Saturday, 19 March 2005

Prefect of Formation-Clarification of Terms and Roles

To Major Superiors

To Provincial Prefects of Formation

To members of formation communities

Dear brothers

Fraternal greetings on the feast of St. Joseph, whose memory we are celebrating in a special way in our Congregation (cf. CC 35), as an example of fidelity to the Word of God and of fortitude in time of difficulties.

The purpose of this letter is to clarify some points on the manner of calling the person in charge of formation of professed students and on their specific duties. The reason for this clarification is the confusion existing in some parts of the Congregation between the role of the Prefect and that of the Superior, or between the Prefect and what is being called the Rector. It is not only a question of names. This practice has its effects on the understanding of the formation tasks and on the articulation of duties.

Bearing in mind the tradition of the Congregation and our own norms, we have to abide by the following criteria:

  1. The Prefect, with this specific name, is expressly taken up in the Constitutions (cf. CC 77) and in the Directory (cf. Dir 248-250). A detailed description of his duties is found in the Formation of Missionaries, General Plan of Formation (cf. GPF 415). The Prefect “is the proper formator of the missionaries who are preparing for perpetual profession and for ordination to the diaconate or to the priesthood” (GPF 413), “the person who, in the name of the Congregation, accompanies the formandi in the overall unfolding of their missionary vocation. His mission is not reduced, then, to the aspects of organization, discipline and spiritual accompaniment. Rather, it embraces all dimensions of formation, with a view to promoting a harmonious formation” (GPF 414). The Prefect is the main person “in charge” of the formation of students.
  1. The Prefect fulfils his mission in communion with the local Superior: “both must be an example of unity and concord for those in formation. Each one, while fulfilling the mission entrusted to him, should look for a better formation of the young missionaries” (Dir 251). The sense of communion and respect for the autonomy of each one must guide the relations between the Superior and the Prefect. In several of our formation centers, the Prefect is, at the same time, the Superior of the community. In these cases, it is important that the Prefect-Superior coordinates with the other members of the formation team to give greater strength to the formation program of our students.
  1. The Prefect may be helped in his task by one or several collaborators who make up the formation team (cf. GPF 418). Nevertheless, “it belongs to him to coordinate all aspects of formation and of his team of collaborators”(GPF 416).
  1. Among us, then, there is no formation role of the Rector. This title comes from the academic environment and the diocesan seminaries. From now on, we must avoid the use of this title when referring to the Prefect or the Superior of the formation communities. In our “formation communities “there is no Rector. In some places, this title is given to the one who is in charge of the direction of a Study Center, proper of the Congregation, where our students take up their studies. In these cases, its authority is reduced to the academic field. For other types of relations with the students one must always approach the Prefect, who is the person directly in charge of formation.

We have to strive to know and put into practice what the Constitutions, the Directory and the General Plan of Formation point out to us in relation to the formation structures of the Congregation and to those in charge of them.

I hope these indications will be useful to you in order to grow always in a truly Claretian formation, marked by a strong sense of communion and corresponsibility.

United in Mary’s Heart, Formatrix of Missionaries,

Josep M. Abella, CMF

Superior General