1. The need for differentiated formation
425. In our Institute, there is a unity of vocation and mission, as well as a diversity and complementarity in the modes of living it. Everything stated in this chapter relates to the differentiated preparation of missionary brothers and of missionaries called to ordained ministries. As a preparation common to both, it presupposes the progressive maturation that they work toward in the different stages of formation, which constitutes the basis for any service in the Congregation and in the Church.
426. In the way any Claretian lives his vocation and carries out his mission, the following should be taken into account: his personal charisms; his qualities for exercising a concrete ministry, the needs of the Congregation, the Church and the world, availability for universal service; ability to work in collaboration with others.
2. Particular aspects of the formation of missionary brothers
2.1. General criteria
427. The formation of brothers, both initial and ongoing, is governed by the GPF. What is stated in it responds to the needs of their integral formation. Within this integral formation, care must be taken to enhance in a special way those particular aspects that are more in consonance with the lay character of their calling.
428. Among these particular aspects, the following should be highlighted:
— A solid human formation that will enable them to be in touch with the people and culture of today and to acquire a particular sensibility to the world of work, of education, of economy, of art, of social communication and of human relations.
— A biblical-theological formation that will assure a solid grounding for the lay character of their Claretian life and the apostolic mission they are to carry out.
— A pastoral formation, in line with our missionary charism as servants of the Word, in ministries proper of their lay character, so that they may become fully integrated into the Claretian mission.
— A professional, specialized formation with a missionary thrust, leading, if possible, to a degree, so that they may become equipped to carry out qualified services in community and offer a witnessing presence in other temporal situations.
— A sociopolitical formation, in order to respond to the demands and options of our mission and to the challenges raised by the reality of each people.
2.2. Formative guidelines
429. In order to achieve the objectives proper to the stage of missionaries in formation, the missionary brothers will not be assigned immediately after the novitiate to apostolic works that hinder them from the further pursuit of their formation. As a general rule, their period of initial formation should last until perpetual profession, or at least until after their first three years of temporal vows. In any case, the respective superiors will see to it that this period is as long as is needed in order for them to achieve their suitable missionary formation.
430. In their period of formation, the brothers should be integrated into a formation community. Only in exceptional cases can they reside in another community of the Organism, in which they are assured of the necessary elements for their integral formation.
431. In whatever manner this is done, the missionary brother will have a formator who accompanies him personally in the growth and maturation of his vocation.
432. His theological, pastoral, scientific or technical education will be carried out in the centers determined by the government of each Organism, in keeping with the guidelines and orientations of the GPF.
433. Throughout their formation process, besides those apostolic experiences that must be carried out in keeping with what is established in this GPF, the missionary brothers will carry out other experiences in technical and professional fields, which must be programmed and evaluated.
2.3. Ministries proper of their lay condition
434. Brothers can exercise a great variety of non-ordained ministries proper of their lay condition, for which they must receive adequate preparation. These ministries may be either non-installed or installed.
2.3.1. Non-installed ministries
435. Among non-installed ministries the following may be singled out:
— Ministries directly related to the missionary service of the Word: catechesis, liturgical animation, Christian education, teaching the ecclesiastical sciences, coordinating basic Christian communities, animating associations of Christian and apostolic life, the communications media.
— Ministries that prepare for, accompany or complement the missionary service of the Word: charitable services or services aimed at human and social advancement (caring for the sick or the marginalized); administrative management and technical work in the apostolic works of the Congregation; domestic activities and tasks in our communities; other occupations, among them some ecclesiastical offices provided for in canon law.
2.3.2. Installed ministries: lector and acolyte
436. As the ministries of lector and acolyte enjoy autonomy and stability, the missionary brothers can be installed in one or in both of them for a service to the community. Those who receive these ministries carry out, within the Church, the tasks of “servants of the Word” (lectors) and of “servants of the altar” (acolytes).
437. The functions most proper of these ministries are as follows:
— Ministry of lector: to read the Word of God and to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture (except the Gospel) in the liturgical assembly; in the absence of the Psalm reader, to recite the responsorial psalm; to announce the intentions of the universal prayer of the faithful; to lead song and guide the participation of the faithful; to instruct the faithful so that they may worthily receive the sacraments; to preside at celebrations of the Word.
— Ministry of acolyte: to attend to everything relating to altar service; to assist the deacon and serve the priest in liturgical actions, principally in the celebration of the Eucharist; as extraordinary minister, to distribute Holy Communion, to bring it to the sick, to expose and repose the Blessed Sacrament.
438. For advancement to these ministries, the candidate must have reached the proper age and degree of maturity required for the stage of formation which he is going through. Besides the qualities and attitudes determined by the Conference of Bishops, the following are required:
— For the ministry of lector: love and knowledge of Holy Scripture, listening to and meditating on the Word, and an effort to bear witness to it in one’s own life; a will to serve God and the Christian People by means of a faithful announcement of the Word.
— For the ministry of acolyte: knowledge and in-depth living of the Eucharist; knowledge of what relates to divine worship and its spiritual meaning; daily offering to God; sincere love for the People of God.
439. For admission to these ministries it is necessary:
— That the candidate write to the Major Superior, manifesting to him that he is asking for them freely and voluntarily, and that he knows the obligations that derive from them.
2.4. Organizational aspects
440. Major Superiors should provide the Missionary Brothers with the overall formation of all members of the Congregation, with special care for those particular formative aspects that belong to them by reason of their lay condition.
441. Within the Provincial Plan of Formation, the guidelines indicated for the formation of Missionary Brothers, in keeping with the demands of the various Organisms, will be concretely spelled out.
3. The specific formation of the missionary deacon
3.1 General criteria
442. The specific formation of candidates for the Missionary Diaconate is aimed at enabling them to live fully and meaningfully their own vocational identity, in a way complementary to that of the Missionary Priests and Brothers.
443. Imitating Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve, those who are to be advanced to the Diaconate prepare themselves to serve the People of God and their own community through a ministry of the Word, the liturgy and charity.
444. The specific formation of candidates to this sacrament follows the norms and guidelines established by the universal and particular Church and by the Congregation. Besides studies, it should include adequate pastoral practice.
445. As regards intellectual formation, it should be analogous to formation for the priesthood, although, in the actual distribution of subject matters, attention must be paid to dictates of each Episcopal Conference within the scope of their own territory.
3.2. Functions of the ministry of deacon
446. Among the more proper functions of this ministry are the following:
— To proclaim the Gospel and preach; to be involved in organizing and to preside at celebrations of the Word; to teach Christian doctrine.
— To administer Baptism; to prepare for the eucharistic sacrifice and distribute the Body and Blood of the Lord; to assist at and bless marriages; to preside at penance celebrations and funeral rites.
— To serve the Christian community, mainly by attending to the wants of the poor and needy, and by collaborating in initiatives on behalf of life and of human rights.
3.3. Formative guidelines
447. From a pedagogical viewpoint, specific formation for the Missionary Deacon demands that particular attention be paid to the following attitudes and behaviors:
— Becoming conformed with Christ, Servant of Yahweh and Good Shepherd, with all that this entails: faith and trusting surrender to the Father, freely given service, total availability for ministerial action and concern for the poor and little ones.
— Serving the Word, both as an inspiration for their conduct and for their proclamation of it as the Good News and message of change and conversion for people today. The deacon should, in effect, transform into faith what he reads, teach what he believes and do what he teaches. Likewise, he must express respect and reverence for the Word of God, read, study and meditate continually on Sacred Scripture, recognize the presence and action of God in history and in creation, and announce the Gospel by promoting the genuinely human values of each people and by promoting the dialogue between faith and culture.
— Serving the Liturgy, particularly the Eucharist, which is the center of worship and of Christian life itself. Hence, he should nourish his faith in the Sacraments and in the Liturgy of the Hours; he should honor the Body and Blood of the Lord; he should delve more deeply into the mystery of the incarnation and passover of Jesus, who is also present in his brothers and sisters, especially the poor, sick and marginalized, for Jesus is welcomed and served in them; he should attend carefully to the administration of the sacraments and to the animation of the Christian community in celebrations.
— Serving charity: He should follow Jesus’ example of poverty in serving others; he should freely serve, share and enter into solidarity with them like Mary, who diligently attended to people’s needs; he should be devoted to works for their advancement and so attend to the recipients of his ministries that they themselves become primary agents of their own advancement and liberation; he should reawaken a sense of justice in the Christian community, so that fraternal love may be the law of life among believers.
3.4. Admission to the diaconate
448. In order to be admitted to this ministry, a candidate must:
— Comply with all the requisites demanded by the universal law and our own; be free of irregularities and impediments; present the prescribed documents and give evidence of having the requisite qualities. He must also make the profession of faith.
— Prepare himself for this ministry fittingly, in an immediate way, by means of a plan. This plan must be adequately followed up by the responsible party who has been designated by the Major Superior. In it, there will be some indication of the means for being fittingly informed of the doctrine on this ministry as set forth in Church documents. He will likewise take careful note of all that is contained in the various rituals of the sacraments that pertain to the deacon, to the homiletic proclamation of the Gospel, to the Liturgy of the Hours, to the pastoral care of the sick and to social pastoral ministry.
4. The specific formation of the missionary priest
4.1. General criteria
449. Formation for the ministry of the priesthood is aimed at preparing students to become fitting priests, particularly devoted to the service of the Word in the style of Claret. From a formative point of view, it is required that this preparation be made stepwise and in progression, both through installation in and exercise of the ministries of lector and acolyte, and through reception and exercise of the Order of Diaconate.
450. When the diaconate is conferred with a view to priestly ordination, its objective is to exercise its proper ministry for a prudent period of time in order to mature certain specific priestly aspects. In this sense, its aim (spiritual, ascetical, liturgical and pastoral) is predominantly pedagogical, with a view to priestly ordination.
451. The ordained ministry is a gift of the Spirit for the Church, not a right or property of the one who receives it. Hence, formation for this ministry must underscore its necessary connection with the Church and its manner of understanding it and of living it as a ministry.
4.2. Functions of priestly ministry
452. The Claretian priest, conformed with Christ the Priest for the building up of his Body which is the Church, participates, through the sacrament of the laying on of hands, in the apostolic ministry entrusted to the bishops. Hence, he feels that he is their collaborator, especially in the task of raising up and consolidating communities of believers through the ministry of the word in an evangelical and prophetic lifestyle according to the spirit of the Church and in apostolic fraternity. The prophetic exercise of the ministry of the Word implies proclaiming the Kingdom in the concrete circumstances of our time, denouncing sin and injustice and accepting the risks that this entails.
453. This evangelizing and prophetic function is intimately related with pastoral and sacramental functions. The announcement of the Word creates a community of which the Eucharist is the summit and source. Hence, the Claretian priest, at the same time that he represents Christ as prophet of the Good News, also exercises:
— The ministry of pastoral care of the communities that have arisen from the Word. In them he represents Christ the Shepherd, who did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life for the ransom of many.
— The ministry of worship, in which the Word, united to sacred signs, becomes the sacrament of salvation. The Claretian priest represents Christ the Sanctifier in the celebration of the sacraments, above all, in the Eucharist and in Penance. In the evangelizing task of our Founder, Penance was closely bound to the preaching of the Word.
454. These functions are born in the womb of the Church and derive their meaning in relation to the Church and to the service of the whole world. Therefore, since the Claretian priest has been taken from among men and appointed to act on their behalf in relation to God, he should live with them as a brother, becoming all things to all of them, with particular concern for the sick and the marginalized. In the exercise of his ministry he should consider what he is doing, imitate what he is commemorating and conform his life with the mystery of the cross of the Lord.
4.3. Formative guidelines
455. Formation for the priesthood should stress:
— A solid knowledge of the nature of the ministry of the priesthood, as well as its articulation with other charisms and ministries, and in particular a knowledge of the priesthood in a Claretian key.
— The exercise of the ministry of the Word and close collaboration with the bishops, as traits of the Claretian charism.
— Preparation for the exercise of spiritual direction.
— The practice of the kind of charity that leads them to pray daily for the Church and the world, to lay down their life for their brothers and sisters, to commit themselves to the poor whom they serve and to be pastorally concerned for the sick and the marginalized.
— The kind of liturgical and pastoral initiation that will allow them to perform their ministerial functions competently.
456. One of the objectives of immediate preparation for the order of presbyterate is to deepen the candidate in the attitudes that unite him most closely with Christ the priest, in keeping with the Claretian vocation, and to help him become disposed always to act in his name and as a representative of the Church.
457. Immediate preparation is realized by way of a plan that includes:
— Concrete possibilities for the exercise of the diaconate.
— A program of prayer, days of recollection, retreats and encounters for spiritual direction.
— Assimilation of the theology and spirituality of the priesthood, in keeping with the documents of the Church and the proper ritual.
— Deepening in the charismatic characteristics of the Claretian priesthood.
— A study of summaries relating to the sacraments of Penance, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick and Eucharist, and of the dynamics of celebrating them.
— An emphasis on the Marian dimension in priestly outlook.
4.4. Admission to the priesthood
458. The candidate to the priesthood will send his Major Superior the petition and declaration demanded by law. He must comply with the same requisites prescribed for the diaconate and must have exercised that Order during the time assigned him by the Major Superior, which should be no less than six months.
459. The Major Superior, either by himself or through another, will verify whether the candidate has carried out this preparation and whether he fulfills the conditions required in order to be admitted to the priesthood.