Stage of Preparation: Postulancy
1. Nature and aim
325. The Postulancy is the stage of formation immediately preparatory to the novitiate. Its aim is to provide the candidates with an adequate preparation for beginning their initiation into missionary life and to give the Congregation the scope to form a well-pondered judgment on the guarantees that the candidates seem to offer.
326. On the part of the candidate, the requirements are:
— To show signs of a Claretian vocation, discernible through their basic personal aptitudes, upright intention, consistent human and Christian behavior, and their positive will to follow Christ in the Congregation.
— To present their certificates of Baptism, Confirmation (if they have received it) and of their freedom to enter, as well as a medical certificate stating that they are in good enough physical and mental health for the missionary life. If it is deemed necessary, the services of a specialist may be engaged to verify their mental health, always, however, safeguarding the person’s rights to privacy and good reputation.
— At the time of admission, to make a written declaration, signed by himself and two witnesses – in keeping with the law of the land insofar as possible – to the effect that his entrance into the Congregation and any tasks he may perform in it are not in the nature of a work contract and, according to the tenor of our law, that he is not aware of any impediment to his entering the Congregation. Upon completion of his postulancy, he must submit a petition for entry into the novitiate to the Major Superior.
3. General objectives
327. Human dimension
328. Christian dimension
329. Claretian dimension
— To acquire a sufficient knowledge of the Claretian life and mission in order to make a first serious option for it, along with the progressive breaking of former ties and assuming of new allegiances that this entails.
4. Specific objectives and means
4.1. Human dimension
4.1.1. Specific objectives
330. They are as follows:
— To discover and enhance the constituent traits of personal maturity, especially those which constitute the human basis for the experience of the novitiate.
— To live and develop the faculties that are involved in bodily life, intelligence, will and sensibility.
— To pay special attention to emotional and sexual maturity.
— To enhance and cultivate a capacity for community life.
— To grow in the capacity for reflection and critical sense, regarding both himself and others, and regarding reality in general.
— To take stock of and come to terms with his own personal, family and social history.
331. Regarding personal development:
— A broad psychological testing of and help to the candidate if needed.
— The practice of the natural means useful for bodily and mental health, such as sports, hygiene, artistic activities, hobbies and an appreciation of nature.
— Offering him occasions to assume responsibilities, to make decisions, to foster a spirit of initiative, creativity, spirit of service and solidarity.
— Creating habits of hard work, self-discipline, constancy of judgment and ability to make choices in keeping with higher values.
— Initiation into the practice of keeping silence.
— Controlling his impulses and acquiring coherence between his actions, words and attitudes.
— Examining his own feelings, emotions and desires in order to compare them with the values for which he wants to make an option.
— Serenely accepting the difficulties and conflicting elements in his own personal history, not dramatizing them or allowing them to act as a mental block in various situations.
— Revising his relationships with family and friends, so as to adopt a realistic and positive attitude regarding them.
332. Regarding a good sense of values:
— Admiration and respect for the work of God and of human beings; politeness, affection and friendship for persons (especially for his companions in community); self-acceptance (sexual, characterological) and constructive interpersonal relationships; valuing both marriage and the vow of chastity.
— Appreciation of the good points in his own culture, openness to other cultures and ways of thinking, and artistic sensibility.
— An awareness of the values inherent in justice issues, in situations of poverty and violence, and an appreciation and respect for the dignity and equality of women.
333. Regarding studies:
— Education in the most essential components of human maturity, accompanied by personal reflection and by sharing and comparing this with his formator and possibly with his companions.
— Acquiring an adequate academic formation and a personal method of study, reading and investigation.
— A gradual introduction into the analysis of his own sociopolitical and cultural reality.
4.2. Christian dimension
4.2.1. Specific objectives
334. They are as follows:
— To achieve an adequate (theoretical and practical) Christian formation.
— To progressively discover Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, as a friend, and to create the conditions that prepare one for a personal encounter with Him (breaking with sin, valuing the world, yet realizing its relative character).
— To cultivate a life of prayer, the sacraments, evangelical values and the various experiences and callings of the Spirit, within one’s personal, family, social and ecclesial reality.
— To live the Christian virtues, especially those that have a greater impact on our vocation: availability for fraternal service, chastity, capacity for self-surrender and sacrifice.
— Incarnating our spirituality in effective solidarity with the poorest of the poor and the marginalized.
335. As regards experiences:
— Frequent participation in the sacraments of Eucharist and Penance and, if need be, preparation for and reception of the sacrament of Confirmation.
— Contemplating God in nature, in events and in one’s own life.
— Moments of personal prayer based on the Word of God, principally on the Gospel.
— Introduction to shared prayer in community.
— Participation in popular religious celebrations and in workshops on prayer or on the Bible.
— Gestures of detachment from and sharing of one’s goods.
336. As regards studies:
— Basic, progressive catechesis that complements and guides the experience that the postulant already has as a basis for his Christian faith.
— A summary presentation of Christian spirituality, especially as it affects the life of grace and of holiness, with its starting point in the universal call to holiness.
— Basic notions on prayer (methods, liturgical or biblical forms, rosary and other devotions).
4.3. Claretian Dimension
4.3.1. Specific objectives
337. They are as follows:
— Becoming aware of the call of God as revealed in earlier experience of vocation, and integrating the same into this stage.
— Growing in docility to the God who reveals Himself to us and challenges us in the Word and in the events of the life of the people.
— Discovering and accepting Mary as the mother who accompanies us on the way of our vocation and protects us amid difficulties.
— Establishing contact with our Founder, and broadening one’s knowledge of the reality of the Province and of the history of the Congregation.
— Fostering one’s missionary sensibility and attitudes of openness to the universal thrust of our calling.
338. As regards experiences:
— Contact with the environment they have come from (family, friends, groups), together with the gradual breaking away that is required by the project of Claretian life.
— Frequent interviews of personal accompaniment and initiation into a personal plan of life.
— Careful celebration of Marian feasts highlighted in the liturgy and in the life of the Congregation; recitation of those Marian prayers which are most traditional among us; creating an environment that facilitates living and expressing our Cordimarian sonship.
— Acquiring habits that favor community life (respect, mutual acceptance, generous collaboration) and studies.
— Performing some apostolic activities such as catechesis, enhancing liturgical services and social action.
— Visits to Claretian communities and localities, especially, if possible, to the novitiate community and to others that offer pastoral experiences of significant importance in the life of the Province.
— Receiving information from different Claretians on the apostolic activities that are entrusted to them.
— Contact with other Congregations, which will allow them to value other charisms and get to know their own charisms better.
339. As regards studies:
— Reading the life of our Founder; becoming informed on certain fundamental episodes in the history of the Congregation and of the Province; getting to know about some of our members who were and are distinguished as missionaries (for example, by reading the booklets of the collection “Claretians of Yesterday and Today”).
— Personal daily reading of the Word of God and initiation into those practices of piety that are most deeply rooted in the history of the Congregation (spiritual retreat, examen of conscience, rosary, visit to the Blessed Sacrament).
— In a house expressly designated for this purpose.
— In a community of the Congregation, although without fully sharing in its life. As a general rule, it is advisable that this not be the novitiate community. Indeed, it is fitting that it should be outside this house. If, however, the postulancy is established in the novitiate house, it should form a section apart.
— In exceptional cases it can take place outside our communities, provided that there are guarantees for a specific plan, some periods of contact with the Congregation or some of its representatives and, above all, the guidance of an experienced Claretian.
341. The admission of a candidate to the postulancy, as well as his eventual dismissal, are within the competency of the Major Superior, as duly advised by those who have accompanied the candidate. If the candidate has come from another institute or from a diocesan seminary, the Major Superior is required to obtain further testimony from their respective former superior.
342. As a general rule, the postulancy should be made in the candidate’s country of origin and, if possible, within the Province itself. However, if the postulants are few or some other reasons make it advisable, the Organisms involved can create a common center.
343. It belongs to the Major Superior to determine the length of the postulancy, which in no case should be shorter than six months nor, as a general rule, longer than two years. It should be long enough to attain the ends and objectives of this period of formation.
344. The postulancy will have a formation project approved by the Provincial Government. It will contain the objective and means proper of a Claretian postulancy, in keeping with local circumstances and with the modalities determined by the Major Superior.
6. The Person in Charge
345. The person in charge of this stage should be an experienced missionary, with adequate psychological, pedagogical and spiritual preparation for his task, with aptitudes that enable him to be in tune with the young men and with sufficient pastoral experience. His appointment belongs to the Major Superior. If possible, he should have the collaboration of other missionaries.
346. The formative task in this stage implies:
— In collaboration with the candidate, to gather whatever data or information that may be useful in order to discern the signs of a Claretian vocation and possible counter indications.
— To help the postulant attain the objectives proper of this stage and to achieve the maturity needed in order to make decisions with due guarantees that he is acting freely and responsibly.
— To assure that the postulant receives sufficient preparation (especially a linguistic one), if he has to make his novitiate in a country where the language and culture are different from his own.
347. In order to assure continuity in formation, the one in charge of this stage should keep in close contact with the novicemaster, with the one in charge of vocation ministry and with the formators in the minor seminary, if there is one.