Note from Albert Schorsch, III: This preamble
incorporates passages from the FH Illinois corporate charter and from earlier
preambles from the early 1950's. It was revised and updated in November
of 1987. Your observations and comments are welcome.
CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
OF FRIENDSHIP HOUSE
DEDICATED TO SAINT MARTIN DE PORRES
THROUGH WHOSE INTERCESSION WE IMPLORE THE LIGHT AND LOVE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
containing revisions current
We, the family of Friendship House, in order to spread the Good
News of Jesus Christ not only in word but in action; to promote the personal,
religious, and social well being of all persons; to establish equality and
mutual respect among people of differing races, creeds, social classes,
cultures and sexes; to bring justice to the social order; and basing our
actions upon the Scriptures, upon the social teachings of the Catholic
Church, upon the writings of our founder, Catherine de Hueck Doherty,and
respecting the nonviolent philosophies of M.L. King, M.K. Gandhi,Buddha
and others, join together our hearts, our minds, our souls, andourselves
for the glory of God and the salvation of all.
We are a Catholic interracial apostolate and center for nonviolent
action. We are Catholic because the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be separated
from the Church He founded and which has been passed on to us through His
apostles. We are catholic because of Jesus' universal call to love and reconciliation.
We are interracial because active,systematic reconciliation of peoples through
the living Gospel of Jesus is the foundation of hope for any peace. We are
an apostolate because it is the call of apostles to call other apostles;
we recognize that peacemaking is a lifetime commitment, and we pray that
the Lord send others to this work.
Our approach is based upon the ancient Christian evangelical
counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and we attempt to realize
these in our work together by simplicity, community, and reconciliation
The principal means we use to bring Christ's justice and love is the establishment
of an interracial center in a community where segregation, poverty, social
tension, or ethnic diversity and a need for reconciliation prevails. The
center will make the Christian life--its justice, love, and corporateness--visible
to all social groups, and through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy
attempt to create as close a companionship with
the life of the people in the community as possible. Our call follows Christ's
teaching from Matthew 25, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers
and sisters you do to me."
Two broad efforts will radiate from our center: an educational
effort to reaffirm both the human dignity and rights of all, and the profound
unity among all persons established by our common Creator and intensified
by Christ our common Savior and our common Brother;and a practical effort
to bring the spirit of Christ's justice and love to bear on the attitudes,
law, customs, and institutions of our time inasmuch as they have been corrupted
by prejudice, hatred, discrimination, and economic forces, thus degrading
the lives of men and women. Nonviolence is our
tool for action.
The center will attempt to cooperate with the local Bishop, and,
if possible, establish a role of chaplain or other go-between the Bishop
The Friendship House religious practice is modelled after the
simple Christianity practiced by the early Church of Acts 2:42. The early
Christians "devoted themselves to the apostles' instruction and the
communal life, to the breaking of bread and prayers." A schedule will
be established so we can follow these practices.
We work not only for God's Kingdom in heaven, but that his
Kingdom may come on earth. To this end we attempt to put the
Beatitudes into action.
We view learning skills, language, possessions, and influence as
swords to be beaten into plowshares. Our method is our own adaptation of
the nonviolent methods of M.L. King, M.K. Gandhi, and others, our own adaptation
of the "methode d'enquette" of Joseph Cardijn and suggested by
John XXIII, not as a cookbook approach, but as an attempt to sharpen our
knowledge, our judgment, and our capacity for sustained peaceful action.
We hold to no formal ideology exclusive of the Scriptures and
Church teaching. Injustice and suffering are systemic to human societies
and Christ gives a peace that the world cannot give. Nevertheless, we will
work on any program of social good that does not contradict the Gospel,
although we look toward fundamental societal change. We hold to no strict
doctrine of capitalism, socialism, communism, anarchism, etc. And we avoid
becoming elitists or fanatics by recognizing that we do not have
the ultimate answers, we just try to do what we can.
Each of our efforts aim to share our decisions, our strengths, and
our weaknesses. We wish to "teach others to fish" as well as feed
them with fishes. We recognize that each of use has a special calling and
gifts that we can share in following Christ, in whom there is no East of
West, Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free.
Each house will be constituted under the authority of the Bishop
and will be subject to him as Christ in his diocese. Guiding and directing
the spirit of each house will be a chaplain who serves with the permission
of the Bishop of the dioceses
Common spiritual life of Friendship House will be built upon daily
Mass for all members, a daily life of work dedicated to Christ, a daily
period of meditation, the recitation of Prime after breakfast, and Compline
after supper, an annual retreat of at least three full days,and at least
four days of recollection throughout the year. Each member will select a
personal spiritual director, or have a regular confessor.
These paragraphs and the By-Laws which follow constitute the
spiritual charter of Friendship House. They establish both the spirit of
Friendship House and the framework through which, it is prayerfully hoped,
the spirit will take flesh and blood.
This religious constitution of Friendship House and its By-Laws
are offered to the Holy Spirit, imploring Him to vivify them at every moment,for
without Him we can do nothing.
(the rest of the Constitution is in another document)