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.


Claretian Ashram Begins 25th Year

wardha 3Jubilate Deo! Claretian Ashram College of Philosophy officially entered into a significant phase of its history on 16th July 2013 on the auspicious occasion of the 165 foundation day of the congregation as Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, the General Prefect of Formation, officially inaugurated the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of its foundation in the presence of Fr. Thomas Vattukulam cmf, the Provincial Superior of St Thomas Province, along with other dignitaries, religious, well wishers and friends.

Fr. Thomas Vattukulam, the Provincial Superior of St. Thomas Province, released the Jubilee Logo and felicitated as the Patron of the institute on the occasion of this significant milestone. Fr. Thomas Punchayil, the Parish Priest of St. Antony’s Church Wardha and Fr. Wilson Edattukaren CMI joined in acknowledging and thanking the unique presence of the Claretians for a quarter of a century. The programmes performed by the students, which included dance, a couple of group songs and an optical illusion sandwiched the program which was otherwise predominantly saturated with addresses and stimulated the audience and relaxed their minds.

The Claretian congregation that came to India in 1970 was blessed with plenty of vocations from different parts of the country. After the initial formation, the students used to do rest of the studies in Bangalore. The original visionaries of Claretian Ashram intended an exposure of north Indian culture to the students and envisioned an inculturated formation through the assimilation of the Ashram model of Indian monasticism.   After a lot of feasibility studies Wardha, the city of Ashrams in the heartland of India, was identified as the ideal place to impart an inculturated formation for the Claretian aspirants from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

wardha1The aim of Claretian Ashram College of Philosophy is to provide philosophical studies in tune with the cultural diversity of India. From the very inception, the Ashram was blessed with students from different states of India. An incessant quest for academic and cultural excellence is kept intact through the stream of the students hailing from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jarkhand, Chathisgragh, Assam, Maharashtra, Manipur Meghalaya, Odisha, Missoram, Kerala, and Bihar by peaceful and fraternal co-existence. At present we have 57 students of whom 47 are Claretian pre-novices and 10 are religious women. In this era of globalization one can easily find varieties of people in every walk of life. But the uniqueness Claretian ashram lies in the fact that it has a long history of having catered to the cultural and linguistic diversity from its very inception. In 1999 during the apostolic visitation His Excellency Bishop Thomas Dabre rightly termed Claretian Ashram as an ‘India in miniature!’.

The institute strives to provide a mission oriented formation in union and conformity with the Claretian Charism. The emblem of the college symbolizes the ardent pursuit of Wisdom, Love and Service that constitute the foundational values of the major world religions. The motto of the Institute is Hrudyastha Seva Dhirastha Vidya which means “earnest wisdom leads to loving service.”

Over 450 students have passed through this temple of learning in its brief yet glorious history of a quarter of a century. A good number of them are now working as missionaries in different parts of the world.

 Philosophy, as etymologically understood, is ‘Love of Wisdom.’ To arouse and instil an insatiable quest for wisdom remains at heart the challenge of this institute which has got tremendous potential to conquer greater heights of academic excellence and become a distinguished temple of learning. We hope that the reflections and celebrations of the jubilee year open up new horizons in the formation of the young missionaries to meet the need of the Church today.

- Jis Pettayil cmf