Many religiously oriented persons and organizations until recently paid scant attention to mental and emotional health. The focus was on growing academically or ‘spiritually’. Consequently, many priests and religious remained emotionally and psycho-sexually immature, with great cost to their spiritual development and inter-personal functioning. Perhaps some of the scandals we have been witnessing in the church recently are linked to it.

We, in India, can learn a great deal from the experience of others and learn from their attempts to remedy their mistakes. A study on the psychological health of Catholic priests in the US published in 1972 concluded that a “large number of them are underdeveloped as persons with a consequent lack of freely realized religious and human values… They could be far more effective personally and professionally if they were helped to achieve greater human and religious maturity”[2]

Coming to India, a study by Lourdes, Patel and Paranjpe[3] comparing the personality traits of 300 clergy (priests, sisters and seminarians) and 300 lay persons found that clergy on the whole were far less mature psychologically than lay persons. Of the 11 positive traits measured, lay persons scored more positively on nine. Of the eight negative traits, clergy fared worse on seven. ‘More clergy than lay persons were also characterised as having excessive nervousness, bad temper exhibitionism, excessive conservatism and jealousy, and being easily led away”.

In another study undertaken by Paul Parathazham and colleagues at Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, most participants rated their peers outside as better than themselves on all eight criteria of psychological and emotional maturity measured – self-reliance, emotional maturity, self-confidence, relationships, capacity to adapt, realism, initiative, and hard work. As many as 36% of them felt that the formation they received was, over all, not worth the time and energy invested in it. [4] Another study expressing the views of the formation personnel concluded: “Human formation, which is the foundation of priestly formation, is arguably the most neglected aspect of formation in India. We seem to be concentrating all our efforts on building a spiritual ‘superstructure’ without the human ‘base structure’, thus rendering the entire enterprise tenuous and futile. Every other aspect of formation, be it intellectual, spiritual, or pastoral, is institutionalized in seminaries with a specific programme, designated personnel, and prescribed activities or exercises. But for human formation there is no such programme in place. It is largely taken for granted!!”[5]

Today fortunately there is an emerging awareness that formation has to be holistic. Our most basic vocation is to be Good Human Beings, and then alone we can be good Christians and consequently good priests and/or religious. Recent Church documents too, stress the importance of the human element. A recent Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood[6] highlighted the need for a formation programme that fosters a solid psychological and affective maturity in the candidates to the priesthood. Nearly fifty years ago Vatican II had declared that only those should be accepted into religious and priestly life who “have the needed degree of psychological and emotional maturity”[7]. The Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis[8] also stated emphatically that the human dimension is the foundation of all formation and listed a series of human virtues and relational abilities required in the priests. Now there is the repeated explicit acknowledgment of the specific role psychology and psychologists play in the human formation of the candidates. For instance, ‘recourse to exports in the psychological sciences can be useful. It can allow a more sure valuation of the candidate’s psychic state; it can help evaluate his/her human dispositions for responding to the divine call; and it can provide some extra assistance to the candidates’ human growth’ (no.5). ‘The guidelines also call for attention to the need of every formator to undergo psychological preparation that will allow him, … to discern barriers that stop (the candidate) integrating human and Christian maturity, and to pick up on any psychopathic disturbances present in the candidate….’(n.4).  






2.1.1. Globalization, Materialism and Consumerism: The globalized market is able to manipulate and arouse needs and desires which it tries to satisfy by the latest, better and faster gadgets and consumer commodities. Speed is the mantra today. What is pragmatic, that gives instant results, success and happiness is valued. And therefore the great pillars of the society: family, religion, church, marriage, etc. that tried to uphold the universal and absolute values are being shaken by post-modernism. Relativism has become the norm of the day.

2.1.2. Job – satisfaction: better jobs, career orientation in families, competition, and success at any cost. Corruption,

2.1.3. Hedonistic culture: pleasure and more and more needs to be satisfied. The media creates needs. Wishes and wants are made into needs.

2.1.4. Technology: the latest and the best.

2.1.5. Efficiency.

2.1.6. Focus on self, need satisfaction, narcissism; in the families: give in to all the needs; Fear saying no, might lead to suicide

2.1.7. Materialistic pragmatic attitude.

2.1.8. Individualism; I –centered view, egoism and selfishness.



Where are they now? Strengths and Blocks

2.2.1. Psychic Blocks:

          Negative Self Perceptions, Self Abasement; Pessimism, Poor Self-Image

          Low Self-esteem, Poor Self-Confidence, Victimhood, Self-rejection.

          Fears: fear of rejection/ of failure/ of authority figures/ of public appearances…..

          Anger, guilt, shame, sadness, pain….

          Traumas: physical, emotional, sexual abuses; Broken & Alcoholic families…

          Affective deprivations; Abandonment, Neglect

          Abject economic deprivations…

          Lack of Affective Maturity

                         2.2.2. Psycho-Sexual Development:

          Sexual Inhibitions, Fears, Obsessions/Addictions, Ignorance; Abuses; Guilt, Shame; Confusion

          Feelings, Desires, Passions, & Behaviours

          Fixations; Delayed Growth

          Adolescence, attractions, deviations?

          Lack of Self-understanding, awareness, acceptance and integration of body and sexuality.

          Choice of Celibacy: Mature Vs Immature?



                1.   Although as Catholics we are numerically a small minority in the country, the quality of our presence among the poor and marginalized is no doubt a powerful witness to God’s Kingdom.

                2. The emergence of vibrant local churches among the indigenous people (Dalits and Tribals) augurs well for the future of the Church in Asia and Africa.

                3.   There is a paradigm shift in the theology of Missions today and as a result the approach to evangelization is becoming more and more inclusive with greater emphasis on promotion of justice, human rights, gender equality, ecology, inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue, etc.

  1. 4.Many attempts are being made all over the country by priests and consecrated persons to join hands with groups of people who are actively involved in the integral liberation of the marginalized and the socio-economically deprived and weaker sections of our society.
  1. 5.A lot of conscientization is continually taking place among priests and consecrated person at the national, regional and local level through regular contacts with secular movements and social activists on current issues affecting the life and ministry of the Church.
  1. 6.The Church in India is still blessed with many vocations both for Priesthood and Consecrated life.
  1. 7.We are really fortunate to have many centers for the ongoing formation and renewal of priests and consecrated person and also for the training of formators.
  1. 8.While recognizing some of the positive aspects of priesthood and consecrated life today, we cannot deny the fact that there is all round malaise which is affecting our life and ministry today. The globalization for example is taking a heavy toll among many priests and consecrated persons in terms of consumerism, careerism and individualism.
  1. 9.The post modern culture propagated by globalization seem to totally undermine and disregard, what for centuries were upheld as foundations of human civilization, like family, the institution of marriage, religious and cultural tradition, etc. The emerging modern culture is in fact in a very subtle way making inroads in all spheres of modern life through a dictatorship of relativism.
  1. 10.As a consequence of relativism life-long commitment and fidelity to a way of life (priesthood, consecrated life, marriage, etc.) which is founded and guided by Gospel Values (Transcendental) is non-acceptable to modern man and woman. As a result we are witnessing high rate of divorce, single parents, living with partners without marriage, gay marriages, abortions, foeticide and infanticide of girl children, euthanasia, etc.
  1. 11.While accepting the tremendous benefits resulting from the modern means of communication like Internet, Cell, etc. one cannot deny the adverse effects of these very tools in poisoning the minds of modern man and woman who isolate themselves more and more into a very impersonal world of virtual reality.
  1. 12.It seems the motivation for priesthood or consecrated life is not strongly founded on religious experience, but is influenced by social security, careerism, ambition for upward social mobility, etc.
  1. 13.It appears that there is a serious lacuna in the human and Christian formation among many priests and consecrated persons due to which the quality of our interpersonal relationship in the community and with people in ministry is at times quite deficient.


  1. 14.Quite a few priests and consecrated persons seem to lack the inner psychological and spiritual stamina to face criticism, opposition, failure, emotional and physical stress, and therefore easily succumb to moods and discouragement.
  1. 15.Many of the young as well as senior religious display serious difficulties in handling their emotional conflicts, and therefore suffer from hostility, fear, envy, inferiority, authority complex and passive aggression.
  1. 16.There seems to a widespread mediocrity in prayer life, community life and ministry
  1. 17.The bureaucratization of leadership has apparently reduced the role of leaders as mere functionaries or administrators thus deviating from the Gospel style of leadership that consists of being Servants, Stewards and Shepherds.
  1. 18.The lack of Role Models among formators, leaders and formed members has led to a sort of disillusionment among the young priests and consecrated persons.
  1. 19.The formation to priesthood and consecrated life in its present form is heavily focused on acquiring information, knowledge and learning of skills and not adequately directed to a dynamic process of self-transformation
  1. 20.Quite a few priests and consecrated persons suffer from either ‘burn out’ or ‘early retirement’ syndrome for lack of an ongoing formation.




  • To be a man/woman of God, prayerful/God-centered, another Christ (alter Christus)
  • Human: compassionate, affectively mature, sensitive, courteous
  • A person of credibility with transparency and moral integrity
  • Agent of Social Justice at the service of the underprivileged and a prophetic voice of the poor.
  • A man/woman of inter-faith dialogue.
  • Promoter of team work and collaboration among laity, religious and priests.
  • A sign of contradiction in the post modern relativistic, secularized and                          consumeristic      culture through a life of simplicity and renunciation.
  • A champion of reconciliation, peace and harmony in a society that is fragmented by          religious fundamentalism, criminalization of politics, corruption, casteism, regionalism, etc.


3.1.      Formation as Personal Growth, Conversion, Transformation

3.1.1.      Is it something one or several people do to others? Is there some model according to which we can mould people as a potter moulds pots from the clay? Is it some kind of indoctrination, or imposition? But formation needs to include growth, development, conversion, seeking meaning choosing values & direction for life. It is a process of transformation, moving towards self-transcending love and religious experience. It is a journey to God, to inner freedom, autonomy and authenticity, to universal love, transcending all barriers. It calls for courage, inner strength and confidence. Formation is always an on-going process.

3.1.2.      Formation is a call to HOLINESS/WHOLENESS, Mt. 5.48; becoming the person God has called us to be. The Goal of priestly formation is to enable the formee to grow …to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. (Eph.4:13; PDV Nos.43-59, VC No.65).

             3.1.3 .From human developmental perspective, a call to GROWTH, an on-going process.         It is a Process, a continuous work, lasting a life-time.

3.1.4.      From a religious point of view, it’s a call to CONVERSION, also an on-going process. Conversion calls for radical change. Not only behavioural modification or therapy. Conversion is a call to integrity, reality and radicality. Therefore, formation is self- transformation and integration.


                                  –Cognitive: Attitudes, beliefs, thoughts, values, outlook:

                                                                               Rom. 12, 2; Mt 22, 36-40; Mk 12, 29-34

– Integral Conversion –Affective: emotional, at the level of feelings.            

                                   –Behavioural:             Mt 7, 21-27, Lk 6, 43-45

This conversion takes place when I confront myself in my sinfulness and woundedness. We need someone’s help to confront. The pain and the truth of confrontation will make me free. Conversion can occur through resolution of crises. A crisis is an opportunity to reorganise myself and make a new commitment to the future. It is an experience of my faith, a rediscovery of ‘who I am’, my identity. It is a continuous process.

3.1.5.      “Formation is a process which enables us to accept ourselves as we are and feel accepted, and learn to love and be loved, so that we can develop (grow) into the persons we are called to be (to become….).”

3.1.6.      Self-acceptance, knowing who I am (identity): family, cultural, religious, social, personal, developmental, educational… Accept myself with my strength & limits; my shadows and blind spots; my growing edges. Formation to one’s own identity, where one can feel rooted, secure, autonomous, and free. Finally formation leads to self-transcendence. If I have a well defined identity, I can surrender easily. This is the difficulty we find behind resistance. But identity makes me transcend barriers. The kenotic experience, 1 Phil 2, 7; Emptying in order to be filled. Formation should lead us to this.

3.1.7.      Formation takes place in a context of community, an atmosphere of mutual acceptance. Jesus failed to form his apostles. They had their own hidden agenda. When Jesus died their old selves also died. Then a new life started for them. The culture of the institute has an impact on my formation. Therefore, institutional formation has lots of limits[10].


3.2.      Some Basic Principles of Integral Human Formation:


  1. 1.Church Documents on Formation: The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on Pastores Dabo Vobis’ in Ch. V, articles nos. 43 & 44 enumerates at length the various aspects of Human Formation:“Future priests should therefore cultivate a series of human qualities, not only out of proper and due growth and realization of self, but also with a view to the ministry. These qualities are needed for them to be balanced people, strong and free, capable of bearing the weight of pastoral responsibilities. They need to be educated to love the truth, to be loyal, to respect every person, to have a sense of justice, to be true to their word, to be genuinely compassionate, to be men of integrity and, especially, to be balanced in judgment and behaviour.
  2. 2.Of special importance is the capacity to relate to others. This is truly fundamental for a person who is called to be responsible for a community and to be a “man of communion”. This demands that the priest not be arrogant, or quarrelsome, but affable, hospitable, sincere in his words and heart, prudent and discreet, generous and ready to serve, capable of opening himself to clear and brotherly relationships and of encouraging the same in others, and quick to understand, forgive and console(see also 1 Tim 3:1-5; Tit 1:7-9). People today are often trapped in situations of standardization and loneliness, especially in large urban centers, and they become ever more appreciative of the most eloquent signs and one of the most effective ways of transmitting the Gospel message”.
  1. 3.This recognition of the human as the overarching dimension of priestly formation is indeed a remarkable progressive step concerning priestly formation. In doing so, the Church is showing her openness and interest in human sciences like anthropology, sociology and psychology, whose valuable insights on understanding the mystery of human person, shows with clarity the intrinsic relationship between Grace and Human Nature. The healthier the human nature, the greater is the possibility for grace to penetrate the human person and transform him/her from within. Hence the importance of the following parameters to facilitate a psycho-spiritual process that hopefully brings about a self-transformation in the candidates.


  1. 4.Formation has to be Integral Growth (Wholistic): The Integral Formation refers to the process of transformation of the various dimensions of formee’s personality that gradually promote a well defined, secure and stable IDENTITY, namely the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social and Spiritual (PDV Nos. 43-60, Charter PFI, No. 3.1.3). And thus the formee is enabled to freely enter into dialogue with God and live his vocation and mission in an effective manner. This life-long process does not take place by itself. Some time or other one has to consciously start this inward journey. And the formator can definitely be a catalyst for the formee in his journey towards wholeness. This process is integral affecting the Physical, Social, Emotional, Rational and Spiritual dimensions of the person of the formee.
  1. Formation has to be Personal: 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 a must 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. God respects the gift of freedom he has given to each of us. Therefore it is necessary that we respect the freedom of each candidate. The candidate is the principal agent of his own formation and as such all other agents of formation are considered to be facilitators.
  1. 6.Positive Self Image: Behaviour flows from feelings and thought patterns, which in turn are deeply influenced by one’s self image. The work of human formation, therefore, begins with building up of a positive self image.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 but an ongoing process of self-transformation. Initial formation should be closely connected with on-going formation
  1. 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.
  1. Formation has to be Accompanied: More than transmission of a doctrine, formation needs more witnesses than teachers or masters. Need transmitters who will authenticate the word, show the beauty of being a religious, by their life. 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 that lead to God.[11]
  1. Formation and Training[12]: 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.
  1. 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 learning 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 an essential part of priestly formation.



  1. 1.Self-transformation can take place only in a climate of freedom, responsibility,   accountability, self-discipline and self-motivation at all stages of formation.
  2. 2. In order to facilitate this ongoing process of Self-transformation, there is need for competent formators; men endowed with deep sense of Christian faith, inner freedom, intellectual competence, affective maturity, and men of moralspiritual integrity who can serve as catalysts and role models for the young seminarians.
  3. 3.Keeping in mind the Integral Human Formation of the Seminarians and Consecrated Persons, there isfor a pedagogy with inter-disciplinary approach at all stages of formation.
  4. 4. Given the multi-religious and cultural reality of India as well as the socio-economic disparities affecting vast majority of marginalized groups among whom the priests/consecrated persons are called to exercise their pastoral leadership, the formation should be sufficiently contextualized and inculturated in order to prepare the fomees for the future ministry.
  5. 5.Seminary/convent formation is an institutional formation. Real formation begins from the mother’s womb. The candidates come already formed. Before a candidate comes psycho-social, socio-cultural, socio-religious formation have already taken place. It is important to look at that. Formation has a past, present and future. It involves conscious and unconscious processes and a lot of formation work involves de-forming (not deforming),
  1. Do we want to form pliable, obedient, apparently celibate, moralizing, and authoritarian clergy/religious who will perform an essentially sacramental/institution centered function? This may delight the Bishops/Major Superiors and some people too, but it may not satisfy the educated laity whose world is growing in expectations.
  2. The laity is 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 the Vocation. Being a professional means that the priest/religious should be provided with specific skills which give him/her the confidence and sense of identity among his/her peers and help confirm him/her in his/her calling. These skills include integrated studies in different subjects, with preparation for expertise in such performance based disciplines as teaching, preaching, counseling, administration, pastoral ministry, social apostolate, etc. They must possess good managerial skills, conflict resolution skills and skills in interpersonal relationships.


4.1. Agent of Formation

  1. In the context of Christian Vocation, the principal agent of formation is the Holy Spirit and the next in the order of priority is the formee himself/herself, “the necessary and irreplaceable agent in his/her own formation: all formation …is ultimately a self-formation” (PDV No. 69). “With freedom, personal choice, responsibility and inner conviction, he must open himself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit” (Charter PFI 4:1). Only then comes the formator who plays a role mainly as a facilitator or a catalyst in the ongoing process of transformation. As a formator one is a co-discerner, accompanying, or walking with the formee, enabling him/her to be open and autonomous.

This process follows the dialectics of intrinsic relationship of Grace and Nature, the Divine and Human, contemplation and action. Formation simultaneously involves the mystery of God and the mystery of the person. It is a dialogue between God and the person. And in this dialogue the formator’s role as the mediator between these two mysteries is a very delicate as well as important one. The formator can be a help for growth, a challenge, or a hindrance and a block in the growth of the person. Think back on your own life during formation. Who influenced you most and had the most impact on you? Which formator? Why? Who helped you bring out the best in you?

4.2. Need for Challenges

Maslow says that 99% of people don’t begin to develop fully. Human potential is not fully used. Only 1% reaches their full potential. We can ask, why do youngsters lose their enthusiasm and zeal and get stagnated? Why? Two main reasons:

4.2.1. Secluded from Reality, Formation Houses do not cater to Adult Development: Many are not challenged to grow; they just adjust and stagnate. Many join with youthful enthusiasm but lose it through many years of formation. Get used to living on a plateau. Look at their peers in the outside world. They become CEOs between 25 –35. With us many still want more degrees and more skills before they venture out and produce. There is no challenge to change, at times. Our candidates are secluded from reality, over protected from all insecurities, concerns and struggles of ordinary people. They move along with groups, become part of a crowd and lack individuality and autonomy, lacking in initiative, creativity and personal responsibility. Atmosphere in the formation houses are not conducive to the autonomous development adult individuals.

4.2.2 Role Models: The other reason, there are not many models to live up to. Many in formation don’t like the word model. They are fed up of giving good example. This is where it is difficult to find formators today. They don’t mind being lecturers or professors. But to be formator implies living a lifestyle which is exemplary as religious. The formator has to live with the formees and accompany them. While s/he does not have to be a saint, s/he has to live a life that is consistent or integrated with not too many contradictions between what s/he teaches and lives. This can be quite taxing. We are not giving training in skills alone. We are forming persons whose lifestyle is intimately connected with their mission or work. And for this even the so called teachers and even the community members are also formators. Formation work is intimately connected with the personality of the formator, his/her emotional maturity and spiritual solidity in particular.

4. 3. Formators

Many formators are not trained at all but learn by trial and error. And the formees can be the victims of this. While a mere degree may not equip you to be a formator, if you have the aptitude, it is very important to have some training in the behavioral sciences and spirituality, besides practical life experience to be able to do one’s work fruitfully. The formator needs to have some clarity in his/her own mind in order not be affected by all the comments and criticism around him/her. For this s/he must know what s/he is doing. S/he must have clear ideas on his/her role and what s/he is trying to achieve, how much s/he can achieve and be realistic in his/her view of himself/herself and the formees.

  • Some formators talk about rules and exhort what to do.
  • Some observe and watch and sit in judgment on whether they’ll manage or not.
  • Some are like police – watching to apprehend.
  • Some are like Santa Claus or a Grandmother wanting to be nice to all unable to  confront and correct.
  • Some are model for imitation. Others should watch and follow.
  • Many are not clear about what they are trying to do.
  • Some reduce formation to psychological counselling, reduce the role of prayer,    faith and spirituality.
  • Others reduce everything to the spiritual with no attention to the person’s individual history, past, needs, emotions, growing process, etc.
  • Many are trying to accomplish the task without clarity on what their role is.

Formators require practical skills, a good understanding of the human personality and a theory of the Christian vocation and personality which acts as a frame of reference, to understand what is happening with the person, with oneself and the situation.

4.4. The Five Relationships at Work in Formation[13]

  • Working Alliance
  • Transferential Relationship
  • Reparative Relationship
  • ‘I-Thou’ or Adult to Adult Relationship
  • Transpersonal Relationship


5.1.Man is motivated by two forces: Values, Ideals, and Attitudes on the one hand & Needs and Emotions, on the other. Formation should take into consideration both the forces and motivation should be offered to both. How?


A) Presentation of Ideals: by conferences, instruction, and especially through good example, 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 will provide motivation to renounce dissonant needs and outgrow inconsistencies. Pure clinical psychology has the danger of stressing the purely human aspect of the personality.

5.2.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.

5.3.Regarding growth in vocation, in religious values, note that a candidate can change out of compliance, conformity, non-internalizing identification, internalizing identification, or internalization. Hence, ask why the person has changed. (e.g., meticulously regular for prayer after a warning).

5.4.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. If a person is not fully free, s/he will have great difficulty in loving selflessly. Only a free person can give herself/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.

5.5.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, conflicts) and the spiritual aspects (ideals, values, prayer life.).






THE CONTEXT (VISION): The Point of Arrival                     W

  1. A.THE KINGDOM OF GOD and its BasicH                  

Risen Son in the Religio-Socio-Cultural Time

  1. C.THE PROPHETIC MISSION as Spelt out by the Church, Congregation



  1. 1.POVERTY is a vow for stewardship, to be a voice for the poor, a divine call for an authentic living of the GIFT ECONOMY as opposed to ‘commodity economy’; Sharing of Resources.
  2. 2.OBEDIENCE is a vow for partnership with Christ in pursuit of the Will of God and a divine call to form a DISCIPLSHIP OF EQUALS where power and authority are exercised in a spirit of service in solidarity with the poor and the marginalized in opposition to relationships characterized by hierarchy, status, power and privileges; Shared Responsibility by the Community.
  3. 3.CHASTITY is a vow for relatedness to be passionate lovers of Christ and a divine call to embrace universally with God’s COMPASSIONATE LOVE, the poor and the marginalized empowering them to realize their God-given dignity and honour as opposed to a relationship where human persons are treated and reduced to commodities whose usefulness is measured by his or her productivity in terms of beauty, wealth, pleasure, etc. Growing in an ever Widening Network of Relationships and Availability to the Other.
  4. 4.Consecrated life is meant to keep alive the memory of Jesus who:
  5. 5.Redefined the People of God by Challenging Social Boundaries
    1. i.Enacted the Reign of God through Table-Fellowship and
    2. ii.Accomplished the Reign of God through the Way of the Cross.
    3. 6.Refounding of Consecrated Life Today.
    4. 7.Conclusion: the Relevance of Consecrated Life Consists in being a ‘Fire in the Ashes’.



7.1.The Dialectics of Christian Vocation: The recognition and nourishment of any Christian Vocation takes place in a climate of the Divine and Human consciousness where grace and nature interact. The sign to distinguish this ongoing interaction between grace and nature is one’s inner freedom which enables the candidate to discern the Call of God.


7.2.Integration Fosters Freedom: Freedom to respond to God’s Call is the result of the    process called Integration where the different dimensions in human person: The Physical, Socio-Cultural, Emotional, Rational and Spiritual act in a harmonious and unified manner.


7.3.Integration Leads to Self Discovery: The discovery of one’s authentic and true self is a gradual process of self-emptying of the EGO, the false self (the masks) and coming      to terms with one’s True Self with all its strengths and weaknesses, qualities and   limitations. In other words, the Self emerges with all its beauty and richness when the person is able to celebrate the wonder of one’s Being stripped of all illusions caused by     the perennial temptation to identify one’s worth with Doing, Having and Feeling.

7.4.The Domains of Transformation: The integrative model views spiritual growth as transformation of the whole person in various domains of life. Following the schema of Sperry, the following domains of transformation with the addition of those aspects proper to consecrated life. (Sperry, 2002).

  1. oSomatic: Refers to body and its wellness despite of a disability or disease.
  2. oAffective/Community: Refers to emotional wellbeing, healing of past hurts, healthy integration of all emotions and achieving capacity for team work and community life.
  3. oReligious/Spiritual: Spirituality based on the biblical image of God, replacing the false idols such as reputation, wealth and power and seeking God’s will and Kingdom values.
  4. oMoral: Moving from simple gratifications of immediate needs to principled living based on objective values.
  5. oIntellectual: Pursuit of truth amidst ideologies and personal prejudices. Developing a critical grasp of theological issues and to critique false value systems that corrupt Christian conscience and developing a Personal Vision of Life.
  6. oSocio-Political/Inter-Cultural: Moving beyond self-transformation to bring about the reign of God in one’s community and the society. Growing in the capacity for universal communion and the pastoral dimension of the vocation
  7. oCharismatic/Vocational: Discovering and growing in one’s unique call to conform to Christ within the Charism of the Institute.
  1. oBesides the above areas we could include the following:
    • Belief Systems
    • Attitudes
    • Spirituality                                                                                
    • Affectivity        
    • Sexuality                                                                                    
    • Relationships                                                                              
    • Mindset
    • Communication
  1. oTransformation in one domain influences the transformation of other domains. For example, affective transformation favours religious and moral transformation. Intellectual trans- formation reinforces the transformation in socio-political domain. This is why an integral approach is necessary for a holistic vocational growth. Once the domains of growth are delineated, the necessary virtues, spiritual practices and self-capacities necessary for growth in each of the domains are identified and described in order to make it operational. This is necessary for moving from mere desire to concrete action. Transformation in each of the domains requires that the formees cultivate corresponding virtues, spiritual practices and self-capacities. The following table illustrates the whole


7.5.Profile of Transformation in a Vocational Journey. (Sperry, 2002).



DOMAIN OF                                      SPIRITUAL   




           Somatic            Temperance                 Transforming               Self-activation

                                    Physical fitness                        craving                         Self-mastery



          Affective/        Trust,                           Healing the heart,         Spontaneity, Intimacy,

           Community      Compassion,                Learning to love           Frustration Tolerance,

                                                                                                            Creativity, Autonomy


                                                                      Awakening spiritual    

           Religious/         Charity, Holiness         Vision                          Self-surrender

           Spiritual                                               Meditation


          Moral               Trust worthiness          Living ethically                        Commitment



           Intellectual      Prudence                     Developing Wisdom     Critical Reflection

                                                                       and Understanding


           Socio-Political  Justice, Fortitude          Expressing Spirit          Social Consciousness

           Intercultural                                         in Service                     Empathy


This outline can be a helpful guide to view different domains of growth in a formee. It becomes operative when a realistic action plan adapted to the personal and socio-cultural context of each formee is drawn within the ambit of personal accompaniment.










1. Stage

Infant/ Child



2. Impulse Control

Little control. Often acting out on the level of basic needs as well psychological needs such as dependency, insecurity and aggression

Control in the case of basic needs. Mixture of acting out of sexual needs, aggression, and dependency and growing confidence in mastering them through autonomy, counteraction, etc.

Sense of control over psychological needs and capacity to integrate needs in the service of one’s vision and values.

3. Motivation

Fear and self-gratification

Pleasing and giving in order to get. Defensive

Ideals and values. Personal vision of life.

4. Personal Responsibility

Minimal. Responsible neither for actions nor consequences

Responsible for actions but not to consequences. Autonomy is stressed more than responsibility

Freedom with responsibility to one’s vision of life as well as to society. Responsibility to actions and consequences.

5. Sense of Morality

What is bad? What brings punishment

What is bad? What society does not approve

What is bad? What goes against universal principles like “love” “greater good of all” etc.

6.Social Stance



Interdependent, cooperative

7. Response to Social Control

Through mere outer compliance

Through identification with and imitation.

Through internalized vision and values.

8. Quality of Maturity

Psychological and vocational immaturity or disturbance

Psychological and vocational immaturity and maturity present at the same time

Psychological and vocational maturity




  • Authenticity, Honesty to God, Self and Others, Openness and Transparency.
  • Self Awareness and Acceptance, Self Confidence and Assertiveness, Optimism and Realism, Sense of Humour and Joy.
  • Sensitivity, Understanding, Empathy, Compassion and Caring
  • Adaptability and Flexibility, Spirit of Forgiveness and Reconciliation.
  • Responsibility, Accountability and Willingness to Accept one’s Mistakes.
  • Interiority and Prayerfulness, Being Comfortable with Solitude, Respect for the Integrity of Creation.
  • Sense of Belonging, Being Comfortable in Relationships, Capacity for Meaningful Friendships and Intimacy.
  • Respect for All Persons: Elders, Women, Children, and especially the Poor.
  • Ability to Dialogue: Care-Fronting, Offering Constructive Criticism
  • Initiative, Creativity, Pro-Activeness, Commitment, Hard Work, Team Spirit, Sacrifice and Resilience.
  • Concern, Involvement and Action for Peace and Social Justice.


  • Lack of Proper Motivation: Our efforts at formation meet with a major block in as much as the candidate comes with misplaced motives.
  • Peer Group Pressure: The candidate’s ability to take decisions for himself is often influenced by the need to belong to the peer group, and the peer group is itself frequently controlled by a dominant few.
  • Large Numbers: The large number of candidates in formation houses makes it difficult to provide the personalized care and attention so necessary for integral human formation.
  • Cut off from Realities: The structure and geographic location of formation houses isolate/shield the candidate from real life experiences. This retards the process of integral human formation.
  • Lack of Adequate Training of Formators. The personal accompaniment which is a pre-requisite for integral human formation suffers when formators are not equipped with the necessary skills.
  • Fear of Reports: The existing system of reporting to the superiors on the evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate tends to lead to fear complex and masked behaviour.
  • Unhealed Woundedness. Some of the unconscious wounds of earlier experiences of the candidate remain unhealed and render the personal accompaniment of the candidate difficult and ineffective.
  • Outside Influences: The programmes towards integral human formation sometimes fail to bring about desired growth in the candidate since the climate in outside society (family, friends, parish, diocese, media, etc.) counter the positive influence of formation programmes.
  • Lack of Adequate Language Skills: The lack of comprehension and expression skills of the candidate limits the effectiveness of formation structures or personal accompaniment.




  • Participatory Processes in Decision Making and Assessments
  • Personal Accompaniment
  • Healing of Inner Woundedness.


The integrative approach applied in Pastoral Counselling and Spiritual Direction is a useful strategy for an integral formation. This model emerged from the field of counselling and psycho-therapy in the context of a healthy rapprochement between the disciplines of moral theology, psychology and spirituality. When a formator has a fair idea of the dynamics involved in the vocational journey of a young person whom s/he accompanies, s/he will have to look for effective strategies to accompany the growth process in different spheres of life.


Journeying with the formee as a fellow-traveler, a pilgrim, as someone who is genuinely searching, at the same time struggling in her/his efforts to live an authentic life. From this lived experience s/he is able to assist the formees in discerning and interpreting God’s will revealed through persons, events, joys and sorrows, success and failure, etc. S/he serves like a mirror wherein the formees can with openness and trust see themselves freely their strengths and limitations and with the help of the formator journey towards wholeness and holiness.

  • To facilitate the Self-DiscoverySelf-Awareness, Self Worth and a Positive Attide to Life.
  • To discern God’s will in daily life
  • Helping the formees to verbalize their thoughts, beliefs and emotions critically; to be freed from irrational beliefs and to cultivate rational beliefs. Help them think positively and constructively.
  • Help them to take charge of their lives.
  • Help them to realize that there are no quick solutions to their problems
  • Help them to understand better their own psychological and physiological reactions to their problems.
  • Facilitate better communication between formee and formators, between  formee and his/her companions.
  • Reinforce accepted social and cultural patterns of behaviour and thus inhibit      certain regressed forms of behaviour.
  • To evolve alternate solutions for one’s problems
  • To work out an action plan to bring about a change
  • To integrate various dimensions of personality
  • To be healed from past hurts, woundedness and traumas.



      1.         Provide sufficient scope to grow in freedom with responsibility.

      2.         Provide opportunities to exercise leadership attitudes and skills.

      3.         Provide facilities to develop one’s talents and skills.

      4.         Spell out clearly the parameters for accountability.

      5.         Involve the community in decision making.

      6.         Provide opportunities for ministries on a regular basis.

      7.         Maintain contacts with groups, movements, etc. whose inputs could be      challenging.

      8.         Have regular faith sharing sessions.

      9.         Have regular meetings to reflect over various experiences in relation to personal                       growth.

      10.       Have periodic community dialogues to evaluate life and mission.



8.5.1. Process of Integration:


                        1. Self-fulfillment for Self-transcendence

                        2. Personal Growth for Apostolic Efficacy

                        3. Balance between Freedom, Responsibility and Accountability

                        4. Harmony between Values, Needs and Attitudes

                        5. Exposure and role plays for interiorisation of Vocational Ideals

                        6. Balance between the affective-rational and spiritual

                        7. Harmony between ideologies and spirituality

                        8. Integration between Contemplation and Action

            8.5.2. The Content:

  • 1. Experience
  • 2. Reflection
  • 3. Interiorization
  • 4. Action-decision




The Old Paradigm

The New Paradigm


  • Secluded from the External World
  • Protected from Insecurity, Struggles
  • Authoritarian/Directive
  • Large Groups
  • Emphasis: Intellectual/Academic- IQ



  • Content Oriented
  • Spirituality- Piety, Devotions, Ritualism, Saying Prayers Church, Attendance


  • Uniformity of Structures, Rules
  • Compliance, Conformity, …
  • Secluded from the Complimentary Sex


  • Monastic
  • Juridical
  • Dogmatic
  • Rigid
  • Alienated
  • Relief works  
  • Institutionalized
  • Church
  • Formation for Mission  
  • Clericalised


  • In the Midst of People/Reality
  • Sharing the Struggles & Concerns
  • Participatory
  • Small Groups
  • Emphasis: Affective: Emotional, Sexual, Social, Relational, Experiential – EQ
  • Process Oriented
  • Spirituality – Values, Inner Freedom, Universal Love, Self-Transcendance, Self-Giving, Responsibility, Involvement in the World…
  • Personal Accompaniment
  • Transformational
  • Interaction with the Complementary Sex


  • Apostolic
  • Charismatic
  • Prophetic
  • Human
  • Contextualized and Inculturated
  • Empowering ministries
  • Formation in Mission
  • Laity
  • Frontier Ministries
  • Kingdom




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[1] Most of the material in the Introduction is adapted from J Parappully & J Mannath, “Religious and Priestly Formation and Mental Health”, in VJTR, Vl.73.4, April 2009, pp.34-53.

[2] Cozzens, 1992, p.16.

[3] 1991, p.131.

[4] Parathazham, 2006a, pp. 35-38.

[5] Parathazham, 2006b, p.7.

[6] L’Osservatore Romano, 26 November, 2008, pp10-13.

[7] Perfectae Caritatis, 1966, n.12.

[8] John Paul II, 1992/2005

[9] Cf. Joe Mathias,

[10] Cf., Selvaratnam OMI.

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

[12]Lisbert D’souza SJ at 44th CRI National assembly. 24-29th April, 2003, Bangalore, On Seminary formation

[13] Petruska Clarksaon, Therapeutic Relationships, London, Wuhr,

[14] Cf. Joe Mathias, ….; Selvaratnam,

[15] Joe Mathias,