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.




271. Aware that vocation and its growth are above all grace from God, responsibility for missionary formation, due to its extraordinary importance, belongs to the whole Congregation, to the Major Organism, and to the formation community.[1] It is entrusted in a special way to the Superiors of these different levels. It is also carried out by other personal intermediaries[2] and through various structures of vocational and formative animation and coordination.[3]

1. The Superiors of the Congregation

272. Primary responsibility for animating and coordinating vocation ministry and formation rests with the Superiors of the Congregation, in keeping with the different levels of their jurisdiction and with the criteria indicated by the Church and the Congregation.[4] Superiors should regard it as their proper mission to strive to build up this fraternal community in Christ.[5]

273. Superiors fulfill these functions either personally or through their government team, or else by delegating some of these functions to other persons or even to structures of governance, vocation ministry or formation. Their functioning is in some cases regulated by the norms of universal and particular law, which explicitly spell out the ways and times in which they ought to intervene. In other cases, they act on their own initiative, responding to emergencies, urgent needs, or opportunities that arise in the Congregation, Organism, or communities.

274. Among the overall responsibilities that the Constitutions assign to Superiors, we find the following:

  1. The Superior General must assure the preservation and growth of the Congregation, and hence he must promote vocations everywhere and oversee the formation of our members.[6]
  2. The Major Superior must strive to ensure that the whole Organism takes responsibility for and is committed to promoting vocations and that it exercises the greatest diligence in fostering the improvement of the formandi and of the other members of the Organism.[7]
  3. The Local Superior must lovingly encourage his brothers in community, that they may grow in their missionary vocation and remain faithful to their promises and to the other obligations of our life.[8]

275. By their example, words and actions, Superiors must serve as guide, coach or stimulus, and support for the vocational and formative sectors of the Congregation.

  1. They will consider vocational promotion and formation, both initial and ongoing, as a priority to which they must devote special attention and dedication.
  2. In appointing those responsible for vocation ministry and formation,[9] they will seek the persons best suited to this function,[10] even if these should have to leave other functions and works.[11] They will ensure the stability of the formators in their position for a reasonable amount of time.
  3. They will set practical criteria for vocations and formation within their own jurisdiction, and they will establish in it whatever their respective chapters and assemblies have disposed, in keeping with the principles and guidelines of the Congregation.
  4. After a serious process of discernment, they will give painstaking attention and care to applying the norms and criteria of the Church and the Congregation in everything that refers to the admission and dismissal of candidates to profession and to holy orders.[12]
  5. In keeping with the norms of our own law, they will organize structures of animation and coordination (teams, councils, secretariats or commissions) for vocation ministry and for initial and ongoing formation. They will attend to the continuing formation and specialization of formators.
  6. They will promote the drafting of plans for vocation ministry and for initial and ongoing formation, as the case may be, in the community, Organism, or Congregation and they will approve them and closely follow their implementation.
  7. They will remain in a constant relationship and unity of operative criteria with those in charge of vocation ministry and with our formators,[13] as well as with the Major Superiors of Organisms who have sent students to their formation centers for study.
  8. Both by their presence and by their orientations, they will encourage vocation centers and formation communities, visiting them frequently.[14] In their visits to other communities, especially canonical visitations, they will awaken their awareness and commitment to vocations and formation in the Organism and will spur them on in their local plans for ongoing formation.
  9. They will provide these centers and formation communities with the necessary resources and means.[15]

2. The Prefectures of formation

2.1. General Aspects

276. The Prefecture of Formation is a structure of government that is to be set up in the General Government and the Major Organisms, in keeping with what has been agreed upon by the respective General or Provincial Chapters.[16]

277. The Prefecture of Formation can be organized into different sections by way of commissions and secretariats, whether ad hoc or standing, depending on the different vocational and formative activities involved.[17]

278. The Prefect of Formation heads the Prefecture. He should be a person who is competent in the field of formation, and can be either a General or Provincial Consultor, or a person who does not belong to either of these respective government teams.[18]

279. Final responsibility for the Prefecture rests with the General or Provincial Superior. The responsibility for formation in an immediate way and in a habitual form belongs to the Prefect.

280. Prefects of Formation, under the authority of their respective Superior, will enjoy sufficient faculties to carry out the specific mission that has been entrusted to them.[19]

2.2. The General Prefecture of Formation

281. Its specific objective is to animate and coordinate the formative task of the Congregation, offering orientations of a general character and leaving it to the corresponding Provincial Prefectures to apply them within the unique circumstances of each Organism and zone.[20] If vocation ministry and ongoing formation are entrusted to other prefectures or secretariats, the prefecture of formation will work in collaboration with them.

282. The designation of the General Prefect of Formation belongs to the Superior General with his Council, taking into account, if the Prefect is a Consultor, the orientations given by the General Chapter.[21]

283. In order to fulfill his function better, the Prefect can have an assistant or helper, who will be named by the General Government.

284. Whenever it is necessary or fitting, the General Prefect of Formation can convene special formation commissions in order to study and assess particular situations and cases.

285. The following are functions of the General Prefecture of Formation:

  1. To directly help the Superior General and the General Government in animating formation in the Congregation by means of periodic reports, assessments and putting their decisions and guidelines into practice.
  2. To animate the process of integral and transformative formation.
  3. To be constantly promoting a careful selection of vocations and high-quality formation that is Claretian, personalized and updated, with a view to mission.
  4. To push for the selection and formation of formators and to encourage and direct specializations in the Congregation.[22]
  5. To offer help in a particular way to Major Organisms that are in greatest need.
  6. To favor the exchange of formators and professors between the different Major Organisms of the Congregation.
  7. To promote relationships and communication among those in charge of Major Organisms[23] so that they may contribute to interprovincial help.
  8. To see to it that the GPF is applied and evaluated in the Major Organisms of the Congregation, in keeping with the characteristics of each cultural area.
  9. To urge the drafting of Plans of Formation in the Organisms, local projects of initial and ongoing formation, and the personal plan of formation, in line with the orientations of the Church and the Congregation.

286. The following are actions proper of the General Prefecture of Formation:

  1. Frequent communications with the Superiors of the Congregation and with those in charge of vocation ministry and formation (both initial and ongoing), through epistolary correspondence, personal dialogue, group meetings and other ways of relating.
  2. Periodic visits to vocation and formation centers, duly programmed and organized in agreement with the respective authorities in the Organisms.
  3. Organizing and/or participating in, as the case may be, encounters and gatherings with those in charge of vocation ministry, formators and formandi, both on the general and on the regional and provincial levels.[24]
  4. Offering vocational and formative materials of both Claretian and non-Claretian origin to the formation centers of the Congregation.
  5. Informing those in charge about vocation and formation experiences that are being carried out in the Church and in the Congregation.[25]
  6. Organizing formation initiatives (School of the Heart of Mary, workshops, conferences, online courses) for formators of the Congregation.[26]
  7. Organizing encounters for those in charge of vocation ministry and formation.[27]
  8. Promoting initiatives for study and exchange between the professors belonging to our academic centers and those serving in other non-Congregational institutions.[28]

2.3. The Prefectures of Formation of the Major Organisms

287. The specific objective of the Prefecture is to animate and coordinate the process of initial and ongoing formation in the Organism.

288. In principle, the area of the Prefecture encompasses both initial and ongoing formation. Nevertheless, depending on the circumstances, the Chapters or Governments of the Major Organisms can create, as the case may be, other Prefectures, councils or commissions in order to promote ongoing formation.[29]

289. The Provincial Prefect of Formation is appointed or elected according to the different modalities indicated in our own law.[30]

290. The following are functions of the Provincial Prefecture of Formation:

  1. To inform and advise the Provincial Superior and Government on matters concerning vocation ministry and initial and ongoing formation, and to carry out their decisions and orientations.
  2. To create a sense of communion and co-responsibility among those in charge of vocation ministry and of initial formation.
  3. To coordinate criteria and methods in order to achieve an effective vocation ministry and a formation that is unified, gradual and organically articulated.
  4. To see to it that a Plan of Formation for the Organism, keyed to the General Plan of Formation, be drafted, and that it be applied and evaluated in the Province.
  5. To evaluate periodically the Organism’s initial and ongoing process of formation and offer orientations as to how it can function better.
  6. To inform the General Prefect of Formation on the situation of formation in the Organism.

291. Among the activities of the Prefecture, the following are indicated:

  1. Communicating and relating with the General Prefect of Formation and more frequently with those in charge of vocation ministry and with formators and formandi in our formation centers.
  2. Periodically visiting our vocation and formation centers and collaborating with them in their own activities.
  3. Organizing meetings and encounters with the professors and formators of the Organism concerning studies and formation.
  4. Drafting and periodically updating the Plan of Formation of the Organism and reviewing local formation projects.[31]
  5. Animating ongoing formation in the communities of the Organism and the drafting of Personal Projects of formation.
  6. Programming the ongoing formation of the Organism, following the guidelines of Provincial Chapters and Governments, and organizing programmed activities (courses, encounters, meetings, and spiritual exercises).[32]
  7. Drafting and offering means and subsidies for formation to individuals and communities.
  8. Convoking the Provincial Formation Council if one has been established, whenever this may be deemed fitting.

2.4. Formation Councils

292. Taking into account the different experiences in the Congregation, it is recommended that a Formation Council be established in each Organism.[33]

293. The Formation Council is an organ of co-responsibility and participation in formation on the Organism level.

294. Its immediate aim is to assure unity and continuity in the Organism’s formation process and to assist the Prefecture of Formation in fulfilling its formative mission and in carrying out its functions and proper activities.[34] It also analyzes and offers solutions for the different problems that come up in the stages of formation and studies the process of formation with a view to future projections.

295. The establishment of the Formation Council, as well as the nature of its competencies and functioning, will be determined by the Government of each Organism, as expressed in a set of appropriate regulations.[35]

296. On the Formation Council there ought to be representatives from vocation and youth ministry, from all stages of formation, from formators and formandi, those in charge of ongoing formation, and from other sectors of the Organism.

297. Meetings of the Formation Team, made up of them alone, will be organized to deal with matters within their competency.

298. Wherever it seems fitting, given the circumstances of the formation center, a Local Formation Council made up of formators and formandi can be established as an organ of the formation community’s participation, co-responsibility and joint action. The local team of formators should meet periodically to deal with matters within their competency.[36]

299. Besides expressing their co-responsibility through representatives on Formation Councils, formandi can also participate in animating formation through other structures that Major Organisms deem most fitting according to their circumstances (councils or an assembly of formandi).

3. Interprovincial collaboration

300. Interprovincial[37] collaboration in the field of formation manifests our common service to the Church, the unity and communion of the persons and goods of the whole Congregation, and the fraternity between its members.

301. The multicultural nature and growth of our universal mission, and the diminished number of formators in some Organisms of the Congregation, favor the creation of interprovincial formation centers that require close collaboration and coordination between different Major Organisms.

302. We should promote the spirit of solidarity and cooperation among all members of the Congregation[38] in all stages of formation, beginning with vocation ministry, striving to foster maximum mutual help among the Organisms of the Congregation,[39] even to the extent of sharing combined formation centers if need be.[40]

303. The General Prefecture of Formation and the Interprovincial Conferences promote and organize joint interprovincial meetings of the Prefectures. Their purpose will be to compare experiences, to study and reflect on specific themes, and to search for and organize common lines of action.

304. Interprovincial and regional encounters of formandi, as well as the organizing of joint activities (such as preparation for first and perpetual profession, language learning, pastoral experiences or other opportune experiences to be discerned), contribute to deepening the sense of belonging to the Congregation and to fostering universal openness. These encounters must, then, be encouraged, according to the frequency and manner deemed opportune in each case.

305. The formators and professors of our own centers will always be ready to lend their services on a temporary or permanent basis in any part of the Congregation where they may be required. Various advantages will suggest the exchange of formators and professors of our formation and academic centers for a greater mutual enrichment.[41] It may be advisable that the formation team (especially the Prefect of Formation) of Organisms with intercultural houses of formation live experiences of brief or medium duration in other formation centers of the Congregation, especially in the places of origin of their formandi, or that there is an inter-Organism exchange of formators.

[1] CIC 652 § 4; CC58; Dir 160.

[2] GPF, Chapter 3.

[3] Cf. 1F 84; MS 75:4.

[4] Cf. CC 138:4, 113:5.

[5] PI 27.

[6] CC 138:4.

[7] CC 113: 5; cf. MFL 63:2.

[8] CC 104:4

[9] Cf. Dir 457a, 210, 248.

[10] Cf. OT 5; Dir 264.

[11] Cf. MS 75:5.

[12] Cf. CIC 642, 653, 1025, 1028-1030.

[13] Cf. RC 32; PI 52.

[14] Cf. CC 134.

[15] Cf. MFL 63:4.

[16] Cf. Dir 412.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Cf. 1F 164 a; Dir 413-414.

[19] Cf. Dir 416.

[20] Cf. 1F 165.

[21] Cf. Dir 413.

[22] Cf. Dir 168-169, 245.

[23] Cf. MS 75:1.

[24] Cf. Dir 176; 1F 164c.

[25] Cf. Dir 177.

[26] Cf. MFL 63:3-4.

[27] Cf. 2F 27; CPR 69; MS 75:6.

[28] Cf. 1F 165; 2F 32.

[29] Cf. RG 73.

[30] Cf. Dir 414.

[31] Cf. Dir 168.

[32] Cf. 2F 30; MFL 55.

[33] Cf. Dir 166.

[34] Cf. Ibid.

[35] Cf. Ibid.

[36] Cf. 1F 85.

[37] When we say “interprovincial” it means between Major Organisms

[38] Cf. Dir 306.

[39] Cf. Dir 307.

[40] Cf. Dir 239.

[41] Cf. MFL 63:5.