V 67. 1. Frequency. The Congregation conducts the ordinary visitation of a monastery at an interval of not less than three and not more than five years. The abbot/ with the consent of his council, determines the interval and informs the President. The interval may vary at times, depending upon circumstances, e.g., the recent election of an abbot, a recent special visitation, or the conclusion of a study process. The interval should be long enough to permit the integration of the previous visitation and the conducting of a new process. The rhythm established should also be sufficiently relaxed that the monastery is not always involved in introspection and self-examination.
V 68. 2. Scheduling. About a year before the time when the visitation should take place, but prior to the fall or spring meeting of the council of the President, the abbot, after consulting with his council of seniors, tentatively schedules the dates of the visitation with the President.
V 69. 3. Length. Normally a visitation is not scheduled for more than seven days.
Section B: The Beginning of the Visitation
D 128.5. At the beginning of the visitation:
D 128.5. 1. The chairman of the visitation team is to address the community regarding the nature and method of the visitation.
D 128.5. 2. The abbot is to submit to the visitators for their inspection:
1. the minutes of the meetings of the chapter, of the quasi-chapter of any dependent houses, of the council of seniors, and of any significant committees;
2. a list of all the members of the community and their assignments;
3. any other pertinent documents requested by the visitators.
V 70. 1. The Arrival of the Visitators. The visitators should arrive at least one-half day prior to the opening of the visitation, so that they may become acquainted with the local community and may have an opportunity to confer with each other.
V 71. 2. The Initial Meeting. Prior to the opening of the visitation, the visitators should meet with the abbot or the visitation committee to finalize the schedule of events and the procedures. The visitators should then inform the abbot of the finalized schedule and discuss with him any issues that may need to be dealt with prior to the opening of the visitation.
V 72. 3. The Examination of Documents, The visitators should request now, though they are free to do so at any time during the visitation, any documents that may help them better to understand the community's previsitation report or any issues confronting the community. Except during a special visitation, however, the financial documents of the monastery are not to be a part of the visitation, because these are reviewed annually by the President and his council with the assistance of the financial counselors of the Congregation.
V 73. 4. The Opening Prayer. The visitation proper begins with special prayers that may be incorporated into the monastic hour of prayer just prior to the opening of the visitation or into the conventual Eucharist, according to the custom of the monastery (see Appendix 2).
V 74. 5. The Opening Meeting. The abbot and community assemble together with the visitators for the opening of the visitation. The senior visitator addresses the community. Among other things, he should introduce the visitators or permit them to introduce themselves, and explain the schedules and the procedures to be used. He assures the monks that confidentiality will be maintained by the visitators in all appropriate matters, especially in regard to information communicated during the personal interviews.
Section C: The Interviews with the Visitators
D 128.5. 3. The visitators are to meet separately with the abbot and with the council of seniors.
D 128.6. 1. Each member of the community, including juniors, novices, and postulants, is to avail himself of the opportunity for an interview with the visitators. Those who do not present themselves spontaneously may be summoned by the visitators.
D 128.6. 2. Monks stationed outside the monastery who are unable to come for the visitation may submit comments in writing or be interviewed by telephone. The visitators may also, to the extent that this is feasible, go to visit those who are stationed in the vicinity of the monastery.
D 128.6. 3. Monks who are involved in the same work or who share similar concerns, and whose common interests may affect their monastic life, may request a group meeting with the visitators.
D 128.7. Visitators have an obligation to preserve the confidentiality of any information imparted to them that is of a confidential nature.
V 75. 1. The Abbot and the Council of Seniors. All of the visitators together meet first with the abbot and then with the council of seniors in the absence of the abbot. The visitators may also interview other officials of the monastery. These meetings and interviews should deal with the focus of the visitation and any special problems.
V 76. 2. The Interview Teams. For group meetings and individual meetings, the visitators should be divided into teams of at least two persons. They are to keep written notes on the interviews.
V 77. 3. Group Meetings. The visitators are encouraged to hold discussions with small groups of monks. These groups may be based upon deaneries, living areas, work assignments, or any other grouping that may facilitate discussion. If possible, teams of visitators should meet with groups of monks who live away from the monastery. Normally such group discussions will focus upon the community's previsitation report, and may begin with the visitators' asking some introductory questions. The visitators should avoid asking judgmental questions or making statements during the discussion. They should facilitate the discussion, but be open also to the discussion of issues that are not contained in the community's previsitation report.
V 78. 4. Committees. The visitators may also meet with appropriate monastery committees.
V 79. 5. The Individual Interviews. The visitators are to provide the opportunity for individual interviews with each monk. Normally these interviews take place in person, but for a good reason may take place by telephone, and monks who are at a great distance may send their views to the visitators in writing.
Postulants, novices, and claustral oblates as well as professed monks have a right to a personal interview with a team of visitators. A person who does not present himself for an interview may be summoned by the visitators. A personal interview is ordinarily scheduled for thirty minutes, but may be shorter. If necessary, a person may schedule himself for more than one thirty-minute period. Any information provided during the personal interviews is subject to the degree of confidentiality appropriate to the nature of the information. Confidentiality extends also to written materials provided for the visitators and to notes and reports produced by them.
V 80. 6. Interviews with Other Persons. The visitators may interview persons who are not members of the monastery, but who may help to provide insights into the community's previsitation report and the life of the monastery. Such persons may be co-workers of the monks or members of boards that govern the monastery's works. These interviews may be particularly useful during a special visitation that is concerned with finances or the viability of the monastery.
V 81. 7. The Daily Meeting of the Visitators. The visitators should meet daily, usually at the end of each day, to share information, to exchange impressions, and to make any necessary adjustments in the visitation schedule. They should make note of items that seem to deserve inclusion in the visitation reports.