Candidate’s Statement

Rev Robert’s Candidate’s Statement
to the electoral meeting at Conclave 2005
when he was elected to the Office of Meritus

Willingness to Accept Office

Some time ago Rev Antoinette told me that she would like to nominate me for election as Deputy Meritus. My response was that I now felt reconciled to this. As most of you would remember, Rev Colin indicated his intention to elevate me some years ago, and at that time I found the prospect of elevation overwhelming and burdensome. The intervening years have served to prepare me further for this office, and now I do feel reconciled to taking up the work and responsibility that is being asked of me.

It only took me a few days to be able to give Antoinette my answer. I decided that I would not discuss this decision with anyone, but would come to decision out of my own being. I contemplated each of the vows that the elevation service will require me to make and came to the conclusion that I am able to say yes to each vow.

So, yes, I am willing to accept elevation to the office of Meritus should I be elected.

I understand that, if elected, I will be elevated to the office of Meritus. I understand that the elevation service is an act of ordination that will empower me for ministry and service as a Meritus. As a Meritus, I will work collegially with Rev Antoinette, and in certain constitutional and administrative matters I will be her deputy.

During this Conclave a number of priests have spoken to me about my nomination, and an area of concern for most is this area of “Deputy” Meritus. Let me assure you that throughout Antoinette’s ten years as Meritus she has always treated me with respect, dignity and equality − far beyond anything that could be expected − and I am confident that this is not about to change.

Ongoing Relationship with the Meritus
I have maintained a good and fruitful working relationship with each of the Meriti.

I have known Rev Mario since I was 14. He has moulded and shaped me. He has taught me and introduced me to the mysteries. He awakened within me, in this life, a love for Christ and for the mass. Over the years I have worked with Mario within The Centre, both in Perth and here in Melbourne. I have travelled with Mario and assisted him with his spiritual readings. And in the final years of his life, Mario included Antoinette and me in discussions and decision-making, helping to form us in this work.

I also met Rev Colin when I was 14. He and I shared a desk and worked together in The Centre’s printing and publishing endeavours when I first started working at The Centre. I worked most closely with Colin during the time we worked to establish a base for The Centre here in Melbourne. Raymond, Christiane and I travelled from Perth with Colin, and we were joined by Daphne from Christchurch and Albert who was our contact here in Melbourne. Together we established our first community here. We searched for suitable property. We built and opened the Melbourne Centre. In more recent times I worked most closely with Colin, and Antoinette, at the time of and following Mario’s death.

Rev Antoinette and I grew up together. I was 17 and she was 14 when I moved from Albany to live and study at The Centre in Perth. I’d only been in Perth a couple of months when Antoinette and I began working together as assistant teachers in the Junior School of Light. This was the beginning of thirty years working collaboratively for the purposes of Christ and The Centre. Over these years we’ve worked together on CentreCOMM, the Executive Board, liturgy writing, in our employment within the ICA, and in many other ways. We have developed a good relationship. We are able to express ourselves freely together, and I’ve always felt supported and respected by Antoinette.

Length and Nature of Service to The Centre

I first attended The Centre in Albany in June 1973 when I was aged 14. I became fully active in the small community there the following year. I was admitted to membership in Albany in 1975, then again in Perth in 1976 because Mario wanted to make me a member himself. I began working for The Centre in August 1976 and I have continued to serve The Centre and its people since that time.

Some dates in this journey include:

  • June 1973 − first attended Centre in Albany.
  • 1974 − produced Albany’s answer to CentreCOMM, called Off Centre!, with an old manual typewriter and lots of carbon paper.
  • 1975 − became a Member in Albany.
  • Advent 1975 − travelled to Perth Centre to celebrate the declaration of The Church of the Mystic Christ as an independent denomination.
  • January 1976 − moved to Perth; studied and lived at The Centre.
  • June 1976 − became a Member, again.
  • July 1976 − learnt to turn on an electric typewriter and produced my first edition of CentreCOMM.
  • 1977 − became an Initiate, Perth.
  • 1979 − became a Deacon, Perth.
  • 1979 − began travelling with Mario and assisting with Spiritual Readings.
  • January 1980 − moved to Melbourne and became a foundation member of The Centre in Melbourne.
  • All Saints’ Day, 1 November 1981 − ordained to the Priesthood, Melbourne.
  • 1984-1985 − Centre Leader, Perth Centre.
  • 998-2004 − Centre Leader, Melbourne Centre.

The nature of my service over the years has included:

  • CentreCOMM, and The Centre’s other artwork and publishing requirements.
  • Administration.
  • Membership Administrator, and pastor to the Members, the Guild of Initiates and the Diaconate.
  • Cooking and hospitality in the restaurant, and Centre cleaner.
  • Special events coordinator.
  • Assistant, celebrant and trainer in liturgy and sacraments.
  • Member of the Centre Orchestra and Choir
  • Preaching, and teaching in the Institute, OMC and other workshops and seminars.
  • Pastoral care.
  • Team member and leader in vestry, audio, video, visual display, hospitality.

During this time I have visited every Centre and Centre community – often conducted services and teaching – and have developed good relationships with many of our members throughout the world.

As a priest, I have been present and actively engaged in the ordination of every current Centre priest except Michael Cahill and Leo van Limbeek.

Future Plans and Spiritual Direction for The Centre
I am committed to a powerful, spiritually effective, well resourced priesthood actively engaged throughout the world.

I am committed to assisting the flowering of the free priesthood with an openness to the manifestation of new forms and expressions that this will bring forth.

I am committed to sustaining a communion of unique, vibrant spiritual communities:

  • dedicated to Christ;
  • living the spiritual teachings;
  • life enhancing for members; and
  • generating spiritual light and power to transform the world.

I am committed to the work of loosening and binding: loosening people from captivity to the world and darkness, and binding them to the light of Christ and their I AM.

For the Meritus Office, my hope is that I can relieve Antoinette of some of her current work so she is more free to engage in the work of Mario Schoenmaker Works. For myself, I have some sense of travelling to each of our Centres and communities, perhaps spending extended periods in each one; strengthening them and bringing a new impulse; experiencing their unique expression, and sharing something of this with other communities.

Understanding of the Christ Impulse in My Life

and the Life of The Centre
My strongest experience of the Christ impulse comes through liturgy, especially the Cosmic Mass, and through celebrating the sacraments. Sometimes I am aware of the Christ impulse at work in the beingness and lives of great people, and of people the world doesn’t even see.

Increasingly I’m recognising Christ in relationships and in interactions between people. Because of this, I’m increasingly mindful of one of the purposes we declare in our Constitution: The Centre affirms the wholemaking power of community life and the wholemaking power of gathering together in the name of Christ to experience the Spirit of Christ.

Two images from the gospels are important to me, because they express something of my sense of the Christ impulse at work in me, in The Centre, and in our life together …

I am alive to Matthew 25 where Christ says: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” This encourages us to recognise Christ in others; to relate to others as we would to Christ; to place Christ in the midst of all that we think, do, say, are … even though we as yet may not be able to clearly perceive him.

And I love the image from John 19 where Christ is on the cross, and in those final painful moments before death he gives the Beloved Disciple and the Mother of Jesus into one another’s care … the Christed community is born. This powerful image speaks to me of Christed community, of spiritual companionship, of relationships enlivened and empowered by the outpouring of his Spirit. It calls us to be in loving companionship with Christ in all circumstances.

In the finality, it is not possible to say that the outcome will be if I am elected and elevated to the office of Meritus. 

Elevation is an act of ordination; a strengthening and empowerment for ministry. Before any ordination − as Deacon, Priest or Meritus − we have some experience and knowledge of what a candidate brings with them to the office they are about to enter. But the full realisation and manifestation of their ministry comes through the transforming power of ordination. We have to wait for the gift to grow and the fruits to be revealed.

So I approach this with an openness and a willingness to respond to the Christ and to be empowered and guided by his Spirit. Be assured, though, of my total commitment to Christ, to the Brotherhood, and to our unfolding work together.

So shall it be.

Reverend Robert John
7 October 2005

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