Chapter 1: First organisation of formation, 1849-1870

Chapter 2: Period between the years 1871-1899
I. FR. JOSEPH XIFRÉ (1858-1899)

Chapter 3: Period between the years 1899-1922
I. FR. CLEMENT SERRAT (1899-1906)
II. FR. MARTIN ALSINA (1906-1922)

Chapter 4: Period between the years 1922-1966 (1st Part)
II. FR. PHILIP MAROTO (1934-1937)

Chapter 5: Period between the years 1922-1966 (2nd Part)

Chapter 6: Formation in the Post-Conciliar Renewal, 1967-1997
I. PERIOD OF 1967-1971
II. PERIOD OF 1973-1979
III. PERIOD OF 1979-1985
IV. PERIOD OF 1985-1991
V. PERIOD OF 1991-1997

Chapter 7: The General Plan of Formation, 1994

III.Vocational and formative documents
1. Fr. Founder
1.1. Plan of Studies (1859 

The above mentioned Plan of Studies of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which Claret sent to Fr. Xifré, has above all the great historical value of being the first formation document that the Fr. Founder wrote for the Congregation.
They are simple notes with some ideas about the studies that ought to be made in our houses in the Congregation.25 Among the proposals, one may underscore:

1st. Regarding the duration and the matters to be studied, there would be three years of Philosophy and four of Theology.

2nd. Regarding the method, there would be full dedication to study every day except holidays. Priests or those who are about to be ordained, in addition to studying, should prepare sermons and homilies and could help in some missions. Lastly, Fr. Founder says, “today the study and knowledge of French is a necessity.”26

1.2. Formative Regulations (1862)

After the II General Chapter, the Fr. Founder immediately set about drafting the Congregation’s first document on formation as a whole, and not just on studies. According to a letter to Fr. Xifré dated 2 August 1862,27 Fr. Founder had already handed over to Fr. Clement Serrat in Segovia on 28 July the regulations for the students and the regulations for the Pedagogue or Prefect. The chapters on Aspirants, Novices, Master and his Assistant were drafted a few months later, between August and December of 1862. In fact, our Fr. Founder sent Fr. Xifré all the documents in definitive form on 20 December 1862, under the title of Reglamento [Regulations].28 All of these formed a whole, entitled Reglamento para los Aspirantes, Probandos y Estudiantes de nuestra Congregación y sus
respectivos Maestros [Regulations for Aspirants, Novices and Students of our Congregation and their respective Masters].29

1st. Aspirants, Novices and Novicemaster

Once the students were officially admitted in the Congregation, the Fr Founder himself organised, from the beginning, the acceptance of the new vocations.

a) The Aspirants and their Master
Aspirants are those who have been accepted by the Congregation to be on trial for the two weeks previous to the noviciate.30 According to the Regulations, the Aspirants (priests, students and brothers) are to be accepted in a Community of the Congregation, lovingly attended to by those in charge and helped in the discernment of their vocation.31

To this end, they should remain in the house for 15 days and should be very obedient to their Master. The latter, personally or through his Assistant, should “kindly” teach them all that seems suitable in the moral, formative and material order.32

They are also given various occupations and tasks so that they may get to know the Congregation, conform themselves to its spirit and strengthen their will with special resolves suitable to the way of perfection they are about to start.33 Finally, should they, during this time, give hopes of being called to the Congregation, they will start the year of probation.
b) Objective of the Noviciate
Since the missionary has been called by God to an apostolic ministry, a “sublime and important” ministry, he should possess all the virtues that enable him for it. In this sense, the objective of the noviciate, as a year of probation, is to lay the foundation for those virtues.34

c) The Novices
The first concern of the novices should be to attain the aim of the noviciate. Therefore, “their first attention should be directed” to acquiring all virtues, laying the foundations of the same and painstakingly putting into practice the most efficacious means to this end.35

The virtues indicated by our Fr. Founder are: faith, trust, humility, obedience, upright intention, prayer and fidelity to one’s vocation.36

After the year of noviciate, if the novices have acquired a formation that is suitable to become good missionaries, and if “they are decided and resolved to remain in the Congregation,” they should prepare themselves with ten days’ spiritual exercises for their definitive admission through their consecration to God and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.37

d) The Novicemaster
With a view to the formation of the novices and in order to comply with his function of guiding, teaching and regulating38 the life of the Noviciate, the Novicemaster should be “light, way, father, teacher and model” to all.39

The person chosen to fulfil this “very important task” must be a member of the Congregation who combines and possesses “the qualities of maturity, kindliness, discretion and knowledge suitable for this function.”40

In the exercise of his functions the Novicemaster should above all take into account the following obligations:

* He should be a man “deeply devoted” to God and the Blessed Virgin.41

* He should be “most faithful” to the Superior.42

* And, regarding the novices, he should be Father, Teacher and Physician (and psychologist) to them, taking care of their spiritual and bodily health.43

With regard to spiritual health, the Novicemaster should help the novice in the formation of his missionary personality and accompany him in his vocational growth. He should offer him formative orientations, initiate him in prayer and the spiritual life, inculcate upon him truly missionary attitudes and help him overcome temptations.44 He should have a personal contact with the novice in order to get to know him more intimately and help him in his vocation.45

Regarding bodily health, the Novicemaster should show particular concern for everything that may affect the novice, such as food, clothing, work, manner of studying, laziness or idleness, types of mortification and participation in recreation.46 In cases of sickness, he should seek the necessary information and prescribe the remedies suitable to the “maladies and temperament of each one.”

e) The Auxiliary to the Novicemaster
In order to help the Novicemaster, an Auxiliary should be assigned to him.48 He should possess the same spirit and qualities as the Novicemaster, should work in close relation with him and take his place when needed.49

2nd. The Students and their Pedagogue (or Prefect)50

Our Fr. Founder starts from a principle of differential pedagogy when he establishes that the students’ formation should be governed: first, by the norms prescribed for the priests, that are compatible with their condition of students; and, second, by the specific formative orientations established for them in the Regulations.51

The aim of formation is to become good ministers, fit to promote always the greater glory of God and the good of souls by means of the word, the testimony of life and apostolic action.52

a) The Students
To this end, the students should “carefully and fervently” make their personal prayer 53 and follow the established rhythm of community prayer54 and spiritual reading, especially of the Word of God.55

In a context of integral and harmonic formation, the students should cultivate their mind and heart by means of science and virtue.56

Regarding virtue, although they should strive to be adorned with all virtues,57 they should seek however those that are directly related to study, so that the trinomial science-virtue-piety may keep the right proportion and harmony in their life.58 Thus they should take into account the following criteria:

* The first virtue they should acquire is humility of intellect and will.59

* The second is an upright intention in their studies,60 so as never to lose sight of the aim of formation.

* And the third is an intense and balanced dedication to study,61 coupled with obedience and penance.62

In addition, they should be respectful toward their professors63 and exemplary in their behaviour; they should give testimony of life to their companions and shine for their prudence and modesty.64

Regarding study, in addition to what was previously said, the students:

* Should be able to make their priestly studies in our own house, in the Seminary or in the University, at the discretion of the Superior.65

* They should follow certain didactic orientations in order to learn more and better, like thinking about the lesson, taking notes, repeating the lectures, etc…. 66

* They should be able to make particular and complementary studies, according to their personal qualities.67
* And they should avoid, by means of mortification, other type of readings that may cause dissipation or lead them away from the studies they are pursuing.68

On free days and holidays and during vacation time, the students should devote themselves to apostolic activities, to prepare themselves for preaching and oratory,69 to the study of national and foreign languages70 and to the review of previously studied matters.71

b) The Pedagogue of the Students
The pedagogue, chosen from among the most “observant and virtuous” members of the Congregation, should be “meek, kind… modest and dignified,” mature and with self-control.72

His functions are in tune with the formative demands indicated by our Fr. Founder for the students. Thus, the formator:

* Should promote a harmonic formation in piety and the acquisition of science and virtue (humility, modesty, control of passions and of the will).73

* He should foster common and personal study and the good use of time.74

* He should give the suitable methodological orientations to obtain greater progress in study.75

* And he should take great care of the health of his charges.76

In order to discharge his office, he should be aware of the very high mission that has been entrusted to him,77 he should give the necessary lectures and conferences,78 make the appropriate corrections with kindness79 and work in close union and collaboration with the Superior of the Community.80

1.3. Other vocational and formative orientations
Apart from his works about vocation and seminary formation, our Fr. Founder throughout his life expressed his way of thinking in his letters, jottings and notes, through which he gave vocational and formative orientations to the Congregation according to the circumstances.81 Over and above what he expressed in his correspondence with Xifré, we recall here other testimonies.

1st. Right after the foundation of the Congregation, Claret was very careful before admitting new members in the community, making sure that no unfit persons would be incorporated. It was indispensable to make a good screening of the candidates.82

2nd. In view of the scarcity of missionaries and the abundance of requests he receives, he constantly insists on the need to pray and ask the Lord to send labourers to his harvest.83 In his Autobiography he recommended praying
the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin in the Noviciate because in this way “She would provide the Congregation with persons who would help it grow, spread and endure.”84

3rd. Confronted with the difficulties the Congregation was encountering in its development, expansion and growth, he advises Fr. Xifré to strive to the best of his ability to promote vocations. He should not to fall asleep, but rather work without losing time to “gather and form young men;” and, if he needs to build, he should do so with complete freedom, without consideration of others’ opinions, and without anxiety about the expenses.85 More concretely:

* In 1867, in order to help Fr. Xifré solve some difficulties regarding the admission of students, Claret offered several solutions. And he added a thought that, in the words of the Saint himself, “you and your Consultors should think about.” The thought of the Founder was about the possibility of admitting students “of good disposition, with vocation and with solid hopes,” who would complete their humanistic formation in the Congregation. These students could be distributed among our houses, finish their studies of Philosophy and
Theology in the seminaries of the cities where they were assigned, and do some apostolate or other activities compatible with their studies.86

* And when he was in Rome for the Vatican Council I in 1869, he wrote a very interesting Vocational Note.87 It dealt with the idea of fostering vocations by training acolytes in churches and parishes. They should be taught Latin, rubrics, plainsong, etc, while staying in their own town. All missionaries should take this task upon themselves not only when they give missions but also when they are in their own communities (where there should always be one person charged with this task). According to our Father Founder, the experience in some dioceses has been positive, and these acolytes “are now good seminarians.”88

4th. In spite of the temptations and difficulties that Satan will no doubt pose to prevent it, one has to struggle to be faithful to one’s vocation. To this end one must cherish the missionary vocation, live joyfully, keep always busy and pray to the Most Holy Virgin Mary.89

2. Fr. Xifré
2.1. The Very Important Instruction (1862)

With the intention of making the Congregation known, Fr. Xifré wrote in 1862 a Very Important Instruction for the Aspirants to the Congregation of Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.90 It is the first vocation
promotion document of the Congregation. Fr. General himself expresses its aim in a brief synthesis in the introduction: We have thought of giving this news so that the aspirants as well as their directors may know what they are up to. Therefore, in order to know what line to take, they should carefully read the inspiring motivations, the advantages, the requirements and the impediments for the missionaries as well as for the students and brothers.”91

The Instruction presents some requirements and impediments to enter the Congregation. First, it shows the motivations (motives, advantages, etc…) to become a missionary in the Congregation; then, more concretely, it deals with the conditions to admit priests and young men either as students or as brothers.

In order to regulate and facilitate the vocational discernment of those who are to examine the candidates, another Instructio is published in 1864 in the form of a questionnaire.92 This instruction, influenced by St. Ignatius Loyola, served as basis for chapters XVIII-XX of Part One of the Constitutions of 1865.

2.2. The Very Important Maxims (1862)

Another fruit of the discussions in the II General Chapter was the document that Fr. Xifré published towards the end of September of 1862, under the title Máximas importantísimas en todo tiempo y para todos los Misioneros, pero con más especialidad para los que están en el año de probación [Very important maxims for all times and for all Missionaries, and very specially for those in the year of probation]. 93 It is a brief document of 10 maxims about the attitudes the novice should cultivate during the Noviciate (trust, humility, joy, etc…) and his relations with the Superiors and the Director.
The novice must fully believe and have the certainty of the realisation of his vocation. To this effect, he must trust that the Lord who chose him will give him the aptitude and all that is needed to fulfil the vocational project to which he has been called. He must put his trust in the Heart of Mary, because she is our Mother and Formatrix. And he must also trust in the Congregation who prays for all its members and helps them with all necessary means to be faithful.94 Together with this personal conviction, grounded on the Lord, the Heart of Mary and the Congregation, the novice must also have a deep humility95 and self-confidence; he should not be afraid or sad when he is tempted with mistrust or experiences his own limitations. Therefore, he should never be weighed down by the many occupations he may have, or by the lack of talent or the necessary knowledge required by his vocation; and not even by the many faults and imperfections he commits, or the temptations he must undergo.96

In addition to these reasons for trust, the novice should apply some means to become humble and to overcome his temptations or his personal limitations. The following means are recommended:

* Prayer:97 The novices should ask the Lord for what they need in health, knowledge and virtue in order to be faithful. They should insistently pray to the Heart of Mary, as their Mother and Formatrix. And they should have trust in the prayers of their own Brothers who pray for them.
* Self-knowledge through introspection: In order to foster humility, the novice should “frequently enter into himself, studying what he is and what he should be.”98

* Spiritual direction: In temptations, anguish and in moments of sadness, in addition to fighting against them and praying, it is indispensable and necessary to have recourse to the spiritual director or to the superior.99

3. Fr. Clotet
3.1. In regard to the brothers, they had, as a formative point of reference, a very detailed Reglamento in the last part of the Constitutions.100

3.2. Later on, Fr. Clotet wrote for them the Directori dels Hermanos Ajudants de la Congregació del Inmaculat cor de Maria ó sian Instruccions prácticas para combinar los seus traballs domestichs amb lo cumpliment de la reglas de dita Congregació. This directory contains instructions for various professions, as well as others of a spiritual or religious character.101