Formation for Divine Word Missionary Brothers
in Papua New Guinea.
I. The Divine Word Missionary Brothers.
The Society of the Divine Word is a fraternal community of
religious missionaries inspired by the same calling. We share one common
religious life, and we share a radical commitment to the missionary task
as described and sanctioned in our Constitutions [see Const. 104]. In this
context the Divine Word Missionary Brother is a person who has chosen to
commit himself to the Lord who came as a brother to save all people.
Therefore, the brother commits himself to the Gospel values by professing
the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.
"I have set an
example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you. Now
that you know this truth, how happy you will be if you put it into
practice!" [Jn 13: 15-17]
The SVD brother participates in
the pastoral mission of the church by becoming competent in a particular
profession and by being of service to people. The brother vocation has a
strong affinity with that of the laity. The effectiveness of the brother's
life in the secular world of work and ordinary daily contact with people
can provide many opportunities for evangelization and service.
There are many forms of service:
Communication (Mass Media, Printing, etc...)
Teaching (Catecheses, DWU, Seminary, Teacher Colleges,
Practical Trades (Carpentry, Mechanic, Electrician,
Health (Nurses, Doctors, Social workers, Counselors,
Administration (Accountancy, Management, etc...)
II. Goals and Aims of Brother Formation
The goal of all formation and education in our society is
growth by the power of the Holy Spirit into unity with the Incarnate Word
of the Father and into a missionary community comprising members from many
countries and cultures (Const. 501).
In order to accomplish our apostolic mission within the Church, we try to
give a solid formation and training to the young men the Lord calls to our
This formation can be divided into four main
1. HUMAN MATURITY
"Growth towards human maturity occurs in [a] a progressive
deepening of self knowledge[b], in the unfolding of one's personal
qualities and [c]in the achievement of that inner freedom which makes
responsible decision-making possible." [Const. 503]
Human maturity presumes growth in self knowledge.
the young man in brother formation should be encouraged to become
reflective and should be given every opportunity to grow in self
This could include the following:
Human development courses: (Personality Integration,
Enneagram, Myers Briggs, P.R.H.)
Growth in responsibility and mutual respect within the
Building healthy self esteem
Promote healthy respect for his cultural background.
[b] Each young man is encouraged to discover and
develop his God-given qualities and talents and put them at the service of
the Church in the Society.
[c] Through constant
effort and encouragement, the brother candidate pursues the inner freedom
which helps him to make responsible choices and decisions.
2. PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE
The brother candidates are to obtain the professional and
academic training that corresponds to their abilities and inclination as
well as to the missionary tasks of the Society. As much as possible this
professional and academic training should be done within the Province and
attached to the SVD community. Basic training should be completed before
entering the novitiate and further training can be done after the
3. COMMITTED FAITH
Spiritual development is most important to the Divine Word
Missionary Brother. His very identity is rooted in his faith, life and
commitment to God through the three vows. A brother must seek to better
know the Lord, to become more and more a person of prayer and to witness
to God's love for all people. Unless he continues to grow in his loving
relationship to the Lord, his religious life will become merely a service
to be performed, a job to be done (Const. 106).
Committed faith includes the following:
Personal prayer and reflection
Prayer is the life blood of
the Divine Word Missionary Brother. Through prayer he learns what the
Lord's will for him is, and receives the strength to carry it out. And so
it is essential that each brother strives to develop his personal prayer
life and become a living witness to its importance in his life of service.
(Const. 409). Because prayer, work and community are such important
aspects of the brothers' vocation, it is essential that they be integrated
in each brother's life
b. Spiritual Direction.
Each brother candidate should have a Spiritual Director from whom he
should be open to receive spiritual guidance and direction.
c. Theological Input.
The Divine Word Missionary
Brother shares in the mission of Christ to renew all things (Const: 515)
and therefore, he should constantly deepen his understanding of the
Christian message in order to be a more effective witness in his life of
4. RELIGIOUS - MISSIONARY LIVING
"Our formation is total and integral: it seeks to bring
about human maturity, professional competence and committed faith" [Const.
"The basic formation must be rooted in the cultural and
spiritual milieu of the country and derive inspiration from the acceptable
religious traditions of the people."[Const. 504.]
Formation must be community forming. [Const. 502]
Formation must be directed towards apostolic service.
"Missionary service is what realizes our vocation and what
constantly stimulates it." Formation must create an unselfish attitude,
which enables us, like Christ, to live our vocation joyfully despite
difficulties. [Const. 506].
Formation should be open to the needs of the world [Const.
"One aim of our formation is to cultivate a listening ear
for God's voice in the world, its history and happenings, and to respond
to it in a human and Christian way. Attentiveness to the signs of the
times is part of our vocation "[Const. 507].
Attention must be paid that the basic spirituality given
to our Society by Blessed Arnold Janssen permeates all aspects of
formation [Const. 502,508].
III. Stages of Brother Formation
In the PNG Province there are the following three stages
International Novitiate for brother and clerical
candidates together combine with OTP.
3. Post- Novitiate
Junior Brother Program / Professional Training
ESP (Exchange Study Program) / OTP (Overseas
Final Profession / Mission Appointment
I. PRE - NOVITIATE STAGE
TO HELP THE CANDIDATE TO UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF THE
TO HELP HIM TO GROW TO A LEVEL OF HUMAN AND CHRISTIAN
TO HELP HIM TO MAKE A FREE PERSONAL RESPONSE TO THE CALL
TO FOLLOW CHRIST IN THE RELIGIOUS-MISSIONARY LIFE.
I. A. INITIAL RECRUITMENT
initial recruitment stage usually covers the grade 9 to grade 12 period.
Grade 9 and 10 is a stage when the prospective candidate is helped to come
to an initial decision on whether he feels called to join the SVD or not.
Grade 11 and 12 continues the discernment process to help the student make
s more definite decision on whether he feels called to the
religious-missionary life as a member of the Society of the Divine Word.
The suitable young man is admitted as a candidate by the SVD Admission
Regular on-going contact through correspondence with the
Personal contact with the candidate
Organizing Vocations Camps/Retreats
Pamphlets, calendars, newsletters, as means of information
To deepen the candidate's growing relationship with God.
To help him to understand and appreciate the many and
varied ways in which the Church fulfils her mission.
To get to know the candidate's family
To develop a trust relationship with the family of the
candidate and encourage questions from them about the SVD and missionary
To involve the pastor of the candidate's parish in
evaluating the candidate.
To involve a local leader/catechist in the evaluation of
To involve the prospective candidate's high school or
secondary school in evaluating the candidate.
General Selection Requirements for SVD candidates.
"A selection well-made is formation half done".
Good physical health. - The prospective candidate must be
free of any illnesses or physical defects, which prevent him from living
out an active religious-missionary life in the world.
Good mental health - He must have a normal, cheerful
disposition, and the intelligence, and maturity-required to be able to be
formed as a religious-missionary.
A religious spirit. He must have a love for the Word of
God, a desire for union with God in prayer and sacraments, and a desire to
serve the Church
Sociability. He must have a willingness to relate with
other people through sharing, etc. and an ability to listen.
Openness. He must be open to and have a deep respect for
all that is positive in his own cultural background, and he must be
willing to live and work with people from different cultural backgrounds
A teachable spirit. He must be open to receive direction
and advice from all those concerned with his discernment process.
Initiative and responsibility. He will be expected to show
initiative or involvement in church activities, and will be expected to
show a sense of responsibility in his actions.
Practicing Catholic. He must be a practicing Catholic,
i.e. aiming to live a Christian life, having a good reputation in his
school and local community, and regular in his attendance at Mass and
reception of Holy Communion.
Missionary life. He must have an interest in and readiness
for the religious-missionary vocation and its tasks.
Age - Ordinarily he should be between 18-30 years old.
Family background and support. He should preferably come
from a stable, Catholic family background, and he must have the active
support of his family
Free to join. He must be free of any obligations or any
obstacles, which might hinder his formation as an SVD; e.g. any
outstanding debts should be repaid in full before he can be accepted.
Initial contact. He must be in regular contact with the
SVD Vocation Director and /or the district Selection Committee for about
two years before acceptance into Formation.
Vocation Camps. He must attend any Vocation Camp/days
organized by the SVD to which he is invited. Failure to attend any one of
these vocation camps/days without a serious reason will mean that the
young man will be dropped from our list of candidates.
Academic requirements. He must have completed his grade 10
studies with the marks required to continue to grade 11 and 12 or some
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR ADMISSION:
Paper detailing family background
Certificate of Baptism.
Certificate of Confirmation.
Recommendation from the parish priest.
Recommendation from local leader/catechist of home area -
to be chosen by the parish priest.
Recommendation from the High School Headmaster/class
Recommendation from SVD Vocation Director - if the
candidate is from outside the area of SVD districts.
For acceptance three application forms to be filled in -
one by the candidate himself, one by the parish priest, and one by the
headmaster/principal of the secondary school. [ These papers also needed
for St. Fidelis minor seminary]
Two photographs of the candidate.
Candidates receiving part-sponsorship to grade 11 and 12
at St Fidelis or secondary school to sign the "loan-application form" with
parents, parish priest, etc...
Yearly evaluation should happen at the beginning of
January during the meeting of all SVD Vocation Directors.
During the meeting should take place the evaluation and
The report should be given to the Formation Coordinator
and the Postulancy Director.
I. B. POSTULANCY
The word Postulancy
is derived from the Latin word "postulare", which means to ask with
insistence determined by a conviction. Postulancy, then, is a period
wherein the postulant is helped to reach a conviction that he is called by
God. Having come to such a conviction, the postulant is expected to
express his intention to proceed to the next stage of his formation.
The emphasis of the SVD Postulancy program is the growth of the postulant
in his psycho-emotional aspect. The other aspects of religious formation
(spiritual, social, academic and apostolic) however, are addressed as
well. The psycho-emotional aspect has been considered as very important,
since it constitutes one of the most essential foundations towards having
a free and mature decision to live the life of a religious.
It is a stage of one year, when the candidate is introduced to SVD
community life. It is a time of discernment both by the individual and the
Society regarding his suitability to become an SVD. The candidate is
admitted to the Postulancy by the SVD Admission Board.
Discernment of one's vocation
Experience of SVD community
Help the candidates to understand better the nature of
religious-missionary life, and to grow to a higher level of human and
Self-knowledge, self-acceptance and acceptance of others
Help the candidates to make a free and responsible choice
with regard to their vocation.
Improving English language proficiency
Introduction to the history, charism and spirituality of
Prepare for the major seminary studies.
Spiritual exercises [prayer, meditation, bible sharing,
Regular classes on: SVD history, SVD spirituality,
Biography of Blessed Arnold, Blessed Joseph, Blessed Maria Helena, History
of SSpS and SSpSAP.....
Pastoral ministry [youth, Religious Instruction, hospital
Courses [New Testament, Counseling, Enneagram and other
Personal Development courses]
Meeting with and sharing experiences with different
General awareness of the vision of the SVD and its global
missionary activities and plans
Relevance of missionary, religious, priestly/brotherhood
Fostering good relationship with superiors, other
confreres, women and men etc...
Basic computer skills
Personal interviews with the Director
Regular classes in English
I. C. RELIGIOUS STUDIES
intellectual exploration of the three-fold reality of God, the world, and
the human being, and their inter-relationship, is the focus of this period
of formation. This pursuit should motivate and enhance one's
religious-missionary identity. It is a stage of three years, when the
candidate gets a deeper understanding of God, the world and himself. The
philosophical studies are connected with some pastoral subjects, which
help them to put their knowledge into practice.
Deepening the candidate's spiritual life and his love for
the person of Christ
Help to widen his academic and intellectual knowledge
To help the candidate to grow on different levels as a
To help the candidate to integrate his knowledge with
Follow the Seminary curriculum
Participation in the daily Eucharist
Spiritual exercises [ prayer, Bible reading]
Devotions according to the liturgical calendar/
spirituality of the Society
Fostering group sharing, prayer and other activities
Regular conferences on community sharing and personality
Sport and games
Record of academic results
Student's annual self-evaluation / peer-evaluation
Formators evaluation / House Council evaluation
Yearly evaluation should be done at the end of academical
It should cover spiritual, religious, emotional and
The report should be send to the Formation Coordinator.
I.D. REGENCY YEAR
It is a time of
one year, when the candidate tries to develop and experience the spirit of
service and deepen his commitment to the Society.
Learn to make a responsible decision about his future
Deepen his commitment to the SVD community and his sense
Deepening his commitment to the religious- missionary life
in the actual life situation
Enabling the candidate to commit himself to the missionary
goals of the Society
Work under the guidance and supervision of the Supervisor
Experiencing life in a community and becoming a part of
Developing a sense of accountability and responsibility
with regard to work, and material goods.
Discovering his religious identity through prayer,
personal reflection, daily Eucharist, liturgy, meditation,
An open and reflective study of the local culture
Sharing and developing a capacity for making decisions.
Sharing and evaluation of the candidates experience with
the pastoral coordinator.
Participation in workshops in preparation for the
Novitiate [ three in the year]
The supervisor should write a report about each candidate
at the end of his work experience.
II. INTERNATIONAL NOVITIATE
At present the International Novitiate takes place in the
Philippines. During this phase of formation, the novice, ever growing in
awareness and appreciation of himself, of Christ, of the Church, of the
Society and its apostolates, comes to a definite choice to live his life
as a Divine Word missionary. This awareness and appreciation is
facilitated through a variety of experiences and a responsible and mature
decision is made in the Holy Spirit through an on-going discernment
process by the novice, the Novice Director, and the novitiate community.
There will be a five month introduction in the Philippines before the
novitiate, and the five month pastoral experience after the novitiate.
Providing opportunities to experience God and commitment
to the person of Christ.
Deepening of prayer life.
Deepening the commitment to the community and developing a
growing sense of belonging.
Discernment of the novice's vocation and laying the
foundation of the vowed religious life.
Acquiring an adequate knowledge of the Society and its
Enabling the novice to deal with his emotional life in
accordance with the vowed life.
Commitment to the goal of the Society and the life of a
Divine Word Missionary.
Total commitment of self to the religious-missionary life.
Broader experience of Church.
Spiritual exercises [meditation, prayer, Bible sharing,
Conferences [spiritual life, vows, Constitutions,...]
Retreats [30 day retreat...]
Experience of international community
Manual work [ "ora et labora"]
Regular evaluation of the spiritual life
Daily Bible reading
Evaluations [self-evaluation, group...]
Sports and recreation
The Formation Coordinator should ask a novice master for
their final evaluation.
The second evaluation of their Filipino experience should
be done after their arrival in PNG.
The evaluation should be done by Prefect & Rector in
INDICATORS of personal growth and commitment.
Growth in self-discipline, personal responsibility and accountability;
basically at ease in the presence of people and with those in authority;
authentic concern for others; self-acceptance of weaknesses and
limitations; recognition of one's basic goodness; development of
frustration-tolerance; building of a value system based on love as
embodied in Christ; ability to attend properly to health, diet, exercise,
leisure, etc.; and the ability to live consecrated celibacy authentically
as affectively fulfilled individuals.
As a general rule after the two year program in the Philippines all
confreres come back to PNG.
TO ENABLE THE CONFRERE IN TEMPORARY VOWS TO FURTHER
INTERNALIZE HIS VOCATION
TO GROW TOWARDS A LIFE -LONG PERSONAL COMMITMENT TO CHRIST
IN THE SVD
TO DEVELOP AN ATTITUDE OF READINESS TO ASSUME
FOR THE MISSIONARY TASKS OF THE SOCIETY.
III. A. JUNIOR BROTHER PROGRAM / PROFESSIONAL TRAINING
This is a stage when the confrere does his training in his chosen
profession/trade and when the junior brother deepens his commitment to the
Acquiring the theoretical knowledge
Master his professional skills
To grow in self-esteem, self-confidence
To grow in his religious-missionary vocation, as an SVD
Studies in a recognized establishment
Self - evaluation
Belonging and participation in particular SVD community
Spiritual exercises [ meditation, reading the Bible,
recollections, retreats , spiritual guidance...]
Conferences/discussions on theological and biblical
implications of community living
Study/discussion on Church documents on religious life,
documents of the Society.
Learning to dialogue with people of other faiths
Continuation of discernment process so that he can prepare
himself to make a life-long commitment in the Society.
Guidance of the Rector/Praeses of his community and his
Regular contact with the Director of Brother Formation.
Regular contact with his spiritual director.
The evaluation should be organized by the Director of
The evaluation done by a director of institution where
confrere is taking training
It should be done at the end of the year
It should cover evaluation of his professional skill,
personal growth, spiritual development.
It should be connected with planing once a year at the end
of a school year.
III. B. ESP =
EXCHANGE STUDY PROGRAM
OTP = OVERSEAS TRAINING PROGRAM
It is an optional stage
of formation in our program. After the 2 year program in the Philippines
all confreres come back to PNG Province and after one year of theology at
Bomana for clerical seminarians and basic professional training for the
junior brothers they may apply for OTP or ESP. The application should be
process by the House Council and the Provincial Council will make the
III. C. FINAL PROFESSION / MISSION
Preparation for perpetual vows lasts six to
twelve months. The provincial superior with the consent of his council is
to decide the exact length of time and appoint the responsible director"
Strengthening the confrere's religious values and
motivations, leading to a total religious commitment in Perpetual Vows.
Acquiring a clear vision about the meaning and relevance of religious vows
in the present-day situation.
Deepening of his understanding, love and commitment to the
person and mission of Christ
To prepare himself more intensely to be a committed Divine
Human-spiritual growth and maturity
Input sessions, discussions and study on the understanding
of celibacy, poverty, and obedience.
Discussion on Church and Society documents related to
Reflection on SVD Constitutions and other documents
relevant to religious life
Regular spiritual direction and personal prayer
Regular reflection/meditation on work and other
experiences in the light of the Gospel values.
Deepen inquiry into the life and ministry of the religious
priest/brother in the light of Christ.
Living international community life whenever possible
"Passing - Over” - spirituality and practice.
Active participation in community living
To integrate his emotional and affective needs into his
Helping the confrere to write his application for mission
appointment in the light of his abilities and the needs of the Church and
The goal of formation in the context of a
religious-missionary congregation like ours is the gradual, and often
painful, transformation into an increasingly God-centered existence. This
life-long process of forming Christ within us is a task fraught with many
difficulties and innumerable challenges. Weak and fragile human beings as
we are, despite our best effort at forming ourselves, we will always
remain imperfect receptacles of the divine grace. [SVD Formation Manual -
India, 1997, p.88]
"Keep running steadily in the race we
have started. Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith
and brings it to perfection." [Heb. 12: 1-2]
THE ROLE OF
THE DIRECTOR OF SVD BROTHER FORMATION
The Director of Brother Formation, as stated in
Constitution 522.3, is responsible for the education, formation and
accompaniment of the brother candidates during the normal course of their
formation and education in the Province.
Responsible for preparing and keeping updated the
necessary materials for animating brother vocations.
Contact person for all matters relating to the brother
candidates and junior brothers.
Represents the brothers on the Formation Team and sees to
the implementation of the decisions of the Formation Board concerning
brothers. He is responsible to the Provincial Superior and his council.
Keeps in touch with the candidates while they are still
studying. He keeps contact through correspondence with them as well as
through personal contact with their families.
The brother candidates in the various formation houses are
directly under the respective superiors. They are also under the care of
the Director of Brother Formation of the Province.
Responsible for the academic and professional competency
of the brother candidates and the junior brothers in the Province.
The spiritual formation of the brothers in temporary vows
is the responsibility of the immediate superior of the community to which
the brothers belong. This is also the responsibility of the Director of
Brother Formation. The immediate superior of the brothers in temporary
vows prepares the reports for promotion to vows and presents them to the
Sees to it that there is a proper process for the brothers
to be regularly evaluated and to be given opportunities to participate in
He visits the brother candidates and the junior brothers
on a regular basis.
He has a duty to intervene when the program for the
brothers in formation is not followed.
Once a year the Director of Brother Formation should call
together all the brother candidates and junior brothers to share
The Director of Brother Formation represents the Province
in meetings regarding brothers' formation.