Divine Word Missionaries
SVD BROTHER FORMATION IN INDIA
Rome, 07 April 2005.
The stages of Brother formation are the following:
I - PRE-NOVITIATE
1. Vocation promotion: (Recruitment)
Recruitment and selection of candidates who have passed 10th class of High School/Higher Secondary School or +2 (which refers to those candidates who need to complete the two-year course of Junior College). The latter candidates belong to 11th or 12th class.
2. Propaedeutic: (Orientation course)
Brother candidates do the orientation course in one of the two houses, namely, Bagdehi (INE) and Alwal (INH). During this period (1 year), the Brother candidates do a language course (English), are offered regular input in spirituality and further information about the SVD.
3. Junior College: (Pre-university level)
At the completion of the Orientation course those who have passed the 10th class (High School) do a two-year Junior College to complete their Pre-university/Junior College level. However, Brother candidates who have passed the 11th class do normally only one year of Junior College. In the INC province, this stage is in common with the clerical candidates, in the SVD Minor Seminary of Mhow, not far from Indore. What about the other provinces?
4. Spiritual, Integration and Studies: (SIS)
Then, they join the SIS course in Palda (Spirituality, Integration and Studies), which lasts one (1) year and is done together with the clerical candidates. The SIS offers a good formation in community life, spirituality, religious vocation, academic skills and missionary matters. This course is very much appreciated by the students and formators.
5. Graduation: (College/university level)
Later, most of the Brother candidates follow a three-year graduation course (college/university level) or technical training, which is equivalent to a graduation course, before entering the novitiate. All these candidates, coming from the four SVD provinces in India, live together and receive a mission orientation course at Vidyodaya (Indore, INC). This is the stage during which special emphasis is laid on the Brothers' identity and its value in today's world. The candidates are helped to choose their branch of studies or skills training, according to their aptitudes and the needs of the Society. Another meaningful aspect of this stage is that it prepares the candidates for the novitiate along with their graduation. In other words, at the end of this stage the Brother candidates get a bachelor degree/diploma (B. A., B.Sc., B.Com, etc.)
6. Postulancy: (Done at the end of the graduation)
Finally, it is important to point out that at the end of the above mentioned graduation course the Brother candidates do their postulancy (during the 6 months that precede the novitiate entrance).
In short, a graduation course or an equivalent course of study is a requirement before the novitiate so that 10th class candidates require (7) years to enter novitiate. The duration between 1st vows and final vows varies from 3 to 5 years, depending on the length of their subsequent academic programs.
7. Some observations: (Alternatives)
OBS: after the yearlong juniorate at Palda (SIS course), all Brother candidates need not go for a regular university graduation. Instead, according to an earlier ruling of the Formation Board, some of them may be sent for technical training (equivalent to graduation) prior to the novitiate. National Brother Coordinator, in consultation with the Palda staff, was to make the recommendation to the Governing Board in individual cases.
Admission to some of the professional courses becomes more difficult the more we wait. So the question was raised whether eligible Brother candidates could be sent for these studies right after the yearlong juniorate at Palda (that is, before the novitiate). This was ruled out. However, the floor recommended, by consensus, that the Governing Board grants exception to deserving candidates to enter novitiate right after Palda-course so as to pursue professional courses at the earliest. National Brother coordinator, taking into account the minor seminary reports and in consultation with the Palda staff, is to make the necessary recommendation in individual cases.
II - NOVITIATE
The Novitiate lasts one year (canonical year) and is done in common with the clerical candidates, for all the Indian provinces at Khurda (INC). In 2004, there were 24 novices (2 Brother novices), which confirms the predominantly "clerical" profile of the novitiate program. In general, this stage is well done and promotes an appropriate religious/spiritual and missionary formation.
OBS: Vidyodaya is a formation house that brings together Brother candidates from all the four Indian provinces before they enter the novitiate. Since the number of dropouts of candidates trained in Vidyodaya was drastic in recent years, an evaluation of this house was carried out in the school year 1999-2000. In the light of its findings some measures were introduced and there has been a positive effect on the perseverance rate of Brother candidates.
III - POST- NOVITIATE
1. Theology studies:
Afterwards, the junior Brothers do 1-3 years of theology studies in order to deepen their faith and prepare themselves for mission, no matter in which field they are supposed to work (JPIC, communications, nursing, farming, catechetical apostolate, administration, etc.)
2. Regency stage: (pastoral/professional)
In addition, they do a regency stage (pastoral/professional, lasting one year).
Transcultural experience (OTP, which requires 1-2 years, but so far no Brother has done it).
4. Professional training:
Back from the regency stage or OTP, some of the Brothers are sent for professional training. It may happen also that a few of them do their professional training soon after their first vows. At this stage, the junior Brothers (meaning here those in temporary vows), complete their professional training, which may last another 1-3 years, depending on the courses or studies they have taken.
5. Final vows:
Afterwards, they prepare themselves for final vows (6 months).
IV - ONGOING FORMATION
1. Ongoing formation:
Finally, ongoing formation is made possible through regular meetings and other activities/means.
Specialization studies are also possible, but there is no uniform policy to its precise timing. Regency also is not offered to all Brothers.