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THE BROTHER FORMATION PROGRAMME
FOR GHANA PROVINCE

PREFACE

This programme is the result of several years of actual experience in the field of Brother Formation in our society. It became evident that there was a great need for a well-planned Formation Programme for Junior Brothers. On the part of the junior brothers the programme is meant to provide sufficient religious / academic training stressing the apostolic nature of the brother vocation, so that they can confidently take their places in the work of the society. But to accomplish all these, the interest, support and encouragement of the confreres of the society in general is also necessary. At the same time we were able to update the programme in accordance with present day situations and to bring it in line with both our new SVD Constitutions and the New Code of Canon Law.

INTRODUCTION

Brothers are called to carry out the missionary task of the Church, entrusted to every Christian in baptism and confirmation, in the decisive way called for by the religious life. Through the varied services and witness to the gospel, the brothers share in the mission of Christ to renew all things. The better trained they are for their spiritual, professional, pastoral and social activities; the more effectively they can fulfil their vocation. (c.515).

The Divine Word Missionary Brother is a person who has chosen to commit himself to the gospel values according to the charism and life-style of the Society of the Divine Word. This commitment is his response, in faith, to a call to grow in his understanding and acceptance of himself in relation to Jesus Christ, to others and to the world. This response takes its concrete expression in the following of Christ through the evangelical counsels.

To be able to make this response possible within the context of the SVD Missionary charism in the church, the individual who joins the society must be prepared for this vocation (of SVD constitutions 501, 503, etc.). He should receive a Religious Formation and a professional/ academic Training (c.503). During the time of formation, confreres should develop the ability to work purposefully and harmoniously with others and have consideration for them during work and leisure, and to learn to live with tensions. The formation process fosters in each individual an appreciation of the common order as well as the need for being alone; there must be room for both in his life (c. 505.4, 505.5).

I. Admission requirements:

  1. A minimum period of one-year contact with our vocation office.

  2. Five SSSCE credits / Five ‘O’ Level credits (English inclusive) ‘A’ Level graduates Teacher Certificate ‘A’ or University graduates.

  3. Advance professional Training certificate in all Technical Fields.

  4. Higher National Diploma (HND) in all fields.

II. Programme:

Candidates who fulfil the admission requirements enter into a well-integrated formation programme beginning with the Postulancy up till final profession.

  1. Postulancy (Two years)

  2. Novitiate (One year)

  3. Period of temporary vows.

    1. Religious, Professional/Academic training (Two or Three years)

    2. Full- Time Religious Education - Social Ministry in Tangaza College Nairobi -Kenya) for Three years or any other Religious Education in Africa.

    3. Pastoral professional in - service training programme for those who are not able to go to Tangaza College (One year)

    4. Second Novitiate (Six months)

III. Postulancy

  1. Postulancy is inserted into the Seminary Formation St. Victor’s Seminary in Tamale.

  2. Duration is two years.

  3. House Formation: St. Joseph Freinademetz House - Tamale.

IV. Period of Temporary Vows:

A. Religious Formation and Professional / Academic Training.

  1. This period of Religious Formation and Professional / Academic Training starts after Novitiate and usually lasts for three years and is received during the first three years of vows. If a Brother’s Training requires less time than three years, an appropriate programme will be drawn up leading to his full time religious education/ formation courses. If the brothers training require more than three years, he should complete his training first and then do the full-time religious education/formation course. In this case an extension of his period in temporary vows has to be obtained.

  2. Each brother in the programme must, if it is at all possible, live in SVD community as it forms the integral part of his religious commitment.

  3. As a general rule each brother should continue to study in the field in which he received training before joining the society.

  4. The overall planning for each brother’s professional / Academic Training should actively involve the person himself and the Brother Formation Director. The Brother Formation Director should consult competent people in the area of the person’s work interest for their training advice. Brother Formation Director then presents to the Brother Formation Committee and to the Provincial and his Council for approval.

  5. The Brother Formation Director is to meet regularly with each Brother and with those on the local level who are concerned with the Formation to discuss each Brother’s progress. There should be a yearly evaluation of the programme by the Brother Formation Director and those in charge of his training and the brother concerned.

  6. During this training period the Brother Formation Director, the local director, and the brother concerned should arrange together a school holiday programme based on his formation/ professional needs.

  7. This is a period of continued growth as well as on-going Vocational Discernment. As an SVD Religious, the Brother in temporary vows is expected to integrate personal prayer, meditation, and examination of conscience, scripture and spiritual reading. He participates in community Prayer and Liturgy. Each brother in temporary vows is to have a local spiritual director with whom he meets at least once a month. Monthly recollection is organised by the Brother Formation Director for them. The brothers in Temporary vows make their annual retreat (together with the clerics) in preparation for the renewal of vows.

  8. During this period on-going Religious Formation courses will be organised by the Brother Formation Director.

  9. The placement of a brother requires a living community which accepts the young person where he is in life, expresses concern and respect for him, shows firm direction and challenges him when necessary, such a community has a regular community Prayer Life, promotes spiritual growth and is open and understanding.

V. Full – Time Religious Education/ Formation Courses:

  1. The aim of the course is to give the young Brother a good understanding of Social Science and many more so that he may better appreciate the missionary, apostolic and spiritual dimensions of his vocation. This also prepares him to proclaim the Word more effectively.

  2. This training is to be received at the Tangaza College (Kenya) and takes about three years to finish. Or in Ghana or in another similar African Institute of good quality.

  3. This full-time religious education/ formation course is not desirable directly after novitiate. Our brothers have already been away from their professional/academic studies for approximately three years by the end of their novitiate. Being outside of their professional field for such a lengthy time may get them out of touch with their profession.

VI. Pastoral/Professional In – Service Training Programme.

Note: This programme is envisaged in Ghana for those who do not take part in an OTP programme. It takes one year.

Goals of Pastoral/Professional In – Service Training Programme:

  1. To deepen the sense of identity and worth in one’s goals and contribute constructively to the work of the Church.

  2. To text, solidify and mature the missionary Vocation.

  3. To give actual and creative direction to this period of formal preparation for the missionary work.

  4. To deepen a personal faith, commitment to Christ, to His Church and to the people of God in the particular style of service of our Religious Missionary society.

  5. To heighten a sense of international mission awareness by promoting a fruitful exchange of experience.

OTP programme: It is foreseen for those brothers who might go abroad for an intercultural experience. For this purpose, they need to learn the “official” language of the new country, and perhaps a local language. Such an initiative requires between 2 and 3 years of time.

B. Personal Objectives:

  1. To provide him with an in-depth missionary experience and the opportunity of leaving by it.

  2. To help him become aware of the impact this new environment makes on him and of the attitudes he brings to it.

  3. To develop attitudes of self-criticism, theological reflectiveness and of professional competence.

  4. To develop skills in language learning and the ability of inserting oneself in a new cultural situation.

C. Preparation:

  1. The programme should last for one year.

  2. Before going to his place of assignment the brother will have to undergo an orientation course in supervision.

  3. The brother will have to complete and finalise a learning agreement stating his goals, objective and expectations.

  4. The Director/ Pastors including some possible areas of work will give the brother in formation descriptions of the various sites. His final placement is made in consultation with the Brother Formation Director.

  5. Supervisors and setting committees need to be trained and be ready and willing to receive the brother. Also, the Christian community should be informed of the coming of the brother.

D. Programme:

1. Language and Culture Learning:

The brother’s understanding of the sensitivity to the new culture is of highest importance. This period of time includes language learning methodology so that he might be competent in the local language; the experience of living with a family, so that he might be immersed in language and exposed to the events of daily living that gives the people, their cultural identity; field supervision, to ensure that the brother internalises his experience. The result of this is that the brother takes on the worldview of the people, thus bonding himself with them and becoming more open to other cultures.

2. Supervision

It is an in-depth, supervised, pastoral, professional experience, which is essential to the success of the whole programme. It must be organised and structured by someone trained in supervision and it must include all elements and techniques of supervision.

E. Financial Aspect

The following are guidelines for this arrangement:

  1. During his language and cultural learning the society takes care of the expenses.

  2. Once the brother reaches his place of assignment the parish or the station ordinary takes care of his boarding and lodging, travel, personal expenses and local leave.

  3. The society takes care of major medical expenses.

VII. Preparation of Final Vows:

  1. The duration of the preparation for the final vows is Six months.

  2. This is meant to be a time of reflection and prayer to prepare for final vows.

  3. The preparation for final vows programme will be organised by the Provincial Superior and his Council.

VIII. Programme Personnel:

The implementation of the programme is entrusted to the following:

A. Brother Formation Director:

  1. He is responsible for the overall implementation and supervision of the programme. (cons. 522.3).

  2. He is to establish a close personal relationship with each brother in formation so that the brother feels free and open to express his views and opinions. Frequent personal visits; group meetings, praying together both on an individual and group basis are means to achieve this. (cons. 522.10).

  3. He prepares an annual report and evaluation on the entire programme, which is presented to the Brother Formation Committee and the Provincial Council for approval.

  4. He is to keep in touch with other SVD Formation Programmes and he should seek possibilities of working together with other Congregations in Ghana. He is to be given the opportunity to attend course to improve himself in the Formation Field. (cons. 522.6).

  5. He does assessment of each Brother in Formation before renewal of vows.

B. Brother Formation Committee:

  1. This committee serves as a consultative body to assist the Brother Formation Director in the implementation of all aspects of the programme. The members consist of those working in the Formation programme of the Brothers and two or three co-opted members, of whom one-half of the members should be brothers. Members are nominated by the Brother Formation Director and exiting committee members and are subject to approval of the Provincial Council.

  2. This committee is to meet two times a year.

C. Local Director:

  1. The local Superior is the local Director unless the Brother Formation Director in consultation with the Local Superior and the Brother Formation Committee assigns a Local Director to the brothers in the Formation Programme.

  2. The Local Director should manifest a healthy Religious Life, be available to the brothers and be able to dialogue with them.

  3. The Local Director should meet on a monthly basis with the Brother in Formation to discuss matters relating to his studies/ Professional life. He should be especially concerned that all things needed for the Brother’s professional/ academic Training at hand.

D. Spiritual Director:

  1. Each brother in Formation chooses his own Spiritual Director with the knowledge and approval of the Brother Formation Director.

  2. The Brother should meet with his Spiritual Director on a monthly basis.

By Br. Emmanuel Affum, svd
Director Brother Formation

Accra, May 2004.