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In search of the unification of criteria in Initial Formation

 

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General Conference - 14th September

16/09/2005: Sri Lanka

Initial Formation on the mat
<280.jpg alt=General Conference – 14th September hspace=5 vspace=5 align=right>Today’s work sessions were dedicated to a reflection on the theme of Initial Formation. This theme was presented by Brothers Antonio Ramalho, General Councillor, and Ernesto Sanchez from the General Council’s Religious Life Commission.
The objectives that were proposed to the assembly are: to foster a reflection and dialogue on the important challenges in Initial formation, in view of evaluating what is seen to be positive; to have a clearer and unified vision of some important topics; to deepen the Provincials’ and District Superiors’ understanding of these themes in relation to their Administrative Units; and, finally, to shed light on the future work of animation of formation at the level of the Administrative Units and at the level of the Religious Life Commission.
A document was given to the participants to help them in their task. It described the style of visits to houses of formation during the last three years and gave general information on the current situation of novitiates and post-novitiates in the Marist world.

Marist novitiates in the world

NOVITIATES

Current number of novices

Spanish

Cochabamba, Bolivia

6

Córdoba, Argentina

1

Medellín, Colombia

13

Morelia, Mexico

3

Seville, Spain

0

English

Kumasi, Ghana

27

Kutama, Zimbabwe

10

Tudella, Sri Lanka

9

Cotabato, Philippines

7

Ansan, South Korea

3

Lomeri, Fiji

15

Mittagong, Australia

1

Esopus, USA

0

Portuguese

Passo Fundo, Brazil (RGS)

14

Campinas, Brazil (BCS)

10

Mondubim, Fortaleza, Brazil (BCN)

9

Ji-Paraná (Amazonia) Brazil

2

French

Save, Rwanda

19



Marist post-novitiates in the world

POST-NOVITIATES

Current number

SPANISH

Argentina

4

Paraguay

3

Lima, Peru

2

Bogotá, Colombia.

6

Guatemala.

8

Guadalajara, Mexico.

11

Europe: in Provinces

4

ENGLISH-FRENCH

MIC: Marist International Centre- NAIROBI, Kenya

75

ENGLISH

MAPAC: Marist Asia-Pacific Centre – MANILA, Philippines

28

PORTUGUESE

Viamão, Brazil (RGS)

18

Florianópolis, Brazil (BCS)

15

Belo Horizonte, Brazil (BCN)

14

Amazonia: communities

6



Visit to the houses of initial formation

Photo gallery of some Marist formation centers throughout the world

During the visits to the regions by the Brother Superior General and his Council, from 2002 to 2005, a special team visited the novitiates, the post-novitiates and sometimes the postulancies. This initiative of Brother Seán is an integral part of the plan for the visits to Administrative Units.
More than responding to the need of a pastoral visit (canonical), these visits allow one to have a global vision of the formation in the entire Institute and to offer topics for reflection to each house visited and to the Administrative Units. At the end of the visit to each house, a document in the form of a project is produced in its final form, having been studied in the house during the visit and discussed with the Brothers Provincial and their Councils during the Extended General Council meeting.


Strengths and challenges

Among the strengths, the following were highlighted:
* There are great efforts on the part of Administrative Units to offer a solid formation and to dedicate the necessary human and financial resources, and a great desire on the part of those involved to come to a better knowledge of Marist charism and to live it. There is a paternal presence of formators and a good family spirit.
* The enthusiasm, commitment and devotion of the formators who carry out their mission in a working team in international and/or interprovincial houses of formation. For some this presents a strength, for others a challenge.
* Unification of the work of formation by seeking continuity and coherence in everything.
* Attention to a formation adapted and personalised thanks to personal accompaniment.
* Always a greater effort to offer a formation that is adaptable and better immersed in the social, cultural and religious reality of the country.
* Unification of criteria of formation in all the novitiates of the Institute.
* Appreciation of prayer according to the spirit of Marist Apostolic Spirituality in many houses of formation.

Challenges in Initial Formation
The Religious Life Commission presented the challenges under the form of seven core themes to highlight the role of the Provincial or of the District Superior, and to shed light on what the Administrative Units can bring to others who are in a similar situation. It is important to share not only theoretical reflections but especially experiences.
<280a.jpg alt=General Conference – 14th September >Some challenges have already been mentioned by Brother Seán in his letter of convocation to the Conference: “in parts of our Institute differences of opinion and competing ideologies also exist about how to best carry out this important work.” “Differences of opinion exist about issues such as the most appropriate theological formation for candidates and young brothers, the ongoing influence of the human sciences in the process of formation, and the best geographic location for a house of formation.” (cf page 18) Other than these three subjects presented by Brother Seán, the Commission proposed four more for our reflection: ongoing formation, the two stages of the post-novitiate and the inculturation of formation.

The future of initial formation
During the last three years, the Commission has visited, supported and encouraged initial formation in the houses that were visited as well as in the Administrative Units.
The Religious Life Commission organised for today and a part of tomorrow activities that permit the participants to give some directions to the Commission for the four coming years. We will give details about the contributions of the participants tomorrow.

A gift
Brother Laurentino Albalá, Provincial of the Province of Norandina, gave all the brothers present a CD with fourteen songs, produced by his Province. Its title is “Alégrate de ser marista” (Rejoice in being Marist). These songs are used during youth ministry and vocation ministry meetings.

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