Opening Address

Meeting of the Prefects of Formation, August 10-20, Dar Es Salaam

Dear Brothers,

We have come from different parts of the world as Claretians entrusted with the task of assisting the respective organisms in the animation and accompaniment of the missionaries in their formative journey. It is a time our congregation is going through a period of transition marked by the process of reorganization and the emergence of a new demographic face of the congregation due to the diversity of origins of her new members. Besides, we find ourselves beset with the opportunities and challenges posed by the post modern, global culture of our times.

Nearly 1520 young men undergo initial formation in about 84 formation centers . It is indeed a great blessing and a tremendous responsibility for the whole congregation. The vocational discernment and growth of these young men cannot be isolated from the quality of life lived by the missionaries and their ongoing formative process. The future of the congregation depends mostly on the quality of both initial and ongoing formation of the missionaries for which we, the prefects of formation, have a greater contribution to make.

We come here with rich experiences , both empowering and disheartening, from the context of our life and mission in relation to promotion of vocations and accompaniment of the young men in formation. We all have lived moments of joy in living our own vocation and supporting others in their vocational journey. We have also lived through moments of frustrations, doubts and confusions in our own journey and have, perhaps, encountered surprising vocational decisions on the part of our formees and confreres. We want to share these wealth of experiences and wisdom and work together with a common vision in the mission of formation. I am hopeful that we would be able to return to our missions empowered by the richness of each other.

We have chosen Tanzania as our venue of encounter with a view to make ourselves familiar with the continent of Africa which is a growing part of our congregation. We expect that it will enhance mutual understanding and intercultural appreciation among Claretians coming from various cultures and promote the zeal for universal mission in our formative environment.

We are beneficiaries of the revolutionary changes taking place in almost all walks of life especially in the media of communication and engineering and medical sciences. In the post modern social context, in spite of many issues that endanger harmonious living on the planet, we also observe a deep search for the meaning of life and a longing for holistic spirituality in many people. It is also evident that every field of human activity gives priority to training their personnel and research to improve the quality of their service in order to stay on ground. We need to allow the challenges from the world around us to wake us up from our slumber. In the recent past the credibility of the Catholic church was put to the test with respect to the lived life of some of her ministers. It has been a wake up call for both religious and clerical formation to seriously reconsider the manner of preparing their personnel. Time and again it is proved that all formative programs become valid only in the measure they promote transformation of the person into the likeness of Christ.

We have been talking often about the long years of formation and the need to see proportionate impact on the life and commitment of the missionaries. The last General chapter felt the need to improve initial formation and give special attention to the preparation and dedication of formators (MFL 62-63). Three years after the chapter, we shall now ask ourselves what we have done to qualify our formators and what we are doing to facilitate the interiorization of the fundamental values of consecrated life in our new members.

   The Chapter stressed the importance of personal accompaniment of formees and the climate of transparent dialogue regarding various dimensions of their lives (MFL 63.1).

We shall rise up to the trust the congregation places on us by opting for a holistic vision of formation and having recourse to realistic action steps to reach the formative goals through the collaborative effort of all agents of formation. After all, it is the life lived by the Claretians that prove the efficacy of our formation process.

We are here not so much to collect new ideas on formation but rather to become aware of the processes that are at work in our formative environment and facilitate the transformation of the whole person in Christ. The life of our Founder St. Claret and the lives of hundreds of exemplary Claretians illumine the path which we are to take.

Gathered in this meeting we the formation prefects commend our lives and mission to the immaculate heart of our Mother, the forge of love where the sons of her heart are formed.   From her we shall learn authentic lessons of accompanying the process of unfolding the deep mystery that each formee is called to be, sons in the Son.

Mathew Vattamattam cmf

10th August, 2012