Formators’ Meeting 2017
From 14 to 27 May 2017, as has been customary for some years, the International Meeting of Formators of the Schoenstatt Fathers is being held. Fr Raúl Espina (Chile), general assistant for formation, invited all the formators of study houses and novitiates, from India, Burundi, Nigeria, Germany, Chile, and Paraguay. In addition, there are members of the General Council of our Community, led by the Superior General Fr Juan Pablo Catoggio, and members of the Sion Institute for Formation and Research.
Developing the new Ratio Educandi
In total, 28 confreres started with a fraternal meeting on Sunday 14 May in the afternoon, together with the fathers who live in the Generalate. On Monday we began the day with an introduction and motivation by Fr Raúl, who explained that in these two weeks of work and encounter we would especially work on a new Ratio Educandi (formation plan), using a first draft or working document which is based on the Ratio Educandi of 2003, but includes already the contributions of all these years of reflection and meetings, as well as the recently published document of the Congregation for the Clergy (Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis), all in view of the next Formation Congress scheduled for 2018, in which all the formators and territorial superiors of the Institute will participate.
The whole Community educates
A novelty for this year’s meeting is that for the first time the official languages are English and Spanish, counting on simultaneous translation by confreres who are part of the formators’ team. Amongst the new strong accents are the need to consider training as a lifelong process, and the fact that the whole community, each house, each member, is an essential part of the formative context ("the Community life is not a neutral or irrelevant space, but has a great relevance for the formative process of each trainee and each priest who belongs to it. Each member, through his personality and his acting, is an educational factor of great impact for others, especially for the confreres who are still in the stage of formal training.").
With the help of the grace of God
There was an important space for the presentation of each of the formation houses, an occasion where the fathers told about the currents that motivate them and the life that exists in each of them, through the courses and the novices or students who live there.
On Monday, the Superior General presided the Eucharist, celebrating Mary as Queen of the Apostles and reminding us that we need the special help of God's grace for our task, as our founder Joseph Kentenich put it. For the same reason, the day has also had moments for common prayer and every day, a father from a different territory has presided over the mass in his own language. We were also able to participate in the celebration of the Covenant Mass on the 18th, together with the local Schoenstatt Family, and to be pilgrims at the Original Shrine.
Looking deeper into other topics
From the work with the text of the Ratio Educandi and from the exchange between us, we have highlighted seven themes that we want to deepen in the remaining days of the meeting: an updated definition of the objectives of training in the Institute; Revitalization of pastoral formation; Relationship between formation houses and territorial superiors; Criteria for the admission of vocations; Training tasks in relation to digital media of social communication; Better understanding of forum internum / forum externum; Clarification of the profile and role of spiritual directors in seminaries.
The meeting is progressing in a very fraternal atmosphere and spirit, which has helped us to daily strengthen the bonds between us and get in tune to work together, presently sharing criteria, experiences, and insights, and later, when we return to our respective formation houses, collaborating jointly in the training of the future Schoenstatt Fathers.
Fr Enrique da Fonseca (formator at the Colegio Mayor P. José Kentenich, Chile)