FORMATION AT THE SERVICE OF TODAY`S LIFE AND MISSION
The formation session held in Rome from August 6-23, 2012, was a good opportunity for the 24 scholasticate superiors, three other formators and two Oblates from Spain to have a good experience of community life, to listen, to learn and to share about the Oblate charism, the Founder, and the mission of the Oblates in regard to post-novitiate formation. There were 29 participants.
The first two days were spent listening and sharing experiences of formation ministry in the different scholasticates. In spite of the diversity of ecclesial and socio-cultural contexts, the joys and challenges expressed during the sharing were similar. On the third day, members of the Central Government helped us to reflect on the document of the last Chapter and the calls to conversion. The invitation to provide our young members with a formation deeply rooted in Christ, according to our charism and open to new calls, gave a focus to the day`s sharing.
During the days that followed, Frank SANTUCCI and Fabio CIARDI focused our attention on the life and charism of Saint Eugene de Mazenod and how to integrate this charism into Oblate formation today. For formation to be truly Oblate and missionary, it is essential to know the Founder, the history of the Congregation and the Oblate charism. The formators became aware of the need to develop a program of oblatology for the scholasticates. We are a missionary congregation and our missionary identity must accompany each stage of formation.
This reflection on the Oblate charism in post-novitiate formation was followed by an introduction to the new General Norms of Oblate Formation. Paolo ARCHIATI gave a fine presentation and explanation of the document in its various parts. It was also an opportunity for the formators to reflect, individually and in small groups, on certain aspects of formation. An aspect that came up often was the need to train the formators and to work as a team.
On the next to the last day of the session, the Superior General held a moment of sharing with the formators. He especially insisted on the importance of the witness of the formators and the quality of their community life. The ministry of formation is a mission in itself. The formators are missionaries sent by the Congregation and the Church to form the young members. In his homily during the closing Mass, Fr. Louis LOUGEN challenged the formators to renew themselves in the Oblate charism so as to be sent once again by Christ. After having kissed the Founder`s cross, each formator received from the Superior General a small Oblate cross as a sign of his being sent on mission. Under the mighty Roman heat, the formators had a very busy program. In spite of that, the Oblate spirit, openness to others, sharing and simplicity characterized the session.
This gathering of the superiors of post-novitiate houses of formation allows us, in the light of the Constitutions and Rules and the new General Norms of Formation, to bring ourselves up to date on the level of the organization of formation and in the development of programs for the different levels of formation. Among the many areas that held the attention of the participants, I would like to mention these few:
The implementation of these proposals will depend very much on how much follow-up there is to this gathering in the different Units and Regions. As Constitution 49 reminds us: “Formation is vital to the life and mission of the Congregation…to be effective, formation requires the collaboration of all, individuals and communities.” (Cornelius NGOKA, Assistant General)
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