Initiation into the Missionary Life, Manual for the Claretian Novice

This manual presents the summary of the main topics and formation suggestions that the novices in the congregation must learn and assimilate during the novitiate.


I have the great pleasure of presenting to the Congregation, in the name of the General Government, the book Initiation into the Missionary Life.  It bears the subtitle Manual for the Claretian Novice because it is meant to be a study guide that the General Prefecture intends primarily for the novices of the Congregation and has developed as an aid to their formation during the time of the novitiate.

            1. It is in keeping with the other formation books that have existed in the Congregation for those who were being initiated into our missionary life.  I am referring to the Spiritual Practices for the Novices by Fr. Pablo Vallier (1888) and The Instructed Novice by Fr. Ramón Ribera (1931). Both are discussed in the Historical Notes.

            2. The study guide Initiation into the Missionary Life presents a summary of the main topics and formation suggestions that the novices in the Congregation must learn and assimilate during the novitiate. It is a teaching tool to faciliate the study, understanding and living out of our Claretian charism and of the vocation that goes along with it. Thus, every attempt has been made to make the contents of the chapters and appendices readily understandable. There has also been attempt to present a clear explanation of them and to avoid disputed questions and pedagogical ambiguities. Since it is also meant to be a formation tool to help novices to be initiated into the life of the Congregation, the contents have been developed with a decidedly Claretian orientation, making constant reference to the Fr. Founder and to the history and teaching of the Congregation.

            3. This study guide is not an attempt to do away with the task of teachers and other collaborators and professors in the novitiate.  These people must continue presenting more broadly and deeply the topics laid out in the General Plan of Formation, summarized in this book. It is essential to develop an appropriate methodology for using this book.  Each novitiate will look for a methodology that is in keeping with its style, culture and uniqueness.  Nevertheless, it must be an active, participatory and challenging methodology.  In order to profitably assimilate the topics, the novices must be involved in them through reading and personal search, the taking of notes, group meetings, workshops, experiences, etc.  The methodology must bring each novice to vitally confront the values presented, especially through reflection and analysis of their own situation in a climate of prayer and dialogue with the novicemaster. The manual is not simply a book from which to learn values; it is an aid for living the values of the Claretian charism that are being experienced during the time of initiation.

            4. The study guide Initiation into the Missionary Life was initially developed with the participation of various formators and experts in religious and Claretian life from throughout the Congregation.  Then, from among these collaborators, a committee was created made up of Frs. Manuel Mª Carrasco, José San Román and Jesús Mª Palacios, who worked in several sessions to give final form to the texts, develop the appendices and give a certain stylistic unity to the entire work.  To all of them our sincere thanks for the service they rendered to the Congregation.

            May the Risen Lord and his Spirit bless this work and make it effective with his transforming power and energy.  And may the Heart of Mary, our Mother and Formatrix, help us to use it fruitfully so that those being initiated into the life of the Congregation may come to possess the spirit that animated St. Anthony Mary Claret, our Founder.

Jesús Mª Palacios, CMF

General Prefect of Formation 16 July 2002