Divine Word Missionaries

SVD Formation


SVD Formation


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Brothers’ Formation
in the Polish SVD Province (POL)

Introduction:

Our joint efforts in the process of formation, in order to be fruitful, must be organized. For both the people under formation as well as those responsible for the formation, a goal should be clearly stated. Appropriate means should be recognized and set in order to achieve the goal. The path of the formation process at various stages should be known to enable the goal to be attained.

I. The Goal of Formation

The goal of formation in our Society is already stated in our Constitution (c. 501, 503). Generally, maturity is understood as being responsible for one’s own decisions in relation to God, as well as one’s self and one’s surroundings, undertaken according to a defined set of values.

1. Human’s maturity (personal).

Is characterized by:

  • Openness to goodness, truth and beauty

  • Acceptance of these values

  • Imagining and creatively acting on them

2. Christian maturity (evangelical - as the dynamics of faith, hope and charity).

Is expressed by:

  • Openness to God and His creations and His grace

  • Complete acceptance of Christ in His word and Sacraments

  • Sharing the grace of faith and the life of love with others

3. Maturity in the Religious Order (Christian radicalism flowing from the charisma of vocation)

Is formed by:

  • Personal-spiritual openness to the gift of religious vocation

  • Acceptance of evangelical counsels paving the road of one’s life which leads to imitating Jesus Christ

  • The witness of perfect love and embodiment of God’s kingdom on earth (community)

4. Missionary maturity (participation in the Triune God within the structure of the Society of the Divine Word)

Is achieved by:

  • Awareness of the value of the charisma of missionary vocation which is the gift of the Father and His love (see John 1:14, Luke 2:49)

  • Personal disposition patterned by the Incarnate Word (see John 20:21, Matthew 28:19)

  • Active participation in the acts of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the world as well as authentic witness in life and sharing (see John 14:26 and the Acts of the Apostles 1:8)

II. Achieving Goals

The goal of our formation is achieved through various stages, which are: Postulancy, Novitiate, formation in temporary vows and ongoing formation.

1. Postulancy

A. The goal of Postulancy:

The formation of human and Christian maturity, that leads to choosing the religious-missionary vocation in our Society.

B. The means for help in achieving the goal:

  • Awakening and development of religious life as well as personal formation

  • Introduction to community life and continuing intellectual development

  • Preparation for apostolic life

C. The structure of Postulancy:

 

DURATION: 6 weeks: from August 15th to October 1st
PROGRAM: Week 1- community
  Week 2- vocation
  Week 3- the Society
  Week 4- consultations and discussions
  Week 5- retreatWeek 6- making decisions
   

 

2. Novitiate

A. The goal of novitiate formation:

  • introduction into deeper experiences of God and the grace of the religious-missionary vocation

  • the formation of mature spiritual personality

  • deciding whether to become a brother or priest

  • active entrance into the spirituality of the Society

  • preparation leading to the decision to offer oneself to serve the Triune God, the Church and the Society by taking vows

  • the formation of responsibility for witnessing the missionary charisma

B. The means of achieving the goal:

  • life of prayer and reflection

  • the deepening of spiritual and religious life

  • experiencing the values of community and its imperfections

  • the study of the Constitution of the Society

  • working together with sacramental grace in a mature way

  • spiritual direction

  • life according to evangelical counsels

  • work as a test of responsibility and apostolic disposition as an individual and in the community

C. The structure of the novitiate

  • duration: one full year

  • place: the formation house designated by the decree of the General Council

  • spiritual direction: Novice Master appointed by the Provincial; assisted by Socius

  • organization: novitiate experienced in the community of brothers and fratres; among those responsible for the novitiate, there should also be brothers

D. The range of activities:

  • spiritual exercises: daily Mass, deepening meditation, the practice of individual and community life, regular confessions and talks with the Novice Master, devotions, recollections and retreat (3 times, for 10 days each).

  • intellectual activities: spiritual conferences (5 hours a week), getting to know the spirituality of the Society (1 hour), the theory of religious life and the history of different religious orders (1 hour), introduction to the bible (1 hour), bible study (once a week), the history of the Society (1 hour), liturgy, etc. (1 hour), missiology (1 hour), Latin and foreign languages.

  • practical activities: housework, work in the trade shops, gardening and farming, development of personal hobbies

  • recreational activities

3. Formation In Temporary Vows

A. Goal:

  • mature experiences of vows as a consecrated life, forming awareness for the responsibilities of living according to the missionary charisma of the Society; preparation to take on the tasks of the Society (OTP, studies overseas, etc.), coming to the decision through readiness to take the final vows

B. The means of achieving the goals:

  • continuing development in spiritual and community life, exercising of sacramental and liturgical life, frequent and systematic spiritual direction; involvement in community life, intellectual and practical formation, active involvement in pastoral and missionary life

C. Structure:

Brothers:

  • duration: temporary vows (circa 5 years), studies in the Theological Institute for the Laity (3 years), trade and pastoral formation (3 years)

  • place: formation house of the Brothers’ Institute, getting experience in other houses of the Province or outside of it, as well as OTP

  • responsibility for formation: rector of the house with other officials

  • organization: according to the daily order of the house

D. The range of activities

Brothers: the conference topic is different for brothers in the Institute and outside of it

The Brothers’ Institute:
-brothers’ spiritual formation.

The Trade formation:
-the deepening of missionary vocation as a brother and preparation for perpetual vows
A significant element during this period is spiritual formation which includes various spiritual practices defined by the Constitution of the Society and the program for Brothers’ formation.

Intellectual formation for brothers is carried out according to the program of the Theological Institute for the Laity at the Warmia-Mazury University.

Practical Formation consists of pastoral practices, various missionary awareness activities and education in various trades.

It is important that this formation includes the integral development of all human aspects of life.

4. Ongoing Formation

As the SVD Constitutions (413,415) state, ongoing formation is very important in our apostolic life.

A. Goal:

-ongoing formation enables us to better fulfill the charisma of our Society and also the task assigned

B. Means:

-development and deepening of spiritual, intellectual and physical aspects of life by taking courses and participating in various workshops

C. Structure:

Is stated by the Constitutions and the official documents of the Society as well as the church documents

D. Range of activities:

These are assigned by superiors and spelled out in various documents, as the tasks arise.

Conclusion

The formation program presented above is simply an outline. Therefore, as time goes on, it will need to be enhanced and refined. It is a guide showing the direction in which the formation should go. The way the Polish SVD would appear does not depend on the formation program alone but on one’s own work toward personal growth and transformation.

P. Roman Czajka, svd.
(04/01/03)