Faith formation in our formation centers during the Year of Faith

(From October 11, 2012, on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, until the Solemnity of Christ the King, on November 24, 2013)

 faith-logo-enThe year of Faith is an opportune moment for us to deepen our Faith which is the foundation for vocation growth and missionary commitment.   Our formation houses, the schools of the Word, are important places to make this faith journey together with the whole Church. We propose an itinerary of nine months to deepen and explore our experience of Faith. The formation centers may constitute a team of animators to facilitate the program. Creative animation of the community to reach the goal of the Year of Faith is to be promoted. We shall profit from the various initiatives of the local and universal church to help the faith journey of the people of God. The program is expected to help the formees to:

  • – be in touch with their own faith experience and the capacity to articulate it
  • support their faith life from biblical, ecclesial and charismatic (Claretian) sources
  • give expression to one’s faith in daily life

Here are two proposals which could be considered for your formation centers. These are suggestions which you may modify, combine or improve in order to adapt and creatively implement in your context.

Proposal A: Thematic sessions to help strengthen the faith.


  • Objective: “Helping the Claretian formees to live this Year of Faith as an opportunity to support and further deepen their experience of faith based on the Word of God, the orientations of the Church and the Congregation.”
  • We propose a schedule of nine months , divided into three dimensions. You may reformulate the program to suit your situation to achieve the objective of the year of Faith. The following are the three foundational dimensions of growing in Faith.
  • The booklet No. 7 of Patris Mei is a good resource for starting reflection on faith experience.

 1) Word of God: Chapter 11 of the Letter to the Hebrews.

2) Teaching of the church : Benedict’s Apostolic Letter “Porta Fidei” and Catechism of the Catholic Church.

3) Claretian Constitutions : Meditation on the number 62 of the Constitutions.

• You may follow various creative approaches to facilitate a serious faith journey in the formees suitable to their stage of formation. This is not so much another conceptual course to add to the curriculum, but rather a journey of faith exploring one’s own experiences, questions in order to evoke a personal and radical commitment to the call of God.

Stage One: “Faith is the foundation of what is hoped for” (Heb 11:1)

1. What conceptions of faith in the environment in which you live? Identify some films, novels, etc.. that have had an impact on people.

2. What challenges and opportunities are in your environment when living the faith?

3. What people have been witnesses and teachers for you in your journey of faith?

4. What effect does faith in people and in yourself?

5. What is the “creed” that has given meaning to your life?

Stage two: The “door of faith” is always open (Porta Fidei, 1)

1. Study Benedict’s letter, Porta Fidei (2011).

2. Study of the share faith in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 144-165 and 166-184).

Stage three: “They must have a living faith” (CC 62)

1. Study number 62 of the Constitutions with the help of the Commentary on the Constitutions, vol. III, p. 214-232.

2. What does the General Chapter XXIV speak of growing faith experience today? (Cf. MFL 8-11 and 53-54). How do you respond to the call of the Chapter?

Proposal B: Process oriented sessions to support the Faith journey of the formees

Accompanying the process of integrating study and faith journey

1. Organize meetings of the formees regularly and reflect upon the experience that their studies and life have on their Faith.

Rather than having input programmes for the different sessions it would be helpful to identify a few pointers to get conversations going. Some useful questions to provoke reflection and sharing:

  • How has the experience and studies of the last month strengthened your Faith?
  • How has the experience and studies of the last month challenged your Faith?
  • What are the important insights and practical implications that you fathered from your studies of last month?
  • What are the questions and doubts that it would be good to explore further?

 It might be good to give the students time to share together before they share as a group with the formator.

In large formation centres the dynamic would need to be to get people sharing in small groups before ideas get shared in the large group.

2.      Facilitate the exercises as a process of helping each individual understand that faith is not a static unchanging dimension of our life but something that continues to develop and deepen in the light of our experiences of God and the world.  Questions and doubts as scary as they may be can be seen as potential doorways to deepening ones faith if they are explored openly and honestly.

3. Vocational growth sessions which the formees have individually with the formator are important moments of dialogue to profit from the questions that the individual students   struggle with in order to grow in their vocational commitment

 Scriptural context for the process:

 1 Cor 13:11  : “When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child and argue like a child, but now I am a man all childish ways are put behind me”.

 Integration of new insights gained from the study of theology and philosophy and the experiences of exposures to different faith practices encountered in a multicultural missionary congregation is not easy. It calls for a process of assimilation and integration of these insights into already existing patterns of beliefs and practice.   It is important to create an environment of common journey to grow in faith and each persons sharing needs to be valued.  Any feeling of rejection or perception of being judged in the group will have to be carefully handled by the formators.

If  a formator does find himself concerned about something a student says it would be important that he handles the matter carefully without reacting hastily.  A private conversation in which the formatorseeks to understand what in the student’s experience has led to the position that has been taken by him would be an important first step.

 4)      You may draw upon exercises that have been in the Forge, not just explicitly about Faith but about particular topics or dimensions of our faith.

 Faith and Claretian Life

The encounter of the Prefects of formation in Tanzania (August 2012) has identified five important areas to be taken care of in order to orient our formation processes towards personal and community transformation at the service of our mission. They are::

  • formation of Claretian missionary identity
  • formation for Poverty
  • formation for Chastity
  • formation for Obedience
  • formation for living Community life

Deepening and growing in our Faith is the way to consolidate our Claretian Identity. Meaningful living of evangelical counsels and sharing of life and mission in community are grounded in a solid life of Faith. The year of faith offers us the opportunity to look into the foundations of   our claretian missionary life and commitment. Implementation of the conclusions of the encounter of prefects of formation (2012) will be more effective within the context of the celebration of the year of Faith.

wish you a joyful and fruitful celebration of the year of Faith together with the whole church.

 Mathew Vattamattam cmf

General Prefect of Formation
Rome, 7th October, 2012