Stage of Development and Consolidation: Missionaries in Formation
1. Nature and aim
379. The stage of missionaries in formation is the longest stage of initial formation. It runs from first profession until perpetual profession (in the case of brothers), or until ordination (in the case of students). For the formandi, this stage involves an experience of contrast and of realism that is normally exempt from crises and difficulties. Hence it is necessary that the formative proposals set before them be connected as closely as possible with the real life-process that they are going through, so that the entire period of temporal vows be carried out as a true itinerary of gradual development and consolidation in Claretian life.
380. In this stage, the missionaries should continue the work begun in the novitiate and become integrally deepened in all aspects of Claretian missionary life, with a view to definitive incorporation into the Congregation and into missionary service in the Church.
2. Juridical aspects
381. First profession, as well as subsequent temporal renewals of profession, include the will to make perpetual profession and are a preparation for it. Temporary professions are to be made annually during the first three years. After that, they may be made for a longer period, in keeping with what is stated in our law.
382. During the time of temporal vows, if a candidate should come to believe, after due discernment, that he has not been called to the missionary life, he can freely leave the Congregation, once the time of his profession is completed. To do so before this time has expired, he must obtain an indult from the Superior General with the consent of his Council. For a just cause and with the consent of his Council, the Superior General can exclude a temporally professed formandus from renewing his vows or from making his perpetual profession.
3. General objectives
383. Human dimension:
384. Christian dimension:
— To grow in an intense spiritual life that can lead to a progressive identification and communion with Christ, anointed by the Spirit and sent by the Father for the integral salvation of humankind.
385. Claretian dimension:
— To identify fully with their own Claretian vocation, with the Congregation and its options, to equip themselves for mission and perform apostolic activities responsibly, creatively and in a spirit of teamwork.
4. Specific objectives and means
4.1. Human dimension
386. Its objectives and means are as follows:
— To achieve an adequate personal balance by caring for their physical and mental health and by developing the qualities that contribute to create a free and sturdy personality for mission: a sense of responsibility and of fidelity to the word they have given, a capacity for solitude and for silence, self-discipline, austerity and hard work, a spirit of sacrifice, moral rectitude, a capacity for coping with frustrations and conflicts, as well as a hope-filled vision of reality.
— To pursue emotional maturity by learning to live the consequences of consecrated chastity in their new situation, taking care to do so with sincerity and discernment.
— To prepare themselves, through a solid intellectual formation, to fulfill their evangelizing mission in the world.
— To consolidate personal study habits, with adequate techniques and a growing sensibility for culture as an enabling factor for their missionary task.
— To cultivate the spirit of openness and solidarity demanded by the universal dimension of our charism and the traits that are most needed in order to live our missionary task: the ability to form a critical judgment of reality and an attitude of compassion toward those who suffer the consequences of the contradictions inherent in that reality; readiness to adapt to new situations and to become inculturated; a spirit of initiative and an esteem for the values of others.
— To espouse a sensibility for the transcendent values of life: truth, justice, peace, love and a capacity for making a commitment to those values.
— To practice spoken and written expression.
— To cultivate artistic sensibility and expression (music, literature, the creative arts).
4.2. Christian dimension
387. Its objectives and means are as follows:
— To grow in their filial relationship with the Father, which will give depth and meaning to their life and allow them to interpret every reality. This relationship is above all fostered in assiduous prayer, especially in moments of dryness and difficulty.
— To strive for a firm and constant union with Christ in the midst of the changes and chances of the world. It is only through this union that the formandi will be able to keep on integrating the different aspects of formation and manage to unify their life.
— To become familiar with the Word of God, converting it into their daily nourishment and allowing themselves to be questioned by it until it becomes one of the pivot points of the whole formation process.
4.3. Claretian dimension
388. Its objectives and means are as follows:
— To grow in following Christ, Missionary of the Father and Word of life, by living the vows and apostolic virtues.
— To learn how to be realistic and joyful in accepting the consequences of the distinctive lifestyle arising from religious profession.
— To grow deeper in the knowledge and love of Claret.
— To strive after an ever broader and deeper knowledge of the history of the Congregation, of its Constitutions, of its current situation in the different parts of the world and of its missionary projects.
— To intensify relationships with persons of their own community and Province and, in them, with the whole Congregation.
389. It belongs to each Organism to organize this stage in the most suitable way, taking into account its length and the circumstances of places and persons. Depending on the number of formandi, the academic quality of our centers for studies, the distribution of academic plans, the necessary contact with the surrounding sociocultural reality and possibilities for apostolate, it is most important to look for the formulas that best assure Claretian formative values.
390. During this stage, the formation community is the normal setting for formation. But in case this stage is lengthened, it should be made clear that the formandi do not always remain in the same place or with the same type of formative structure, so as to assure the necessary gradualness of the process.
391. Throughout this stage, interruptions in the normal rhythm of studies may be introduced, with a view to fostering the maturity of the formandus and his process of discernment, developing his ability to become integrated into a non-formative community, intensifying his contact with a determined reality, experiencing some kind of work or pursuing some secular studies. In all of these cases, and other possible ones, it is necessary to draw up a specific plan and follow the guidelines of the Church and the Congregation in this regard.
392. Organisms that deem it opportune can also send some formandi to other countries for a determined period of time. These assignments can be undertaken for different reasons: to learn a language, to continue studies and specializations, to interrupt one’s course of studies in order to gain an experience of openness to the Congregation and of contrast with one’s own surroundings.
393. Formative purposes and other reasons may make it advisable to adopt the formula of interprovincial formation centers. In such cases, it should be ascertained that sufficient communication with the provincial government is assured and that the relationship between the formandi and their Province of origin is guaranteed.
6. Principal dynamisms
394. The pedagogy of this stage aims at helping the formandus prepare himself adequately for perpetual profession and ordination. As he begins this stage, the formandus has an experience that signals a substantial difference from the preceding stages: First profession inaugurates a new phase of formation which benefits by the dynamism and stability that arise from profession. For its part, the Congregation should offer the formandus a systematic, personalized, spiritual and apostolic, doctrinal and practical proposal that will allow him to fulfill his objectives.
395. Besides the demands that flow from the vows, the dynamisms that are particularly stressed during this stage are: prayer, study, community life, apostolic experiences and personal accompaniment. The effectiveness of formation will depend on the interrelationship and balance of these dynamisms. With a view to concretizing and harmonizing these dimensions, each formation community will draw up its community project as often as it deems fitting.
396. In this stage, personal integration becomes all the more necessary, because the passage to a more open style of life and more absorbing activities often involves the risk of disorientation and dryness. For this reason, it is crucial that the formandi learn by experience, in the midst of a changing world, to stand firmly and constantly by Christ, according to our charism. Following the example of Mary, to whose Heart they have especially dedicated themselves in profession, they should integrate the hearing and contemplation of God’s word with an attention to historical realities and a sensitivity to the problems of people today, especially those who are poorest and in greatest need.
397. They will achieve this integration by referring everything to Jesus Christ as the center of their own life and by looking to Mary as an inspiration. This will demand that they faithfully maintain the daily habit of personal prayer and reading the Word, as well as daily participation in the Eucharist and community prayer, and frequent celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Strengthened by these means, the formandi will be able to cast light on different situations and to respond to the calls of God in daily reality.
398. Study constitutes one of the two feet of the missionary and is one of the characteristic dynamisms of this stage. The study of the human, theological and pastoral sciences, along with a proper knowledge of the social and political conditions of people and of the times, is aimed at the following objectives:
— To provide a lively understanding of the world, of human beings, and of the mystery of Christ and of the Church.
— To judge situations of the world in the light of faith.
399. Given the dedication and seriousness that it requires, this study of ecclesiastical sciences cannot be carried out simultaneously with other careers. This does not prevent the cultivation of personal aptitudes that can be developed through complementary studies.
400. In the case of students, the plan of studies should follow the norms and guidelines of the universal Church and of the different Conferences of Bishops. As regards our own plan of studies, over and above the ordinary subject-matters, it must pay special attention to those that are more closely bound up with out missionary charism which would include, among others: mariology, missiology, communications skills, languages, specialized pastoral studies and Claretian spirituality. It should also include an enhanced sociopolitical formation that will provide a broad and critical knowledge of local, national and international reality. In the case of brothers, the guidelines presented in this Plan should be followed.
401. Academic formation for brothers as well as for students may be made either in the Congregation’s own centers or in seminaries or universities. In any case, Claretian formation should be cared for. Moreover, aspirants to Orders should be adequately prepared for sacred ministries.
402. As a rule, at the end of their studies students should obtain a bachelor’s degree in theology (or its equivalent) and, whenever possible, a licentiate degree. For their part, brothers should also obtain the degrees corresponding to the studies they carry out. Moreover, it is both necessary and urgent that Provinces see to the formation of specialists in ecclesiastical, pastoral and anthropological sciences, in order to carry on a more in-depth missionary action and also to contribute to the initial and ongoing formation of the members of the Congregation.
403. For adequate growth in this dynamism, special care must be given to the habit of personal study, working in a group, the necessary techniques for intellectual work and a sensibility to culture as a way to becoming equipped for our missionary task. It is fitting that we make critical use of the communications media and participate in different cultural manifestations and, moreover, that we promote those activities (publications, artistic, literary and musical activities) that help toward forming suitable ministers of the Word of God.
404. In order to verify the progress being made in studies, attention should be paid not only to the grades the individual receives, but also his real capacity for tackling philosophical and theological questions in a solid and balanced way, and for integrating his studies into his spiritual and apostolic life, always striving to favor personal unity.
6.3. Community life
405. Given the nature of our vocation, young Claretians must be formed for evangelization in missionary community, assuming from the outset a community lifestyle that is poor and inculturated, in which teamwork is fostered and learned, and which is open to the life of the Church and of the people. The martyr community of Barbastro offers us an admirable witness of maturity in living together in fraternity.
406. Community life should be so organized as to ensure a climate most favorable to self-fulfillment and interpersonal relationships, as well as sufficient for developing them. Depending on the number of persons and other circumstances, different groups or sections may be created, but always maintaining the unity of criteria which the formative process requires.
407. The rhythm of community life must harmoniously integrate prayer (both personal and community), study, manual labor, apostolic activities and suitable rest. The formandi should feel co-responsible for one another and that they are primary agents in community life, both in drafting their community project and in performing the services and tasks necessary for life in common, as well as in periodically evaluating what has in fact been accomplished.
6.4. Apostolic experiences
408. The aim of apostolic experiences is to help the formandi to give of themselves to other persons, to search for responses to their needs and to keep on equipping themselves as servants of the Word. To achieve this aim, these activities should be truly apostolic, in line with the mission and options of the Congregation, planned with a view to the social reality in which they live, carried out in team, evaluated in community and accompanied by an assessor. The forms for carrying them out, throughout the whole cycle and not just at the end of it, can be quite varied, as indicated elsewhere in this GPF.
409. In order to determine the ministry that each one will be dedicated to in the future, one must take into account his inclination, his talent and the needs of the Congregation and the Church. In the last years of studies, each formandus must be oriented toward a determined area of pastoral ministry and helped to decide, in dialogue with the superiors and the formator of the concerned party, on the specialization that is best suited to him.
6.5. Personal accompaniment
410. In order to promote the integration of all aspects in a stage characterized by the multiplicity and diversity of its elements, not only spiritual direction, but also frequent personal dialogue with the formation director is indispensable, as well as the accompaniment of the community.
411. This dialogue is all the more necessary in moments of difficulty, and when one must petition and prepare for renewal of profession, perpetual profession and ordination.
412. Personal accompaniment, given its importance in discerning and espousing one’s vocation, will be a priority criterion in helping to orient formators and superiors, especially at times for admitting candidates to profession and to ordination.
7. The prefect and his collaborators
413. The prefect is the proper formator of the missionaries who are preparing for perpetual profession and for ordination to the diaconate or to the priesthood. This is a very important service, by reason of both its aim and its consequences, since the prefect’s mission is to accompany and form, by his life witness and orientations, those who through the ministry of the Word will become instruments in the salvation of many. It is necessary, then, that the missionary appointed to this office by the Major Superior with the consent of his Council be suitably prepared for it and that he strive with all care to fulfill the service which the Congregation is entrusting to him.
414. In our Claretian tradition, the prefect is the person who, in the name of the Congregation, accompanies the formandi in the overall unfolding of their missionary vocation. His mission is not reduced, then, to the aspects of organization, discipline and spiritual accompaniment. Rather, it embraces all dimensions of formation, with a view to promoting a harmonious formation.
415. The principal duties of the prefect are:
— To inspire in the students, by his life and his word, a love for their vocation, for the Church and for our Congregation, and to explain to them its life and mission in the world.
— To animate their formation, seeing to it that virtue be preferred to learning, while not neglecting the latter, because holiness and learning are the two feet of the missionary: both of them essential.
— To foster responsibility and inner discipline in each formandus.
— To promote common life among all and to maintain communications with his superiors, keeping them informed on the progress of the formation community, discerning with them what is most suitable, and putting their guidelines into practice.
416. The prefect may be helped in his task by one or several collaborators with complementary capacities. It belongs to the prefect to coordinate all aspects of formation and of his team of collaborators. Among the latter there must be a strong sense of unity, both in criteria and in acting, within the personal style of each member. Their primary formative action is to give a joyful witness of missionary life that will spur the formandi on to a greater commitment in following Christ according to our charism.
417. Among the qualities of human and spiritual maturity that are demanded of formators, the prefect and his collaborators should stress:
— Adequate pastoral experience.
— An ability to adapt to and get along with the formandi.
418. The principal functions of the team are:
— To animate the formation of this stage by seeking for co-responsibility among all the members of the formation community and, at the same time, for those formative lines and means that are most in consonance with the feeling of the Church and of the Congregation.
— To create a good climate of community and to help everyone to live up to the commitments of the formative program jointly drawn up by all the members of the community.
— To perform the actual tasks that have been assigned to each of them.
— To help the formandi grow as fitting ministers of the Word and maintain themselves in a state of readiness for the needs of the Congregation.
— To tackle with realism and calm any formative questions and problems that may arise.
— To judge whether the formandi offer the due guarantees that both the Church and the Congregation indicate for profession and, as the case may be, for ministries and ordination.
— To discern the apostolic aptitudes of each formandus, in order to be able to suggest to the provincial government some possible specializations and assignments for him.
— To periodically evaluate the progress of the formation community and of each formandus.
8. Perpetual profession and immediate preparation for it
420. Given the importance of perpetual profession, besides the ordinary preparation involved in the process of formation as such, all formandi will be immediately prepared for it during a period of six months. During this period:
— They will intensify their personal prayer.
— They will renew the theoretical and living foundations of the Claretian religious life.
— They will prepare themselves for profession with an adequate time of silence and prayer.
421. This preparation, which is especially necessary for those who reside outside the formation community, can be carried out individually or in a group, depending on the circumstances of each place. Also commendable are those interprovincial initiatives that guarantee a better achievement of objectives and provide the students with intensive experiences and a greater openness to the Congregation.
422. Admission to perpetual profession should be based on a moral certainty, on the part of both the formandus and the Congregation, that the one to profess knows and is living his vocation as something that is good for his whole person, that he possesses the necessary vocational maturity to be able to live up to the demands of Claretian life in a stable way, and that he has sufficient capacity both for facing the difficulties of mission and for continuing to grow in evangelical life.
423. For perpetual profession to be valid, the prescriptions of universal law and our own law must be fulfilled. A written petition for it must be submitted to the Major Superior six months before the date set for its celebration. Admission belongs to the Major Superior with the consent of his Council. All members of the community, especially the superior, formators and peers of the candidates, are obliged to submit a report on them.
424. Perpetual profession shall be carried out with the desired solemnity and in the presence of the people. As regards the petition, preparation for and celebration of profession, as well as due witness to it in minutes, records and announcements, the prescriptions of the Church’s universal law and our own Congregational law shall be observed.