Making a Community Mission Statement

MISSION STATEMENT AND CORE VALUES FOR CLARETIAN COMMUNITIES AND PERSONNEL

Paulson.CMF

  1. GOAL STATEMENT

 The Goals of this Workshop are:

  1. Help the Claretian Communities to generate their own Mission Statements.
  2. Help individual Claretians to prepare Personal Mission Statements and Hierarchy of Core Values.

 In order to realize the above goals, the following steps are included:

  1. A Reflection on the Mission and the Vision of Claretian Missionaries
  2. Drafting a Community Mission Statement: Steps
  3. Drafting a Personal Mission Statement and Core Values: Steps

 B.MISSION AND VISION OF CLARETIAN MISSIONARIES

1.THE MISSION

  • Who Am I? In order to decide what one must do, one must know who one is. The most basic reality of a human being is that every human being is Relational Being. There is a three-fold relationality: Relationship with God, other human beings and the nature, and with oneself. The essence of our existence is this relationality. Sin is the break down of this connectedness. As religious, priests and Claretians, we need to realize this relatedness and our mission is to re-invent this triple relationality within creation. Hence:

 What Am I to Do? Our Mission is:

To seek in all things

the Glory of God, the sanctification of my soul and the salvation of people

throughout the world in keeping with the Claretian Missionary Charism in the church

(cf: CC 02)

The Features of the Mission:

  • All-encompassing: Our mission is to seek in all things: in our thoughts, words, deeds; within ourselves, in the community, in the specific work we do; in our nation, in the whole world, in the very creation.
  • Triple Objects: What do we seek? There are three objects of our search. And these three in fact refer to the three relatedness, connectedness. It is the restoration of the connectedness among all three: the Glory of God as the summum bonum, our own very sanctification (infilling of the Holy Spirit within us) and the very salvation of others which should include the whole of creation.
  • How do we do it? In keeping with the Missionary Charism given to the Claretians in the Church. What is the sum and substance of this charism? It is being the Servant of the Word in apostolic imitation and prophetic discipleship of Jesus, the Word and Prophet par excellence and Apostle of God, the Father.
  • The ‘How’ is also realized through the specific missionary activities resorted to by the Claretians according to the preferential options, enlisted in the Mission Plan of the Congregation and her Provinces.
  • The ‘How’ of the mission as referred to the interiority and the personhood of the Claretian is clarified in the Vision that is laid out for a Claretian.

2. THE VISION

  • The ‘Vision’ of any person or organization is the pen-picture of oneself, or the degree of excellence that one places before oneself and it is at the service of the Mission. The Mission is also realized in and through the translation of the Vision into one’s own very life.
  • There is no better ‘vision’ for a Claretian Missionary than the Definition of a Claretian handed down by the very father founder, as given in the Autobiography no. 494 or Constitutions n 09.
  • (The thoughts in the next two sub-sections on the significance and the history of the text are taken from the ‘Commentary to the Constitutions’)

 Significance of the Definition:

  • The significance of the Definition for a Claretian is beyond comparison. “It is hard to find a definition better suited to sum up what a missionary, an evangelizer in the style of Saint Paul the Apostle is: a faithful imitator of Jesus Christ.”
  • Its significance is clear from the various titles and names given to it since its formulation. The most traditional and oldest name is the ‘Definition’, though such a title had never been used by Fr Claret himself. The first to apply the title was Fr James Clotet. Claret called it the ‘Reminder.’ The other names are:

‘Definition of a Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’; ‘Definition of the Missionary’ (Paul Vallier); ‘Charismatic Memoir’ (Jaume Sidera); ‘Ideal Portrait’ (J M Lozano); ‘Program of Holiness’ (Pope Paul VI); ‘Program of Interior Life’ (Pope Paul VI); ‘Terminus’ (Paul Vallier); ‘Forma Missionarii’ (General Chapter of 1979); ‘Formula Instituti’ (Alvarez Gomez); ‘Pure Essence’, ‘Most Characteristic Note of the Missionary’ (Nicholas Garcia)

  • Fr Clotet exhorts every Claretian to focus on two things in life: the Definition and the Aim (Mission)
  • According to Fr Vallier, the Definition was the ‘terminus’ = goal which the Missionary should travel from the time of his entry into the Novitiate.
  • Fr Garcia, in his Circular Letter, stated that the Definition be “engraved in all books, in all places, in all Houses, Colleges, Classes and Regulations; but above all in the memory, in the understanding, in the heart and works of every Son of the Heart of Mary.”
  • Pope Paul VI, in the audience to the General Chapter of 1973: “See here, projected on you, a whole program of holiness, based on courageous renunciation of self, the fruit of its fertile evangelical vitality. It points out to clearly, with expressions of purely Pauline dynamism, the good to which your personal and community life must aspire: the following and imitation of Christ under the impulses of a charity that is always operative.”
  • St Claret himself wanted “each of the Missionaries to copy and carry (the definition) with them.”

 History of the Text:

 Origins:

  • Even during the foundation time, Fr Claret seems to have shared with the co-founders, the basic outlines of the ideas that would later be set down as the Definition.
  • He later wrote the definition on a ‘little paper’ and sent it to Fr Xifre, and wanted every missionary to copy it and carry with them. However, the definition that was sent then was not very polished. By the time Claret entered it in the Autobiography (no 494), he had revised it and polished it.
  • Though we do not know the exact date of its composition, it may be safely inferred that Claret wrote it in the context and the time immediately around the composition of the Autobiography.
  • In the autobiography, it is placed at a significant locus: at the end of the chapter on the founding of the Congregation, immediately after two paragraphs, wherein Claret pours out his gratitude to God and Mary for the very gift of his vocation.

 Official Use in the Congregation:

  • Claret himself wanted it to be ‘copied and carried’ by every member, and the early members did so.
  • It was also used as a community or collective point of departure and goal of formation of Missionaries.
  • In the Rulebook for the Novitiate, complied by Fr Vallier under instructions from Fr Xifre, the definition was placed at the very beginning of the book. Fr Valier stated that “the Novice, fixing his eyes on it, should then see the terminus toward which he is walking and the aim that he should set before him in years of probation. Let him read it and meditate on it many times, and never lose sight of it…”
  • The Definition was used at other stages of formation too: In Santo Domingo Seminary, the Prefect of students used it to give the first conference to the fresh batch of Theology students on the definition and insist on their learning it.
  • Fr Nicholas Garcia, in his circular letter on Religious, Missionary and Claretian Formation, stated that the very goal of formation is the realization of the very beautiful definition. He wrote that, “Formators should inculcate this idea and stamp it with a firebrand in the soul of the Missionary Priest, Student or Brother. The lack of this clear idea in the mind, and then made blood and life in the heart, is the reason why many do not succeed in setting out resolutely in real life on the great way of the holy, perfect and most efficacious life of the Missionary Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
  • A commentary of the Definition was published and placed in the book on the History of the Congregation in order to commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of the Congregation
  • Many books on the life and mission of Claret, and Claretian Formation have significant sections on the Definition. The General Plan of Formation (GPF) places it at the very beginning. ‘The Forge’, the Handbook of Minor Seminarians by Province of Bangalore discusses the dynamics of the Definition in its very first chapter.

Definition in the Legislative Texts

  • The General Chapter of 1922 placed the Definition in the Article II of CIA (Codex Iuris Additicii) which dealt with the ‘Object of the Congregation’. The definition used here was the one on the ‘little paper’. In the Constitutions of 1971, the definition from the Autobiography entered the very text. In 1973, the General Chapter shifted it to the Fundamental Constitutions as the final number. The 1979 Chapter added the reason for its inclusion: “We should always keep this model (‘forma’) of a Missionary before us.” The text that we currently have is the text from the Autobiography with a few phrases incorporated from the ‘little paper’ version.
  • The definition took an official character and sanction when Pope Pius VI, in 1973, spoke of it as the ‘program of holiness’ for every Claretian.

 Analysis of the Text of the Definition:

  • Fr Clement Serrat divides the definition into three significant parts or resolutions. However, for our purposes, I present here a different sort of three-part division, locating the focus/theme, action verbs, imagery and values evident in each part.
  • The Mission/ the Vision of any organization/person should set before our eyes of the hearts our very identity, the purpose and the process of reaching what we dream up from where we are; reaching what we hope to be from what we are.
  • Also, they should reverberate with a plenitude of images, action verbs and values, which will always burn before our imagination and desires.
  • The Action Verbs will be life-giving, affirming and action-oriented. They must naturally lead to the imagery and the values upheld in the Vision.
  • It is amazing how rich our Definition is in this respect. It truly is a word-picture of what we are and hope to be. 

Part

Focus/Theme

Text

Action Verb

Imagery

Key Values

ONE

IDENTITY:

Who am I?

What is my Mission?

“A Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man on fire with God’s love, who spreads it wherever he goes.

He desires mightily and strives by all means possible to set everyone on fire with God’s love.

is; spreads; goes

desires; strives;

set on

Son of Heart; fire

Fire

God’s Love

All means possible; God’s love; everyone

TWO

PROCESS:

The How:

Nothing daunts him:

he delights in privations, welcomes work,

embraces sacrifices, smiles at slander,

rejoices in all the torments and sorrows

he suffers,

and glories in

the cross of Jesus Christ.

Daunts; delights; welcomes; embraces; smiles; rejoices; suffers; glories

Cross of Christ

nothing; privations; work; sacrifices; slander; torments; sorrows;

cross of Christ

THREE

PURPOSE:

Person Goal:

(Person Value)

Action Goal:

(Instrumental Value)

End Goal:

(Terminal Value)

His only concern is

how he may follow Christ and imitate him

in praying, working, enduring and striving constantly and solely

for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humankind.”

follow;

imitate

pray-work-endure- strive

(a sequence)

Imitation of Christ

Christ

prayer; work; endurance; striving

Glory of god; salvation of humankind

 With the Mission Statement engraved in the Constitutions n 02 and the Vision listed out in the Constitutions no 09, a Claretian should be all fired up to realize them in his life.

  • With a brief reflection on the Mission and Vision, we are now set to prepare the Mission Statement for our Community and personal lives.

 For the Community Mission Statement, it is imperative that a Discussion on the Province Mission Statement and Action Plan be initiated. I recommend that the three-fold foci of “Identity-Purpose-Process” be adopted in order to analyze the Province Mission Statements too.

C.CLARETIAN COMMUNITY MISSION STATEMENT

 We now proceed to drafting the Community Mission Statement, which is to be taken up by each Claretian Community.

 How does having a Mission Statement help in personal and community living? The following points capture the benefits:

 In one’s own life:

  1. A reason to live and reason to die: Meaning in life
  2. Choices become easier and more definite
  3. In conflicts, a genuine and conscious point of reference
  4. A sense of self-assuredness, courage of conviction
  5. Ability to stand alone and suffer, if necessary
  6. Ability to stand united as a community and have a sense of common purpose which gives common bonding.
  7. Gives specific direction and thrust to the Community Action Plan
  8. Facilitates implementation and evaluation of the Action Plan in Plenary Meetings.

In the lives of others:

  1. A model to imitate
  2. A Guru to consult
  3. Motivation for others to discover meaning and values in life
  4. Your presence becomes life giving for others
  5. Organizational synergy at the levels of the local community, province and the congregation at large.

 Please know that Jesus had his Mission Statement clearly stated at the beginning of his Mission, and carried in his consciousness throughout his ministry: At the inauguration of his public ministry, he went to the temple and proclaimed his mission, affirming that in their hearing, those words were being fulfilled: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, new sight to the blind, to free the oppressed, to announce the year of the Lord’s mercy.” (Luke 4.18-19).

 Every Mission Statement should have the following properties:

  1. It should be in tune with the universal principles of life
  2. It should be consonant with the Mission, Vision and Values of the Gospel and the Congregation.
  3. It should match the gifts, talents and ministries of the community
  4. It should be simple enough to be recited by memory anytime, even during stress. Thus preferably, it should not me more than one sentence long.
  5. It should be simple enough to be understood even by a school child
  6. It should have a locus/recipient: Every Mission is for the sake of another.
  7. It should carry a central value(s) that you seek to realize in the life of your recipients.
  8. It should consist of life-enhancing, action packed transitive verbs.
  9. It should also define who you are/the community is.

 Look at Jesus’ Mission Statement mentioned in Luke 4.18-19. It has powerful, life enhancing action verbs, values, and recipients. And it is simple and short enough to be held powerfully in the mind:

            Action verbs in Jesus’ PMS    : bring, proclaim, free, announce…

            Recipients in Jesus’ PMS        : the poor, the captives, the oppressed, the blind…

            Values to be effected               : Good News, Liberty, Sight, Freedom, Lord’s Mercy…       

Pre-requisites

  1. It is imperative that every member of the community participates in the process. And everyone’s opinion should be respectfully considered.
  2. The Drafting Session should be preceded by the study and reflection on the Mission and Vision of the Congregation.
  3. The whole process may take several hours and one should be patient enough to work through the process. It may be a good idea to spread the sessions across several days instead of ‘getting it over with’ in one day, which might lead to hastening the process due to boredom and tiredness. Perhaps this process may be taken up in the Claretian Week, and spread throughout the Week, with the community emerging with the Final Statement by the final day of the Claretian Week, offering it up in the Holy Mass.
  4. A Facilitator should guide the whole process. And it is imperative that the facilitator withholds his ideas and works with the ideas that emerge from the community. Only if it is absolutely necessary and for stylistic corrections that the facilitator shall offer his suggestions. Even when it is done, it shall be with the consent of the group and accepted only on voting.
  5. It is imperative that the facilitator makes sure that every member participates actively and the resultant Mission Statement is voted on, passed and felt owned by the community. Ultimately, the community should feel that they did it, and not the facilitator.
  6. Each and every segment of the Mission Statement shall be voted on. Upon passing the Statement, there shall not be any further idiosyncratic revisions unless mandated and approved by a two-third majority of the community.
  7. Any proposal of revision of the Mission Statement shall have the consent of the two-third majority of the community in order to initiate the revision process.
  8. It is better to avoid the temptation of entrusting the work to a “Committee”. It has the danger of risking the sense of personal ownership of the Statement by the members.

 Two Samples:

Here are two Mission Statements that I helped two of our Major Seminary communities of the Province of Bangalore to create. Every word in the Statements emerged from the respective communities, and I played a mere facilitator for the same. You may study them to see how the various features, components and segments of the Mission Statements are realized in them.

a.  Mission Statement of Claretian Seminary, Bangalore:

“We, the members of Claretian Seminary as the servants of the Word being forged in the Heart of Mary, desire and strive constantly for conformity with Christ, pursuit of Divine wisdom and fraternal communion with everyone through a life of holiness, learning and service in the style of St Claret.”

 b. Mission Statement of Claret Villa, Shillong:

We, the Claret Villa Community, being formed in the Heart of Mary to be prophetic servants of the Word, commit ourselves to a life of prayer and holiness, diligent pursuit of Divine Mysteries and joyful service unto everyone in the style of St Claret, for the greater glory of God.”

 Steps

  1. Four Segments to the Mission Statement to be explained to the Assembly:

The Community Mission Statement should have four major segments: Identity (who are we?), Recipients (whom do we serve?); Values/Goals (Why-What for- are we?; Means of Action (How do we?).

Each segment should be taken separately. For each segment, the facilitator should proceed through the steps 3-5, before the next segment is taken up.

  1. Green Lighting Session:

The Green Lighting Session is a Brain Storming Session, where every idea is welcome. The members are encouraged to suggest their ideas, and the facilitator or his helper carefully notes them down on the board. It is an open forum and some ideas may seem crazy, but NO IDEA IS TO BE TURNED DOWN, LAUGHED AT, COMMENTED UPON. Critiquing an idea or judgment is absolutely forbidden in the Green Lighting Session. This may lead to a chaotic emergence of ideas and that is welcome. Any chaos is fine, if the Spirit hovers on it, like at the beginning of the Creation!

Once the facilitator feels that the ideas are exhausted and everyone has adequately taken part in it, he leads the group to the next session.

  1. Debate Session:

Here begins the discussion and value judgment of each suggestion. The proposer of an idea may be called upon to explain his rationale, but the community owns up the proposal and any judgment on the idea shall not be a critique of the one who proposed. Follow these substeps:

    1. Get clarifications and rationale for ideas that are not clear
    2. Reduce/ Combine similar sounding ideas.
    3. Identify the most frequently emerging ideas.
    4. Debate the ideas in the light of the Congregational Mission and Vision, and the established ministries and purpose of the community (eg: a formation community’s focus is formation and studies)
    5. Combine the best elements of various ideas and make a simplified, compact phrase.
  1. Revised Proposal Session:

Now present the simplified, compact phrase for the final round of discussions, and for stylistic and cosmetic corrections.

  1. Voting Session:

The revised phrase/segment is then voted on. An absolute majority is needed for its adoption. If the above steps have been compassionately and prudently done, this should be a mere formality.

 Thus, every one of the four segments are routed through these five steps, and the final Mission Statement emerges.

  1. Final Stylistic Revisions to the Complete Statement and Final Voting for Adoption:

The four segments of the Mission Statement are put together, and the grammatical, semantic and stylistic mortar is applied through discussion, and the cosmetic corrections are made. And the Final Statement that thus emerges is voted on. The Community Mission Statement shall be adopted by a two-third majority approval.

  1. It is also advisable that the Community chooses an image to go along with the Mission Statement (with discussion and voting on the same). The CMF/Forge logos may be good enough, it the community does not want to create a newer one.

It will be a grand finale if the Community prepares a well-decorated banner/board with the Mission Statement which will then be offered in the Holy Mass. The Community may place the Mission Statement in highly visible and frequented places so that the members as well as the visitors get to see them regularly.

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