A New Agenda For Formation

Formation in time of refoundation:

            Jose R. Carballo at the International Congress of Union of Superior Generals. 26. 5. 2005 from Acta Ordinis Mai-August 2005 ( Summary)

Some basic principles of formation:

1. Formation has to be integral

            -must take into account the persons as a whole, in all their totality so that they may develop in a harmonious way, their physical, psychic, moral and intellectual talents and all their human, spiritual and charismatic dimensions.

            Focusing on one dimension such as spiritual and forgetting others or focusing on developing of talents and neglecting spiritual aspects or focusing on the charism such as teaching, preaching, missions only, etc. This leads to partial rather than integral development of the person. We must guard against forming fragmented personalities.

2. Formation has to be personalized.

Each one is unique and each one responds to God’s call in his/her unique original way. Formation has to be appropriate to the process of each one, adapt to the rhythm of growth of each person. Personal accompaniment is needed in order to verify the internalization of values and living them.

            In the past partly due to the homogeneity of the candidates, attention was given to formation of the group. These days the age range and cultural experiences of each one differ . Without neglecting the group, individual has to be given importance.

3. Formation has to be experiential

            Following of Jesus is not just an ideology but life. Formation must favor concrete experience of the life-style and values proper to the charism. In the past formation was mainly theoretical, assimilation of contents, and was often based on teaching.

            Formation has to touch four vitals centers of the person: intelligence with its contents, heart in so far as it is the seat of sentiments, the hands, that is, it has to be practical and the feet, that is it has to help the person to walk through life.

            One must distinguish between experience and experiments. There has to be proper preparation, accompaniment and evaluation.

4. Formation has to be permanent/ on going.

Consecration does not happen once and for all. All are on the way to being conformed to

Christ. It is a process that never ends.

            Initial formation should be closely connected with permanent formation.

5. Formation has to be progressive and gradual.

It goes by stages, it is developmental and continuous, one stage preparing for the next. The speed may differ from person to person.

6. Formation has to be accompanied.

More than transmission of a doctrine, formation needs more witnesses than teachers or masters. Transmitters who will authenticate the word by their life.

            There should be mature religious who show the beauty of being a religious to the formees.

            Hence the need to form and prepare “accompaniers” or formators who are human as well as have profound experience of God and clear experience of paths thsat lead to God.

            Often the problem of formation is the crisis of formators.

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS CONCERING FORMATION

 

  1. Man is motivated by two forces:

               Values, ideals, attitudes on the one hand

                                     And

               Needs, emotions, on the other

Formation should take into consideration BOTH the forces and motivation should be offered to both the forces.

How? A) Presentation of ideals: by conferences, instruction, and especially thru good example. There should be clear unambiguous messages,

                             And

           B) Increasing the capacity to internalize the ideals presented so that one can live them.

      A person must have the capacity to assimilate what is presented. Even the best food is useless if the person has stomach trouble.

  • To drive a car , one must use both the accelerator (ideals) as well provide the petrol (needs)
  • There should be a smooth co-ordination between the two
  • Too much of anything is a problem: e.g a formator who presents ideals which cannot be internalized will only produce expectations leading to frustration.
  • If the formator stresses only the human and psychological aspects and uncovers unconscious motivation, he may uncover too many questions which are very painful and hurtful if done rapidly without the necessary help to integrate these with one’s values. Mere uncovering needs will confront the person with too many questions which cannot be answered. Present the person with values which a will provide motivation to renounce dissonanat needs and outgrow inconsistencies. Pure clinical psychology has the danger of stressing the purely human aspect of the personality.

Note the distinction between the tension of frustration and the tension of renunciation. Renunciation needs to be motivated and accepted willingly in order for it not to become tension of frustration.

  1. The right question that should be asked regarding perseverance is not only why people leave but why they joined in the first place. When they enter there are often present structures which will cause them to leave unless they are dealt with and overcome.
  2. Regarding growth in vocation, in religious values, note that a candidate can change out of compliance, non-internalizing identification, internalizing identification, or internalization. Hence, ask why the person has changed. ( meticulously regular for prayer after a warning).
  3. Beware of the limitations in our personality: as to how our spiritual life is conditioned by the limitations of our freedom. We are divided between what we would like to be and what we actually are. Because we are divided, we are not fully free . We are broken and have difficulty in getting out of ourselves and be in tune with the world around us.

Because we are broken, and pulled in two different directions we find it difficult to really listen to God’s word or people. Often we hear but not listen. We cannot listen to God speaking to us in the Scriptures, superiors, and those around us because much of our energy is spent in trying to defend ourselves against unrealistic expectations . We find it difficult to perceive reality as it is. We listen to what confirms our view. We listen to what suits us and shut out what does not suit our needs.

  1. If a person has difficulty to listen he has difficulty in discerning the will of God in a realistic way. He may confuse apparent good for the real good.
  2. If a person is not fully free, he will have great difficulty in loving selflessly.Only a free person can give himself totally to God, lose oneself for God. Only Christ could love totally and lose himself totally n love of others because he was totally free.
  3. In formation we must use both human and spiritual means. This should be done in an integrated way: while the distinction between human and spiritual can be made we cannot separate the two.
  4. Fr. Rulla’s research shows that in about 15- 20% of people consistencies prevail over inconsistencies; in about 60% inconsistencies prevail and in about 15-20% there is pathology.

It is better if pathological cases are taken care of before entry. The formator’s task is not to take care of the sick persons. If screening discloses psychopathology, better to ask the person to seek help from a psychiatrist. Even from this group, some (10%) can be salvaged. Screening should take into consideration both the human ( needs, emotions, conflcts) and the spiritual aspects (ideals, values, prayerlife..)

Context of formation today: the values of our culture

1. Materialism and consumerism

2. Job – satisfaction: better jobs, career orientation in families, competition, succeeding at

            any cost.

3. Hedonistic culture: pleasure and more and more needs to be satisfied.

            The media creates needs. Wishes and wants are made into needs

4. Technology: the latest and the best

5. Efficiency

6. Focus on self, need satisfaction, narcissism

            In the families: give in to all the needs

            Fear saying no: might commit suicide

7. Materialistic pragmatic attitude

8. Individualism

9. I- centered view

Formation1

Formation and Training

Training pertains to imparting skills, making people competent to handle certain responsibilities.

You train as teachers, nurses, social workers, pastors, retreat preachers, etc.

Formation has to do with transformation,

            With inculcating attitudes, imparting a vision and a spirit.

            Vision and spirit – that is what formation is about.

The word spirit calls to mind spirituality.

Spirituality is not a set of practices but an existential attitude that enables us to live and respond to the concrete situations of life in accord with the dictates of the Spirit.

From : Lisbert D’souza sj at 44th CRI National assembly. 24-29th April, 2003, Bangalore.

Seminary formation:

What ails priestly formation today?

            Isaac Padinjarekuttu, Vidya Jyoti Journal, December 2005

In today’s usage the term seminary designates a special type of “school” dedicated to the spiritual, moral and intellectual formation of the clergy.

The Latin term seminarium was commonly used to describe a place where young seedlings were prepared for eventual transplantation. Its first official usage   dates back to the Council of Trent which made seminaries compulsory where the future ministers of the church are “rightly brought up, educated in religion, and trained in ecclesiastical studies and religious practices.”

Since its emergence more than four hundred years ago, the institution of the seminary has remained an integral part of the Catholic ecclesiastical structure. No one has seriously challenged its basic structure ever since.

The seminaries, however, produce a rather unified priestly group in the church and have become the main agent of uniformity and centralization in the church although the Vatican II council had in principle given freedom to Episcopal conferences to draw up their own programme of formation “so that priestly training will always answer the pastoral requirements of the particular area in which the ministry is to be exercised.

Gap between formation and life, pastor and people;

However in-spite of many documents and seminars such as the Charter of priestly formation for India in 1988 and 2004, the All India seminar of 1969 there have been hardly any radical changes from the old western based type of formation system.

Though the Charter of Preistly formation of 1988 states that “ at every stage of their formation, the seminarians should be in touch with the societal, cultural, and religious realities in which they live”…the first half of formation is creating a gulf between the seminarians and the world , and the second part, in fact, the rest of life, is an attempt to bridge that gulf.

            This lack of touch with the situation of the people is a major problem in seminary formation: this has been brought out in the various studies undertaken on formation in India. … The national survey which formed the basis for the Charter of Priestly formation in 1988 states that about two – thirds of all respondents are of the opinion that “seminary was so sheltered from the mainstream of life that the seminarian lost touch with ordinary people and their problems.”

            … Future priests should be exposed to the socio-economic, socio-political and cultural realities of Indian life while living in the seminary. They should come into contact with people in their concrete situations and their spiritual and material needs and aspirations though reflective analysis of these situations.

            – Bridging the gap between expectations and reality in this regard is the first and foremost step needed for any effective change in formation system in India today . This may entail a radical change in the very structure of the seminary system. It may mean adaptation of the gurukulavasam system.

 

A foreign curriculum:

The seminary system existing in India today is simply a transplantation of the western system leading to a transmission of a foreign culture. The curriculum and the other practices are all largely foreign. There needs to be a curriculum and system which leads to a deeper understanding of India and its culture.

Method of teaching should be adult-centered:

The method of teaching in the seminaries is often still pedagogical, child-centered, rather than andragogical. Theological education presupposes fostering adult learning. But too few institutions design their methodology based on an adult model of learning where the student and teacher assess needs and negotiate goals.

In adult learning, the learner is encouraged to contribute to the leaning process by virtue of his or her life experiences. Evaluations are conducted mutually with a view to their use for setting future goals. This is fostered best in the pastoral field and in smaller groups. Field education should be and essential part of priestly formation.

What are the goals of priestly formation?

Is it to form pliable, obedient, apparently celibate, moralizing, and authoritarian clergy who will perform an essentially sacramental function? This may delight the beshops and some people too, but it may not satisfy the educated laity whose world is growing in expectations .

            The laity are becoming more and more educated. What should be the training needed for spiritual leadership of such people.

            Do we want to produce cultic functionaries or spiritual leaders?

           

Formation should enable a person for “professional ministry” as a spiritual leader.

            There is no contradiction between being a professional and answering a Vocation. Being a professional means that the priest should be provided with specified skills which give him the confidence and sense of identity among his peers and help confirm him in his calling. These skills include integrated studies in different subjects, with preparation for expertise in such performance based disciplines as teaching, preaching, counseling, etc. They must possess good managerial skills, conflict resolution skills and skills in interpersonal relationships.

Suggestions and observations:

 

Look at the year of training for priests, No other profession has such a long period of training with so much investment in terms of personnel, money and time. What are the results? Why?

 

1. One cannot be a good and effective priest if one is not a good human being. Priestly ministry will not be effective if the person of the priest does not command respect as a person of honesty, integrity, justice and fairness. Studies conducted Catholics do not find in their priests men of integrity, justice and fairness ( Gratian Carlo in N.East.. partiality highest among priests and religious compared to lay…)

2. There is a crisis of values in our seminaries: coping, cheating in assignments, robbing library books, thefts, etc.. There is a lack of respect for the rights of others… striving for higher grades at any cost….

3. Cultural situation of curruption and naked power struggle in our country affects the seminarians too. At times these attitudes are condoned in seminaries being justified on cultural context….

4. The family background of the seminarians may help us understand the value crisis among seminarians. For the sake of numbers there is not much screening done.

5. Formators in seminaries are often not able or not willing to provide the spiritual and intellectual leadership they are called upon to provide. Not willing to make the personal sacrifices..

Suggestions:

1. Help the seminarian to make a passionate commitment to personal growth. Academic excellence without corresponding emotional maturity is useless. Human formation should be given adequate importance in the seminary.

2. Take intellectual formation seriously. The level of education among laity is increasing. Profound thirst for knowledge should grow during formation in the seminary.

3. Formation should take place in the mist of the people and situations.

4. Cultivate a spirituality that humanizes. In the seminaries there is plenty of piety but not enough spirituality that liberates and humanizes. Spirituality is a combination of praying and living. .. fruits of the spirit.

5. Seminaries should be equipped with staff members who are life-giving and growth promoting. Persons with integrity and sense of sacrifice… Mere acquisition of academic degrees are not enough.

6. Make use of smaller groups for formation.

t

Towards a new approach to formation(Fr. Kurien Kunnumpuram SJ)

  1. Problem connected with formation
  • The term “formation”
  • Its effectiveness
  • Its harmfulness
  • Our ignorance
  • What is our mission in the concrete situation of India?
  • What kind of religious are required to fulfill this mission?
  • Problems and difficulties
  • Our priorities
  • The kind of young men we wish to recruit
  • Socio-economic background
  • Family constellation
  1. A faith perspective on formation
    • The Holy spirit as the real formator
    • The young person as the primary human agent
    • Fomators as facilitators
  2. The goal of formation
  1. Recruitment
  1. Areas of formation
  1. 1)Human formation
  • The foundation of all formation
  • Nurturing good humans
  • Promoting emotional growth

       2 Spiritual formation

  • Piety or spirituality?
  • Deepening of God-experience

3)Intellectual formation

  • A Christian vision of life
  • Learning to think for oneself
  • Professional training.

                               4) Formation in Mission

  • Real life situation as the place for formation
  • Initiation, accompaniment, evaluation and reflection

                               5) Cultural formation

  • Search for our Indian identity
  • Inculturation of formation
  • Knowledge of Indian culture

                               6) Training for Justice

  • Option for the poor
  • Commitment to Justice

                               7) Leadership Training

  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Attitude
  • An ideal Christian community
  • Atmosphere of freedom and openness
  • Good interpersonal relationships
  • Mission-orientation
  • Difficulties
  • Selection and training
  • Ongoing formation
  1. Formation community
  1. Formators

   8.Conclusion:

               The kind of priests and religious our country needs today and tomorrow.

A NEW AGENDA FOR FORMATION: A PSYCHO-SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE

             (outline by Joe Mathias sj)

  1. I.THE CONTEXT ( VISION): the point of            W
    1. A.THE KINGDOM OF GOD and its basic            H                  
    2. B.THE FOLLOWING OF CHRIST, Incarnate,         Y

Risen Son in the religio-socio-cultural time

                 C. THE PROPHETIC MISSION as spelt out by the Church, Congregation and
                         the signs of the time

  1. II.FORMATION : A PROCESS OF TRANSFORMATION
    1. 1.belief systems
    2. 2.attitudes
    3. 3.                                                                    W
    4. 4.GERMINATIVE/ VULNERABLE         H
    5. 5.                                A
    6. 6.                                                 T
    7. 7.mindset
    8. 8.communication
  2. III.THE DYNAMICS OF FORMATION
    1. A.The process of integration of:
      1. a.self-fulfillment and self-H
      2. b.needs and
      3. c.personal growth and apostolicO
      4. d.role play and personalization
      5. e.freedom and                             W
      6. f.affective and rational
      7. B.ACCOMPANIMENT
        1. 1)carefrontation
        2. 2)confronation
        3. 3)integration
      8. C.THE CONTENT
        1. 1.experienced
        2. 2.reflected
        3. 3.personalized
        4. 4.integrated
      9. D.THE STRUCTURES
        1. a.personal responsibility
        2. b.corporate responsibility
        3. c.environment

          goal setting

          action programme

          reflection- discernment

          evaluation

          follow up

                                           d. leadership : individual and collective

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