Chapter 6

From Vincentian Encyclopedia
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CHAPTER VI Formation

1. General principles

77.--§ 1.--Our formation, in a continuous process, should have as its purpose that the members, animated by the spirit of St. Vincent, become suitable to carry on the mission of the Congregation. § 2.--They should therefore grow daily in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the center of our life and the rule of the Congregation.

78.--§ 1.--The time of formation, as well as our whole life, should be so ordered that the charity of Christ urges us more and more to attain the purpose of the Congregation. As disciples of the Lord, members will attain this purpose by self-denial and by continual conversion to Christ. § 2.--Members should be trained in the word of God, sacramental life, prayer both communal and personal, and Vincentian spirituality. § 3. --Moreover, in order to achieve the necessary knowledge, students should properly complete those studies which are prescribed by the law of the Church. § 4.--From the beginning, all should be trained, at suitable times, each according to his level of formation and ability, in pastoral practice, especially in association with their moderators, including going to the poor and experiencing their condition. In this way, each will be better able to discover his own specific vocation within the Community in accord with his own personal talents. § 5.--Pedagogical norms should be applied according to the age of the students in such a way that, while gradually learning self-discipline, they become accustomed to using freedom wisely and to working with initiative and diligence, thus reaching Christian maturity.

79.--Members, responding to the call of God within the Community, should learn to live a Vincentian community life during the time of formation. The Community should foster the personal initiative of each one throughout the whole process of formation.

80.--In the formation of our members, there should be a solid coordination of the different facets of training as well as an organic unity of the successive stages. All things should be so arranged that they converge toward the Congregation's own pastoral purpose.

81.--The formation of our members should be continued and renewed all through life.


2. The internal seminary

82.--To be admitted into the internal seminary, candidates should manifest, among the required conditions, signs by which they may be discerned as having the aptitude to pursue the Vincentian vocation in community.

83.--§ 1.--The internal seminary is a time in which members begin their mission and life in the Congregation and, with the help of the community and their moderators, recognize more accurately their vocations, and prepare themselves by special formation for their incorporation into the Congregation with freedom. § 2.--The internal seminary should last at least twelve months either continuous or interrupted. If the months are interrupted, the provincial assembly has the right to determine the number of continuous months and to establish the time when the internal seminary may be inserted into the course of studies.

84.--Therefore, the whole thrust of this time should be that the seminarists will: 1 acquire greater maturity; 2 be progressively initiated into a proper understanding and experience of the apostolic mission and life of the Congregation; 3 come to an experience of God, especially in prayer.

85.--In order to achieve this, the seminarists should take special care: 1 to acquire a suitable and concrete understanding of people, especially the poor, of their needs, their desires, and their problems; 2 to reach an understanding of the special character, spirit, and functions of the Congregation by returning to the sources, especially to the life and works of St. Vincent, to the history and traditions of the Congregation, and to an active and fitting participation in our apostolate; 3 to cultivate an ever deepening study of and meditation on the gospel and all sacred scripture; 4 to participate actively in the mystery and the mission of the Church, the community of salvation; 5 to understand and to live the evangelical teaching as proposed by St. Vincent, especially chastity, poverty, and obedience.

86.--Seminarists should be an integral part of the provincial and local community in which they live, where their formation is a common responsibility under the direction and animation of the director of the internal seminary.

3. The major seminary

87.--§ 1.--The time of the major seminary should be so organized toward complete preparation for the Vincentian ministerial priesthood that the students, after the example of Christ the Evangelizer, will be formed for the preaching of the gospel, the celebration of divine worship, and the pastoral care of the faithful. § 2.--According to the spirit of St. Vincent and the tradition of the Congregation, the formation of our students should be directed principally to the ministry of the word and the practice of charity towards the poor.

88.--The formation of our students should not lose sight of the reality of society, so that their studies will lead to the acquisition of a vision of the modern world and critical judgment of it. The students, through a conversion of heart, should begin to involve themselves in Christian work for the restoration of justice; more and more they should become conscious of the roots of poverty in the world and lay bare the obstacles to evangelization. All of this should be done in the light of the word of God and under the direction of their moderators.

89.--There should be fostered in the students emotional maturity and missionary qualities, such as the ability to call into being and to direct communities, responsibility, the capacity to judge and its exercise, prompt generosity, and the strength to bind themselves firmly to carry out the purpose of the Congregation.

90.--The provincial must establish a fitting length of time for students, after completing their theological studies, to exercise the order of diaconate before they are prompted to priesthood.

4. The formation of brothers

91.--§ 1.--Special care should be taken to assure that our brothers receive the formation they need to fulfill their mission in the Congregation faithfully. Everything stated in the Constitutions and Statutes regarding formation applies also to the training of brothers. § 2.--Therefore, their formation in the internal seminary should be the same as that of the other members, unless special circumstances indicate otherwise. § 3.--With regard to the formation of those brothers who are to be promoted to the permanent diaconate, provincial norms should be observed.

92.--The brothers should be gradually introduced into the apostolate, so that they learn to view, to judge, and to do all things in the light of faith, and, through their actions, to develop and perfect themselves with the others.

5. Moderators and teachers 93.--The whole provincial community should recognize that it is responsible for the formation of our members so that individual members provide help for this work.

94.--Since the formation of students depends primarily on suitable educators, moderators and teachers should be prepared with solid doctrine, suitable pastoral experience, and special training.

95.--§ 1.--Moderators and students should form a true educative community by being open to mutual understanding and trust and by maintaining a constant and active contact with each other. § 2.--This educative community, while profiting from contributions from other groups, should subject its own goals and activities to continual review. § 3.--The moderators should act collegially; however, the special and immediate care of the seminarists and students should be committed to an individual confrere or, if the case warrants, to several confreres.