Major Superiors’ Meeting, Vic, September 14-26, 2004
Objective: To animate, coordinate and empower the formation personnel and structures of the congregation though the application of the formation directives of the General plan of formation, the Claretian vocation Directory and the Chapter declaration “That they may have Life”.
At the beginning of the millennium we find ourselves facing a complex reality in the area of vocation promotion and formation. On the one hand we are blessed with many vocations in new geographical areas of our presence and on the other hand we experience grave lack of vocations in the traditionally rich Claretian soil. In the historical journey of the congregation, there were crisis moments in vocation and formation especially during the Spanish civil war and the post-Vatican crisis period. Today the Church faces many challenges from a global and secularised world which poses challenges to us in forming our members in our Charism for our mission. In the present era of declining support for values of consecrated life, the main task of formation is to instil greater internalised commitment to Claretian way of life.
1. The Challenges of Claretian formation
1.1. Challenge from the secular world:
Our formation like most other catholic religious Institutes take 10-14 years after the initial acceptance of a candidate. No other profession in the world (medical, legal or technical etc.) consume so much time, personnel and probably money to prepare specialists in its proper field. What is achieved in our field of specialization in the world (consecrated and missionary life) after 10-14 years of full time training (even holidays are programmed) does not seem to be proportionate to the investment made.
The crisis that the Church has been facing in the recent past due to the abuses of clergy and the consequent loss of credibility of the Church in the eyes of many good people pose further challenges to formation. Consecrated persons and Church leadership live and work as if in a glass house today. We need the Claretians to shine with authenticity in order to give witness to the Word in a world that has been carving idols of worship in a consumer culture.
The challenge is how to make our centres of formation true “schools of holiness”.
- 2. The challenge from the limitations of Claretian life
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating”, so goes a proverb. The proof of an integral Claretian formation is seen in the quality of the missionaries prepared through our selection and formation process so far. The presence of a number of committed and qualified personnel in all the organisms is a living witness of what can be achieved in a motivated candidate though an integral process of formation. However, there are also other realities that should challenge us about our selection and formation process:
The number of departures in the last sexenium was 2.7% (83) and the total of departures and exclaustrations amounted to 4.5% (137) (Cf. General Government report, 2003).
During the one year period of the present General government 30Claretians with perpetual vows have asked for permissions for either exclaustration (11), secularisation (6), leave of absence (8) or dispensation of vows (5) and 4 were dismissed.
Added to these departures from the congregation there are a number of Claretians who are in canonically irregular situations. There are also those whose personal immaturities affect community life and mission seriously, though they may not see their vocations in crisis.
The cause of departures of perpetually professed members and the crisis in vocations is deduced as the following:
– Lack of depth in faith and God experience. Hence one seeks superficial gratifications and compensations which lead to frustration and despair.
– Poor internalization of vocational values
– Defective psychological make up of the individuals
– Difficulties in living consecrated Chastity
– Desire for greater independence in the use of personal freedom and money.
Young candidates come to us with a transcendent desire to love God and to serve Church which is often mixed with other motivations. The challenge of formation is to lead these candidates to purify their motivations and experience the true joy of loving God above everything else. How can we help them to let themselves be captured by this love so as to consider everything else as irrelevant and express it in the living of evangelical counsels? Our commitment to formation needs to address this challenge.
1. 3. The call of the Chapter
After analysing the formation scenario, the chapter document points to the following concerns: (THML 54,55)
- Limitations in vocation promotion and discernment
- Deficiencies and lack of attention in spiritual accompaniment
- Little attention given to human and affective maturity resulting in vocational consistency.
Proposals given by the chapter
- Formators strengthen the accompaniment and personalized formation of formandi
- Special attention to faith experience
- Care for affective and sexual integration
- Cultivation of healthy human relationships
- Vocation promotion and formation of missionary brothers.
2.Present day scenario of our formation:
- Good formation documents (GPF. CVD, Manuel of novices)
- Most organisms have adequate formation structures
- 633 students and 145 novices
- Generosity of organisms to help by offering personnel or by opening formation structures to Other needy organisms
- Almost all organisms have a formation plan
- Many qualified and committed formators
2,2. Limitations at the level of organisms
The climate of vocational living in the organisms do play a great role in formation. In some of our contexts young people may get easily disillusioned and leave the congregation rather than get attracted to live authentic Claretian lives. While evaluating the formation in an organism, it is not enough to focus on formators and the formation houses, but rather look into the dominant values lived in the organism and their impact on formation.
Besides, we also see our various organisms in different situations as follows:
- Organisms with many vocations but few prepared formators
- Organisms with many vocations, but low perseverance and fidelity
- Organisms having few vocations, but many vocations to other institutes in the same country
- Organisms with many formators and structures, but lacking in vocations
- Organisms lacking both in vocations and formators
2.3. Limitations at the level of formation personnel
One of the serious handicaps in many of the organisms is the lack of prepared formators. There are a few cases where formation is affected due to the immaturity and lack of team work among formators. In some instances there are well qualified formators who are more committed to minister to people outside than to spend up their time and energy to the formandi in their care.
We find our formators at different levels of academic qualification and personal qualities for discernment and accompaniment. (academic qualification here means at least licentiate level of studies in any sacred science).
- Highly qualified in sacred sciences but not committed to formative accompaniment
- Highly qualified in sacred sciences and gifted in accompaniment
- Not qualified academically , not good in accompaniment
- No qualification other than initial formation, but good in accompaniment
Our task is to select suitable persons and train them for accompanied formation.
2.4. Limitations at the level of formation process
There are often limitations in the process of formation due to various factors:
– Having a formation plan, but no committed implementation in some centres
– Formation process interfered by poor role models in the organism
– Formation process defeated by counter values lived by formation team or influential Claretians in the organism
– Conflictual relationship between students and formators or between formators
3. Priorities for the sexenuiun
- Focussing on formation of Claretian identity
- Preparing formators to accompany the students in their vocational journey
- Formation for community life and openness to multi-culturality, universal mission and JPIC
- Formation to celebrate celibacy in the context of our times
- Formation of missionary brothers
3.1. Formation of Claretian Identity
That the Claretians grow into a deep experience of their missionary vocation which becomes the organizing principle of their being and behaviour.
- Animation visits to formation centres especially organisms of recent creation and to encourage these organisms to apply and evaluate their plans of formation
- To organize a meeting of the prefects of formation of all organisms for two weeks in 2006 in Vic to evaluate the formation processes in the organisms and to update ourselves
- To establish the celebration of Claretian week in every formation community in order to study and deepen the knowledge of Claretian charism in collaboration with the Claretian centre in Vic..
- Assist the organisms to elaborate programmes of Claretian formation to preparation for perpetual vows and holy orders.
- Assist the conferences or organisms in arranging the translation of important formation documents in to the language used for instruction. (eg. French, Portuguese)
- Preparation of a Claretian calendar to help the celebration of Claretian feasts.
3.2. Formation of formators
That our formators are empowered to give accompaniment and personalized formation to the formandi.
Each organism has to see to the adequate preparation of the formators. Given the complex nature of formation today, we suggest that when we prepare our formators, we should aim at adequate and integrated formation of them in four areas at varying levels of expertise:
- I.Claretian life and mission: This could be given by participation in the heart of Mary school of formators in Vic or specialization in Claretian studies at licentiate or doctoral level.
- II.Theological formation: A solid theological formation and when possible some specialization.
- III.Psycho-spiritual training: capacity to understand the human person in his life journey. Basic training of short or longer duration to gain better self-knowledge and skills in counselling or spiritual direction. A few may be trained at Masters level in Counselling or spiritual direction.
- IV.Pastoral experience. Sufficient pastoral exposure to gain experience and insight into the life context of the people of God and the Claretian mission.
1. School of the Heart of Mary at Vic: (3 months programme for Claretian formators).
We envisage three courses for formators in this sexenium.
- April, May, June 2005, in Vic – English
- April, May, June, 2006, in Vic – Spanish
- April, May, June, 2007- in Vic – English
2. organize Formators’ meetings of the organisms during animations visits
3. Launch a web page on formation in our web site to give information and make available useful formation materials. It is envisaged to start in the beginning of 2005.
4. To evaluate the criteria and practice that is followed in the organisms with respect to specializations and assist the organisms in providing information about suitable programmes of formation of formators.
3.3. Formation for Community life, openness to multi-culturality, universal mission and JPIC
That the Claretians be formed to live and work in community, appreciating and growing through personal and cultural differences and willing to be at the service of the universal congregation.
- Support and closely accompany the inter-cultural formation communities
- Insist on team work and group evaluation in all our formation structures
- Insist and encourage the learning of languages
- Make available materials that help better understanding of personal and cultural differences
- Make available visual information on various missions in the formation communities eg. Power point programmes, video etc.
- Collaborate with the secretariat for JPIC to introduce related issues in formation
3.4. Formation to celebrate Celibacy in the context of our times
That the Claretian formation leads formandi to affective sexual maturity so as to value and live their celibacy meaningfully at the service of the Kingdom.
1. To see that the formation programmes include proper human formation especially in the area of affective sexual maturity and follow the criteria of discernment presented in VCD & GPF.
2. Make available information and formation material for assisting the formators
3.5. Vocation Promotion and Formation of Missionary brothers
That we value the gift of vocation to brotherhood and take care to give suitable formation to brothers in order to grow in their proper vocation and live it meaningfully at the service of the Kingdom.
- Encourage the organisms to evaluate their Vocation promotion and formation plan for Brothers
- promote the preparation and specialization of Brothers in the organisms based on the guidelines of GPF.
Our future depends on the quality of formation imparted to our young missionaries.
Mathew Vattamattam cmf
General prefect of formation