St. Joseph’s Missionary Society is governed by the various Superiors and Representatives, assisted by their Councils and operating at their respective levels. The Superior has a real personal authority for the task entrusted to him, and responsibility for decision making. He shares the task with the members of his Council, delegating to them specific functions and responsibilities and endeavouring to reach a consensus with them when making decisions.
The General Superior and the General Council
The ordinary government of the Society is conducted by the General Superior and his Council, who together form the “General Council’. One of the Councillors will be the Vicar General. Their number is determined by the General Chapter, but there shall be at least three councillors. The General Chapter allocates to the Councillors specific areas of responsibility.
The General Superior has direct and personal authority over the Society as a whole, over Regions, Areas, House, Members and Associates. He has a personal responsibility for the welfare of all the Members and Associates, who have the right of direct access to him, just as he has to them. He convokes and presides at the General Chapter, the Society Assembly and the General Council meetings. The Vicar General takes the place of the General Superior when the latter is absent or prevented from discharging his office.
The General Chapter
The General Chapter is the representative body of the Society’s members. When in session, it assumes supreme authority in the Society, whilst the General Superior and his Council carry out the ordinary administration of the Society. It is competent to change the Directives and the Constitutions, but, in the case of the latter, only with permission of the Holy See.
Consisting of ex officio, elected and co-opted members, the General Chapter takes place every five years. The last one held was in 2010. The General Chapter seeks to lead the Society to renewed dedication to its missionary calling. It receives a report on the state of the Society from the General Superior and Councillors on the Society’s activities within their area or sphere of work. It reviews the life and activities of the Society and establishes policy guidelines. It elects the General Superior and the members of his Council. It decides on the composition of the next General Chapter and of the Society Assembly.
The Society Assembly
Between the General Chapters, there is a Society Assembly to assess the life and work of the members and associates in the light of the vision and the decisions of the previous General Chapter and to deal with topics or issues placed before it by the General Council, the members and associates or the Assembly itself.
Regional/Area Organisation and Government
The Society is divided into Regions and Areas. Each Region or Area has its Representative or Group Leader, who is assisted by his Council and works under the authority of the General Council. The Regional Representative is assisted by a vice-Regional and at least two Councillors, who together make up the Regional Council. A Region is defined as a section of the Society which, under the authority of the General Council, governs its own affairs in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. Whenever a particular Society unit clearly does not have the elements required for a Region, it is regarded as an Area. In an Area the structure and organisation may be more flexible and simple, depending on its size and extensions.