a 501c3 non-profit whose members support the ministry of the Companions. If you would like to donate to the ministry of the Companions, please click here (http://thesisters.org/grants) and look for the Give Till It Hurts link.
The Rev. Deacon Diana Wheeler, CDW
Magistra, Companions of Dorothy the Worker
The Companions of Dorothy the Worker
Magistra – Mother Diana Wheeler, CDW