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.



1. Nature and aim

379. The stage of missionary students covers the period from first profession to perpetual profession (in the case of brothers) or until ordination (in the case of priests). For the formandi it supposes an experience of contrast and realism not usually exempt from crises and difficulties.[1] Hence it is necessary that the formative proposals set before them be connected as closely as possible with the real life-process that they are going through, so that the entire period of temporary vows be carried out as a true itinerary of gradual development and consolidation in Claretian life.

380. In this stage, the missionaries must continue the work begun in the novitiate[2] and become integrally deepened in all aspects of Claretian missionary life, with a view to definitive incorporation into the Congregation and into missionary service in the Church.[3]

2. Juridical aspects

381. First profession, as well as subsequent temporary renewals of profession, include the will to make perpetual profession and are a preparation for it.[4]Temporary professions are to be made annually during the first three years. After that, they may be made for a longer period, in keeping with what is stated in our law.[5] 

382. During the time of temporary vows, if a formandus should come to believe, after due discernment, that he has not been called to the missionary life, he can freely leave the Congregation, once the time of his profession is completed.[6] To do so before this time has expired, he must obtain an indult from the Superior General with the consent of his Council.[7] For a just cause and with the consent of his Council, the Major Superior can exclude a temporarily-professed formandus from renewing his vows or from making his perpetual profession.[8]

3. General objectives

383. Human dimension: To achieve an integral maturity,[9] based on human and transcendent values adequate to the formative process of each individual,[10] with a view to making a definitive option.

384. Christian dimension: To grow in an intense spiritual life that leads to a progressive identification and communion with Christ, anointed by the Spirit and sent by the Father for the integral salvation of humankind.[11]

385. Claretian dimension: To identify fully with their own Claretian vocation, with the Congregation and its options, to equip themselves for mission and to perform apostolic activities responsibly, creatively and in a spirit of teamwork.[12]

4. Specific objectives and means

4.1. Human dimension

386. They are the following:

  1. To achieve an adequate personal balance by caring for their physical and mental health and by developing the qualities that contribute to create a free and sturdy personality for mission: a sense of responsibility and of fidelity to the word they have given, a capacity for solitude and for silence, self-discipline, austerity and hard work, a spirit of sacrifice, moral rectitude, a capacity for coping with frustrations and conflicts, as well as a hope-filled vision of reality.
  2. To pursue affective and sexual maturity by learning to live the consequences of consecrated chastity in their new situation, taking care to do so with sincerity and discernment.
  3. To prepare themselves, through a solid intellectual formation, to fulfill their evangelizing mission in the world.
  4. To consolidate personal study habits, with adequate techniques, and a sensitivity to culture as a qualifying factor for the missionary task.
  5. To develop their capacity for relationships with others by cultivating attitudes such as listening, generosity, acceptance, appreciation and respect, understanding, and the ability to forgive and console.[13]
  6. To value work as a factor in formation.[14]
  7. To cultivate the spirit of openness and solidarity demanded by the universal dimension of our charism[15] and the traits that are most needed in order to live our missionary task: the ability to form a critical judgment of reality and an attitude of compassion toward those who suffer; readiness to adapt to new situations and to become inculturated; the spirit of initiative, appreciation for the values of the people, and esteem for the people themselves.
  8. To grow in an integral ecological awareness that is rooted in the search for truth, justice, peace, and the sustainable development of the Common Home.
  9. To practice spoken and written expression.
  10. To use all communications and information media (ICT) in a self-critical and responsible way.
  11. To cultivate both physical activity (sports, exercise, manual labor) as well as artistic sensibility and expression (music, literature, the creative arts).
  12. To acquire the basic skills of economy and the proper management of goods.

4.2. Christian dimension

387. They are the following:

  1. To grow in filial relationship with the Merciful Father,[16] which gives depth and meaning to life and allows the interpretation of every reality.[17] This relationship is cultivated, above all, in assiduous prayer, especially in moments of dryness and difficulty.
  2. To strive for a firm and constant union with Christ in the midst of the changes of the world.[18] It is only through this union that the formandus will be able to keep on integrating the different aspects of formation and manage to unify his life.
  3. To open the heart and mind to the action of the Spirit,[19] in order to discern events and follow His inspirations.
  4. To become familiar with the Word of God, converting it into a daily spiritual nourishment and allowing himself to be questioned by it[20] until it becomes one of the pivotal points of the whole formation process.[21]
  5. To consolidate Eucharistic experience through daily celebration of the Mass and visits to the Blessed Sacrament as a key to encounter with Jesus, rooting us in the mission.
  6. To have a filial love for Mary, Mother of the Church, model of discipleship and formator of apostles,[22] making with her, and like her, the pilgrim journey of faith.
  7. To learn to feel with the Church (sentir con la Iglesia), understood as the People of God on the march and as a mystery of communion.[23]

4.3. Claretian dimension

388. They are the following:

  1. To grow in the following of Christ, Missionary of the Father and Word of life, in the community of disciples, by living the vows and apostolic virtues.
  2. To assume with realism and joy the consequences of the distinctive lifestyle arising from religious profession.
  3. To deepen knowledge and love of the Founder, contemplating in a particular way the apostolic zeal that moves him, so as to keep aflame passion for the mission today.
  4. To contribute to the ministry of the Word according to the demands and options of our mission, and to perform some evangelizing actions in accord with it.[24]
  5. To grow in a love for and a sense of belonging to the Congregation through a diligent study of its history, its Constitutions and other documents, and an interest to know its current situation and missionary projects in different parts of the world.
  6. To intensify relationships with persons of his own community and Province and, in them, with the whole Congregation.
  7. To acquire a basic understanding of the other branches of the Claretian Family.

5. Characteristics

389. It belongs to each Organism to organize this stage in the most suitable way, taking into account its length and the circumstances of places and persons. Depending on the number of formandi and formators, the academic quality of our centers for studies, the distribution of academic plans, the necessary contact with the surrounding sociocultural reality and possibilities for the apostolate, it is most important to look for the formulas that best assure Claretian formative values.

390. During this stage, the formation community is the normal setting for formation. But in the event this stage is extended, it should be arranged that the formandi do not always remain in the same place or with the same type of formative structure, so as to assure the necessary gradualness of the process.

391. Throughout this stage, interruptions in the normal rhythm of studies may be introduced,[25] with a view to fostering the maturity of the formandus and his process of discernment, developing his ability to become integrated into a non-formative community, intensifying his contact with a determined reality, experiencing some kind of work or pursuing some secular studies. In all of these cases, and other possible ones, it is necessary to draw up a specific plan and follow the guidelines of the Church and the Congregation in this regard.[26]

392. Organisms that deem it opportune can also send some formandi to other countries for a determined period of time. These assignments can be undertaken for different reasons: to learn a language, to continue studies and specializations, to interrupt one’s course of studies in order to gain an experience of openness to the Congregation and of contrast with one’s own context.

393. Due to the universal mission of the Congregation and the collaboration of Organisms of the same Conference, international and intercultural formation centers should be served by teams of formators composed of members from the different Organisms. In such cases, sufficient communication should be ensured between the formators and their respective Governments and the relationship between the formandi and their province of origin should be safeguarded.[27]

394. When, for the same reasons stated in the previous point, Fr. General sends personnel to other Organisms with a view to incardination, the receiving Organism must provide the missionaries a program of preparation for interculturality and mission. This program is to consider the sending, reception, and integration of the missionary into the new context, facilitated by a fluid dialogue between the Organisms involved.

6. Principal dynamisms

395. The pedagogy of this stage aims at helping the formandus prepare himself adequately for perpetual profession and in the case of priests, also for ordination.[28] As he begins this stage, the formandus has an experience that signals a substantial difference from the preceding stages: first profession inaugurates a new phase of formation which benefits by the dynamism and stability that arise from profession.[29] For its part, the Congregation must offer the formandus a systematic, personalized, spiritual and apostolic, doctrinal and practical[30] proposal that will allow him to fulfill his objectives.

396. Besides the demands that flow from the vows, the dynamisms that are particularly accented during this stage are: prayer, study, community life, apostolic experiences and personal accompaniment.[31] The effectiveness of formation will depend on the interrelationship and balance of these dynamisms. With a view to concretizing and harmonizing these dimensions, each formation community will draw up its community project as often as it deems fitting.

6.1. Prayer

397. In this stage, personal integration becomes all the more necessary, because the passage to a more open style of life and more absorbing activities often involves the risk of disorientation and dryness.[32]For this reason, it is crucial that the formandi learn by experience, in the midst of a changing world, to stand firmly and constantly by Christ, according to our charism.[33]Following the example of Mary, to whose Heart they have especially dedicated themselves in profession, they should learn the way to integrate the listening and contemplation of God’s word with an attention to historical realities and a sensitivity to the problems of people today,[34] especially those who are poorest and in greatest need.

398. They will achieve this integration by referring everything to Jesus Christ as the center of their own lives and by looking to Mary as an inspiration.[35] This will demand that they faithfully maintain the daily habit of personal prayer and reading the Word,[36] as well as daily participation in the Eucharist[37] and community prayer,[38] and frequent celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.[39] Strengthened by these means, the formandi will be able to cast light on different situations and to respond to the calls of God in daily reality. It is also worth highlighting, as an enriching means, the importance of contact with experiences linked to popular religiosity for learning to value it.[40]

6.2. Study

399. Study constitutes, together with prayer, one of the two feet of the missionary and is one of the characteristic dynamisms of this stage.[41]The study of the human, theological and pastoral sciences, along with a proper knowledge of the social and political conditions of people and of the times, is aimed at the following objectives:

  1. To provide a lively understanding of the world, of human beings, of creation, and of the mystery of Christ and of the Church.
  2. To form and give grounding to a faith capable of giving reasons for its existence and of dialogue with other beliefs and convictions.
  3. To discern the diverse realities of the world in the light of faith and with a view to mission.
  4. To stir up personal availability for undertaking the evangelizing mission and impart the training to carry it out.[42]

400. Given the dedication and seriousness that it requires, this study of ecclesiastical sciences cannot be carried out simultaneously with other careers.[43] This does not prevent the cultivation of personal aptitudes that can be developed through complementary studies.

401. In the case of candidates for the priesthood, the plan of studies should follow the norms and guidelines of the universal Church and of the different Conferences of Bishops. As regards our own plan of studies,[44] over and above the ordinary subject-matters, it must pay special attention to those that are more closely bound up with our missionary charism which would include, among others: mariology, missiology, consecrated life, communications sciences, languages, specialized pastoral studies and Claretian spirituality. It should also include an enhanced sociopolitical formation that will provide a broad and critical knowledge of local, national and international reality. In the case of brothers, the guidelines presented in Chapter 10 of this same plan must be followed.[45]

402. Academic formation for missionaries in formation may be made either in the Congregation’s own centers or in seminaries or universities.[46] In any case, Claretian formation is to be well cared for and, in addition, aspirants to Holy Orders must be suitably prepared for sacred ministries.[47]

403. As a rule, at the end of their studies, candidates for the priesthood obtain a bachelor’s degree in theology (or its equivalent) and, whenever possible, a licentiate degree. For their part, brothers should also obtain the degrees corresponding to the studies they carry out. Moreover, it is necessary that Major Organisms see to the formation of specialists in ecclesiastical, pastoral and anthropological sciences, in order to carry on a more in-depth missionary action and also to contribute to the initial and ongoing formation of the members of the Congregation.[48]

404. For adequate growth in this dynamism, special care must be given to the habit of personal study, working in a group, the necessary techniques for intellectual work and a sensitivity to culture as a way to becoming equipped for the missionary task. The library should be updated with relevant books and other resources such as internet connections, according to the requirements of the program of studies. We ought to make prudent and critical use of the social media and ICT, participate in different cultural manifestations, and promote those activities (publications; artistic, literary, and musical activities) that help toward forming fitting ministers of the Word of God.[49]

405. In order to verify the progress being made in studies, attention should be paid not only to the grades the individual receives, but also his real capacity for tackling philosophical and theological questions in a solid and balanced way, and for integrating his studies into his spiritual and apostolic life, always aiming at personal unity and the capacity to reflect and work within interdisciplinary coordinates.

406. The formative process must include preparation for the management of community assets that includes at least one specific qualification course for economic and accounting management. The formandi must grow in their belongingness to the Congregation to the extent that they not only identify with its spiritual and charismatic aspects, but also with the care and stewardship of the resources and goods of the Congregation.[50]

6.3. Community Life

407. Given the nature of our vocation, young Claretians must be formed for evangelization in missionary community, assuming from the outset a community lifestyle that is poor, inculturated and intercultural[51] in which teamwork is fostered and learned, and which is open to the life of the Church and of the people. The martyr community of Barbastro offers us an admirable witness of maturity in living together in fraternity.[52]

408. Community life should be so organized as to ensure a climate most favorable to self-fulfillment and interpersonal relationships, as well as sufficient for developing them. Depending on the number of persons and other circumstances, different groups or sections may be created, but always maintaining the unity of criteria which the formative process requires.

409. The rhythm of community life must harmoniously integrate prayer (both personal and community), study, manual labor, apostolic activities and suitable rest. The formandi must be co-responsible for each another and true animators of community life, both in drafting their community project and in performing the services and tasks necessary for life in common, as well as in periodically evaluating what has in fact been accomplished.

6.4. Apostolic Experiences

410. The aim of apostolic experiences is to initiate the formandi into the missionary task of the Congregation and train them as servants of the Word.[53] To achieve this aim, these activities should be truly apostolic, in line with the mission and options of the Congregation, planned with a view to the social reality in which the students live, carried out in team, evaluated in community and accompanied by an assessor.[54] The forms for carrying them out, throughout the whole cycle and not just at the end of it, can be quite varied, depending on circumstances.

411. In order to determine the ministry that each formandus will be dedicated to in the future, one must take into account his inclination and talent but, above all, the needs of the Congregation and the Church.[55] In the last years of studies, it is necessary that each formandus be oriented toward a particular area of ministry and that he decide, in dialogue with his formator and superiors, on a specialization that is best suited to him.[56]

412. The formandi must receive some training and qualification in the areas of pastoral planning, teamwork dynamics, and shared mission. Also, in openness to new arenas of knowledge and pastoral perspectives, carrying out experiences in challenging mission assignments which open to the new geographical and existential peripheries.

6.5. Personal Accompaniment

413. In order to promote the integration of all aspects in a stage characterized by the multiplicity and diversity of its elements, the formandi require not only spiritual direction or accompaniment, but also frequent personal dialogue with the formator,[57] at least once a month,[58] the elaboration of a personal project of life, and the accompaniment of the community.[59]

414. This dialogue is all the more necessary in moments of difficulty, and when one must petition and prepare for renewal of profession, perpetual profession and ordination.

415. Personal accompaniment, given its importance in vocational discernment and consolidation, will be a priority criterion helping to orient the decisions of formators and superiors, especially at times for admitting candidates to profession and to ordination.

7. The prefect and his collaborators

416. The prefect is the proper formator of the missionaries who are preparing for perpetual profession and for ordination to the diaconate or to the priesthood. This is a very important service, by reason of both its aim and its consequences, since the prefect’s mission is to accompany and form, by his life witness and orientations, those who through the ministry of the Word will become instruments in the salvation of many.[60] It is necessary, then, that the missionary appointed to this office by the Major Superior with the consent of his Council[61] be suitably prepared for it and that he strives with all care to fulfill the service that the Congregation is entrusting to him.

417. In our Claretian tradition, the prefect is the person who, in the name of the Congregation, accompanies the formandi in the integral development of their missionary vocation. His mission is not reduced, then, to the aspects of organization, discipline and spiritual accompaniment. Rather, it embraces all dimensions of formation, with a view to promoting a harmonious formation.

418. The principal duties of the prefect are:

  1. To love all his charges equally and get to know the needs of each of them.[62]
  2. To inspire in the students, by his life and his word, a love for their vocation, for the Church and for our Congregation, and to present to them its life and mission in the world.
  3. To help them personally to become anchored in their vocation and to live it gladly, so that all of them may embrace our way of life out of an inner conviction of faith.[63]
  4. To animate their formation, seeing to it that virtue be preferred to knowledge, while not neglecting the latter, because holiness and intelligence are the two feet of the missionary: both of them essential.[64]
  5. To foster responsibility and interior discipline in each formandus helping him to grow in freedom to opt for God.
  6. To promote communion of life among all and to keep in communion with his superiors, informing them on the progress of the formation community, discerning with them what is most suitable, and carrying out their directions.[65]

419. The prefect may be helped in his task by one or several collaborators with complementary capacities.[66] It belongs to the prefect to coordinate all aspects of formation and of his team of collaborators.[67] Among the latter there must be a strong sense of unity, both in criteria and in acting, within the personal style of each member.[68] Their primary formative action is to give a joyful witness of missionary life that will spur the formandi on to a greater commitment in following Christ according to our charism.

420. Among the capacities and qualities of human and spiritual maturity that are demanded of formators, the prefect and his collaborators should give evidence of:

  1. Exemplary behavior, so that their love for the Congregation and for the observance of the Constitutions may shine forth.[69]
  2. A sense of Church and missionary sensibility.[70]
  3. A solid formation as formators.[71]
  4. Adequate pastoral experience.
  5. A capacity to care for, adapt to, and get along with the formandi.

421. The principal functions of the team are:

  1. To animate this formation stage seeking the co-responsibility of all members of the formative community
  2. To implement in a creative and effective manner the formative lines and means most in consonance with the sense of the Church and of the Congregation.
  3. To create a good community climate and to help everyone to live up to the commitments of the formative program jointly drawn up by all the members of the community.
  4. To perform the concrete tasks that have been assigned to each of them.
  5. To help the formandi to grow as fitting ministers of the Word and maintain themselves in a state of readiness for the needs of the Congregation.
  6. To tackle with realism and calm any formative questions and problems that may arise.
  7. To judge whether the formandi offer the due guarantees that both the Church and the Congregation indicate for profession and, as the case may be, for ministries and ordination.
  8. To accompany formation in the responsible use of the new technological and digital resources as authentic tools for the apostolate.
  9. To discern the apostolic aptitudes of each formandus, in order to be able to suggest to the Organism’s government some possible specializations and assignments for him.
  10. To periodically evaluate the progress of the formation community and of each formandus.

8. Perpetual profession and immediate preparation for it

422. By perpetual profession, a missionary in temporary vows is definitively incorporated into the Congregation[72] and in this way comes to share in its mission among the People of God.[73]

423. Given the importance of perpetual profession, besides the ordinary preparation involved in the process of formation as such, all formandi will be immediately prepared for it during a period of six months. During this period:

  1. They will intensify their personal prayer, times of silence, and discernment.
  2. They will renew the theoretical and experiential foundations of the Claretian religious life.
  3. They will evaluate the missionary life in a more assiduous dialogue with their formator.[74]
  4. They will express their missionary availability by offering their services to the Superior General to send them wherever they are needed.[75]

424. This preparation,[76] which is especially necessary for those who reside outside the formation community,[77] can be carried out individually or in a group, depending on the circumstances of each place. Also commendable are those interprovincial initiatives that guarantee a better achievement of objectives and provide the students with intensive experiences and a greater openness to the Congregation. It is recommended that the formandi be freed to dedicate themselves to this prolonged period fully, in the style of a second novitiate.[78]

425. Admission to perpetual profession should be based on a moral certainty, on the part of both the formandus and the Congregation, that the one to profess knows and is living his vocation as something that is good for his whole person,[79] that he possesses the necessary vocational maturity to be able to live up to the demands of Claretian life in a stable way, and that he has sufficient capacity both for facing the difficulties of mission and for continuing to grow in evangelical life.

426. For perpetual profession to be valid, the prescriptions of universal law and our own law must be fulfilled.[80] A written petition for it must be submitted to the Major Superior six months before the date set for its celebration.[81] Admission belongs to the Major Superior with the consent of his Council.[82] All members of the community, especially the superior, formators and companions of the candidates, are obliged to submit a report on them.[83]

427. Perpetual profession shall be carried out with the desired solemnity and in the presence of the people.[84] As regards the petition, preparation for, and celebration of profession, as well as due witness to it in minutes, records and announcements, the prescriptions of the Church’s universal law and our own Congregational law shall be observed.[85]

[1] Cf. 1F 123-124.

[2] Cf. CIC 659 § 1.

[3] Dir 234; cf. CC 72.

[4] Dir 215.

[5] Cf. CC 70; Dir 221.

[6] Cf. CIC 688 § 1; CC60; Dir 271.

[7] Cf. CIC 688 § 2; Dir 273.

[8] Cf. CIC 688 § 2; Dir 272.

[9] Cf. PI 34.

[10] Cf. CPR 22, 24.

[11] Cf. Dir 235.

[12] Cf. Ibid.

[13] Cf. PI 43.

[14] Cf. 2F 13d.

[15] Cf. Dir 306, 308.

[16] Cf. CC 34.

[17] Cf. MCT 144.

[18] Cf. CC 73.

[19] Cf. CC 72.

[20] Cf. SW 13:1.

[21] Cf. SW 21: 2.

[22] Cf. CC 73.

[23] Cf. PI 24.

[24] Cf. PI 24-25.

[25] Cf. 1F 126-129; 2F 13d.

[26] Cf. Dir 240; 2F 13c.

[27] Cf. Dir 239.

[28] Cf. PI 59.

[29] PI 59.

[30] Cf. CIC 660 § 1.

[31] Cf. PI 60-65; Dir 235.

[32] PI 59.

[33] CC 73.

[34] Dir 236.

[35] MCT 150.

[36] Cf. CC 37.

[37] Cf. CC 35.

[38] Cf. CIC 663, 246; CC 12.

[39] Cf. CC 38.

[40] Cf. EG 122-126.

[41] Cf. CC 56; Dir 144; PI 61.

[42] Cf. CC 74.

[43] Dir 236c.

[44] Cf. Dir 237; Appendix 3.

[45] Cf. GPF 10:2; Appendix 3; cf. Dir 238; 1HH 30.

[46] Cf. Dir 237.

[47] Cf. Ibid.

[48] Cf. Dir 247.

[49] Cf. CC 73.

[50] MFL 65:1,2; MS 71:1.

[51] Dir 236f.

[52] Cf. TM p. 21-22.

[53] Cf. Dir 235e.

[54] Cf. Dir 236.

[55] Cf. CC 75.

[56] Cf. Dir 245.

[57] Dir 236h.

[58] Cf. MS 75:2.

[59] Cf. FLC 21-34.

[60] Cf. RE(B) 37; CC 77.

[61] Cf. Dir 248.

[62] Cf. RE(B) 37:8; CC 77.

[63] CC 77.

[64] RE(B) 37:4.

[65] Cf. RE(B) 37:2; Dir 251.

[66] Cf. 2F 14.

[67] Cf. OT 5; 1F 75; Dir 162.

[68] Cf. 2F 14b.

[69] RE(B) 37:1.

[70] Cf. Dir 249.

[71] NWNW 16: 34-37.

[72] CC 71.

[73] CC 71.

[74] Cf. Dir 241.

[75] Cf. Dir 225.

[76] Cf. Appendix 3V.

[77] Cf. Dir 241.

[78] Second novitiate refers to a period of one to two months of exclusive preparation for making perpetual profession of vows, generally organized between various Major Organisms.

[79] Cf. CC 71.

[80] Cf. CIC 658; Dir 226.

[81] Cf. Dir 224

[82] Cf. CC 71; Dir 228.

[83] Cf. Dir 227.

[84] Cf. OPR 5; PI 56.

[85] Cf. CIC 657-658; CC 71; Dir 224-227, 232, 241.