The Order of St. John the Divine
166 Jay Street
Albany, New York 12210-1806 USA
518 / 434-8861

Prayer - Community - Ministry

"Unity in Diversity"

On This Page:

"And eternal life is this: to know you,

the only true God, and Jesus Christ

whom you have sent".- John 17:3

Additional OSJD Pages: The Other NCCA Pages:

About Our Community

The Order of Saint John the Divine was founded on All Saints Day, November 1, 1994, by Father Richard G. Roy. In addition to Father Roy, the members of the original community were Bishop David C. Strong, Mother Elizabeth McCabe and Brother Stephen K. Peterson. Following his election, Father Roy was formally blessed and installed as first abbot for the order by Bishop Strong on April 22, 1995 at St. Johnís American Episcopal Church in New York City.

We are a canonical religious community of The National Catholic Church of America (NCCA) for men and women called to a life of prayer and apostolic activity in a more inclusive Catholic tradition. Our distinctive feature, or "charism", is expressed in the Order's motto, "Unity in Diversity."

The Order admits qualified candidates to membership and to Holy Orders without regard to gender, marital status, sexual orientation, race or physical disability. We believe that this kind of inclusive spirituality must characterize the Catholic Christian community as it enters the third millennium of living the Gospel under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in this way more faithfully reflect what St. Paul has said concerning Christ Jesus, that "all are made one, in Him".

It is with this inclusive view of the church and religious life and a collaborative approach to living the life of the Gospel, that the Order of Saint John the Divine now invites you to carefully consider whether Jesus is calling you to follow Him as a member of our community as a priest, deacon or brother.

As a network of communities and individuals committed to witnessing the Gospel and celebrating the diversity of Godís people, we attempt to adapt our spirituality to the circumstances of contemporary life, while at the same time, honoring a rich legacy of spiritual traditions, of which, we are the beneficiaries. In the Order of Saint John the Divine, the traditional threefold vow of religious life is given a new understanding, allowing for optional celibacy as well as a greater variety of lifestyles than can be found in most religious communities. While life in common is encouraged, we recognize that for many people who desire to lead a life of prayer and ministry, this is not possible. Therefore, members of the Order often maintain the place of residence or style of living they followed before entering the community.

What is essential to the spirituality of the Order is a deep devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ as the source and summit of our life of prayer and good works. We give special reverence to the Holy Eucharist as the great gift of Christís continuing presence on earth, and draw from it the spiritual energy which animates all we do in His Name.

The priests of the Order are men and women who have been validly ordained within apostolic lines and engage in sacramental ministry to both the laity of the Church and other members of the Order. Lay members of the Order have equal status, as religious, in the Order, while recognizing certain differences of function and authority within the Church. The Order is also ecumenical, insofar as clergy and laity from Protestant denominations are invited to apply for membership and to participate in cooperative ministry. Members of the Order may choose to live in common, or separately, and undertake apostolates to which they are suited by background and interests. The Order does not provide a livelihood to its members. They are self-supporting and responsible for raising the funds necessary to their local ministry.

"The ultimate reason for monks to be in the desert or in the city,

to be silent or to speak, is that there is the place and that is the

manner of life to which God is calling them at a particular time..."

- Dom Wilfrid Weston, OSB

Abbot of Nashdom

In keeping with the desire of the Order of Saint John the Divine to respect the discernment to which each religious and local community is called, a broad spectrum of expressions of the monastic life is permitted. In dialogue with the Superior, each member decides in what manner he or she is being called by God to make Christ present in the world. For some, this may take the form of a common life, which includes the daily round of prayer in the Divine Office and a more contemplative lifestyle; for others, liturgical and personal prayer will be combined with a ministry oriented toward social justice and the humanization and transformation of our social institutions. Others may engage in spiritual direction, teaching or volunteer work. In any case, a life of prayer is essential to an authentic monastic and religious life, and is the basis for all apostolic activity.

Order members may engage in apostolates for the Lord to which they feel called by training and temperament and which do not conflict with the Ordinals of the Order, the Code of Canon Law of the Church, or that is specifically prohibited by the Superior. We feel especially called to reach out to those individuals who have fallen away from, or who feel excluded from, the Church, and who often find it difficult to experience the presence of Christ in their lives. In addition to the traditional ways of prayer such as the recitation of the Divine Office, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, meditation and spiritual reading (Lectio Divina), members are encouraged to find ways of being in Godís presence which they find meaningful for themselves and their communities. By drawing on the best of ancient monastic wisdom and tradition as well as the insights of modern biblical scholarship and intellectual freedom, we hope to be a source of spiritual renewal for the church and the world as it enters the twenty-first century.

Return to Table of Contents.

The Vows in the OSJD

"I live now not with my own life, but
with the life of Christ who lives in me".
- St. Paul, Galatians 20

The Order of Saint John the Divine is able to invite into religious life many individuals who feel called to a life of prayer, community and service, who would not be considered eligible candidates in more traditional communities. In addition to those who desire a celibate way of life, the Order includes married and non-cenobitic members, who often own property, and whose professional lives require that they be self-directed.

The vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience are the norm for most, but not all, religious communities. There were times in the early development of monasticism when Obedience was the only vow taken. Other variations are still in use, as exemplified by the Benedictineís vow of "conversion of manner". And, of course, there are communities of more recent origin whose vows differ in other ways. We, in the Order of Saint John the Divine, have come to a more contemporary understanding of what is meant by the traditional threefold vow, and to synthesize the values they represent into a formulation suited to the character of the Order.

The essence of Poverty is a recognition of God as the author of all creation, and our responsibility for faithful stewardship of the material resources entrusted to us. A detachment from the "culture of acquisition" enables us to discern between those things which can be enjoyed as a reflection of the glory of God and those things that are obstacles to spiritual growth.

Chastity recognizes the unique value of every individual and the respect due to self and others as Temples of the Holy Spirit. It is thus, a Christian virtue exercised even within the context of marriage. With this understanding, we pursue human relationships that are integral, ethical and loving, and that bring us closer to God.

Obedience, deriving from the Latin word meaning "to listen", is an attitude of openness to the workings of the Holy Spirit in ourselves and others. This attentiveness finds its primary expression for us in the dialogue which takes place between our religious superiors, the brothers and sisters of the Order, the Rule and our individual consciences.

The distilled essence of these vows carry with them a spiritual effect which extends far beyond the community in which they are expressed. In his book "The Vowed Life", Adrian van Kaam speaks of monastic communities as "centers of values and cultural radiation". It is in that sense of the ability of a monastic community to imbue the larger society with a sense of transcendence, that the unique perspective of monastic life is found. We view the vows of religion as a process of spiritual growth, to be pursued with a recognition of our utter dependence on Godís grace to achieve them. It is this vision and understanding of the vowed life that is studied and assimilated during formation in the Order of Saint John the Divine. At the time of profession, it is with this personalized understanding that we commit ourselves to prayerfully serve God and each other under obedience to our superiors.

Return to Table of Contents.

Spiritual Life

Essential to the life and work of our community is a deep devotion to Our Lord Jesus Christ and a sincerely felt desire to bring his message of faith and hope and love to the world. Reaching out in a special way to those who have been alienated from their faith, the Order of Saint John the Divine offers people an opportunity to renew their relationship with Christ, and to return to the Sacraments and a life of active Christian faith.

Prayer to Saint John the Divine

Most Beloved Disciple, you whose head rested
upon the breast of Our Savior at the Last Supper,
you to whom Christ entrusted his own Blessed Mother
from the Cross, intercede for us in heaven,
that we too may know the loving embrace of God.

Through your prayers, may the Word be made flesh
in our lives and may all those whose lives we touch
be brought closer to the Living and True God.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who, with the Father and
the Holy Spirit reigns, One God, now and for ever.

Return to Table of Contents.

The Formation Program for The OSJD

Those who feel called to religious life as a priest, deacon or lay member of the Order of Saint John the Divine (OSJD) and meet the
Minimum Requirements, are encouraged to contact the Office of The Primate and tell us something about your concept of religious life and the particular way in which you believe almighty God is a calling you to serve others.

The OSJD formation program includes periods of Inquiry, Candidacy and Novitiate leading to Profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and to ordination for those who are called to ministry as priests or deacons. Our concept of the vows does not preclude the personal ownership of property or a committed, intimate relationship. The path leading to Holy Orders in the OSJD follows the way of an on-going, developmental relationship with us, the steps for which can be generally identified as follows:

Inquirer- The stage of initial contact with the Church with the purpose of learning more about us and letting us know more about you; a time of exploration and prayerful discernment that lasts from several weeks to several months.

- If there is reason to think that a genuine call to religious life is indicated, the Inquirer submits formal application for admission as a Novice to the Primate. Once the completed application has been received the applicant is considered a Candidate for admission. This is normally a period of two to six months, during which the Candidate becomes more closely associated with the community, participating in regular worship with a local parish of the Church, if possible.

Novice - If the Candidateís application is approved, he or she is admitted to the Novitiate. Normally lasting one year, this is a time when the novice undertakes a study of religious life, has regular conferences with the Superior or his delegate and prepares to make public profession of religious vows while participating in the Churchís Institute for Pastoral and Religious Studies. Some novices may also be seminarians, preparing for ordination to priesthood or diaconate.

Professed - Toward the end of the Novitiate, having discerned a clear call to become part of our community, the novice requests permission from the Superior to publicly profess vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and undertakes to live by the Rule and Ordinals of the Order. Vows are not pronounced for any specific period of time. Order members symbolically renew their vows every three years at the Orderís General Chapter.

Eternity - Religious and spiritual "formation" is a lifelong process, the true end of which is the eternal life promised to His followers by Jesus Christ; unity with our Heavenly Father.

Return to Table of Contents.


For those desirous of remaining in secular life but joining themselves more closely to the ministry and life of the Order, we offer an associate level of membership. Men and women of any Christian denomination who feel they can support our goals are welcome to apply for membership in the Associates of Saint John the Divine (ASJD). While not taking vows, associates actively support the work of the Order and are included in the activities of the local communities, when appropriate. Spiritual guidance for associates is provided by the Director of Associates, who is appointed by the Superior.

Return to Table of Contents.

Answering God's Call

Once you have decided to respond with love and generosity to God's call to serve, your first step will be to make your interest known to the Superior of the Order. Further information can be found on the Vocations page.

Mission Statement
The Order of Saint John the Divine

The Order of Saint John the Divine is a canonical religious order of The National Catholic Church of America for men and women. Guided by The Rule of the Order of Saint John the Divine, and operating under the direction of its Superior, it is engaged in promoting the spiritual welfare of its members and of all those to whom they minister.

The Order is a society of brothers, sisters, deacons, priests and bishops who profess religious vows and which admits qualified persons to membership and to Holy Orders without regard to gender, marital status, race, ethnicity, physical disability or sexual orientation. As a network of communities and individuals committed to witnessing the Gospel, and professing a common faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we celebrate the diversity of Godís people in our attempt to adapt our spirituality to the needs of contemporary life, while at the same time honoring a rich legacy of spiritual traditions of which we are the beneficiaries.

Of special concern to the Orderís work is the mission of fostering a more inclusive spirituality within Catholic Christianity and extending an invitation to disaffected former church members to return to the Sacraments and a life of religious faith. In order to accomplish this we engage in a variety of ministries, including, but not limited to; prayer, preaching, teaching, retreat leadership, parish ministry, spiritual direction, pastoral counseling, administration, street ministry, social justice ministry and the preparation of men and women for religious life and ordination.

We attempt to build bridges of understanding between religious institutions and those most in need of Godís love. Through our life, prayer and ministry, we seek to imbue the larger society with those Gospel-based values which enhance human dignity and promote social justice, which are the birthright of all the children of God.

Return to NCCA Home Page. Send us e-mail. Return to Table of Contents.
Hit # since 21Feb98.
© Copyright 1994-2004  The Most Reverend Richard G. Roy, OSJD  All Rights Reserved.