To Progress and Grow in Him

Dear Brothers:


The recently held XXV General Chapter declares among others the following:

“To progress and grow as disciples, called by the Master to be with Him, and to be sent as witnesses and messengers, until we are transformed as was our Father Founder throughout the course of his life (MS no. 75).”

As indicated, this number refers directly to formation. In the next six years the efforts of the Congregation in this area is geared towards this direction.


Joy, a Guiding Star of Formation Process

light of lifeMy novice master Fr. Franz Dirnberger used to ask us frequently, “ Are you happy?”, expecting the response of a “yes” from the young novices. For him an unhappy novice was a paradox and it was an indicator that an unhappy novice was not meant for this form of life, unless he worked out his difficulties and returned to the “natural joy” of consecrated life.

Absence of joy in everyday life or presence of pervading sadness in a Claretian speaks loudly about his vocational integrity. Consecrated life is a free response to the loving call of the Lord heard in the interior of a person. Often one may find it difficult to hear the call amidst so many of the sounds are furies trumpeting within him and he may find himself pulled and pushed by the many attractions they promise. Unless one learns to enter into the zone of interior silence, it is easy to get confused and get lost in the cacophony composed by the conflicting calls. Cultivation of inner silence and practice of meditation and Lectio Divina are important ways to recognize the voice of the Lord and recover the joy of life.


The Change that Changes Everything

the changeLooking at the formation programs which aim at promoting change and transformation, a formator may wonder what is that change which changes everything in a person. In other words, what is that change which, if it does not happen, there is no real change in a person even if one advances in age and accumulate academic degrees. Only very few formees are naturally tuned to benefit from the formation programs and grow towards higher levels of transcendence. It is after initial formation when life offers serious challenges that some religious go through the process of "breaking and building", the Pasqual mystery of dying to the old and rising to new life. Such a change often begins to happen in people at crucial moments of their lives. It can be through an encounter with a person, an escape from an accident, an illness, a failure, an experience of betrayal….


The Center of Formation in our Formation Centers

creationAs we are learning to make sense of the prophetic act of Pope Benedict XVI in his resignation and his onward journey as a fellow pilgrim in contemplation, prayer and study, I would like to take one of his constantly repeated affirmations as central axis for our formation process. The Pope repeatedly said, "being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction… since God has first loved us" (Deus Caritas Est 1).   He has reiterated it again in his Lenten message.


Heart of Mary School for Formators 213

shm13-3The 10th course for formators in the Heart of Mary School for Formators was held from 2nd of April to 20th June, 2013. The course in English was the last one in this Sexennium. The course was conducted in the Claretian centers in Vic, Barbastro and Colmenar Viejo. Twenty two formators from 13 different Major Organisms of the Congregation participated in the course. The following were the participants:

  1. 1.Anthony Surenthirakumar (Srilanka)
  2. 2.Antony Koneti:     (Bangalore)
  3. 3.Bober Aleksander CMF (Poland)
  4. 4.Charles Jocris Mortela (Philippines)
  5. 5.Eugenius Paulus Madoni (Indonesia)
  6. 6.John Francis Adele (East Nigeria)
  7. 7.Fred Wanzala (Kenya,East Africa)
  8. 8.George Nandalath (Uganda, East Africa)
  9. 9.George Nelliyaniyil (St. Thomas)
  10. 10.Gilbert Quenano (Philipines)
  11. 11.Jaison(North East India)
  12. 12.Jesu Raj (Tanzania, East Africa)
  13. 13.Jijo Jose (St. Thomas)
  14. 14.Joseph Jeyaseelen (Srilanka0
  15. 15.Jude Behin (Srilanka)
  16. 16.Marcel Oparaji (East Nigeria)
  17. 17.Polak Tomasz CMF (Poland)
  18. 18.Richard Soren (Chennai)
  19. 19.Francis Ofoegbu (West Nigeria)
  20. 20.Rodolphe Mbida (Cameroon)
  21. 21.Sid Ching (East Asia)
  22. 22.Tom Mc Gann (USA)

Within these period of 80 days, the animators of this Course, Frs. Mathew Vattamattam and Jesus Maria Palacios, facilitated a personalized formative journey through the study of Claretian formative resources and an experiential contact with Claretian places in Spain especially Sallent, Vic, Barcelona, Barbastro, Madrid, Segovia, La Granja and El Escorial.shm13-2

The objective of the course is to form the formators of the Congregation in the charismatic and formative elements characteristic of our Congregation so as to accompany the formandi in their vocational discernment and growth. The golden rule set for the formatos was to impart to the formandi what they themselves have experienced. Hence the course attempted to help the formators to make an in-depth study of the writings of our Founder, our Constitutions, Claretian History and General Plan of Formation with the intention of effectively communicating to the formandi what they have learnt. Different pedagogical methods were employed to lean better ways of communication. Another significant aspect of the course was the importance given to JPIC, discernment, interculturality, accompaniment and formative interventions to assure a holistic and integral approach to formation.

The formators had opportunities to share their own personal expertise to enrich one another by helping the participants to learn powerpoints, indesign, video making etc. A lively community life doted with the richness of interculturality was also an important formative factor in the course.

Contact with Claretian communities and the hospitality enjoyed in the different Claretian places offered the taste of Claretian family spirit. The testimony of life and the culture of hard work seen in the life of senior Claretians were powerful and challenging motivators for the young Claretian formators.

The resource persons who offered various programs were the following: Jesudoss (Writings of Claret and Word of God in Claret),

Paul Smyth (Formative process),

Gonzalo and Fr. General (Constitutions),

Benjamin Elcano (Martyrs of Barbastro,

Carlos Muniz (Claretian History),

Jesus Palacios (GPF)

Emmanuel Edeh (Interculturality)

Robert Omondi (JPIC)

Mathew Vattamattam (Discernment, Accompaniment and Formative interventions)

            The participants evaluated the fruitfulness of the course positively and opined that they have grown in their love and appreciation for their vocation and the charism of the congregation. As the course is more concerned with the aspect of Claretian elements in formation, the formators need to equip themselves more assiduously to accompany their own growth process and to offer suitable formative accompaniment to the formadi. There are many centers in different countries where formators can learn skills of spiritual direction and personal accompaniment to further improve their ministry of formation. The School of the Heart of Mary offers training for formators mainly one of the aspects of formation: Claretian dimension. It is unfortunate if the major organisms limit the formation of their formators just to the short course offered by the school of the Heart of Mary. A holistic formation for our formandi calls for a holistic formation of our formators.

-Mathew Vattamattam