XXIV GENERAL CHAPTER OF THE CLARETIAN MISSIONARIES
Welcome to this Chapter community. Our brethren have entrusted us with the mission to discover what the Spirit is saying today to the Congregation and for this they have offered us the results of the discernment they have carried out during this past year in their communities. We have travelled this road together with them………
The Congregation has received, thanks to the Lord of the harvest, a good number of vocations during these years and it has tried to form them according to the project of life which is laid out for us in the Constitutions.
WHERE AND HOW DO WE FIND OURSELVES
…We are people who, during these past years, have grown in our world vision and in the understanding of our own identity within the Church. The effort we have made after the Vatican Council II to re-express our charism has been a passionate adventure that has produced good fruit. … There remains, certainly, the continual challenge to internalize these paths and to ensure that they be an inspiration for the daily life of us all. As I told you in one of the circular letters of the sexennium, I would wish that all live genuinely enthused by our Claretian vocation.
The uprooting towards new geographic and cultural frontiers has enabled us to enrich our spiritual patrimony and our history with new spiritual and cultural sensibilities….We know of many brothers who have such a human and spiritual quality that it always leaves us gratefully surprised. We have seen the valiant commitment of many Claretians who live each moment of their lives in a generous commitment to those to whom they have been sent.
……We are aware that there is a tendency to become more bourgeois; each time we are more prone to justify the need to have the latest technological and computer novelty or other things that make our life easier. We are irritated to see that there are Claretians who put their own project before that of the community or the Province and who simply demand that the Superiors and the community bless that which they themselves have already decided. Others are not transparent in their projects or in their life and this causes tensions in our communities.
THE BIG CHALLENGES WE HAVE TO CONFRONT
4. Formation: Priority of the Priorities
It is interesting to note that the document of CICLSAL “Starting Afresh for Christ” places the theme of the permanent formation before that of initial formation. It is interesting and significant because without taking care of the permanent formation a large part of the effort we dedicate to the initial formation will come to grief. Into which communities are those who have finished the process of initial formation going to be integrated? For this reason, I believe that permanent formation is another of those challenges which we ought to confront in the Congregation. A permanent formation that enables us to live our vocation with greater joy and intensity, that develops in each of us a strong sense of belonging to the Congregation and that prepares us for a more creative and effective apostolic work. We are making a notable effort to create programmes of permanent formation which include all aspects of the person and which help us recover the dynamism of the Claretian charism. Nevertheless, we must not forget that the permanent formation has also to find a space in the daily life of the religious. The personal study and the shared reflection with the other members of the community or pastoral team cannot be replaced by courses. This demands a personal discipline that needs to be learnt during initial formation.
We have renewed our formation programme. There is the General Plan of Formation, an important instrument to guide the formation process of the Congregation. We see that in the initial formation priority must be given to the internalisation of the fundamental elements of the consecrated life and the spiritual patrimony of the Congregation, over and above academic programmes, while at the same time recognising the importance of these. It is not always easy to convince our formandi of this or even some of the professors in the academic centres but we should not fail to insist on it. We need to create deep convictions in people. If not, the petitions for dispensations, exclaustrations and laicisations, spiritual emigration towards other spiritualities or movements, and mediocrity in the Claretian missionary life are going to continue. Together with this we have to take good care of the personal accompanimentof the formandi that constitutes a basis for a genuine psychological and spiritual maturity. But there also exists another dimension in the initial formation that we must not forget: renunciation. To opt to live the following of Jesus in the consecrated life, and consequently in the Claretian missionary life, presupposes renouncing other values and other realities. When this aspect has not been sufficiently internalised the temptation then comes to recover that which has not been fully renounced and for which a great variety of cultural, pastoral, etc. justifications are found. This destabilises the person and is a permanent source of tension in our communities. We have to know how to recover the positive dimension of asceticism.
In the area of formation another great challenge is the preparation of the formators. There are many offers of learning programmes for formators organised by National Conferences of Religious. The Congregation has arranged for several years now the School of the Heart of Mary for formators. The offer of courses and programmes are many but there is always the problem of being able to count on the most suitable people for this fundamental work for the future of the Congregation. It is a question of priorities that is not always resolved in favour of formation. This is a very important theme of government.
We are also making an effort for people to be qualified. We need well prepared Claretians who can carry efficiently the formative and apostolic projects. .. Specialised studies, however, ought always to respond to a provincial or congregational plan and can never be set up as a prize for a service undertaken or as a means to fulfil personal ambitions.