KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – A provincial superior dashing from one meeting to another sends an SMS on his Blackberry “bye for now… must meet the confreres now… listen to their ‘woes’ and …. wish they were ‘Wows!”… most are stuck in woes … in agonies and tortures…! i want to RESURRECT THEM … tough… most feel more comfortable in complaining than in doing something to make a difference!”
If this is the out come of our formation – years spent in the aspirantate, prenovitiate, novitiate, post novitiate, practical training and theology studies and “on going formation” we definitely need to re-think on our “formation program.”
There is no better time for this urgent task than NOW on the eve of the upcoming preps for Don Bosco’s birth bi-centenary. Visit of the formation team from Rome (the Pisana) headed by the General Councilor for Formation Fr Francis Cereda and his right (or left) hand man, our own Fr Chrys Saldhana and his men could be a time for us to re-think on the Salesian formation praxis!.
Another provincial writes commenting on his creative formation programme experiment starting with the pre-novices. He says, “I am planning a new type of formation at our Pre Novitiate — FORMATION IN MISSION.
He explains, “I am planning to make the pre-novices involved three hours daily in teaching, assisting the children in three poor schools. I am going for a revolutionary curriculum instead of teaching them long hours Salesiana and Church History which today could be delivered in brisk modules. However, there is need of CHANGE for the TIMES.
Life and spirituality of Dominic Savio can be taught in a two hour session instead of a treatise. DB can be lived out with a three hour session, a film and projects thereafter to implement his vision. Apply the time tested formation strategy which Don Bosco himself used: learning while doing!”
We need men and women (formation of the Salesian Family which is hugely neglected) who love Jesus, his Church, loves DB and the poor (economically, spiritually, emotionally, etc) youth, and knows the world and its languages.
This is ‘formation’ for youth workers according to Vatican Council II. [no footnote]. We need to recreate the church (a community of believers and non believers, NOT ‘the Salesian garden”) not so much in the spirit of the commandments (to be observed for sure) as in that of the Beatitudes that invite us to go beyond the commandments. [no footnote].
Hence, the Indian provincial who is planning the above integrated formation programme which is coupled with theory and praxis, must be heard in his lab to land experiments in new ways of implementing Don Bosco’s charism in the 21st century… If any where else in the world this experiment can happen, it is only in India!
To end, I must add this humour which just came in: To hell with old, out dated “formation” ways of —– and his ilk… the Indian variety!!! Lock, stock and barrel we should throw out the present set up in majority of formation houses… new wine in new skins… most of our guys in the formation houses are old skins with “expiry dates” in their reading of the signs of the times…
There are no NEW SKINS! That’s the pity. We are recycling the whole lot.
The question is: where do you find the new skins?