1.   The Word of God in the formation of Claretians as hearers-servants of the Word

 1.   Since we have been called by our vocation to be ministers of the Word among the people of God,[1] the latest General Chapters have reminded us that receiving, announcing and witnessing to the Word of God should form the very core of our missionary and apostolic spirituality. Our Founder’s practice of reading the Bible vocationally every day, and of accepting it as the Word of God, must be one of our family traits, allowing us to give constant proof that we are hearers-servants of the Word. Hence, studying, meditating on and contemplating the Word must occupy a fundamental place in our life. We must read it in a charismatic key, in the light of the challenges that claim our missionary service, allowing ourselves to be probed by it, and listening to it as an invitation to a new life.[2]

2.   Initiation in the Ministry of the Word, understood as a way of being, acting and signifying,[3] must be one of the hinges of the formation of our young missionaries. This implies a growing appreciation of the Word of God which leads, by means of a serious academic formation, to a savored and exegetical knowledge of the Bible, through Lectio Divina and other forms of reading.[4]

 2.   Objective and aim of the IMW Formation Project

 3.   The formation project Initiation into the Ministry of the Word (IMW) aims at developing one of the dynamisms singled out in the GPF: the Word of God.[5] It is meant as a pedagogical tool to help us set the Word of God at the very core and center of our spirituality.[6]

4.   In this sense, the project is offered to formators and formandi alike as a study tool which, when rightly adapted and concretely adjusted to each socio-cultural context, can help them:

a)   To understand the Bible as a privileged place for their process of becoming conformed with Christ from a Claretian missionary perspective.

b)   To discover, in the journey of the people of Israel, in the itinerary of the first Christian community and, above all, in the person of Jesus, the normative criteria for their relationship with human beings of cultures of all times and places.

c)   To enable our formandi, from a christological hermeneutic key, that is both religious and missionary, to open their minds and hearts to dialogue with the cultures and religious traditions of all peoples.

 3.   Characteristics of the Project

 5.   The IMW is a typically Claretian project. Besides the Church’s guidelines, it contains the distinctive elements of our own charism and spirituality regarding the Word of God. For this reason it takes into account the style that Claret followed in assimilating the Word of God and teaching it, as well as the orientations of the Congregation’s tradition as expressed in the Constitutions, Directory, General Chapters, Circular Letters of our Fathers General and other documents of the Congregation. It also includes the formative experiences that have been or are being realized in the Congregation regarding the Word of God.

6.   It is a project that combines theoretical-pedagogical reflection on our own experiences and on non-congregational experiences, and presupposes the objective demands of every formative process as being from the Word and for the Word.

7.   Given the situation of cultural and religious pluralism in which our life and mission as Claretians take place, we must mention from the outset that in this project, by “Word,” we fundamentally mean God’s self-revelation through Sacred Scripture. This does not mean that the Bible is the only place and way in which God has revealed himself throughout history, or that we are dispensed from forming our members in intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. This is a formative task that we cannot avoid if we are going to be faithful to the charism and mission we have received. Even so, in this project we only hint at some lines that should be developed by the Organisms or zones of the Congregation through other formative dynamisms.

8.   The Project consists of two parts and some appendices. Part One presents the theological, charismatic and formative keys wherein the theme of the Word of God is set forth. Part Two presents, for each stage of initial formation, the objectives, formative criteria, means and significant experiences deemed most suitable for an initiation in listening to and assimilating Sacred Scripture in a Claretian key. Because of their formative importance, we have added a seventh chapter devoted to two highly significant moments in the final stage of initial formation (perpetual profession and holy orders). Finally, the appendices gather up a series of materials useful for enriching the project and putting it into practice.

[1] Cf. CC.6.46.

[2] Cf. CPR 54; SW 13, 14, 14.1.

[3] Cf. SW 21.

[4] Cf. Sw 21, 21.2.

[5] Cf. GPF 197-203

[6] Cf. SW 13.