Report on Formation-XXV General Chapter-2015

Claretian Formation 2009-2015

The responsibility to pass on our charismatic fire to future generations rests on the entire congregation, though formative processes and formation personnel during initial and ongoing formation have their particular role to play in forming committed Claretian missionaries. It is rightly said that “the way to reform a man is to begin with his grandfather when he is a child”. We need to look at missionary formation throughout the entire span of a missionary’s life without making a dichotomy between initial and ongoing formation. In fact initial formation should be a preparation for responsible ongoing formation while effective ongoing formation should inspire and support the initial formation of our missionaries.

Following the resolutions of the last General Chapter (MFL 62-63) and in the light of the reflections made in the major superiors meeting in Colmenar Viejo (2010), the following priorities were identified as important to be developed and deepened during the period of initial formation in this sexennium:

  • A transformative and integral formative process that facilitates the internalization of fundamental values of consecrated life.
  • Empowerment and Preparation of formators to offer personal accompaniment of formandi to enhance a personalized formation
  • Support formation centers and formation personnel to have the needed formative resources and means to facilitate transformative formation.
  • Promote the study of languages especially Spanish and English other than the languages needed in the missions.
  • Enhancement of Intercultural formation.

The efforts of the Prefecture of Formation at the level of Major Organisms and General Government were to concretize these priorities realistically in the formation houses.

  1. The impact of the 24th General chapter on formation

Based on the reports received from the Major Organisms and impressions gathered through visits and animation programs, the following points are identified as signs of the positive impact of the last General Chapter on formation:

  • Many Major Organisms have made efforts to improve the formation of their formators and initiated the preparation of new formators (15) [1].
  • There is greater emphasis on the charismatic and missionary dimension of Claretian life which is much more than just grooming the young men in our centers for “priesthood” (10).
  • Greater emphasis was give to transformative and integral aspect of formation (10).
  • We have grown in our understanding and appreciation of the intercultural aspect of formation (7).
  • More attention has been given to the formation process of interiorization of vocational values and accompaniment of the formandi (5).
  • Some Organisms promoted the biblical aspect of formation through the practice of Lectio Divina, Bible study and the prayerful reading of the Word of God (6). A few Organisms (4) introduced reading the whole Bible three times during initial formation.
  • Some formation centers enhanced the Interiorization of vocational values through the practice of daily personal journal writing by the formandi and regular vocational colloquies with the formator (2).
  • Many formation houses made efforts to develop and improve their libraries and create a collection of video and digital resources related to formation.
  • Some Major Organisms have made progress in promoting the learning of languages especially English and Spanish.

Among the various positive elements that the implementation of the Chapter resolutions have contributed in the area of formation, the most significant, is the greater awareness of the need to change the focus from “content” to the “process” of formation. Formators were encouraged to attend to, not only to what was being offered through the formation programs, but also to how the formandi made use of the program of formation to grow in their capacity to respond to the call of God to be a missionary in the style of Claret. The need for spiritual discernment to be cultivated as an everyday habit in the formandi is felt as we focused on the formation process in order to enable the formandi to listen to the call of God and to grow in their capacity to respond freely and generously.

We also encounter many limitations that can get in the way of realizing formative goals.

The report of the Major Organisms reflected limitations that they have identified in the area of formation during this sexennium:

  • Lack of well-formed formators is the most expressed limitation (15). Difficulty in finding people for formation ministry and an unwillingness of people to accept an assignment for formation ministry are also mentioned (4). Related to that is the failure on the part of formators to offer closer personal accompaniment (9). The multi-tasking of formators also poses limitations for formative accompaniment (2).
  • Issues related to formandi such as lacking in clarity of motivation (4), mediocrity (3), failure to interiorize values (2) low perseverance (2) influence of media and influence of the world (2) and deficient Claretian identity (3).
  • The need to consolidate and grow in the intercultural dimension is another commonly expressed concern (6). As most of the formation communities are intercultural in their composition, the limitations in this dimension impact missionary formation.
  • Some reports point out the limitations in implementing the learning of languages as was resolved in the General Chapter (4).

The limitations in the area of formation are not concerning a lack of building structures nor material needs since they are generally taken care of through the generous act of the sharing of goods in the congregation. The major concern in formation is related to the preparation of formation personnel and their dedication to the personal accompaniment of the formandi. The changes in global society that promote consumeristic values have a greater hold on the young men who enter our formation program and they pose many challenges to effective formation.

2. Our Formation Scenario

The congregation is blessed with 91 formation centers (39 pre-novitiate centers, 11 novitiates and 31 post-novitiate centers) which take care of a total of 1305 formandi (652 pre-novices, 132 novices and 521 professed). All Major Organisms have formandi in initial formation thanks to the designation of students by the General Superior from other provinces The distribution of the formandi by conferences is as follows:

Africa

East Asia

West Asia

America

Europe

Total

Pre-novitiate

175

158

211

98

10

652

Novices

132

Professed

164

122

126

89

20

521

About 169 missionaries are engaged in formation ministry in different roles as superiors of the formation houses, prefects, assistant prefects, or economes and 121 of them are directly involved in accompanying the formandi in their role as prefects and assistant prefects . Many of the formators are qualified in ecclesiastical disciplines and have participated in courses for formators. A few centers have formators who have just completed initial formation or are without any special training.

Most Major Organisms have the necessary building structures for the formation of missionaries. During the sexennium a house for welcoming vocations (Flores, Indonesia), four pre-novitiates ( Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Dili in East Timor, Moshy in Tanzania, Ijebu-Ode in Nigeria) two novitiates (Ekali-Cameroun and Kibiko-Kenya) three post-novititates (Yaoundé-Cameroun and Ibadan-Nigeria and formation house in Santo Domingo) were completed. There were also extensions of the houses Philosophy house in Sonada (North East India), pre-novitiate in Umsning (North East India), Novitiate of Utonkon (Nigeria), novitiate in Benlutu (Indonesia) and post-novitiate in Kupang (Indonesia).

The true challenge of formation is about building internal structures in the formandi that support the growth and creative fidelity of their vocational commitment. We need to focus on an authentic process of discerning if the young men who come to our formation centers are called to the Claretian life and on facilitating a Christ-centered unfolding of their missionary vocation. At times other preoccupations such as lack of facilities, poorly managed conflicts in community or among the formators’ team, erode energy and distract attention away from the core issues of formation.

3. Formation plans, Formation council and encounter of formators

The Major Organisms have their plan of formation which inculturates Claretian formation into their socio-cultural situation, following the norms of the general plan of formation. Several provinces and Delegations have updated their provincial formation plan after the reorganization of the respective Organisms (USA, San Jose de Sur, Peru-Bolivia, Brazil). The newly erected Major Organisms (Congo, Cameroun, St. Charles Luanda) also renewed their plans of formation.

Almost all Major Organisms which have formation centers have formation councils and formators’ encounters for evaluating the formation process and to empower the formators. The frequency of the meeting varies according to the context, ranging from once in a month, two or three times a year or once in a year. Interprovincial encounters are also organized by conferences. Some conferences organize one each year while others meet once in two or three years. These encounters are very positively valued in all the reports of the Major Organisms. They create opportunities for the ongoing formation of formators and offer mutual support in formation ministry.

The encounter of prefects of formation of all Major Organisms was held in Dar Es salaam in Tanzania from 10 to 20 August, 2012. Three Major Organisms that had no formandi in initial formation did not participate in the event. The encounter made efforts to promote a transformative formation process, emphasizing personal accompaniment of the formandi and formation in the central values of consecrated life (Claretian identity, evangelical counsels and community life). It also looked into the intercultural dimension of our formation and arranged some mission exposures. Themes of the encounter were taken up in different regional encounters of formators. The effect of the encounter on the formative culture of most of the Major Organisms is reported as very positive. Follow up to the program was effective when regional encounters of formators were organized involving all the formators who work in the field. There are also formation houses which continue with the same problems and ineffective formative approaches in spite of the many encounters we have had in the congregation. It happens when:

  • Formators are not able to offer qualitative and regular personal accompaniment due to lack of expertise, multi-tasking and/or having more formandi than what a single formator can realistically take care of. Hence he may easily revert to the role of a disciplinarian such as that of a hostel monitor than a mentor of missionaries.
  • Diocesan model of seminary formation for priesthood is followed with little attention given to consecrated life, community and prophetic mission.
  • formation environment in our centers promotes fear and pretense in the formandi rather than openness to formators and belongingness to the congregation.

4.  Formative stages

The formative stages are now organized in the directory as pre-novitiate, novitiate and post-novitiate stages of formation.

4.1.  Pre-novitiate

The pre-novitiate stage includes Aspirancy and Postulancy which are organized in different ways to suit the local context as well as the age and academic qualification of candidates. This period ranges from 1 to 6 years depending on whether study of philosophy is done before or after novitiate. Most of the Major Organisms have chosen for philosophy to be before novitiate in order to prepare the candidates emotionally and intellectually so they are more mature and able to profit from the novitiate. Longer years of pre-novitiate period of studies may leave the formandi without the required spiritual and charismatic foundations for their vocational journey when these dimensions are overlooked. A novitiate experience without sufficient emotional maturity and capacity for reflection may render the novitiate less effective in helping the novice to internalize vocational values. The following are the practices in the congregation:

  • One year of Postulancy followed by novitiate (part of the postulants in Nigeria)
  • Two year propedeutic period followed by novitiate (Indonesia, Betica).
  • Aspirancy and Philosophy followed by novitiate. Pastoral year is arranged immediately after novitiate or during theology (Most of the provinces/delegations follow this sequence).

The shift of philosophy to before novitiate is evaluated in the reports of Major Organisms (all except one) as very positive for a better novitiate experience. When Philosophy and theology are integrated into the formation course, one or two years of preparatory courses are done before the novitiate.

Though the local context of the Major Organisms affect the decision to place philosophy (or similar other studies) before or after novitiate, it is important to assure that the pre-novitiate stage prepare the formandi to reach a reasonable level of spiritual and psychological maturity in order to lay a solid foundation for missionary life during the novitiate. Hence it is important that the postulants are promoted to novitiate based on the clear presence of positive signs of Claretian form of life. When there is a prolonged period at the pre-novitiate stage, suitable spiritual programs need to be offered for setting solid spiritual foundations required for the vocational growth process.

The following data (based on reports of Major Organisms) give us an idea of entrance and abandons during the pre-novitiate stage of formation

Africa

Asia East

Asia West

America

Europe

Entered

374

347

273

355

42

abandoned

73 (missing data)*

168

158

143

8

* Data from three Organisms in Africa (Congo, East Nigeria and West Nigeria)which have larger number of postulants are not available.

Large number of persons entering as well as exiting at this phase of formation is expected as many young people joining us are on their search to know their vocation. But closer accompaniment before entering formation program and a careful selection process can reduce the entrance of those who join the formation process without clear motives and help improve the quality of formation at this stage.

4.2.  Novitiate

The novitiates are situated in suitable environments which facilitate the needed “desert experience”. Generally our novitiates count on prepared and experienced novice masters. We have also had unfortunate situations when the novitiate does not have a formation team to take care of a large number of novices and the administration of the house.

Regarding the length of novitiate most of the reports from Major Organisms (except one) consider that one year novitiate is sufficient. Four reports call for the need to deepen novitiate formation either by prolonging the length of novitiate or by assuring adequate accompaniment of their vocational growth already in the previous stages of formation. The real challenge of the novitiate is to motivate the novices to learn to work with the Holy Spirit to lay a solid foundation for their Claretian missionary life. The right balance needs to be sought by insisting on the need for depth in the interior life rooted in our charism and appropriate pastoral outreach to integrate the missionary dimension of our life. At times some novitiates overlook the fundamental objective of the novitiate (GPF 348) when many pastoral activities are arranged without closer accompaniment, reflection and evaluation.These novitiates need to pay attention to create a conducive climate of “breaking” with one’s former life style and of a ‘desert experience” which favor a “new openness” to the values of missionary life (GPF 356). We should dedicate an entire year for novitiate formation which will allow the novices to grow spiritually and emotionally to make an option for Claretian life. When longer pastoral exposures are arranged, it should preferably be after the canonical year or within an extended span of the novitiate to make up for the days of pastoral exposure (CC 69).

4.3.  Post novitiate

During this period of formation the formandi generally attend theology courses or some professional courses, though some of them are also in the pastoral year. On the whole our students contribute to the academic excellence of the institutes where they study. Often it is insisted that we should not be mere consumers of intellectual inputs, but rather be contributors to the institutes where we study through the quality of our missionary presence and academic excellence. The challenge at this stage is to integrate intellectual pursuits and pastoral involvement without making a dichotomy while making sense of dogmas and theological themes in relation to lived life. The professed Claretian now is capable of assuming responsibility for how he, as a disciple of Christ, accepts and integrates the limitations and struggles which he comes across both within himself and in his environment. A formation environment of tension and fear of authorities that generates anxiety about vocation (fear of being dismissed) robs the formandi of their sensitivity to freely and lovingly respond to the call of God. Unfortunately we have also such environments in some centers that promote compliance rather than internalization of the values of consecrated life.

Preparation for final vows and sacred orders is planned and carried out with care in all the centers of formation. It is often done at interprovincial level in many places. The programs of preparation include deeper reflection on the evangelical counsels, Claretian spirituality and often consists of a longer period of spiritual exercises.

About 175 students discontinued in the congregation during the post-novitiate stage either by their own choice or by dismissal. Most of the reasons reported were related to affective immaturity and difficulties in community living. It calls for more attention to the process of integration of the various dimensions of life (emotional, sexual, intellectual, moral, pastoral, spiritual and somatic) into one’s experience of the total mystery of Christ.

 5. Personal accompaniment of the formandi

Regular personal accompaniment of the formandi, one of the most important responsibilities of the formator, was emphasized over and over in various forums after last General chapter. The quality of this encounter as well as their frequency depend on the personal competence and availability of the formators. Apart from regular vocational growth dialogues between formandus and formator, personal accompaniment also involves various kinds of formative presence in the life of the formandi through weekly formative conferences, participation in community prayer, recreation, games, work, informal conversations etc.

A closer formative accompaniment of the formative journey of a formandus requires more frequent and qualitative personal vocational dialogues with formators. Though most plans of formation envisage monthly personal dialogues with formators, in practice it is done much less in many centers of formation. In several instances such meetings are 5 or 6 times a year. There are instances where vocational dialogues are still less frequent when a formator is to accompany 20-40 formandi alone and has other important responsibilities. We need to professionalize vocational growth dialogues of formandi with formators. An effective personal accompaniment would require more frequent meetings at early stages of vocational journey such as pre-novitiates and novitiates (preferably once in two weeks) and progressively less frequent at later stages (preferably once a month).

Due to lack of experience and training in formative accompaniment, many formators are not able to tap the potential of vocational growth dialogues to empower the student to assume responsibility for his formation. Our formators need to be proficient in making use of various kinds of formative interventions to respond effectively to the situation of the formandi. Many formators also are given various responsibilities in their provinces which also impede them from spending time with the formandi. We need to insist on qualified training to acquire skills for effective accompaniment of the formandi.

6.Integral approach to formation

A holistic and integral formation takes care of all aspects of the life of a formandus. It involves a vertical dimension which entails the spiritual awakening and growth into higher levels of consciousness. The horizontal dimension includes spiritual, intellectual, emotional, sexual, moral, pastoral, somatic and charismatic dimensions. It is also important to develop the natural gifts and talents of the formandus such as music, public speaking, artistic talents etc.. which will serve as channels of evangelization.

Formation in our centers usually accompanies the growth of formandi in the horizontal dimension and the development of various gifts and talents. On the whole intellectual and pastoral formation is well taken care of in most of our formation centers. Butformative accompaniment to facilitate the spiritual unfolding of the formandi is seriously wanting in the formation dynamics in a good number of centers. No wonder, we hear complaints about formandi turning out to be different after final profession! Even after initial formation when missionaries are still entrenched in ego needs that prompt them to look for ego-boosting positions of power, academic qualifications or financial security, it may look that the long years spent in formation did not help them to transcend their ego and enjoy self-giving service to the Church and the people of God. Traditional spiritual practices and conventional methods become effective when the person is awakened to his vocational call and the inner impulse to respond to it. We have formation contexts in the congregation where formandi live in fear of being sent out and are frantically trying to please the formators to be promoted even at advanced stages of formation. An authentic integral formation is not content with offering opportunities to promote growth of the fomandus in various dimensions of his personality, but seeks the harmonious integration of all aspects of life around the Pasqual Mystery unfolding in him and leading him to a fuller living of his vocation and mission.

7. Formation of Claretian identity

The demographic shift in the congregation to places culturally and geographically distant from its origins demand special attention to the formation of a solid charismatic identity and sense of belongingness to the congregation.

Witness of the missionary life of formators and their team work model Claretian life to the formandi. Many formators make a deep impact on the life of formandi when they themselves have a deep sense of Claretian identity and belongingness to the congregation which render them credible and attractive witnesses of Claretian life. Team work and the quality of fraternity among formators also are important formative factors for instilling Claretian identity in the formandi. When these factors are wanting in the formators and their team, their formation work will not fan the charismatic fire within the formandi.

Familiarity of the formators with the Claretian places (Vic, Sallent, Barbastro, Madrid) has made a significant impact in imparting knowledge and love for the founder and the congregation in many formation houses.

Claretian week is celebrated in most formation centers with due preparation. Often a relevant theme related to our charism is developed and presented by making use of various means of communication. Seventeen Major Organisms reported that they celebrated the Claretian week annually and that it helped to inculcate knowledge and love of the founder and the congregation in the formandi. Five of the Major Organisms do not celebrate Claretian week, though some of them celebrate the feast of Claret with many activities surrounding it.
Some formation centers have taken initiatives to promote Claretian identity by introducing a weekly Claretian day with reflections on our spiritual heritage and special preparation for the celebration of Claretian feasts and commemorations.

Promoting knowledge and love for the word of God is another way of deepening Claretian identity. Formation houses in four Major Organisms encourage the practice of reading the whole Bible three times during initial formation, a practice which has had reasonable success. Lectio Divina has become a common practice in most formation centers.

Filial love of Mary and a formative relationship with her as sons formed in the forge of her heart is another important element highlighted in Claretian formation. Mary finds a significant place both in liturgical celebration as well as artistic arrangements in the houses. It is observed that there are fewer images of the heart of Mary in the formation houses of Asia and Africa, though other popular images of Mary are abundant.

The Eucharistic dimension of our missionary life is often limited to daily celebration of the Eucharist in community. More could be done in formation to deepen the mystery of the Eucharist so as to enliven our life and missionary commitment.

The martyrial dimension of our charism has been highlighted recently due to the beatification of our martyrs of Tarragona and Martyrs of Sigüenza and Fernán Caballero. The film “A Forbidden God” has also greatly contributed to it. Some formation houses have prepared a grotto of martyrs or memorial places in the house with relics or images of martyrs to recall the witness of their lives. It would be good that all our formation houses have a memorial corner for our martyrs.

Openness to the universal mission is inculcated in the formandi in all of the formation centers. There is greater knowledge and awareness of our missionary presence in different parts of the world thanks to the possibilities offered by social media. Before perpetual profession our students write to Father General expressing their availability for universal mission. Some formation houses promote the sense of universal mission by exhibiting artifacts collected from different Claretian missions in the world. Many young missionaries are willing and desirous of contributing to the universal mission of the congregation. But fear and reluctance are noted in many formandi in some contexts to move out of their familiar world for longer periods of missionary commitment elsewhere.

8. Formative processes in the congregation

Integral and transformative formation processes call for an active and responsible role of the formandus as prime agent of his own formation who collaborates with the Holy Spirit, the first and foremost agent of formation and Holy Mary who is associated with the Work of the Holy Spirit in our formation (GPF 93-106). The formators who are entrusted with the immediate responsibility for the integral formation of our formandi accompany them in their vocational journey by making use of various means and dynamisms suited to reach the goal of formation (Cf. GPF. 107-114). We have several dynamics in the formation process to promote personal responsibility and active engagement of the formandi in their own formation process.

8.1.  Community project and personal project

It has become part of our formative culture that every formation community prepare a community project based on the guidelines of the General and Provincial Plans of Formation related to the respective stage of formation. This is usually done in the context of a day of prayer and recollection. Each student prepares his personal project and follows it up, accompanied by the formator. Generally all the formation centers take care of this formative process well.

8.2.  Personal responsibility and teamwork

Some formation centers enhance self-awareness and personal responsibility in the students by insisting on regular journal writing and an evaluation of all activities. At the early stage of formation journal writing is made part of the daily program with a specific time allotted for it in the timetable.

Formation centers offer ample opportunities to the formandi for taking responsibility for various services in the community and work together to meet the common needs of the community. Students also contribute by taking care of the maintenance of the house and surroundings, farming to supply food provisions and in some contexts even cooking. Sports and games also stimulate personal initiatives and teamwork in the formandi and help closer relationship with formators who also join them in games. Many formation houses organize and participate in tournaments and a few of them stand out best among the various seminaries in their region.

Spiritual life is given importance in our formation process. The formandi are encouraged to find time for personal prayer and meditation. But in many places academic demands and emphasis on studies overshadow the need for personal spiritual unfolding. In some places devotional practices and meticulous liturgical actions are considered to be signs of a sound spiritual life, leaving little space for the interior life and meditation. On the other hand there are also formation contexts which give little attention to liturgical formation and meaningful community prayer, while pastoral activities and contact with people absorb more attention and energy. In these skewed formation contexts we need to remind ourselves of what Pope Francis said about formation as an artwork which needs careful harmonizing of the spiritual, intellectual, communitarian and apostolic dimensions.

8.3. Formation for financial administration and accountability

Formation communities should manage the administration of the house based on an approved realistic budget and responsible adherence to it. In some houses the formandi are introduced to the budget system of administration and are enabled to collaborate with the administration of the house. In most centers the formandi are not aware of the budget nor do they participate in the process of preparing and executing it. In many formation centers the students do not know how much it costs their education and maintenance. In a few centers the formators themselves are not aware of even the feel paid to the institutes where our students study.

In some formation houses there is no culture of budget-based administration of the house and even formators are ignorant about the basics of financial administration. Keeping the formandi and the formators in the dark about the source of their own maintenance creates unrealistic expectations about financial situation of the house. In such cases formators and formandi feel annoyed about the provincial or General government for not releasing funds. Transparency about the financial situation of the house and participation in the efforts to make both ends meet will promote belongingness to the house, self-respect and shared responsibility in administering the house.

In some formation houses students are involved in the administration of the house by assisting the econome in shopping, keeping accounts and the maintenance of the house. Twenty-one Major Organisms reported that their students are given monthly allowance of a certain amount after novitiate to meet their ordinary personal needs. Personal accountability is fostered in the formandi by having them give accounts for their personal expenses. In six Major Organisms no monthly allowance is given, but the formandi receive money according to their needs for which they give account. It is interesting to note the wide range of disparities in the cost of living in different parts of the world which affect our formation houses too. Reference to the living expense of common people in the place is one of the criteria to be considered when stipulating personal expenses of our members.

Personal accountability, transparency and responsible administration of community goods are important values to be cultivated during the formative period through appropriate means.

8. 4.  Responsible use of media gadgets and personal computers

One of the area of concern in some formation houses is education for the use of modern media at the service of Claretian formation. Revolutionary changes in the growth of social media invite us to integrate their use appropriately at the service of formation. One of the formative issues in some centers is about the use of modern gadgets like mobiles and PCs by the formandi. Often more attention is given to whether it is permitted or not by the superiors rather than the “why” and “how” of their use to meet the formative needs in keeping with our life style. Rather than associating permission to possess and use media gadgets to power and privileges related to advanced stages of formation (finally professed, deacon, ordained etc), a formative approach should help the formandi to look into the “why” and “how” of their use in relation to the objectives of formation at each stage.

Uncritical use of social media can impede one from celebrating life and mission in actual communities of brothers with the joys and pains proper to real world and tempt him to take refuge in virtual communities of hundreds of friends in the web world. When sent to a distant mission one may continue to be glued to his own native culture and people through the unlimited possibilities available through media and be disconnected with the people and language of the new culture. Hence it is important that we take care of the proper education for responsible use of the possibilities of media and promote awareness of how they affect ones vocational journey, use of time and its financial, psychological and moral implications

There are different practices with regard to the use of computers and media gadgets in our formation houses. Their use is regulated by suitable norms to avoid distraction and abuse. The following are the common practices in post-novitiate stage.

  • Common Computers are made available for use with facilities for internet. When there are PCs, they are also placed for common use.(Antillas, Bangalore, Betica, centro America, Peru Bolivia, San Jose del Sur, Cameroon, Chennai, Korea, Poland, Indonesia, Philippines, North East India, St. Thomas, St. Chalres Luaga, Santiago, Sri Lanka)
  • Some have a PC, but there are also common computers (East Nigeria, Guinea Equitorial, Portugal)
  • PCs are allowed for personal use, but it is made known that they belong to the community and will be returned (Colombia).
  • PCs allowed when students need to write their thesis (Poland, Betica)
  • personal computers are allowed (Brazil, USA, East Asia, Congo)
  • Personal possession of mobiles are not allowed, but they are provided in common for use when needed or at stipulated times (Bangalore, Indonesia, Chennai, Korea, North East India, St. Thomas, East Nigeria, Sri Lanka).
  • personal mobile phones are allowed but their use is restricted to weekends (Philippines)
  • Personal mobiles are allowed, but formative guidelines are given (Antillas, Colombia, Brazil, Peru-Bolivia, San Jose del Sur, USA, East Asia, Cameroun, Congo, Guinea Equitorial, St.Charles Luaga, Betica, Portugal, Santiago).

Both appropriate use of media as well as undue preoccupation about personal possession of gadgets are observed in our formation centers. Use of internet is a necessary part of the educational culture in some countries. In other countries they are expensive and less affordable for common people. Without discipline and regulation in their use, they can cause dispersion and lead to various forms of addiction.

9. Formation of formators

There has been significant improvement in the efforts of Major Organisms to qualify the formators through availing them of suitable training as stated in the reports of Major Organisms (7 responses). Some Major Organisms have very qualified formators and they organize ongoing formation of their formators well. There are also Major Organisms where formators are newly ordained and without adequate training. The following table based on the data from reports gives a general picture of the specialization and preparation and academic preparation of the formators now engaged in formation ministry.

Conference

Number of Formators

Doctorate

Licentiate/

PG

Formation courses

Other studies

No special preparation

Africa

37

2

13

12

1

12

Asia East

26

0

7

13

1

8

Asia West

48

6

19

23

3

16

America

46

3

11

23

1

11

Europe

12

0

9

7

0

0

Total

169

11

59

78

7

47

 In the meeting of major superiors in Colminar Viejo (2010), five elements were suggested as important for the formation of formators:

  • Selection of personnel with natural grace for formation ministry which includes authenticity of missionary life and skills in empowering others.
  • Experience in a mission at least for a couple of years
  • Participation in the School of the Heart of Mary for formators in Vic
  • A level of academic qualification required to teach the formandi proper to the stage of formation.
  • Basic training in human psychology and spiritual direction in order to accompany the formandi effectively.

At the congregational level we have organized three courses in the school of the Heart of Mary for formators in 2009 (English). 2010 (Spanish) and 2013 (English) which trained a total of 59 formators.

Year

participants

Now in formation

In Further training

Not in formation

2010 (English)

20

7

4

9

2011 (Spanish)

19

12

1

6

2013 (English)

22

17

3

1

There has been improvement in the selection of personnel to attend the course and the subsequent assignment in formation ministry. The SHM course for formators focusses on experiential knowledge of the places and spirituality of the Founder and the study of General plan of formation.

There was a felt need to complement the SHM course with training in formative accompaniment. A series of courses on the theory and practice of accompaniment was organized on an experimental basis in English, making use of online facilities. The course was arranged for 12 weeks of which 10 weeks would be through online and 2 weeks would be through residential workshop. Three courses were planned (two in Asia and one in Africa) with Fr. Paul Smyth and Mathew Vattamattam as facilitators. Claretian sisters (RMI) also collaborated and participated (5 sisters) in the courses. The workshops were the following:

date

venue

participants

Provinces/Del. present

January 20-February 3, 2015.

Dindigal, India

21

Bangalore, Chennai, St. Thomas, North East, Srilanka

February 9-22, 2015

Jogyakarta, Indonesia

26

East Asia, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, Srilanka, Peru-Bolivia.

April 10-23, 2015

Ibadan, Nigeria

20

Cameroun, Congo, East Nigeria, West Nigeria, St. Charles Luanga.

In spite of technical difficulties related to internet access in different places, most participants took pains to do the online part and actively participated in the residential workshop. The courses were very positively evaluated by the participants. The course followed an experiential approach making use of facilitation methods suited to adult learning. The experience also confirmed the present need for more practice based and skill building programs rather than mere theoretical expositions in the training of formators.

10.Vocation and formation of brothers and priests

Almost all young men seeking to join our formation program are candidates for missionary priesthood. Hence a major part of the formation program in our centers is geared to the formation of missionary priests. In this sexennium 38 formandi were for brotherhood (America 25; Asia 8; Africa 4 and Europe 1). They are from 16 Major Organisms while 13 Major Organisms which have vocations to missionary priesthood had no vocations for brothers in this sexennium.

In many of the flourishing provinces and Delegations in Asia and Africa we attract only very few vocations to brotherhood. Some Major Organisms seems to have given up efforts to promote vocations to brotherhood because earlier efforts have not been fruitful. They seem to consider it a lost battle to fight strong cultural biases and clericalist mentality which discourage vocations to brotherhood in clerical congregations. Unrecognized clericalism in our own manners and attitudes also discourage potential candidates from discerning a avocation to brotherhood. Granted that vocation is a free gift of the Holy Spirit, we also need to persevere in creating space in our ourselves and our communities to promote, welcome and nurture vocations to brotherhood.

In fact, most candidates join the congregation to become “priests” without knowing the deeper difference between diocesan vocation and religious priestly vocation or between the charism of various congregations. We can say the same lack of clarity about the nature of one’s inner call to be religious priest or brother. If a candidate is not tuned to his call experience, it will be difficult to embrace his unique vocation, be it to be a missionary brother or a priest.

Clarification and purification of motives is the first step towards safeguarding and nurturing Claretian vocations, both of ordained ministers and lay brothers. When there is a failure to ground our Claretian vocation in the inner experience of a unique call, we face sad consequences. We will have diocesan clergy in Claretian garb who seek the advantages both of religious life and secular clergy. During the early stages of formation it is important to help formandi to discern the nature of their call and make an authentic response to the call. Regarding the formation of brothers, we have guidelines in the General plan of formation which the provincial plans need to adapt to their context.

11. Formative resources

Most of the formation houses took initiatives to provide facilities and formative resources to support whole person learning of the formandi. All the developing formation houses were invited to improve their libraries and make it a congenial place for learning. The mission procura supported four formation centers to improve libraries while many others did so from their local sources.
Formators were also encouraged to have audio visual aids and resources to enhance their formation ministry. E-books and digital articles on formation and audio visual resources were shared among formators in different forums.

The webpage on formation (http://claretianformation.com)is another resource center for both formandi and formators on Claretian formation materials, ecclesiastical documents and other helpful materials. The English section of the webpage is more developed than the Spanish and French section. The availability of formative materials and lack of personnel to work in these sections made it difficult to improve them.
In the year 2014-2015, an online learning school (http://claretianformation.moodlehub.com) is attached to the webpage on an experimental basis making use of the platform of Moodle program. The courses at present are only in English. It is found to be an excellent platform to support formation for offering online courses on Claretian themes and relevant life enhancing competencies.

12. Intercultural formation

Most of our formation centers are intercultural in nature as the formandi come from diverse cultural groups in the same country or of several countries. The intercultural composition of these centers bring many blessings as well as challenges in formation. There is greater awareness of the richness and the potential for growth and apostolic fruitful ness through intercultural communities. There are also many challenges and difficulties arising from communication failures due to cultural prejudices, stereotypes and ethnocentric views. We need to develop formation programs that help the students cultivate cultural intelligence, intercultural competencies and capacity for inculturated mission. The second most reported challenge in formation (7 responses) is the formation for intercultural community living and mission. We need to move to a higher level of intercultural understanding where we can enrich ourselves and our missions better through the gift of the diversity God has granted us. Intercultural maturity will lead to better inculturation and commitment in the mission. We need to organize programs to help our formators and formandi to develop intercultural competencies and capacity for inculturated mission.

13. Learning of languages

The commitment to “emphatically encourage the learning of languages in our formation houses” (MFL 63.6) made some resonances in many formation houses. Learning local languages in view of future missions was encouraged by organizing pastoral exposures and making use of pastoral year. Many centers promoted the learning of Spanish and English. They had positive results in different digress especially in the learning of English in non-English speaking parts of the congregation. Learning Spanish in the non-Spanish speaking areas did not make much progress in most centers.

An experiment to test the culture of learning languages was tried during the encounter of prefects of formation held in Tanzania in 2012. Already in 2010 the prefects of formation were asked to organize themselves to learn Spanish and English in two years. They were informed of the possibility of not availing of translation facilities for the encounter. Among the prefects 21 persons could not speak both the languages. There was evidently goodwill and motivation in most of the prefects to learn one or the other of the two languages. Though many prefects have improved their understanding of the other language to some extent, only one of them have learnt enough to communicate well and another two have significantly progressed. We may conclude from this experience that good will alone without concrete learning strategies cannot magically turn good resolutions into reality. It seems to be a fitting paradigm that explains many of our wonderful resolutions made with good will, but without effective strategies, and they survive only in reports.

14. Some orientations for future

The directives on formation from the congregation for Institutes of Consecrated life and Societies of Apostolic life (1990) rightly pointed out that “the proper renewal of religious institutes depends chiefly on the formation of their members” (no.1). Joyful prophetic missionary commitment in the context of today calls for a renewed commitment to take care of the formation of our missionaries. We have rich formative documents and guidelines that have helped us to understand the “what” of Claretian formation. The need of the hour seems to be to address the practical side of the “how to” of the goals of formation and bring them into the reality of everyday life.

15. Challenges and Recommendations

1) Need for reviewing some aspects of our GPF. The General plan of formation was promulgated 21 years ago and it is time to update it incorporating the subsequent teaching of the Church and the wealth of the progress taking place in the field of education and helping professions.

2) Consider the possibility of establishing a formation council or a similar structure at General level to review and identify what training formators need to improve the quality of the accompaniment and discernment processes required during initial

3) Promote a formation approach which enables the formandi to assume responsibility to collaborate with the action of the Holy Spirit by growing in inner freedom and cultivating spiritual, intellectual and pastoral competencies.

4) Help the candidates to clarify their vocation to the Claretian missionary life, priest or brother. In most cultures a young man seeks to join congregation with the idea of becoming a priest with very little idea about what implies a Claretian missionary.

5) Strive to create a community culture in formation houses where the Claretian charism marks our missionary identity. A vocation to be a Priest or a Bother needs to be affirmed for their missionary dimension in the Claretian charism without any association with “privilege” and “status” and other vestiges of “clericalism”.

6) Take into account in our formation programs to tap the potential of the families of the formandi to support their consecrated life and missionary commitment and find suitable means to educate them about the implications of missionary life.

7) Assiduously take care of the selection and formation of formators and empower all those who dedicate themselves in formation ministry by offering opportunities:

  • to become familiar with our Claretian history and spiritual heritage through programs such as the school of the heart of Mary.
  • to have an understanding of their own spiritual and psychological processes and get trained for accompaniment and spiritual direction.

 8) Have a team of formators in every formation house that work as team for the holistic growth of the formandi.

9) Explore the possibility of creating intercultural formation teams for the some of our formation centers.

10) Help the formators and formandi in their understanding of the dynamics of intercultual living and inculturation in mission and make this matter a part of our formation programs.

11) Integrate into the specialization studies some programs that can help those undertaking them to serve in the formation area in the future.

12) Take due care of the follow-up of the encounters and courses for formators so that they have a real impact in the formation programs of the Provinces and Delegations.

13) Need to find ways to make philosophical and theological studies more life related, spiritually nourishing and pastorally relevant so as to avoid any dichotomy between study and life, faith and practice.

14) Plan the pastoral programs of our students with clear formative intent and accompany them with theological reflection, evaluation, feedback and follow up.


[1] The numbers in brackets refer to the number of Organisms mentioning it in their report.

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