General Plan of Formation (GPF 2020)

GPF can quite fittingly be considered as the Magna Carta on Formation that the Congregation, as mother and teacher, offers to its members, and above all to its new missionaries. It gathers up the core essentials of our missionary life and high lights its dimensions: charismatic, Christocentric, ecclesial, cordimarian, and human.




206. By dynamisms and means we mean realities (situations, activities, instruments) that have a formative use and thrust. They are called dynamisms because of the energy they have to stimulate the formation process. They are called means inasmuch as they constitute channels for communicating the values that are meant to be handed on. These realities can either be created by various agents of formation, or they can be taken over with an educational aim from the broad world of formative factors (personal and environmental).

207. However, the thrust that the agents of formation assign to these realities does not in itself suffice to automatically transform them into value-bearing instruments useful for formation. It is necessary that the realities themselves already be signs of the values they mean to convey. Moreover, a good organization and orientation of signs, as well as a good pedagogy in the use of means, contributes to making them more effective and helpful in achieving their intended objectives.

208. In this chapter, the fundamental dynamisms and means are set forth. Others that are more specific will appear in the different stages of formation. Moreover, the ones that are presented here are those that have had a special charismatic thrust and tradition in the Congregation. Some of them are joined together as binomial pairs in order to show their close interrelatedness which, in some cases, was underscored by our Founder himself.

1. Vocational accompaniment

1.1. The process of vocational growth

209. A vocation is a gift of God that always demands a free response on the part of the person called. It must then be dynamically understood as something that is in a continual process of growth.

210. On God’s part, we are always assured of the active presence of the Spirit, who illumines and guides the person called and supports him in his response. On the part of the person called, he accepts the gift by becoming clearer about the nature of the call, assuming responsibility for his own life, searching for a continuing formation in keeping with the Congregation’s project of life, and pursuing his particular path toward holiness.

211. Anyone who is called to our missionary life does not travel the ways of the Lord by himself alone, but rather in community. The community helps him discover what the Spirit is asking of him, duly accompanying him on his journey throughout its successive stages and providing him with suitable persons who can offer him a more personalized help. The disposition of the person to receive this accompaniment is in itself a sign of his desire to discern and grow in his vocation.

1.2. Personal accompaniment

212. Our Founder followed the pathways that the Lord chose for him by seeking both timely[1] and regular[2] guidance from persons experienced in the spiritual life, who helped him discern God’s will for him. He disclosed the state of his conscience to them,[3] relied on their approval[4] and obeyed them.[5] He himself adverts to the fact that at very critical moments in his life he had recourse to certain persons for advice and direction.[6] He recalls, as something especially significant, the meeting he had with Fr. Amigó,[7] which contributed to reviving the fervor of his piety and devotion by opening his eyes to the dangers that he had been passing through.[8] He identifies Fr. Bach as a spiritual director in whom he could place his trust and who helped him clarify his vocational doubts, overcome temptations, and be formed as a missionary in the forge of God’s love.[9] In a letter to Fr. Xifré, he expresses his desire that the missionaries should render a clear account of conscience to their spiritual directors, in order to avoid desertions and overcome temptations.[10]

213. In a broad sense, personal accompaniment is any help that enlightens, sustains and guides a Claretian in his endeavor to discern the will of God in order to reach the fullness of his missionary life. The ways in which this is done are many and diverse, as we will point out in what follows.

214. Spiritual direction is the way most often recommended both by the Church[11] and by the Congregation.[12] The Congregation has regarded it as an excellent means to discern the will of God, to maintain our fervor and to persevere to the end.[13] The Congregation recommends spiritual direction to our missionaries in general[14] and to our formandi in particular.[15] During initial formation, accompaniment also includes the assiduous presence of the formator in the life and acts of the community, including his participation in its apostolic activities, and personal dialogue with each formandus—at least once a month in the case of the temporarily professed and even more frequently in previous stages– in order to facilitate his discernment and vocational growth.[16]

215. In our tradition, the formator is the person whom the Congregation offers to each formandus for spiritual direction, leaving him free to choose in dialogue with his formator another qualified person as a helper in accompaniment.[17] When some other person is chosen, he should preferably be a Claretian or at least someone who understands the spirit and characteristics of the Congregation.

216. In spiritual direction, there should be an effort to help the person:

  1. To know himself, accept himself and possess himself of his own free will.
  2. To get some distance from self in order to set out on the way of conversion to God and of giving himself as an offering to others. In this moment it is important to pay particular attention to how the person is experiencing God, to the way he listens to the Word, to his personal and community prayer, to the different ways in which he keeps discovering the presence of Christ, to his critical reading of reality, to the way he is living his sense of belonging to the community and its apostolic experiences, and to the trials, crises and temptations that are inviting him to abandon the path he has begun.
  3. To seek God’s will always in the concrete circumstances of life through the practice of discernment.

217. The spiritual director carries out his task of accompaniment by means of a pedagogy which on the one hand illuminates, suggests and encourages the person to value who he is and who he is called to be and, on the other hand, promotes his responsibility so that gradually it is he who chooses and makes his own the ways that the Spirit of God is proposing to him.

218. The modality of accompaniment consists of frequent dialogue with the formator.[18] The formator’s role puts him in relationship with each of the formandi in whatever refers to the ensemble of aspects of the formation project. This form of accompaniment must always take place, even when the spiritual director is someone other than the formator.

219. Also understood as forms of accompaniment are frequent confession[19] and all those other realities in the formation community which are helpful for personal growth: life reviews, moments of celebrating and sharing the Word, formation talks, occasional reports on the life of the Church, the Congregation and the world, and even some small details (a word of advice, a meaningful word or gesture).

220. However, in some specific cases, another person (counselor, spiritual director) may be sought so that the formandus may have greater freedom to reveal his interior life or benefit from the specialization of that chosen person to deal with certain issues.[20] The help of psychologists is to be utilized in the evaluation of personality, to give an opinion on the psychological health of the candidate; and in therapeutic accompaniment, to clarify certain problems that may surface and to facilitate growth toward human maturity.[21]

221. The drawing up and faithful fulfillment of a personal (or growth) project[22] is another means that can prove helpful in vocational maturation. Our Founder always gave great importance to resolutions and plans of life for the effectiveness they have in making scientific, spiritual and apostolic progress.[23] In order for a personal project to truly respond to its objective, it should start out from a faith-experience and include the main dimensions of one’s vocation.[24] It must be drafted with realism, concreteness, simplicity and flexibility, so that it can be periodically adapted to the situations that arise, and it should be shared with the formator and the spiritual director.

2. The Word and the sacraments

222. One of the distinctive features of our configuration in the Church is our special devotion to the Eucharist and to the Word of God as the primary and constant Source of our supernatural life and apostolic zeal.[25] Given this centrality, both elements––together with the Sacrament of Reconciliation – must have a relevant and distinctive presence in the formative itinerary.

2.1. The Word

223. Throughout its history, in different concrete forms and practical expressions, the Church has held to the Pauline teaching that all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully equipped for every good work.[26] Along this same line, the Second Vatican Council recommends that all the faithful assiduously read the Scriptures as the way to the supreme knowledge of Jesus Christ, and it asks that the Church’s shepherds provide their faithful with the means for an adequate biblical formation.[27] The Bible will never be merely a book to study, but, above all, a spiritual nourishment served generously at the table of the liturgy,[28] and a book of life.[29]

224. Saint Anthony Mary Claret discovered his vocation, above all, in contact with the Bible.[30] He was much given to reading it[31] and constantly nourished his missionary spirituality on it, fixing his gaze principally on Jesus, the apostles and the prophets.[32] He drew on the Bible for his preaching, both for subject matter and for style.[33] During his years as a seminarian, he had acquired the custom of reading the whole Bible in the course of a year, in keeping with the guidelines of Bishop Corcuera.[34]

225. Claret’s praxis and experience were transmitted to the Congregation. Already in number 6 of the rules for a “perfect missionary” which he wrote shortly before the founding of the Congregation, he prescribed the daily reading of the New Testament. His talks for foundational spiritual exercises always open with a biblical introduction. The first Constitutions (1857) prescribed daily Bible reading during the time of missions. The Special Regulation for Students (1862) stipulates that each one of them have a Bible and read four chapters from it daily.[35] In the 1865 Constitutions, Bible reading is established for the novices. Beginning in 1870, during the period they spent back in the mission house, the missionaries began having a weekly class in Sacred Scriptures as a kind of ongoing formation.

226. The Constitutions define our specific calling among the People of God as the service of the Word, and they ask that, following Mary’s example, we should listen to it assiduously and share it with our brothers.[36] The Bible should be our principal book of spiritual reading.[37] The superior should encourage his brothers to fidelity by offering them the ministry of God’s Word.[38]

227. The General Chapters of the period of post-conciliar renewal have acknowledged and highlighted the rich legacy of formation and biblical spirituality that has accompanied and enlivened the Institute throughout its history.[39] Our aspiration is that each Claretian become a habitual listener to the Word (in prayer, in events, and in the culture, silences, and outcries of the people),[40] an impassioned student of the Scriptures[41] who allows himself to be challenged and probed by them,[42] reads them in the light of his vocation,[43] and shares them with his brothers and with the laity.[44] Under Mary’s maternal action, we learn how to give the Word a life-commitment and a missionary proclamation.

228. The Claretian Missionary will strive to read and study the Word in a charismatic key and with a view to the real world, from our Founder’s typically missionary, Christ-centered standpoint and in communion with the living tradition of the Gospel, which includes the latest advances in exegesis and hermeneutics.[45] He will also prepare himself to help the faithful become familiarized with the Word of God.

229. In order for the Word to have a real impact on us, we must follow a pedagogical approach that will make it for us what it was for our Founder: an impact for change and conversion; bread to satisfy our hunger for study, meditation and contemplation; a source of discernment and vocational discovery; a renewal of the first experience of our vocation; an inner fire that carries our following of Jesus over into doing and suffering; a treasure that we cannot help sharing with others in our preaching and writing.[46] In order to achieve this, we need to give a relevant place, within a serious academic formation, to a savored and exegetical knowledge of the Bible; and see to it that the Word, through “lectio divina” and other kinds of reading, should be one of the hinges of the whole process of formation.[47] We must strive throughout the different stages of formation to do a complete reading of the Scriptures and to maintain the tradition of daily Bible reading.

2.2. The Eucharist

230. The Eucharist, as the Sacrament of the sacrifice and real presence of Christ, occupied a preponderant place in the spiritual and apostolic life of Saint Anthony Mary Claret.[48] It was the most intense moment of his personal union with Jesus Christ, offered to the Father for the salvation of humankind. In the Eucharist, Claret received his most burning desires to sacrifice his life with Christ for the good of the Church and of all human beings. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament helped him to maintain these feelings and to unfold his activities in a sacrificial spirit that was profoundly steeped in the redemptive mystery of Christ and of the Church.[49] The great grace received nine years before his death was an expression of his configuration with Christ that led him to live a Eucharistic existence as a total donation to God and to his brothers and sisters.[50]

231. Since the Eucharist constitutes the center and apex of the liturgy and of worship, all our efforts at formation in spirituality and piety[51] should converge toward it. Following the example of our Founder, we must strive to live the Eucharist in its fullness as:

  1. The Sacrifice of Christ and of his Church, to which we should be personally associated in obedience along with Christ, so that driven by His own charity, we may then give ourselves over to others.[52]
  2. The Sacrament of the communion and unity of the Church. We should strive to project the unity symbolized and effected by the Eucharist onto our community life.[53]
  3. A privileged moment in which the Father is honored and the Master is made present, sharing with us his life-giving words and giving Himself to us so that we might commune with Him.[54]
  4. The Sacrament of the permanent presence of Christ in the Tabernacle where he invites us to come into his presence and be with Him to revive our faith and make us fitting ministers of his word in order to spread his Kingdom throughout the world.[55]
  5. A prophetic reminder spurring us on to struggle against all that is opposed to the Reign of God.[56]
  6. The nourishment that keeps our awareness of our missionary vocation alive and thriving throughout our formative itinerary.

232. In keeping with the experience and teaching of our Founder,[57] our Constitutions[58] speak of visitation and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and of celebrating the Eucharist daily. This celebration must be a never-failing element in the daily life of the Claretian, one that should be lived wholeheartedly, since we must give ourselves totally to him who gives himself totally to us.[59] In formation communities, the Eucharist should be the fundamental community act.[60]

233. In order for the Eucharist to have its full transforming and missionary power among us, it is necessary, from a pedagogical point of view:

  1. To center our whole life in it, not reducing it to the moment of its sacramental celebration.
  2. To highlight its ecclesial and apostolic character.
  3. To integrate into its celebration the reality of the people (their struggles and sufferings, their hopes and achievements), as well as all that we are and do.
  4. To discover it as a power that transforms us into builders of peace, reconciliation and justice.
  5. To cultivate an adequate liturgical formation.
  6. To be educated in the meaning and dynamism proper of this celebration, also focusing on the missionary demands and commitments that derive from it.
  7. To pay constant attention to the truth of the signs involved in the Sacrament: proclamation of the Word, offertory and consecration, sign of peace, breaking of bread, communion under both species.

2.3. Reconciliation

234. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, which restores and invigorates the new life received in Baptism, plays an essential role in missionary growth, since this will not take place without personal and community awareness of ongoing conversion.[61] As pilgrims who have not yet reached our homeland, we need to receive God’s forgiveness in order to keep on dying to sin,[62] which hinders our conformity with Christ, who knew no sin.[63] Our Founder always accorded it great importance, as can be seen in many of his retreat resolutions.[64]

235. Community celebrations of the different forms of the Rite of Penance, along with its frequent individual celebration,[65] prepared for by a daily examen on our fidelity to the Gospel,[66] will allow us:

  1. To experience the joy of the Father’s forgiveness.
  2. To rebuild our fraternal communion, with the Church and with all creation.
  3. To know ourselves better and better.
  4. To purify the motives that guide us as servants of the Word.
  5. To strengthen our response to our vocation.

3. Prayer and study

236. These two dynamisms of formation have always been closely united in the Claretian tradition. As our Founder used to say, prayer and study are the two feet of the missionary, who needs both to be able to walk.[67] He himself integrated the two in his own life as a missionary: I, before preaching, should move and beat the wings of study and prayer.[68] Hence, it is recommended that all of us cultivate the theological and human disciplines most diligently and that we keep making progress in them.[69] Missionaries in initial formation are asked to cultivate with great care their hearts as well as their minds, keeping them open to the action of the Spirit.[70]

237. In this association of prayer with study, special attention should be paid to the integrative character of our formation,[71] seeking the integrity of the person and the harmonious development of all his possibilities. Prayer and study should mutually help one another: prayer must orient the apostolic thrust of study, and study must give content, expression, and strength to our penetration of the Word we are to announce.

238. Consequently, both in prayer and in study, we must aim at acquiring those habits that can only be achieved when they are exercised regularly.[72]

3.1. Prayer

239. Our prayer must be based on the attitude and on the recommendations of Christ, who prayed assiduously,[73] and on the attitude of Mary, who treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.[74] Our Founder was formed in this attitude of welcoming and meditating on the Word, fully convinced that in the fire that burns in meditation, men are melted and fused and molded in the image of Jesus.[75]Hence he wanted his missionaries to practice that concrete form of prayer called meditation, understood above all as a way of looking at Jesus and studying Him in order to be interfused with Him and act as He did.[76] A Claretian’s only thought is of how he can follow and imitate Christ in praying.[77] Moreover, he should constantly ask the Lord to make him a fitting minister of the Word.[78]

240. Our whole liturgical life (especially the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours) and our acts of piety should express the most characteristic elements that we have inherited from our Founder: his Christocentrism, his Eucharistic piety, his love for the Word of God, his way of living cordimarian sonship in close relationship with his missionary vocation, and his devotion to the apostles and to saints who were especially distinguished for their apostolic zeal.[79]

241. Our prayer should be missionary prayer: in its continually taking up the mission and message within us, in its intention to communicate what we have contemplated, in its concern to assimilate Christ’s love for the Father and his zeal for His glory, in its constant intercession on behalf of the Church and for human salvation. The reason for this is that the missionary is always borne up by the certainty that his activity at prayer contributes powerfully to the effectiveness of his ministry.[80]

242. In the formation of our prayer life, the history of Christian spirituality affords us with a very rich heritage to which we should all have recourse, both in theory and in practice. This matter should be programmed into our academic studies and should above all form part of the concrete instructions given by formators from the year of novitiate on, so that the formandus can keep discovering methods and resources that will make it easier for him to exercise an intense life of prayer.[81]

243. Particularly during initial formation, personal prayer grows in depth, ability to listen, availability, and capacity for silence Like Mary who pondered the Word of God in her heart, it is necessary to learn to rest in God, adoring Him without words,[82] freely yielding to His presence and actions, consenting to His will, opening fully to His loving presence. It is this resting in God that renews, enflames and enables us to become contemplatives in action.

244. The masters of the spiritual life insist on the need to prepare for prayer by an orderly life, a pure heart and an effort to distance ourselves from the noise and distractions that surround us. Only in this way will we be able to create in our hearts the kind of quiet space we need in order to receive the Word of God and to allow ourselves to be transformed by it.[83]

245. Prayer is one of the essential bases of the religious life: the expression of faith and, indeed, faith itself in practice. Its basic theological meaning should therefore be understood from the very outset, and it should above all be established as the basis of all life in God. It is an openness to God and a communication with Him that we have to keep bringing into our life, our struggles and our everyday efforts, anchoring it in hope, so that it can be effective in love, with all its practical implications.

246. In all religions and cultures, prayer has played the role of breathing, of a life-giving sap that makes religious life possible and nourishes it. In present-day ecumenical relationships, it is fitting – if circumstances seem to warrant it – to approach and experience prayer forms inspired in other religious traditions.

247. Personal accompaniment is particularly necessary here. Through it we should keenly and continually analyze the way our prayer life is going: its concrete difficulties, its advances, the means to strengthen constancy in it and the care we must take in its ongoing practice.

3.2. Study

248. In order to become a fitting minister of the Word, the missionary must assiduously cultivate his intellectual life. His dedication to study will be an integral means of formation and an actual form of asceticism that stimulates his contemplation and prayer. Thus, the missionary maintains a constant search for the presence and activity of God in the complex reality of the world today.[84]

249. The example of our Founder should spur all of us missionaries on. A man of action, intensely committed to the apostolate, he knew how to nourish that action at the sources of piety and study, which he cultivated earnestly. For him, study and piety are, so to speak, the eyes of understanding and the sustaining bread of the soul: a body without eyes does not see and runs forward headlong, and without sustenance it dies.[85] We take up his example and, in today’s circumstances, we propose, as an indispensable requisite for mission, to promote the quality of academic formation in the initial period.[86]

250. Formation must provide a preparation that is human, cultural, spiritual and pastoral that pays special attention to the harmonious integration of all its diverse aspects.[87]

251. As a basis for all our studies, by reason of their missionary orientation, we should give a prominent place, within a serious academic formation, to a sapiential and exegetical knowledge of the Bible.[88] Likewise, our formation candidates should diligently cultivate the study of languages[89] and become adept in the techniques of communications and in language skills, so that they will be able to exercise their ministry both skillfully and attractively.[90] Ecclesiastical or civil titles, or professional specializations, must be discerned according to the personal talents and vocational integrity of the formandi, and the needs of the Congregation.

252. For those who are preparing for ordained ministry, the orientations of the Second Vatican Council regarding the academic formation of priests, as updated in subsequent magisterial documents, should serve as the basic guidelines for organizing the academic plans.[91] For those who are preparing for lay ministry, as missionary brothers, orientations must be given on their studies in keeping with their personal qualities and their diverse cultural areas, to respond to the apostolic demands of the religious Family, in harmony with the needs of the Church.[92]

253. The knowledge of culture and of the cultures of our time is very important. It demands a twofold complementary outlook: an ecumenical openness to all knowledge and all peoples and, at the same time, an adequate attention to and insertion in the native cultures in which we are to unfold our ministry. This is even more necessary today, given that the possibilities of interaction between cultures have significantly increased, giving rise to new opportunities for intercultural dialogue that, if not done well, devalue culture and human nature.[93] In initial formation, measures will be taken so that the missionaries make an in-depth and systematic study of their own cultural traditions and be introduced to different forms of dialogue with openness and creativity. This will equip them to enter into a process of missionary inculturation, and in a dialogue between faith and the culture of their people, a dialogue that we also extend to the new digital continent.[94]

254. Academic studies, whether carried out in our own centers or in those of others, are governed by the norms of the Church that regulate ecclesiastical studies. In some cases it will be necessary to supplement these studies, following the orientations of the GPF,[95] with certain subject matters that are closely related to our charism and are not always included in ordinary plans of studies, such as, Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC), Technologies of Information and Communication (TIC) and Economy. In the formation about themes of JPIC, it is advisable to offer the students concrete instances of experiences of social organization guided by the values of the Kingdom such as justice, equality, and fraternity. If academic formation is carried out in theological faculties or centers of studies other than our own, we should collaborate with them to the extent possible, in order to participate more directly in the academic formation of our formandi.

255. The study center, in which the formandi spend a good deal of their time, can exert a quite determining influence on their formation. Hence, it is fitting that we choose centers that offer a quality education and offer some guarantee, in their overall educational mission, of measuring up to the level demanded by the Church.[96] In those cases where studies are made in centers not directed by the Congregation, it is necessary to round out and complete missionary formation in the formation community,[97]following the indications contained in the GPF.

256. Study becomes a missionary dynamism when, in addition to its being pursued with responsibility, constancy, rigor and technical sufficiency, it is motivated and oriented toward the announcement of the Gospel. In order that our studies may be carried out under good conditions, we must ensure that all our formation communities have the necessary means, from an appropriate environment and an updated library to other tools to equip us pastorally and technically.

4. Community life and formative  apostolic experiences

4.1. Community Life

257. The experience of community that Saint Anthony Mary Claret lived was very rich and original, both because of his calling to be a founder and because of his distinctive mission in the Church. He founded the Congregation as one whose mission drove him both to devote himself to the ministry of the word[98] and to lead a perfect common life in union with others who had the very same spirit.[99] He lived, as often as he could, in community with his missionaries, as a demand of his conformity with Jesus who evangelized in fellowship with the apostles. But he also lived the mystery of the cross in community whenever he was not able to live in it as fully as he would have desired to do.

258. Our common life responds to our Founder’s desire to imitate the apostolic life in its fullness, that is, to follow Christ who gathered the apostles about him in fraternal charity.[100] According to our Constitutions,[101] the foundation of our missionary community lies in the person of Jesus, the Son always sent in communion with the Father and the Spirit, in the community of the Twelve,[102] and in the first community of believers.[103]

259. In formation for community, we need to underline the most outstanding traits of our style of community life:

  1. It is, first and foremost, a missionary community, and as such its evangelizing mission is its reason for being and that which makes it both ecclesial and universal.[104] The witness of fraternal life is already, in itself, evangelizing.[105]
  2. The concrete space where we are associated with our brothers in family life and ministry is the local community.[106]
  3. It is the place where we live together, pray together, take responsibility together and study: the sphere wherein we achieve the personal fullness to which we have been called.[107]
  4. In it, there exist different charisms for carrying out the mission to which it is destined.[108]
  5. Incarnating itself in reality,[109] it develops our original charism in service of the Church and of the world.[110]
  6. In it, finally, we live fraternal love in a family environment, rising above all differences of origin, age, culture and opinion.[111]

260. In order to relive in community, the spiritual itinerary of Claret and his fundamental concern to serve and build up the Church through the ministry of the Word, proclaiming the Kingdom of God,[112] it is necessary that our community have certain requirements:

  1. The communion with the brothers, called and sent to be witnesses and proclaimers of the Good News,[113] should be the first and principal anchor of a Claretian’s sense of belonging.
  2. Those who are in the period of initial formation should be familiarized with an overview of mission in all its sociological, cultural and historical dimensions… grow in theological understanding of the missionary Church and in an availability to be sent on mission through the mediation of regular community channels.[114]
  3. Community values hold a privileged place: sharing the faith, the Word and responsibilities; programming and planning together; teamwork; favoring mutual openness of the individual with others and with the group; jointly reading and analyzing situations and signs of the times.[115] The community project must become a normal dynamism in our formation communities.[116]
  4. We should build a climate of dialogue, relationships of mutual esteem, respect and service, integrating our diversities in unity.[117]
  5. Whenever it is deemed fitting, and with due safeguards for personal freedom and privacy, we should likewise make use of those modern techniques that enhance community life and structure, such as group dynamics, exercises in sharing and clarifying issues in depth, and other pedagogical means.[118]
  6. We should become accustomed from the very outset of formation to working as a team.[119]
  7. We should equip ourselves to offer diverse services to the community, including manual labor.

4.2. Formative apostolic experiences
in initial formation

261. Bearing in mind the centrality of mission in our life, apostolic experiences take on a singular importance throughout the course of our formative journey. They serve as a school in which, at the same time that we are proclaiming the Word, we are also being formed as missionaries.

262. The documents of the Church[120] and of our Founder,[121] as well as the orientations of the Congregation,[122] all insist on apostolic formation. Study must be intimately connected with pastoral practice. Apostolic formation is the fruit of the interrelation between concrete actions and the light thrown on them by the theology of pastoral action.

263. This formation requires careful planning geared toward equipping our formandi for mission,[123] avoiding improvisation, mere good will, reductionist approaches, or carrying out actions without evaluating them. Consequently, every apostolic experience must be adequately prepared, oriented, accompanied and evaluated.

264. As regards theoretical apostolic formation, we should take care that it is properly situated into the cycle of ecclesiastical studies[124] and is backed up with attendance at courses and seminars, with readings from journals specializing in pastoral matters, and with the study of skills of the apostolate[125] and of other disciplines related to the ministry of the word. Furthermore, spaces for critical reflection on current events should be provided, with an eye to finding suitable missionary responses.

265. As for concrete apostolic activities, these should be set within a framework that takes into account the objectives, attitudes, criteria and pedagogical orientations that are pointed out in the numbers that follow.

266. When the time comes for programming apostolic activities, the fundamental objective is that the formandi have a practical experience of the Claretian mission today, carried out with joy from our missionary vocation and in collaboration with others, according to the demands, options and preferential recipients that this mission entails. This fundamental objective is concretely embodied in other more specific objectives:

  1. The gradual discovery and development of the apostolic aptitudes of each formandus, which will help to focus his ministerial specialization.
  2. The knowledge of the apostolic reality of the Church and of the Organism he is working in, and his progressive fitting into it.
  3. The acquisition of the habit of perceiving in reality the challenges and urgent needs of the Kingdom.

267. Among the attitudes with which activities should be carried out, the formandi should lay special stress on union with Jesus Christ, the Son sent by the Father.[126] In this way the charity of Christ will spur them on to work with dedication and generosity in proclaiming the Gospel[127] wherever the Congregation, after due discernment, asks them to provide this service.[128]

268. From this union with Christ, other distinctively Claretian attitudes will spring:

  1. Close collaboration with the Shepherds of the Church as their steadfast helpers in the ministry of the Word.[129]
  2. Co-responsibility and teamwork with the brothers in the community and with various pastoral agents in shared mission.[130]
  3. Strength and joy in responsibly bearing sacrifices, difficulties, trials and failures in the apostolate without becoming disheartened, as becomes men who know that the cross is the apostle’s shield and banner.[131]
  4. Self-sacrifice and availability to overcome the mere search for satisfaction of personal needs.
  5. Sensitivity and intuition in order to grasp the most urgent needs[132] and challenges, with special attention to those coming from the younger generations,[133] without succumbing to pessimism, seeking with others adequate missionary responses.
  6. Openness to all. Maintaining a dialogue of life that always takes into account “the other,” excluding no one (women or men, from one Christian denomination or another, from one religion or another, from one culture or another).[134]

269. Concrete apostolic activities should be adjusted to the following criteria:

  1. They should be in keeping with our charism and at the same time be effectively formative; that is, they should contribute positively toward the person’s maturation and to his becoming equipped as a missionary. For this, it is imperative that we learn to grasp and interpret the reality in which the recipients of our word live, to take up their experience and to express ourselves in their language and their symbolic world.
  2. In the performance of these activities, from postulancy to perpetual profession or ordination, a certain gradualism must be observed, with due regard for each person’s pace in maturing.
  3. They must start from what is existential and from direct contact with persons and situations.
  4. They must help our men to read reality as a Word of God and listen to it with an evangelical attitude.[135]
  5. They must be carried out in coordination with the pastoral projects of the Church and of the Congregation and be properly accompanied and evaluated.
  6. They must be varied and in a rotation of areas, missionary options and subjects so that the perspectives the formandus acquires expand his missionary horizons.

270. As pedagogical orientations:

  1. Care must be taken that each formation community annually programs its apostolic activities, taking into account on the one hand our Claretian options, the person of the formandus and the possibilities of the surrounding environment and, on the other, their harmonious distribution in relation to prayer, study and community life.
  2. It should likewise be assured that the formandi do teamwork, and that throughout the cycle of their formation they experience progressively more demanding forms of pastoral service in keeping with their stage of formation.
  3. Both during times when their studies are interrupted (pastoral year) and at other special times (vacations), more intense and qualified experiences can be programmed in the areas of the service of the Word, integrity of creation, justice and peace, the use of modern technology,[136] and other trainings offered in line with our missionary options.[137]
  4. A member of the formation team should accompany the formandi in their process of integral apostolic formation and maintain frequent communication with those who receive them in their pastoral work.

[1] Cf. Aut 69, 121.

[2] Cf. Aut 85-86, 90.

[3] Cf. Aut 775-779, 796-801.

[4] Cf. Aut 86-87.

[5] Cf. Aut 81-82, 101.

[6] Cf. Aut 85.

[7] Cf. Aut 69.

[8] Cf. Aut 70.

[9] Cf. Aut 85.

[10] ECII 636.

[11] Cf. Ot 8; RFIS 107; CIC 239 § 2, 240, 246 § 4; PI 63.

[12] Cf. Dir 140.

[13] Cf. CI I:c.34; 1VR 16.

[14] Cf. CC54; Dir 140; CPR 56; SW 13:3.

[15] Cf. CC 73; 1F 53.

[16] Cf. MS 75:2.

[17] Cf. CIC 630; 1F 82; CF, p. 28.

[18] Cf. Dir 236.

[19] Cf. CIC 630 § 1-2.

[20] Cf. RFIS 146.

[21] Cf. RFIS 147; GUPAF 5.

[22] Cf. MFL 55: 1.

[23] Cf. Aut 86-87; EA, p. 412. ]

[24] Cf. CPR 67; SW 13: 3.

[25] DC 24:4.

[26] 2 Tim 3:14ff.

[27] Cf. DV 21, 25.

[28] Cf. SC 24, 51.

[29] Cf. CIC 663 § 3, 652 § 2; CPR 54; SW 13-14; VC 94.

[30] Cf. Aut 68, 113ff, 120.

[31] Cf. Aut 113, 151.

[32] Cf. Aut 214-224.

[33] Cf. Aut 222; cf. PE 15.

[34] Cf. OPML I, p. 190 ff.

[35] Cf. RE(A) 168.

[36] Cf. CC 34.

[37] Cf. CC 37.

[38] CC 104:4.

[39] Cf. OPML I, p. 214.

[40] Cf. SW 16: 1; PTV 70:1; MFL 54: 1; MS 42-45.

[41] Cf. SP 14:1; MS 44.

[42] Cf. SW 13: 1; MFL 8.

[43] Cf. SW 14; MS 45:1.

[44] Cf. SW 16: 2.

[45] Cf. OPML I, p. 216-217; CPR 54; IBI, p. 106-112.

[46] Cf. CF, p.17.

[47] SW 21:22; cf. MS 45:2-3.

[48] Cf. Aut 36-40.

[49] Cf. PE 14; cf. MCT 60; MFL 44.

[50] Cf. Aut 694; NEM III, 2b.

[51] Cf. CIC 246 § 1; VC 95.

[52] Cf. 1F 46; SH 14.

[53] Cf. 1F 46; MS 26.

[54] Cf. CC 35.

[55] Cf. 1F 46.

[56] Cf. Aut 694-695; CPR 55.

[57] Cf. Aut 86, 110; CI I, p.142.

[58] Cf. CC 35.

[59] Cf. CI II, p. 377.

[60] 1VR 122.

[61] Cf. CC 38.

[62] Cf. Rom 6:2.

[63] Cf. 2 Cor 5:21.

[64] Cf. Aut 86, 107, 644, 740, 780; EA p. 522, 532-533.

[65] Cf. CIC 664; CC 38.

[66] Cf. CC 37.

[67] Cf. RE(B) 37:4.

[68] Aut 665.

[69] Cf. CC 56.

[70] CC 72.

[71] Cf. Dir 157.

[72] Cf. CC 33-34, 56; Dir 144.

[73] Cf. CC 33.

[74] Lk 2:19.

[75] Ap 49.

[76] CF, p. 19.

[77] CC 9.

[78] Cf. CC 73.

[79] Dir 84.

[80] Cf. CC 34, 66, 73; Dir 103; Aut 264.

[81] Cf. 2VR:6.

[82] Cf. Words improvised by Pope Francis in address to participants in XXV General Chapter, September 11, 2015.

[83] Cf. SW 21:3.

[84] Cf. Dir 144; CC 56, 72; CIC 659 § 3, 252 § 1; VC 98.

[85] DCr 4.

[86] CPR 71.

[87] Cf. VC 65.

[88] SW 21:2; cf. CIC 663 § 3, 659 § 3, 252 § 2.

[89] SW 21:4; cf. CIC 659 § 3, 249, 257 § 2.

[90] SW 21: 6; cf. CIC 659 § 3, 256.

[91] Cf. OT 13-18; CIC 659 § 3; GPF Appendix1.

[92] MR 26; cf. PI 65.

[93] Cf. VC 51, 68, 79.

[94] MS 60.

[95] Cf. Appendix 3.

[96] Cf. 1F 149, 151, 153; 2F 34.

[97] Cf. 2F 35.

[98] Cf. Aut 491.

[99] Cf. Aut 489.

[100] Cf. PE 118.

[101] Cf. CC 10.

[102] Cf. PE 118.

[103] Cf. PE 107.

[104] Cf. CC 10-11.

[105] Cf. MCT 147; MS 70.

[106] Cf. CC 11.

[107] Cf. CC 12.

[108] Cf. CC 13.

[109] Cf. CC 14.

[110] MS 70:2.

[111] Cf. CC 15.

[112] MCT 132.

[113] Cf. MCT 133.

[114] MCT 135.

[115] Cf. 2F 13;CPR 61-62; SW 7.

[116] Cf. CPR 63.

[117] Cf. SW 7:1.

[118] 2F 13.

[119] Cf. CC 13, 85.

[120] Cf. OT 4, 19; RFIS 119-124.

[121] Cf. RE(B).

[122] Cf. CC 72, 74-75; 1F 2:32-33, 130-131, 136-139; 2F 23-25.

[123] Cf. CPR 68.

[124] Cf. CIC 659 § 3; Appendix 3.

[125] Cf. CC 75.

[126] Cf. CC 39, 61, 73; Dir 94.

[127] Cf. 40; MCT 158.

[128] Cf. CC 32, 48: Dir 101, 120.

[129] Cf. CC 6; Dir 28-29; MCT 139-141, 213-214.

[130] Cf. CC 13; MCT 138-139.

[131] Cf. CC9, 44, 46; MCT 159, 172.

[132] Cf. CC 48,74; Dir 105-106; MCT 163.

[133] Cf. MS 63:2.

[134] MFL 58:2.

[135] Cf. SW 21:5; MS 73, 74:2.

[136] Cf. MFL 61:7; MS 18, 67:7.

[137] Cf. CPR 68.