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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, etc....)

  • Practical Trades (Carpentry, Mechanic, Electrician, etc...)

  • Health (Nurses, Doctors, Social workers, Counselors, etc...)

  • Administration (Accountancy, Management, etc...)

  • Others...

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 Society.

This formation can be divided into four main areas:

  1. Human maturity

  2. Professional competence

  3. Committed faith.

  4. Religious-missionary living

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]

[a] Human maturity presumes growth in self knowledge.

Therefore the young man in brother formation should be encouraged to become reflective and should be given every opportunity to grow in self knowledge.

This could include the following:

  • Human development courses: (Personality Integration, Enneagram, Myers Briggs, P.R.H.)

  • Counseling

  • Growth in responsibility and mutual respect within the community.

  • Building healthy self esteem

  • Promoting initiative.

  • 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 novitiate.

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:

a. 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 service.

4. RELIGIOUS - MISSIONARY LIVING

  • "Our formation is total and integral: it seeks to bring about human maturity, professional competence and committed faith" [Const. 503.]

  • "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. [Const. 502]

  • "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. 502].

  • "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 of formation:

  1. Pre-Novitiate

  2. Novitiate

  3. Post-Novitiate

1. Pre-Novitiate

  1. Initial recruitment

  2. Postulancy

  3. Religious Studies

  4. Regency year

2. Novitiate

International Novitiate for brother and clerical candidates together combine with OTP.

3. Post- Novitiate

  1. Junior Brother Program / Professional Training

  2. ESP (Exchange Study Program) / OTP (Overseas Training Program)

  3. Final Profession / Mission Appointment

 

 

I. PRE - NOVITIATE STAGE

GENERAL GOALS:

  • TO HELP THE CANDIDATE TO UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF THE RELIGIOUS-MISSIONARY VOCATION.

  • TO HELP HIM TO GROW TO A LEVEL OF HUMAN AND CHRISTIAN MATURITY

  • TO HELP HIM TO MAKE A FREE PERSONAL RESPONSE TO THE CALL TO FOLLOW CHRIST IN THE RELIGIOUS-MISSIONARY LIFE.

I. A. INITIAL RECRUITMENT

The 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 Board.

GOAL:

  • To help the candidate to discern his vocation

MEANS:

  • Regular on-going contact through correspondence with the candidate

  • Personal contact with the candidate

  • Organizing Vocations Camps/Retreats

  • Pamphlets, calendars, newsletters, as means of information and inspiration.

  • Personal accompaniment

  • 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.

  • Community participation

  • 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 life.

  • To involve the pastor of the candidate's parish in evaluating the candidate.

  • To involve a local leader/catechist in the evaluation of the candidate

  • 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 and nationalities.

  • 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 professional training.

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 teacher.

  • 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.

  • Short autobiography.

  • 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...

EVALUATION:

  • 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 planning

  • 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.

GOALS:

  • 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 Christian maturity

  • 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 the Society

  • Prepare for the major seminary studies.

MEANS:

  • Spiritual exercises [prayer, meditation, bible sharing, faith sharing]

  • Daily Eucharist

  • 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 ministry...]

  • Courses [New Testament, Counseling, Enneagram and other Personal Development courses]

  • Meeting with and sharing experiences with different confreres.

  • General awareness of the vision of the SVD and its global missionary activities and plans

  • Relevance of missionary, religious, priestly/brotherhood vocation

  • Fostering good relationship with superiors, other confreres, women and men etc...

  • Basic computer skills

  • Personal interviews with the Director

  • Ongoing evaluation

  • Spiritual direction

  • Regular classes in English

EVALUATION;

  • At the end of the Postulancy

  • The report should be send to the Formation Coordinator.

I. C. RELIGIOUS STUDIES

An 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.

GOALS:

  • 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 person

  • To help the candidate to integrate his knowledge with pastoral practice

MEANS:

  • 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

  • Spiritual Direction

  • Community activities

  • Regular conferences on community sharing and personality development

  • Sport and games

  • Work

Assessment Paper:

  • Record of academic results

  • Student's annual self-evaluation / peer-evaluation

  • Formators evaluation / House Council evaluation

EVALUATION;

  • Yearly evaluation should be done at the end of academical year

  • It should cover spiritual, religious, emotional and academic performances

  • 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.

GOALS;

  • Learn to make a responsible decision about his future

  • Deepen his commitment to the SVD community and his sense of belonging.

  • 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

MEANS:

  • Work under the guidance and supervision of the Supervisor

  • Experiencing life in a community and becoming a part of that community.

  • 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.

EVALUATION:

  • The evaluation should be done during the workshop.

  • It should be done by the supervisor and third person [District Superior] at the end of the program.

 

 

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.

GOALS:

  • 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 spirituality.

  • 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.

  • Cross-cultural experience.

  • Broader experience of Church.

MEANS:

  • Spiritual exercises [meditation, prayer, Bible sharing, other devotions]

  • Conferences [spiritual life, vows, Constitutions,...]

  • Retreats [30 day retreat...]

  • Experience of international community

  • Pastoral experiences

  • Manual work [ "ora et labora"]

  • Regular evaluation of the spiritual life

  • Monthly recollection

  • Daily Bible reading

  • Personal interviews

  • Spiritual direction,

  • Evaluations [self-evaluation, group...]

  • Sports and recreation

EVALUATION:

  • 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 Bomana.

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.

 

 

III. POST-NOVITIATE

GENERAL GOALS:

  • 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 RESPONSIBILITY
    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 Society.

GOALS:

  • 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 brother

MEANS:

  • 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 District Superior.

  • Regular contact with the Director of Brother Formation.

  • Regular contact with his spiritual director.

EVALUATION:

  • The evaluation should be organized by the Director of Brother Formation

  • 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 final decision.

GOALS:
MEANS;
EVALUATION;

III. C. FINAL PROFESSION / MISSION APPOINTMENT

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" [Con. 514.1]

GOALS:

  • 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 Word missionary

  • Human-spiritual growth and maturity

MEANS:

  • Input sessions, discussions and study on the understanding of celibacy, poverty, and obedience.

  • Discussion on Church and Society documents related to religious life

  • Reflection on SVD Constitutions and other documents relevant to religious life

  • Retreats

  • 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 religious-missionary life

  • Helping the confrere to write his application for mission appointment in the light of his abilities and the needs of the Church and the Society.

 

 

CONCLUSION

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

  1. 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.

  2. Responsible for preparing and keeping updated the necessary materials for animating brother vocations.

  3. Contact person for all matters relating to the brother candidates and junior brothers.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Responsible for the academic and professional competency of the brother candidates and the junior brothers in the Province.

  8. 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 provincial council.

  9. Sees to it that there is a proper process for the brothers to be regularly evaluated and to be given opportunities to participate in the community.

  10. He visits the brother candidates and the junior brothers on a regular basis.

  11. He has a duty to intervene when the program for the brothers in formation is not followed.

  12. Once a year the Director of Brother Formation should call together all the brother candidates and junior brothers to share experiences.

  13. The Director of Brother Formation represents the Province in meetings regarding brothers' formation.