25 – Encounter of Prefects of Formation-Bangalore 2006-Conclusions

Encounter of Prefects of Formation – Bangalore 2006

A summary of Evaluation, reflection and proposals

We, the Prefects of Formation from 27 organisms came together along with the General Prefect of Formation for an encounter at Claret Nivas, Bangalore on 10 -23, September 2006, in order to reflect, share and discuss together the present formative concerns of our provinces. It was a time of grace, communion and great enrichment to have come to know each other, to listen to one another, and to pray together. The theme chosen for the encounter was “Vocational Consistency and Fidelity Today: A Journey of Dialogue with God, Oneself, Others and the World”.

 

Very Rev. Fr. Joseph M. Abella, the Superior General in his letter of greetings sent to us had indicated the line of reflection that we could follow. According to him, missionary and communitarian Claretian identity, personal accompaniment of the formees, human maturity, affective life, discipline, living closer to the poor, intercultural dimension are some of the aspects which need much attention. Above all it is the deeper God experience which gives the formees the required foundation to hold together all these aspects. He says in his circular letter “Witnesses and Messengers of the God of Life”, “The dominant cultural atmosphere in our society does not facilitate the cultivation of a deep interior life, which constitutes the irreplaceable base on which a vocational response is built. Therefore, in our formation project, we have to give a privileged place to times of silence and personal prayer as indispensable spaces in which to deepen our contact with the Word and nourish our friendship with the Lord who has called us and keeps calling us” (44).

In the light of his message, we first made an evaluation of the present formative process in the provinces and then we proceeded to reflect on the theme of “Fidelity and Consistency” from different perspectives. Finally, we suggested some proposals to be implemented in our different formative stages. We are happy to present these below.

 I. Our Evaluation

During the evaluation on our formative process we identified some of our main strengths and limitations which are as follows:

Vocation Facilitation

Strengths:

  • Full time vocation facilitators are appointed in most organisms, in some teams are working
  • A clear cut annual plan and budget
  • Collaboration with the laity and the dioceses
  • Vocation camps and “Come and See” programs
  • Effective use of media and communication facilities

Limitations:

  • Inadequate Screening methods in those organisms where vocations are abundant
  • Age gap among members discourage youths from joining us
  • Clericalism and escapism motivate some to join us
  • Vocation ministry not seen as promotion of all forms of Christian life
  • Lack of vocations from Claretian parishes and institutions in some organisms
  • Lack of involvement from other province members
  • Lack of depth and dynamism in the members does not attract youngsters
  • Due importance not given for facilitating vocations for brotherhood

Minor Seminary and Postulancy

Strengths:

  • Formation Plan is clearly drawn and implemented
  • Formators are dedicated
  • All-round formation is realized

Limitations:

  • Some students join only to finish their studies
  • Life witness of some formators is questionable
  • Most formators are not trained for formation work
  • Lack of personnel with right aptitude for formation ministry
  • Many of the students now do not have the depth of faith as in the past

Novitiate

Strengths:

  • Novices are led to God’ experience
  • Novice masters are committed and spend quality time with the novices
  • In multi-cultural contexts sincere efforts are made to make students feel at home
  • Human Formation for affective maturity is highlighted
  • Many courses on different themes on consecrated life are given
  • Elderly members’ witnessing life positively affect the students
  • Visiting missionaries share their experiences
  • Sense of belonging to the congregation instilled

Limitations:

  • Too many number in organisms where there are many vocations
  • Tendency to give more inputs and works affects prayerful integration and capacity for silence and in consequence interiority eroding
  • Intercultural living some times is a challenge

Philosophy, Theology & On-going Formation

Strengths:

  • Intellectual excellence stressed
  • Pastoral exposures arranged
  • Claretian Week celebrated
  • Theologizing encouraged, conferences and seminars organized
  • Personal accompaniment given
  • Importance of prayer stressed
  • Intensive preparation for Perpetual profession done
  • Quinquinnium program regularly conducted

Limitations:

  • Liturgical celebrations become routine and interiorization often doesn’t take place
  • Study and other works occupy most of the time and the students have little time for God experience
  • Accompaniment of formators not adequate
  • Human formation not satisfactorily given
  • Individualism breaks communion and militates against the spirit of obedience
  • Some do not show interest in Quinquinnium programs
  • Sense of cultural superiority affects communion
  • We have poor role models

Issues connected to formation to live the Evangelical Counsels

Strengths

  • Biblical an Constitutional foundation of vows are given to the students
  • Most of the members value the vows as great gifts
  • Guidance and help given to those who find it difficult to be faithful
  • Communities generally maintain a healthy atmosphere to live the vows joyfully

Limitations:

  • The formees who hail from sexually permissive environments find it difficult to understand and appreciate Chastity.
  • Students are sometimes scandalized and tend to devalue chastity due to poor role models among the priests in the society.
  • Abuse of internet and other mass media keep the students in bondage in this regard
  • Generally poverty is not an attractive way for those who come from very poor background
  • Expectation of monetary help from the poor family members and others makes some unfaithful to the vow of poverty
  • Pursuit of individual agenda and Individualism is a serious challenge to obedience

Formation of Formators

Strengths:

  • Some formators are very exemplary and have the aptitudes to be formators
  • There are some already qualified for formation
  • In some provinces steps are taken to train more formators

Limitations:

  • Some formators are more teachers than formators that in their cases no effective accompaniment takes place
  • Most of them are not trained to handle difficult cases
  • Life example of the formators is counter witnessing.
  • We have very few formators with deep God experience


II. Our Reflection

We dealt with the theme of “vocational consistency” from the psychological perspective and from the perspective of Father Claret’s spiritual itinerary. We also reflected on the importance of contemplative interiorization in formation and need of capacity building for community living. Our interaction with the Hindu monk and our visit to the Grudhwara (The temple of the Sikh community) further heightened our realization of the need of sharpening our focus on the essential aspects of our formation in order to commit ourselves totally for God, his people and the creation. The reflection on “Forge” gave us a systematic and practical guideline to evolve a Claretian Formative Spirituality which can be implemented in all the stages of formation.

1. Our formative heritage

We have a rich formative tradition in the congregation in preparing thousands of committed and courageous missionaries along our 157 years of history. One of the bold witness of this tradition is the witness of the martyr seminary of Barbastro. The lives of many joyfully committed Claretians in all our organisms are testimonies of the kind of transformation that can be brought about when all the agents of formation work in unison to realize the project of God in an aspiring Claretian. Our congregation has the richness of priests, deacons and brothers who share the same charism, share their lives in community and communicate the Word of God.

Abandonment of vocational commitment after many years of formation and apostolic life as well as unhappy permanence of a counter witness in the congregation are indicators of inconsistency and infidelity.

If we want to be effective in our society today, we have to be faithful both to our heritage as well as to the signs of our times. In order to be relevant in our times we need to stimulate our formandi and the formators to make efforts to move from:

– mediocrity to excellence.

– “comfort” culture to commitment culture

– role orientation to goal orientation

-diocesan approach to priestly life to a prophetic and religious style

– submission and compliance to freedom and responsibility

– momentary, unreflected reactions to actions based on one’s identity as Sons of Mary

2. Formation Challenges:

Call for excellence: Advances in education and training of professionals have created a situation where excellence is reinforced and mediocrity is eliminated. Selection and training of personnel in any field of human activity is considered vital for effective contribution in that field. Unless we excel in the field proper to us, we will be have nothing to contribute to the world. The world today looks for expertise and excellence from us in God experience, Word of God, Transcendent values, moral guidance, prophetic commitment and witness of religious truth. It is doubtful that most of those who come out of the formation centres are experts in the field proper to us.

The long years (10-14 years) of initial formation does not seem to yield proportionate results in a good number of formandi in terms of spiritual and human maturity required of a missionary. This calls for clear objectives in each of the stages as well as adequate and appropriate formative strategy.

Challenge of authenticity:

Today many people critically look at religion and are outspoken about the aberrations and inconsistencies in religious life. The episodes of sexual abuse by clergy and religious in some countries have done much harm to the Church. People no longer accept pulpit proclamations unless they are backed by authentic life of the missionary. Our future depends on the quality of commitment according to our charismatic gifts in the church and failure to live up to certain degree of congruency would threaten our very being in the church.

Challenge of Fidelity:

A third challenge comes from the global, consumeristic and hedonistic post-modern culture that pervades in most societies with the offer of very many attractions. When a person is not grounded enough in Christian values, it is easy to be caught up in the lure of money, easy life and affective adventures. In a context where external structures are not very supportive of our life style, it is important to have solid internal structures to live our commitment joyfully.

3. Formation as Transformation

Even though religious formation is one of the longest program of training, it is justifiable because it is not just learning some skills, but rather involves the transformation of the whole person. We should lookat at formation as transformation of the person in his totality. It is raising the level of consciousness into the likeness of Christ. Fragmented formative itinerary which attends only to the intellectual, spiritual or psychological dimension in isolation eventually forms unintegrated persons who easily give up during critical moments of life. Claret’s own spiritual itinerary is best expressed in the allegory of forge whereby he could see every event of his life as a “quid prodest” and place them in the furnace of God’s love and accept joyfully all that costs to follow Christ so that he may become a willing arrow ready to be sent. The four phases of the forge rightly describe our formative itinerary and all available means are to be adopted in the formation in order to awaken and reinforce the vocational journey of our formandi.

4. formation for deep interior life (GPF 50-53)

      The reality of vocation and response is grounded in our faith experience and openness to listen and to respond to God’s call in freedom. It is of fundamental importance that our formation programs and formative climate in the centres and organisms favour and nurture deep spiritual life. Our charism can be internalized only in a spiritual milieu.

Discovery of the joy of interior life and intimacy with the Lord is the only valid defence against undue attachment to things and immature affective entanglements.

            One pivot of our interior journey is the prayerful contact with the Word of God. By the end of initial formation a Claretian is expected to have a certain level of spiritual maturity born of his contact with the Word of God. Implementation of the proposals of “initiation in the ministry of the Word” and the formative itinerary suggested in it are a key to growth in interior life.

Another important opening into interior life is through daily meditation and personal prayer. By the time a candidate completes his initial formation of ten years, he will have meditated a minimum of 1500 hours and if this time is properly used, he will have initiated a vibrant interior life. Lack of proper methods of meditation and easily allowed distractions and cancellations often lead many missionaries to give up the habit of meditation altogether after initial formation. Our formation centres should give due attention to help the formandi to cultivate meditation and personal prayer by making use of suitable methods.

5. Developing the capacity for dialogue to grow into vocational and human maturity

We, who are the image and likeness God, are created with the capacity to enter into dialogue with the Creator, fellow humans and the surrounding world. It is this capacity that enables a person to relate meaningfully to oneself, God and others and to grow towards his divine destiny. God has gifted us a highly differentiated world filled with different kinds of living beings and peopled with unique persons of diverse races and cultures. It is in the interaction with the reality of otherness that individuals achieve maturity.

Dialogue is the interaction and communication between two or more differentiated realities of which at least one party is a human person and the relationship is based on respect, acceptance and mutual enrichment.

Infidelity and lack of perseverance is a natural consequence of living superficial lives without being grounded on deep and stable realities. One of the stable reality about a person is the mystery of one’s own “self” that transcends one’s passing passions, emotions and thoughts. One of the most fascinating aspect of formation is the joy and pain of the discovery of the self and the attainment of interior freedom. This is a progressive process of self possession and self donation which is central to our consecration to Jesus and commitment to his mission. A more stable and profound reality that makes possible a permanent and joyful commitment is the mystery of God who calls the person. It is only when a person is in touch with his own “true self” and with God, “the rock of his life” that he can be consistent within himself. It is in this context that we speak of dialogue within onself, with God and others as the way to maturity and the consequent fidelity and perseverance in one’s vocation.

Dialogue within oneself.

The living of evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience is intrinsically connected to the interior freedom of the person professing it. No one is unconsciously programmed to live consecrated life. But we are endowed with the capacity and possibility of self-transcendence which makes the free and conscious choice of the evangelical counsels meaningful and worth living. This requires certain harmony between the vocational ideals professed by the person (ideal self) and the actual capacities in the life of the individual to live them meaningfully (actual self). Deep seated tendencies in the person that oppose the ideals can curtail the freedom of the person significantly to live these ideals. It is by recognizing and integrating these tendencies that a person can grow vocationally. What is not integrated becomes disintegrating. Inner dialogue is the interaction of the person with the different forces and faculties within one’s own life so that they are integrated around the vocational project of the person. Such a dialogue leads to greater self-awareness and open the person to genuine relationship with God and others. When there are deep seated hurts and wounds in a person, help of experts may be required to lead him to healing and growth. As a fruit of this dialogue, psychological maturity is reached when the person (self) becomes more and more in charge of ones inner forces and is able to guide them towards consciously chosen goals.

Dialogue with God

Encountering God in the depth of one’s heart is the direction of the spiritual journey inward so that one can say with St. Paul that “It is no longer I, but Jesus Christ who lives in me” (Gal.3.20). The outward direction of the same journey leads to the awareness of the presence of God in other persons, in the creation and in every event of life (Col.3.11). Spiritual maturity is reached when love of God and the evangelical values become the motivating force in the Claretian who acts in accordance with them in concrete life situations.

Faithful vocational commitment is the result of the personal relationship with Jesus who is recognized as the Lord and master in the life of the Claretian. When our hearts know Him and taste His love and our minds are illumined by His Word, we joyfully make ourselves available to the project of His Kingdom.

Spiritual growth involves purifying false identities and recovering the true sense of the child of God. It is possible when we live in the Holy Spirit who cries in us “Abba Father”.

Hence inner dialogue and dialogue with God go together and enrich mutually. Encounter with God purifies our false self-images and encounter with our true self leads to the recognition of God as the true ground of our being so that we can say that “in Him we live, move and have our being” (Acts 17.28). The deep desire of the humans is for union with God. Authentic relationship with God brings harmony and consistency between thinking, speaking and acting.

The maternal presence and guidance of Mother Mary is vital in the formation of a Claretian who considers himself as being formed, like Jesus, in the furnace of her heart. The company of our Founder and many others who have lived their lives meaningfully encourage us in our spiritual itinerary. Any holistic spiritual journey is sustained in the company of honest fellow pilgrims or seekers and the good example and wise direction of experienced seniors.

Our formative itinerary should aim at cultivating the capacity for God experience through silence, personal prayer, meditation, reading of the Word of God and meaningful celebration of sacraments in a spiritual environment created by the presence of holy and committed missionaries.

Dialogue with others

Capacity for meaningful dialogue with others brings about emotional and affective maturity and enables a Claretian to live fruitful community life and apostolic ministry especially in our present multicultural context. Through healthy interaction with others, a person sheds unrealistic and grandiose ideas about oneself and one’s culture and becomes a responsible member in a community with greater willingness to cooperate with others to achieve common goals. Competition gives way to cooperation as individual and cultural differences are perceived as authentic gifts of God and God-given opportunities of personal and group enrichment rather than as threat or rejection. When capacity for interpersonal dialogue develops, conflicts and personal differences are positively handled in accordance with the values of the Gospel and for the good of the mission. Our formation should aim at cultivating interpersonal and inter-cultural relational skills that are important for healthy community life and effective missionary commitment. The following are our reflections on inter-personal dialogue.

Communication in the life of the community

We need to avoid various risks when we speak of community life today:

          reductionisms (only grace, only psychology, only institutional organization or only inter-personal relationships)

          homogenisation of language (not taking into account cultures, social contexts, personal and institutional processes)

          pessimism (it is true that many things are not Ok, but not everything. There is hope)

Two key criteria to collaborate with the Spirit in the empowerment of communities:

  1. to evoke and search understanding from the perspective of faith and reason
  2. Develop compassion to move from “I” to “we”

Important aspects that favour or impede communication in a community

          The speciality of the “I” of the religious person

          The formation received

          The style of communication created

          Personal experiences of common life

          In each person there are affective tendencies that needs to be channelled through communication

          The desire to realize the social dimension of the person of the religious.. The desire is capable of mobilizing the personality.

          It does not happen by magic, but by a decision and a process

Interpersonal Dialogue: dialogue of otherness, dialogue for claretian interculturality

Interpersonal dialogue in multicultural community: Interpersonal dialogue in all religious communities is a dialogue of diversity, between differences. Speaking of multiculturality, we refer to cultural heterogeneity, the convergence of distinct cultures. Thus we see how they interact and reveal “spiritual and physical qualities, distinct aspects, modes of living, system of values, traditions, practices, thoughts, feelings, vision of life, gestures, symbols…”. They are elements that constitute a culture.

Dialogue which is necessary in all religious communities is the dynamics that allow a multicultural community to survive. It is the proper way to personal and community growth in this pluralistic context. This unquestionable richness can vanish, if there is no adequate interpersonal communication.

Further ahead, the dialogue will lead the community in its growth process to become “intercultural”. Dialogue will be the condition – a permanent and paused – for interculturality. And, of course, it has to be a method to discover, construct, live and maintain a congregational culture.

Dialogue between cultures:

One of the questions that impede true dialogue and encounter between cultures is the cultural domination and the fear of the same. At times both phenomena are present, but any one of them is sufficient to block the possibility of a genuine encounter. It is necessary to establish dialogue to know where each one stands and to effect mutual nearness, convergence and cultural interchange without any pretensions of domination, nor fear of a forced homogenization or assimilation on the part of any of the interlocutors.

6. The “forge” as an itinerary of Claretian Formation

 

The “forge” is a pedagogical journey which helps us to live the fundamental experience of our Claretian spirituality. The whole process of “forge”can be described as an experience of dialogue: with oneself with God with others and with the world. This process builds up a dialogical relationship at all levels. Claretian formation, centred on the nuclei of Forge (Quid Prodest, Patris Mei, Caritas Christi, Spiritus Domini), favours vocational consistency which is the ground of fidelity.

  • The nucleus Quid Prodest confronts the formandus with the truth about himself and helps him to question about the meaning of life. The word (“what does it profit a man to gain the world and lose himself?) impels him to discover the kind of “settlement” where he has pitched his ‘tent’ and moves him to begin a journey of search to know the will of God for him. It represents an option of the fullness of life that Jesus offers in contrast to other worldly alternatives. In this nucleus Mary is the protector who saves the formandus from the dangers that come in the way of this process of discernment. The basic pedagogical means at this stage is “examen”, be it its individual variant (for example,daily journal) or its communitarian variant (for example, recollection-revision of life).
  • The nucleus Patris Mei introduces the formandus into the experience of fire, the unconditional love of God. This love purifies his imperfections, mellows down his rigid schemes, illumines his mind, warms up his heart and disposes his will to a process of transformation. The Word (“I have to be in the house of my Father”) is the force that enables him to journey from superficiality to profundity where God abides. In this nucleus Mary is the Mother who reflects the love of God and generates the new man spiritually. The basic pedagogical means are silence, prayer and the Word of God (CC V)
  • The nucleus Caritas Christi represents the stage at anvil, that is, the process of configuration with Christ. The Word (“The Love of Christ urges me”) stimulates the formandus to move from egocentrism to oblativity (altruism). In this nucleus Mary is the formator who accompanies the formandus into the following of Christ. The basic pedagogical means are the vows, the apostolic virtues and the community (CC II, III, IV, VI). The Eucharist represents the source and culmination of the process of transformation.
  • The nucleus Spiritus Domini alludes to the moment of the arrow being tempered in the water, anointed by oil and launched. It points to the experience of anointing of the Spirit for the mission. The Word (“The spirit has anointed me to announce the Gospel to the poor”) awakens from passivity and urges a new missionary creativity. In this nucleus Mary is the directress who, united to the Spirit, sends the missionary. The basic pedagogical means are study (“arduous learning”) and the proposal of models of life (“exemplary lives”) (CC VII, VIII).

Practical suggestions

Formation for the interiority and contemplation

1. Deep God experience is the foundation of one’s personal identity and vocation. Hence, care for the interior life should be a top priority in the formation by cultivating attentively the interior dialogue with oneself and with the Lord. Without this we will become mere professionals.

2. It is necessary to formulate a pedagogy of silence that progressively introduces our students into the experience of silence from the first years of formation including the pastoral vocational period.

3. The growth of the interior life of the students, cultivated through the practice of silence, meditation, prayer, retreats and the missionary experiences will lead to the strengthening and perseverance in their vocation as Claretian Missionaries.

4. Formation should evoke a critical awareness of the situation of the secularised world which affects living a spiritual life as manifested in the phenomenon like the lose of the sense of silence and the diminishing quality of spiritual life and missionary service.

5. he assimilation and practice of some of the aspects of the eastern meditations – that were presented as such in this encounter- can be of great help in the missionary formation for the formators as well as for the students.

6. During the postulancy or pre-novitiate there should be a time during which the formee, free from the academical studies, could have experiences that may help greater interiorization and human growth.

7. From the beginning of the formation, a solid biblical spirituality should be imparted. The meditation and intimate prayer with God should be realized from the listening of His Word, cultivated in the celebration of liturgy of the hours and the Lectio Divina (cf. the conclusions of the Congress of Consecrated Life “Passion for Christ – Passion for the humanity”)

8. At the time of transition from one stage of formation to another, it will be good to conduct retreats in an atmosphere of silence as an environment to “listen to God”.

9. Our interior journey should have its effect in our missionary commitment with justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC). It is very important that the formandi see this commitment as an integral part of our missionary spirituality and be placed in the community project.

2. Specifically claretian formation. Application of the Forge to the formation

1.Following the conclusions of the Congress of Spirituality, a formative itinerary is to be organized for the initial formation that may gradually develop the salient features of our claretian spirituality. Among these features, the appreciation for the Holy Bible, the identification with the charism and mission of the congregation and a strong will to follow and remain united with Christ as the foundation of all our missionary life are to be promoted.

2.The pastoral vocation ministry should offer the candidate a clear presentation of the claretian charism based on the missionary and cordimarian spirituality. Through out the formation the various status of the claretian life, such as, brothers, deacons and priests, should be explained with more clarity.

3.We have to value and apply the experience of the Forge as a claretian plan of formation, beginning from the pastoral vocation stage and developing it more systematically in the novitiate and in the following stages of formation.

4.To promote a deeper knowledge and appreciation for our Father Founder in a systematic way. In some places reference is made for Father Claret on the 24th of every month and a day in week is dedicated to him. It is not good to leave the only for the month of October.

5.The formators should make use of the claretian documents such as, the Constitutions, Autobiography of Father Claret, the Directory, the chapter documents, the circular letters of Fr. General and other important works in their conferences and classes to the students.

6.Right from the beginning the formators should insist on the importance of community life, on the mutual love and in the shared apostolate.

7.The formators should provide our students a claretian missionary formation (neither a diocesan one nor that which is excessively marked by the personality of the formator). They have to emphasise our charism and identity as claretians, making them to be open and available for the universal mission.

8.We have to look after the community and mission experiences in the first years of formation with the aim of strengthening in the students the “foundation experience” of his vocation and “the vocational perseverance”.

9.vocation promotion should be a priority for our congregation. In the process of promoting vocations we should insist on effective discernment to identify the true missionary vocations that may be in line with our identity and mission as servants of the Word.

10.The vocation and formation of the Missionary Brothers should be present in all our formation programmes.

11.The General Government – from the Prefectures of Formation and Spirituality- and the interested Major organisms should promote the translation of the materials on claretian spirituality in other languages, starting from the books which help to deepen the knowledge of Father Founder. In the same way, the General Prefecture of Formation in close collaboration with the Provincial Prefects of Formation should accompany and animate the orientations of this encounter to be put into practice. For this aim it is good to elaborate materials for reading and study, giving priority to the most urgent and key issues. Each centre should consider and introduce their own modifications in making use of these tools.

3.Personal accompaniment of the students

1. The top priority among the tasks of the formator is for the regular and integral accompaniment of the students. Personal dialogue and physical presence are required for this. The formandi can also seek the help of other persons of confidence for spiritual direction or the psychological assistance.

2. The central area for formators to focus in the accompaniment of formandi is their God experience which fortifies and gives power to living the claretian missionary life in the present conditions.

3. The formative accompaniment has to touch the real and interior life of the formandi by helping them to go through the process of consolidation and growth.

4. The accompaniment is be made from the reality of day today life and everyday events by facing the problems and searching for constructive solutions, attending to all the needs of the students, confronting and questioning them in order to help them to become aware of and to assume the responsibility of living vocational values.

5. The service of the accompaniment has to be realized from the key note of the spiritual paternity and the witnessing value of a mature and integrated person.

6. The accompaniment should begin during the vocation promotion and to continue in all the phases of the formation, providing a deeper inner life and passionate love for Christ and the People of God, especially for the poor.

7. The number of formators should be sufficient according to the number of the students so that each student receives a good accompaniment.

4.Formation of the formators and formative structures

1.In all major organisms of the Congregation priority should be given for the formation of the formators.

2.For the formation of the formators the participation in the School of the Heart of Mary is very important. It is also good to make use of the possibilities offered at the level of religious conferences and in the centres of the religious. Where there are groups of numerous formators they have to try to come together to discuss among themselvesthe issues and cases of formation.

3.To prepare the formators it is good to send suitable persons for specialized studies. It is preferable that they go to other countries to live an intercultural experience and also learn other languages (specially English and Spanish).

4.Appointing the experienced missionaries as formators is to be favoured in the formation houses. We should not leave the formation in the hands of young priests only, for experience is the best

5.The formation of the formators is to be promoted from the intercultural view and the service to the whole congregation and not only for a particular region.

6.Much attention is to be paid to the atmosphere and the surrounding of the formation houses. It is difficult to realize a good formation in a tensed situation.

7.We have to introduce in the formation plans and in the programming of our formation centres those perspectives that are highlighted in this encounter, such as, understanding and valuing one’s own Christian identity from the sensibility towards other religious expressions; proposing clearly the keys of a true discernment that allows the students to know themselves; to become aware of their own personal identity, their capacity to synthesize and harmonize the various situations of their life, the ability to place themselves in the reality with an open mind and deeper convictions.

5.Formation for evangelical counsels

a.General suggestions

1.An intimate and personal relationship with Christ cultivated through prayer and verified in the daily life is very important to live the vows meaningfully and with serenity.

2.It is necessary to create a climate of dialogue and proximity that may permit the students to express themselves with freedom and confidence. They need and expect to be listened to. The spiritual accompaniment in these matters is absolutely necessary.

.3We have to present the formation plans in clear manner, with their dynamisms and demands and remind them of this frequently. We cannot compromise ourselves with the minimum.

4.The practice of the evangelical counsels should be based on a good biblical, theological foundation, from the documents of the Church and the Congregation (Constitutions).

5.In the formation to live the evangelical counsels the formator should be a model for the student.

6.The experience of fraternity in a healthy and joyful community helps greatly to live the vows with vision and commitment.

7.Accompaniment for the adequate living of evangelical counsels is to be done from the claretian perspective of configuration with Christ, developing an attitude of openness to the grace of God which enables a personal response.

b.Formation of affectivity for the consecrated chastity

1.In a world where there are many different proposals on the way to consecrated chastity, the care and education of chastity is absolutely necessary. For this the formative accompaniment has to bear in mind various aspects of the growth of the person with special attention to the affective and psycho sexual dimension.

2.It is advisable that the formator knows the family situation and shows respect for the family and the personal background of the formandi.

3.We have to be attentive to and work through the internal tendencies that can hinder the living of the consecration, for example, the affective deficiencies. We need to help the students to know themselves and to be authentic. For this we have make use of the necessary means, including recourse to dependable psychologists or therapists.

4.Avoiding simple repression, we have to insist on the positive canalisation of the personal energies and educate them for a greater love.

5.Helping to live the vow of chastity in a deeper relationship with Mary. The significant and joyful practice of the sacraments too helps us in this regard.

c.Formation for poverty

1.We should promote in the formandi the sense of belongingness, the awareness of the goods that they have, the expenses they do and the co-responsibility in the management of the economy of the house. We have to promote their collaboration for the budget and its execution.

2.It is necessary that the students collaborate in the economy of the community by taking up works that are compatible with their formative process. From a sense of belonging and responsibility for the common goods, they will collaborate in the domestic tasks and in other activities –whether they are remunerated or voluntary. It would facilitate their personal maturity and enhance their creativity and the sensitivity towards the world of poverty and marginalization.

3.It is valuable in formation to have the experience of insertion into the liality of the poor for a sufficiently prolonged period. The formandi should develop a deep and compassionate love and solidarity for the poor. The commitment for justice, peace and integrity of creation of God is not an optional issue.

4.We have to cultivate the love for doing the work well both in the academic field as well as in fulfilling the responsibilities.

d.Formation for obedience

1.The spirit of obedience in the formandi should be nurtured in the following of and in communion with Christ by surrendering to the will of the Father.

2.The spirit of obedience should be reflected in the availability to participate in community life by elaborating, assuming and evaluating the community project. In the same way, the sense of obedience will lead the student to an attitude of openness and availability for the mission.

3.In the formation community an atmosphere of mutual respect and of dialogue in seeking the will of God together be created.

4.We should promote the practice of discernment in a climate of faith and prayer.

6. Formation for interculturality

1.We have to orient formation in, from and for interculturality, assuming responsibly the challenges that it involves . For this, we have to promote in all the formation centres and all along all the formation stages both the congregational culture as well the intercultural formation, with a systematic proposal and specific pedagogy that will be designed and accompanied from the Prefecture of Formation.

2.As we are missionaries, the intercultural reality of our formation communities is something important and valuable. Today our formation communities are more multi cultural than ever before. It is necessary to recognize the gift that this reality presents and to empower the adequate attitudes of sensibility, respect and an on going dialogue.

3.The common and articulating hinge of our congregational living is the Word of God and the Constitutions which each one of us has to assimilate and incarnate in our own culture. The essential cultural elements should not distort or invalidate this common reference not should they absolutize themselves (The cultures are dynamic and they also need to be evangelised). The congregational culture is the place of meeting and communion for all.

4.It is good to take up and put into practice the orientations given by Fr. Aquilino Bocos on this challenge. As guidelines of formative work we insist: Looking for the positive values in the brothers; being mindful of their wounds; recognising the prejudices; identifying the superiority and inferiority feelings; knowing to appreciate and at the same time relativize one’s own culture.

5.We have to recognize that many of us are not prepared to live this intercultural experience and that we have to under take a journey of learning to over come our prejudices and feelings of cultural superiority. The globalisation is a dynamism that affects not only the economy, but our attitudes also.

6. It is good to evaluate and keep in mind the various experiences of designating some students to different major organisms as missionaries in the recent years. It is good to consider the formative elements that are indispensable before and after these sendings. We also need to clarify and assume the responsibilities that correspond to the organisms which send the students as well as those that receive, take care of their accompaniment and facilitate their progressive adaptation to a new situation.

7.It will be good to promote a wider and deeper reflection in the congregational level on this new reality by organizing venues for it at different levels (provincial, continental…..) and elaborating some common criteria on these issues.

8.There should be proper selection of those students who are to be designated to other organisms. They requires a good level of human, psychological and spiritual maturity. When they have already made an interior journey which would allow them to a certain consistency and security, they would face the challenges of living in an intercultural community well.

9.It is important that, before getting appointed to other organisms, the students have a previous preparation and a positive disposition to assume all that this experience implies.

10.It is good that the persons responsible of the formation of the students in the respective organisms may be informed duly about them to know and help them better. It can be very useful to have a contact person in the organism of origin who may know the formative journey of the student.

11.On the part of the formator who has to carry out these process of interculturality, he needs to have certain appropriate qualities to understand these processes better. If possible, it is good that he himself has lived this experience in some community.

12.The organisms that receive the students from other countries should facilitate to put them in contact with those persons of their countries living in these areas ( may be priests, religious, as also the immigrants) to be able to share and strengthen the values and experiences of his culture.

13.We have to favour the learning of the languages to get a better formative capacity and to be open to the intercultural exchanges.

14.We have to open our formation centres to enter into dialogue with different religious or intellectual groups who think in a different way, or groups or persons who express their vision of the world through the art, etc.

recommendations contributed by the English speaking groups:

On the Individual Level:

  1. Encourage students to recognize the gift and sacredness of their unique lives and cultures, as well as the lives and cultures of others.
  2. Affirm the learning of other cultures and languages as growth experiences and opportunities to live more humbly before God and God’s People.
  3. Assist the students in learning the language of the community, while also being open to learn other languages and their use in communal prayer and on other occasions.
  4. Enable and encourage students to participate in mission experiences in other parts of the Congregation, whenever possible. This provides the opportunity to learn new languages and be familiar with the diverse cultures of the human family.
  5. Encourage a willingness to understand and accept our limitations in learning another language. This leads to greater openness, humility and pro-activeness..
  6. Formators, even if their first language is not that of the students or the common language of the community, should always use the common language of the community.
  7. Accompany students as individuals, respecting their culture, history and special needs for growth as missionaries.
  8. Formators should help identify historical (colonialism, for example) and familiar factors that lead to prejudice, for prejudice is learned. Each person must assimilate his own history.

On the Community Level (Looking Inward)

  1. Accept and respect new members, especially those from other cultures, as Christ himself.
  2. Do not allow age differences and experiences to be an obstacle, but rather an opportunity for the growth of the community.
  3. Honest and sincere feedback and evaluations should take place regularly.
  4. Do not allow individualism—often present in our cultures—to be present in our communities.
  5. Use faith sharing as an opportunity to bring about a deeper dialogue, understanding, and communion of the members of the community.
  6. Share in dialogue what is confusing and/or offensive, fostering attitudes of tolerance and flexibility. Provide prayer and song books for the students in the diverse languages of the community, using them in liturgies and other forms of communal prayer.
  7. Celebrate feast days and other cultural events of community members. When the community shares in the celebration of one’s culture, one feels more part of the community.

On the Community Level (Looking Outward)

  1. Always accept and respect, in a spirit of enculturation, the cultures of those whom we have been sent to serve.
  2. Learn how to collaborate meaningfully in community and work as a team through dialogue and use our diverse gifts in the service of God’s People.
  3. Prevent or overcome the danger of competition. The mission or ministry can enhance community if one works as a team.
  4. Encourage perseverance and fidelity through the common life and mission shared by the community.

Encounter of the Provincial Prefects of Formation

Bangalore 22 September 2006