ENCOUNTER OF THE PREFECTS OF FORMATION
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, 10 – 20 August 2012
The Prefects of Formation of all the major organisms of the Congregation, called together by Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF, the General Prefect of Formation, had their meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 10 to 20 August, 2012. The goals of the encounter were to promote a missionary formation that is transformative and to assist formators in guiding the formees in their journey towards conformity with Christ through the interiorization of the fundamental values of consecrated life (MFL 63.1).
The reflections on our formative experiences, based on the theme “Towards a Transformative Formation”, focused on the process of formation as well as the formation of our missionaries in the five fundamental aspects of Claretian life (Claretian missionary identity, Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Community life).
It is only through a deep spirituality and a personal and communal encounter with the mystery of God that a transformative formation can be effective. The same experience of God will empower us to live our vocation joyfully and fulfill our Claretian mission in the church creatively and without limits.
At the close of our meeting, we have reached the following conclusions:
1. ON THE PROCESS OF FORMATION
Authentic Claretian formation aims at a progressive transformation of the formees into the likeness of Christ through the processes and stages implied in such a transformation. The Pascal mystery of Christ is at the center of our formative process and all programs of formation are to be geared to respond to our call to conform to Christ in a way similar to that of our founder St. Anthony Mary Claret.
We opt for a holistic and integral approach to formation, whereby every aspect of our life needs to be surrendered to the transforming action of the Holy Spirit. Hence we shall not limit ourselves to offering only the “content” of the ideals of Claretian life, but shall also closely accompany the process of internalizing these values in our own lives and that of the formees.
A holistic formation engages the head, heart and hand of the formees. We shall not be content solely with conceptual learning and academic promotion based on the performance of our formees in exams, but rather promote holistic methods of learning that help the formees to integrate their studies into their Claretian life style. We shall give due attention to the development and empowerment of the spiritual and psychological capacities in the formees that enable them to live their consecration meaningfully and joyfully.
The inner freedom and capacity of the formees to assume responsibility for their own formation are vital for an effective formation process. We shall assure a suitable environment in our formation centers which will help the formees to mature in their capacity for inner freedom and responsibility and to be open to the action of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
We are aware that the formation of our formees is first of all a work of the Holy Spirit, yet we are also aware that as formators we have a role in the movements of the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility demands that we offer a formative process that is serious, integral and holistic. We commit ourselves to accompany those who knock at our door in search of God’s will and to accompany them in such a way as to help them to discern and respond to their call with maturity.
2. VOCATION MINISTRY
We give thanks to God for He continues to send vocations to our Congregation. Our Claretian charism continues to attract many young people who wish to follow Christ, in the style of Claret. We commit ourselves with greater enthusiasm to support the efforts of our organisms to encourage the generous response of young men to God’s call.
We take great risks when our primary concern in vocation ministry is for greater numbers. Thus, we insist on a critical screening of candidates by knowing and examining their missionary motivations.
Vocation Promotion is the responsibility of all the members of the organism. We feel called to create an environment of life and a culture of vocation in our local communities that encourages a mature and informed response by our young people. We also realize that the counter witness in personal and community life minimizes the enthusiasm among young men for considering a vocation into the priesthood or the consecrated life.
3. FORMATION OF CLARETIAN MISSIONARY IDENTITY
We live our missionary vocation in the Church as students, brothers, deacons or priests. The value and importance of these various styles of life invite us to promote and support them equally with the same care.
The responsibility of formators to transmit our charismatic inheritance to the new generations is fundamental for the future of our missionaries. In order to guarantee this future, in addition to promoting a spirit of generosity and availability, we will also promote an effective formation program.
The daily encounter with Christ in the Eucharist and the prayerful reading of the Word, in the context of the people we serve, are privileged means for forming our missionary identity. We live our missionary charism in the Church as Servants of the Word. Our communities, in the stages of initial and ongoing formation, are called to convert themselves into schools of learning, praying and living the Word, prior to proclaiming it.
To enhance our Claretian missionary identity, we commit ourselves:
- To intensify the reading and meditation of the Word of God (eg. Lectio Divina).
- To intensify the study of Claretian documents.
- To find more and more practical ways of living out our Cordimarian dimension.
- To promote the study of English or Spanish and other useful languages, especially in intercultural communities.
4. FORMATION FOR POVERTY
Evangelical poverty, inspired by the example of Christ, becomes more and more a reality in us when we strive for a life of simplicity and maintain a relationship with the poor.
We express the following of the Poor Christ in concrete ways when we put our gifts and talents at the service of the mission and not for satisfying our own personal interests.
Our missionary communities, through their witness of simplicity and fraternal life, become inspirational models for our formees who are forming themselves to live the vow of poverty.
Formation for living poverty is not taught solely through concepts but by the actual lived experience of individual Claretians and the community. This is especially important in the formation communities and in the personal life of the formators. Besides our life of simplicity and trust in God’s providence we realize the need:
- To develop in the formees an appreciation and love for work, especially by doing manual labor.
- To provide them with opportunities to obtain an experience of life with the poor through immersion programs.
- To promote among them the possibility of ‘income generating work’ as a means to support the local community and to develop a sense of responsibility.
- To instill in them the values of detachment, self-sacrifice and gratitude through the practice of personal and communal renunciation, fasting, etc.
- To cultivate in them a sense of responsibility, accountability and availability through their involvement and participation in the administration of the community and the care of its goods.
5. FORMATION FOR OBEDIENCE
The obedience to the Father, as Jesus lived it, invites us to cultivate a daily personal discernment and community dialogue in order to respond to the Kingdom.
The following of the obedient Christ, even to death on the cross, requires of us a constant search for the will of the Father, and above all, a willingness to fulfill it. We will know the will of God in our lives by careful discernment and dialogue.
A community without prayer and dialogue will be far removed from discovering and fulfilling God’s will. We will make the vow of obedience a reality in our lives when we program special moments of encounter with God and promote fraternal dialogue in our communities.
As Claretian Missionaries we commit ourselves:
- To dialogue by cultivating an attitude of listening to and with others in order to discern together God’s will.
- To know more profoundly and live coherently the concrete teaching on obedience spelled out in the GPF and in the manual for Claretian novices.
- To set apart every day a time for moments of deep prayer in order to encounter God, and from there to begin to discern His will.
6. FORMATION FOR CHASTITY
Consecrated chastity invites us to discover the boundless love of Jesus Christ, who calls us to place our lives at the service of all humanity, without reservation.
Only through a fraternal and transparent community can we live consecrated chastity and have it serve as a witness of the values of Christ’s Kingdom. Our option for a free and complete love requires us to avoid all possessive and exclusive relationships.
The recent scandals of sexual abuse by some of our brothers have caused us great suffering, yet at the same time, have moved us to become more responsible in promoting a holistic formation that includes the affective-sexual dimensions of our life.
We recognize the need to promote an integral formation for our formators, especially in the affective-sexual dimension, with the goal of guaranteeing a holistic accompaniment of the formees. As missionaries consecrated to a life of chastity we commit ourselves:
- To promote only those candidates, who have received celibate chastity as a gift from God. This implies a greater importance to be given for discernment and screening of the formees in their affective-sexual dimensions.
- To promote education for affective maturity that includes sex education. (“Theology of Body” by John Paul II could be a point of reference)
- To promote activities that encourage deeper prayer and self-discipline.
- To promote and strengthen skills for transparent relationships.
- To promote music, artistic talents and love for work and sports as sublimatory channels.
7. FORMATION FOR LIFE AND MISSION IN COMMUNITY
The missionary community, according to our Constitutions, is a privileged place where we form and prepare ourselves for the mission. Therefore, we need to promote the atmosphere and activities that consolidate our fraternal life, such as contemplative prayer, prayerful reading of the Word of God, constant dialogue, cultivation of mature relationships, respect for each other, etc.
Our missionary life in the context of globalization is becoming more and more intercultural. We have experienced the challenges and blessings of building our communities, consisting of members from a diversity of ethnic groups and cultures, which has been both gratifying as well as exhausting. As formators, we have the responsibility to continue reflecting about the ways and means to enrich intercultural living and to prepare the new generations for it.
In order to fulfill our mission in communion with others, we commit ourselves:
- To promote a formation that builds a sense of freedom and responsibility (realizing that greater freedom means greater responsibility).
- To cultivate concrete attitudes for community living in a family environment: sincerity, transparency, acceptance, welcoming, domestic responsibilities, humility, fraternal correction, reconciliation, mutual appreciation, interest and concern.
- To educate the formees in resolving conflicts.
- To form the new generations for intercultural mission through gatherings with missionaries from other cultures and mentalities.
8. FORMATION OF FORMATORS
We recognize the need and urgency to promote an integral formation program for formators with the purpose of enabling them for the effective accompaniment of the formees. Therefore, we commit ourselves:
- To enable our formators with the necessary skills for spiritual and human accompaniment and with other tools such as the capacity to dialogue and communicate, knowledge and experience of the vows, understanding of inculturation, etc.
- To formulate a plan of specialization for preparation of future formators. During the final years of formation we will select individuals, who exhibit the necessary qualities for formation ministry.
- To educate our formators through the opportunities offered by the Congregation such as Encounter with Claret, School of the Heart of Mary, and through visits by the General Prefect of Formation and others who can contribute their experience or knowledge.
- Every formator should have the assistance of specialists in important aspects of his role. In addition, we will invite individuals to participate in workshops that educate us in the areas of a holistic formation.
As formators, conscious of the responsibility entrusted to us by God and the congregation, we commit ourselves to promote and cultivate the vocation of students, brothers, deacons and priests with the same spirit of the definition of the Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as proposed by our founder St. Anthony Mary Claret.
Mabagala Spiritual Centre, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
20 August, 2012
Participants of the Meeting
Alvaro Arias (Colombia West-Venezuela)
Anthony Obadina (West Nigeria)
Antônio Carlos Ferreira (Brazil)
Bhyju A. (Chennai)
Enrique Mascorro (Mexico)
Héctor Julio Tibaduiza (Colombia-Ecuador)
James Mundackal (Canada)
Joaquín Medina (San Jose del Sur)
John Thadathil (St. Thomas)
Jose Anchupankil (North East India)
José Antonio Álvarez de Prado (Peru-Bolivia)
José Mª Bolívar ( Betica)
Jose Maria Amatria (Antilles)
José Sánchez (USA)
Josep Armengol (Catalunya)
Joseph Mbungu (Congo)
Kenneth Oguejiofor (East Nigeria)
Luis Ángel De las Heras (Santiago)
Marcelo Ensema (Guinea Ecuatorial)
Martin Mankunnath (Bangalore)
Massimo Proscia (Italia)
Mauricio Borges (Centro America)
Peter Kim Sung Wong (S.Korea)
Restituto Audal (Phillipines)
Robert Kycia (Polska)
Rodolphe Mbida (Cameroon)
Romualdo Sousa Almeida (Portugal)
Sid Ching East (Asia)
Stefan Wolf (Deutschland)
Malachi (Formation co-ordinator East Africa)
Mathew Vattamattam (General Prefect of Formation)