The Claretian Formation: Objective and Frame of Reference: The General Plan of Formation (GPF) rightly presents a pen picture of the entire formation process that we need to undergo in forming the new generation. It obviously speaks, “The current world offers us both new hopes and hitherto unheard of challenges that affect our formation” (GPF 43).  The “current world” is the reference of the new generation. Alongside with the positive elements of “hopes”, it furnishes us with a caution. Although written 22 years ago, the GPF classifies the tendencies of the new generation under the different heads: the socio-cultural, ecclesial and Congregational situations (44-49). With the influence of media in the world today, there are no longer continental disparities in qualifying the new generation.

Let us explore and understand the context of this new generation. A generation is a theoretical construct therefore it is the continuity of human progress and development. In our formation centers, we get vocations from the new breed of the youth of today.  They have lots of advancements both in up building and jeopardizing. The modern youth perceive the future based from career paths and planning. In addition to this, the concepts of the new generation revolve around consumerism, individualism, materialism and hedonistic interpretation of human existence.  The distortion of human sexuality and freedom really enthrall the youth of our times and deviate themselves away from reaching near to God in silence.  The Catholic community now modeled on diverse and at times, contradictory to the values and practices of the Catholics.

In light of this context, in discerning one’s call to religious life or to a ministry, it is extremely important to keep in mind that this particular vocation is primarily a calling to dedicate one’s life to the service of God. Nevertheless, it is much different from just deciding to choose a particular career. It is not just a call to do anything, to go anywhere, or to become somebody else; though these may be part of the response. To point out the process of discerning one’s call, it is an effort of both human and divine.  It is to choose a state of being that expresses one’s best in response to God’s providential care and love. As such, it can never be undertaken alone since it calls for the interaction of two persons – the person of the discerner and the Person of God. Thus, this discernment is always within the context of one’s personal relationship with God.

Moreover, the Claretian Formation envisages among the new generation a revitalized formation process by growing deeper in our identity as missionaries, which is pointing towards our holy founder St. Claret, with his refined charism. In our formation centers we need to produce a new breed of consecrated persons who are spiritually prepared, psychologically and emotionally mature to face the challenges of the new generations for a constant and radical transformation.

The Claretian formative plans are rich in contents. But to re-shape this new breed of candidates who are presented before us according to the spiritual rootedness of our Congregation is a task and a challenge, a task wherein a formator should walk shoulder to shoulder with the formandi.  Relentlessly, it needs personal accompaniment of the formator, and to take ‘rest’ on follow up is the loophole wherein we lose the formandi; a challenge wherein we need to be a Claretian formator and take, U-turn if we ever lost our specific identity. If we fail to address the realities and challenges of the new generation in their vocational discernment, we need to understand and, “acknowledge that we are still not full of fire that burned in the heart of St. Claret” (GPF 48). Therefore, the formators in our formation centers should be a life witness to the formandi, true sons of the Heart of the Blessed Mother. The world is fast changing, and we the Claretians need to move faster through our spiritual revival, encompassing the values and virtues that our Holy Founder identified as mandatory for his missionaries.

Fr. Siby Njavallikunnel, CMF
Prefect of Formation & Spirituality
St. Thomas Province, India

(Fr. Siby had been a Vocation Promoter and Prefect of Students for three years and was also an econome of the aspirancy community for another three years. He was once a parish priest before serving as school principal for thirteen years. Currently, he is the Prefect of Formation of St. Thomas Province.)