The Structure and Governance of the Society
The Governance of the Oratory of Saint Martin is minimal, compared to other ecclesiastical orders and societies. Our goal is not to focus on canonical structures, but instead to focus our lives and work on the love of the Crucified Savior, by deepening our commitment to the Rule. So that we will grow together in Christian love and help each other in the holy way of our Rule, our life together is ordered by the relationships described here.
✢ The Bishop Protector and the Prior
In the Oratory of Saint Martin of Tours, the authority of the ordinary is invested in the Prior, mainly, and supported by the Bishop Protector. The Bishop Protector provides episcopal leadership, pastoral oversight, guidance for the Oratorians, ensuring godly discipline and guarding the faith of the Church. The Prior oversees the daily workings of the Oratory and ensures that the Oratorians have the opportunity to gather in Convocation. The Prior shall be at minimum a presbyter or chorbishop. Other bishops may assist, especially if there is not at the time a Bishop Protector. These assisting bishops are known as Bishops Visitor.
Houses are the regional gatherings of the Oratory. The Houses may provide the opportunity for Oratorians in various regions to gather together more frequently than the Convocations which are called by the Prior. It is primarily in the Houses that the members of the Oratory develop and deepen relationships with one another. Each House is led by a Dean, appointed by the Prior.
Persons who discern that being an Oratorian is integral to their Christian vocation make an application which is received by the Dean of the local House. The Dean then forwards the application to the Prior. The Prior and Dean together review the application and meet with the applicant. Should both the Prior and Dean approve the application, the Dean of the House will receive the applicant as a novice and the novice will make an initial promise to follow the Rule. After at least one year in the Novitiate, the novice may petition to become an Oratorian. Pending a successful background clearance, the Prior and Dean will meet with the novice again. Following this meeting, the Prior and Dean will make a decision on full admission to the Oratory. Before the novice is invested as an Oratorian, the Bishop Protector must give assent.
✢ Convocation and Chapter
At least once yearly the Convocation of the Oratory is called for the purpose of community prayer, celebration of the Holy Eucharist, theological education, and caring for the temporal affairs of the Oratory. Normally speaking, the principal convocation will be held as close as possible to the Feast of Saint Martin of Tours (November 11th). The Oratory has no sitting Chapter as a board or council. Instead, Chapter meetings, for the purpose of decision making, will be held during Convocation. Each Oratorian has voice and vote in the Chapter. Novices have a right to seat and voice, but do not yet vote.