Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Instruction on Inter-Institute Collaboration for Formation, 8 December 1998.
INTRODUCTION1. Attentive to the conditions of the present moment and under the guidance of the Lord, the Church is continuously required to provide, in view of the growth of the Body of Christ, for the formation of her members.
. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 7; Christifideles laici, 21, 24.
Aware of the significance which religious life has for the People of God, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life judges it an obligation to reflect on the formation of members of religious institutes in today’s circumstances and to propose some directives which guarantee a formation which is complete, solid, and consistent with the journey of the Church. One fruit of this commitment was publication of the Instruction Potissimum institutioni.
2. By this new document, the Congregation wishes to develop one of the questions of which that Instruction speaks, the question about collaboration among institutes involved in works of the apostolate4 for the formation of their own members.
What is said in this document about religious institutes applies also to societies of apostolic life, taking into account their own character.
3. Collaboration among institutes in the area of formation arose from the need to answer the challenges arising from concrete situations and from specific pedagogical needs. At the beginning, it developed mainly in places where religious families had a limited number of candidates either because of a reduced number of vocations or because the vocations were the first fruits of the apostolic work of the young Churches. In addition, there were a lack of formators and a small number of qualified teaching personnel. This situation brought numerous institutes to join forces, aware of the need to offer their members a more complete and deeper formation.
At the same time, in many cases there was a need to carry out initial formation in a setting not alien to the culture of the candidates, so as to promote a positive integration between the life of each institute and the culture of the members received into it. Such a need, encountered in diverse geographical and cultural settings, found an effective answer
. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 43-44; Vita Consecrata, 13.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 2 February 1990.
. Cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 8; can. 675.
. Potissimum institutioni, 98-100.
. Potissimum institutioni, 72-85.
in “interinstitute7 centers.” These have helped to avoid an exodus of candidates into other cultures during the initial process of religious life.
A more clear understanding of the many demands and difficulties found on the formative journey has also brought institutes to create such centers. A growing number of institutes wishes to offer their young members in formation the most complete educational course possible. In their formative communities, they continue the task of handing on the spiritual patrimony of the institute. But they also feel the need to offer those elements which have always constituted the precious common patrimony of consecrated life, a richness which flows from the centuries long experience of the Church and from the pressing needs and yearnings of our time. A deep and integral synthesis of all these elements is a very complex task that can not always be carried out by the formators and professors of one institute by itself.
The establishment of intercongregational centers of formation, properly carried out, is positive and helps build an awareness of ecclesial communion in the variety of vocations and charisms and the multiple forms of service in the mission of the Church. His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, has said: “in order to assure the new generations, those responsible for formation, and all men and women religious of an adequate preparation, you have begun many forms of cooperation.” In this way, it is possible to “take advantage of the work of the best collaborators of each institute and offer services that not only help to overcome eventual limitations, but that create a valid style of formation to religious life.”
In the same message, the Holy Father also emphasizes that these interinstitute initiatives “will at the same time help to make the most of specific charisms, developing communion and the awareness of complementarity in fraternity, and extending the horizons of charity to the universal Church and the entire local Church.”
. By “interinstitute centers” of formation (sometimes called “intercongregational centers”) is understood the diverse forms of collaboration among religious institutes, at the service of formation.
. John Paul II, Message to the XIV General Assembly of the Conference of Religious of Brasil, 11 July 1986, n. 2. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1986, n. 35, p. 2.
. Ibid., n. 4; cf. Vita Consecrata, 53.
. Ibid., n. 4. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1986, n. 35, p. 10.
In this way, the Holy Father reaffirms the fundamental orientations of Vatican Council II in relation to formation. These have been ratified by the experience which religious life has known in recent years. The doctrine taught by the Council and found in subsequent documents of the Magisterium shows the profound integration which exists among formation, renewal, and the mission of the religious institutes. Even more, he underscores the fact that formation is a primary factor for the renewal of the institutes and for a more vital assimilation of their charismatic identity in view of the continuing evolution of our time. High quality formative programs are indispensable for carrying out the mission of the institutes in a world which poses fundamental questions about faith and consecrated life, in relation to scientific, human, ethical, and religious problems.
I. FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL DIRECTIVES4. In order to understand and accompany the development of these initiatives, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life has gathered extensive documentation on the interinstitute centers which already exist. Study of this material has helped us reflect on some fundamental conditions for the educational effectiveness of the centers and their various initiatives: clarity about the purpose of the center, determination of ultimate responsibility and of the authorities for running the center, quality and preparation of professors, integrated design of the program and of its gradual implementation. Of fundamental importance for creating an atmosphere which helps in the living and deepening of the call to consecrated life, however, is the presence of the formators in these initiatives, and the smooth meshing and complementarity of the intercongregational program with the programs of the individual institutes.
5. Given the diversity of circumstances in which these centers have arisen and their somewhat recent experience, questions and problems have also arisen which it is helpful to recognize in order to make appropriate discernment and clarification. Some have to do with the relationship between the identity of each institute and communion in diversity, between the goal of the centers to offer a service to all and the freedom of institutes to take advantage
. Cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 18; ET 52; Vita Consecrata,68.
of centers or not. Other questions concern the vision of apostolic religious life which underlies the pedagogical structure, and thus of the design of the programs and of the criteria for choosing the teaching personnel. Still others are concerned with the effective participation of those responsible for formation in the institutes, monitoring formation, the real conditions which make it possible to transform temporarily living together in the centers into an experience of deep ecclesial communion and of authentic spiritual and apostolic formation, open to the needs of evangelization.
6. In face of this rich and complex situation, and attentive to the various initiatives already functioning, the Congregation considers itself responsible to offer some reflections and timely directives for the monitoring, consolidation, and development of these experiences and of others like them.
Such directives are based on the principles which regulate initial and continuing formation for religious life, in the variety of its charisms and in its specific role in the communion and mission of the Church.
a) Formation: Inalienable right and duty of every institute
7. Before entering into specifics, it seems necessary to recall that formation is an inalienable right and duty of every institute. This fundamental principle is basic to this entire document and needs to be given prominence right from the beginning so that collaboration among institutes in the overall formative process can be properly understood.
7.1. Every institute has a primary responsibility for its own identity. In fact, “the charism of the founders, an experience of the Holy Spirit transmitted to their disciples to be lived, safeguarded, deepened, and constantly developed by them, in harmony with the Body of Christ
. Cf. Redemptoris Missio,2; Vita Consecrata, 67, 73.
. Cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 1; Religious and Human Promotion 22; Christifideles Laici, 1821, 32.
. Cf. can. 646-653 and 659-661.
continually in the process of growth,” is entrusted to each institute as its original patrimony for the benefit of the entire Church. Cultivating their own identity in “creative fidelity,” then, means harmoniously blending in the life and mission of the People of God, the gifts and experiences which enrich it, as well as taking care that religious not “become part of the life of the Church in a vague and ambiguous way.”
It follows that each institute is recognized as having a rightful autonomy of life, especially of government, by means of which it has in the Church its own discipline and can keep intact and develop its spiritual and apostolic patrimony. It is the responsibility of local Ordinaries to preserve and safeguard this autonomy. Autonomy of life and of government implies a corresponding autonomy in the area of formation, because “the first responsibility for the formation of religious belongs by law to each institute.”
7.2. It is in the process of formation that the charismatic identity is acquired. This identity is necessary not only for the maturity of the members in order to live and work in conformity with the foundational charism, but also for the identity and unity of the institute, as well as for the authenticity of its expressions in diverse cultures, and for the Church’s communion-mission. “In fact, taking into consideration that initial and continuing formation in regard to one’s own charism is the responsibility of the institute, intercongregational formation cannot entirely fulfill the task of the continuing formation of the members. This formation must be imbued, under many aspects, with the characteristics proper to the charism of each institute.”
. Cf. Mutuae relationes, 11.
. Cf. Mutuae relationes 14b; can. 574.1; Vita Consecrata, 45, 29, 33-34.
. Vita Consecrata, 37.
. Cf. Perfectae Caritatis, 1; can. 577; Vita Consecrata, 19, 47-48.
. Mutuae relationes, 11.
. Cf. can. 586.2; Vita Consecrata, 48.
. Potissimum institutioni, 98; cf. can. 587.1, 646, and 659.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 46, 90-91; can. 577.
. John Paul II, Address to the Bishops of Northeast Region II of the National Conference of Bishops of Brasil, 11 July 1995. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1995, n. 29, p. 5.
Thus, in keeping with these principles, when the Code of Canon Law speaks of formation in the strict sense, it refers only to the formation of religious within the context of their own institutes. This does not preclude, however, the possibility of collaboration which is indeed recognized and encouraged by Pope John Paul II in his postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata. He asks that “in the perspective of a communion open to the challenges of our time, Superiors, men and women, ‘working in harmony with the Bishops’, should seek ‘to make use of the accomplishments of the best members of each Institute’”25.
7.3. For its part, the Church must safeguard and promote the proper character and the charismatic awareness of the institutes, making of both one of the fundamental principles of renewal for the institutes, because the state which is constituted by profession of the evangelical counsels is a “precious and necessary gift for the present and future of the People of God, since it is an intimate part of her life, her holiness and her mission.” Further, since the charism of each institute is an original and singular gift which the Spirit makes to the Church, she is concerned to assure the spiritual conditions and the juridic instruments which guarantee its fruitfulness, development, and harmony in the ecclesial communion.
b) Collaboration and solidarity in formation
8. The principle of collaboration29 and solidarity among the various institutes, especially among those present in a determined geographic-cultural area, also needs to be emphasized, in connection with the preceding principle. In fact, religious life has acquired a deeper consciousness of the uniqueness of each charism, of its specific ecclesial role, and also of the characteristics and responsibilities common to all institutes.
. Cf. can. 646-653 for the formation of novices; can. 659-660 for the formation of those temporarily professed; can. 661 for continuing formation.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 52, 53.
. Perfectae Caritatis, 2; can.576, 578.
. Vita Consecrata, 3, cf. Vita Consecrata, 29.
. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 44; Mutuae relationes, 11; can. 576-578; 587.1; Vita Consecrata, 25, 35, 92-95.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 52.
Formation has a deep common root. In fact, it is the action of God the Father who forms in those called the image of his Son by means of the sanctifying action of the Spirit, according to a particular charismatic design.
Further, collaboration finds its soul in the pneumatic-mysterious dimension of the Church from which, by the work of the Spirit, arises the multiplicity of charisms and toward whose communion and mission the life and missionary mandate of the institutes converge. It is founded on the richness, vitality, and beauty of the Church, and it is fruitful because the various charismatic initiatives complement and illumine one another; one uncovering for the other its own gifts by being together and by sharing, in fraternity.
A concrete expression of collaboration and solidarity among religious families is the initiative, now spread in various contexts, of creating interinstitute centers of formation, especially where individual institutes do not have sufficient means to offer a complete formation to their members.
The Holy Father spoke about this collaboration in an audience granted to the International Union of Superiors General, saying: “The essential thing is that on the part of religious families there should be absolute cooperation in forming their members in a total, sincere and joyous love for Jesus Christ, who is deeply known, followed and obeyed.”
Experience gathered suggests that, when this collaboration is well done, it contributes to a greater appreciation of the charism of one’s own institute as well as that of others, manifests concrete solidarity among communities which are richer and poorer in both members and means,
Cf. Vita Consecrata, 66, 93; Pontifical Work for Ecclesiastical Vocations, New Vocations for a New Europe (Final Document of the Congress on Vocations to the Priesthood and to Consecrated Life in Europe: Rome, 5-10 May 1997), nn. 15-19.
. Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, IIa-IIae, q. 184, art. 4.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 52.
. John Paul II, Address to the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), 18 May 1995. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1995, n. 23, p. 3.
offers an eloquent testimony of the communion to which the Church is called by divine vocation, and helps formation achieve the level and breadth that the mission of religious life requires in today’s world.
c) Interinstitute centers and formation
9. In order to carry out the function proper to these interinstitute centers, i.e. the purpose of their being a “center of studies” at the service of formation, they need to bear in mind that:
– formation is an integral process whose elements interpenetrate one another. There is a deep correlation between life and truth; between theology and the human sciences; between the search for truth and the expectations, hopes, and values of young people; between study and consistency in personal commitments; between the signs of the times and a pastoral formative orientation.
– intellectual preparation is an irreplaceable dimension of formation. The ordering of subjects to be studied and scientific seriousness ought to contribute to harmonizing the attitudes proper to consecrated life. Thus the centers should offer a service of high quality to contribute wisely to the integral growth of the students.
– the interinstitute character of the centers requires a special respect for the aspects which are common to all. At the same time, collaboration and solidarity also require respect and appreciation of the diversities. If this were not so, the centers would probably contribute to a sameness which would impoverish them and would bring about the risk of spiritual and pastoral uniformity, inadequate for the complexity of the world which is to be evangelized, and harmful to the specific identity of each institute. In this case, the centers would lose their identity as a service to religious life.
From the fundamental principles stated, some practical directives derive for religious institutes and interinstitute centers:
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 73.
10. Religious institutes
a) Chapters and Major Superiors
Through their Chapters and Major Superiors, institutes are responsible for determining in their own Ratio the principles and norms of formation, for assigning the mission to the formators and teachers, and for taking care that the formative process be carried out in conformity with the character and mission of the institute and according to law. When Superiors decide to send their members to an interinstitute center of formation, they do not cede to others the responsibility that is theirs, but they continue to exercise it (cf. nn. 11, 17, and 22) with “their full responsibility as guardians and teachers.”
b) The formation community
In all forms of interinstitute collaboration, it is necessary to apply the necessary distinction between the formation community and an interinstitute center of studies. The formation community is a primary point of reference for which no center can substitute. It is the setting in which personal identity and response to the vocation received grow and develop, in the spirit of the respective founders or foundresses. Deepening in charismatic identity is achieved, in the first place, by living contact with the formators and with the brothers and sisters with whom are shared the same experiences of life, the same challenges posed by society, and the traditions of the institute. This community is always the place where the vital synthesis of the formation experience is lived. “Fidelity to one’s own charism needs to be deepened through an ever increasing knowledge of the history of the institute, of its particular mission and the
. Can. 659.2 and 659.3; Potissimum institutioni, 103.
. John Paul II, Address to the Bishops of Northeast Region II of the National Conference of Bishops of Brasil, 11 July 1995, n. 6. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1995, n. 29, p. 5.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 99.
. Cf. Essential Elements in the Church’s Teaching on Religious Life 47; Potissimum institutioni, 60.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 26-27.
. Fraternal Life in Community, 43.
spirit of the founder, at the same time making the corresponding effort to incarnate it in one’s personal and community life.”
Should it happen that circumstances not allow religious to live in their own formation community while enrolled in an interinstitute center, Superiors are to provide regular and intense periods of formation and community life in their own institute.
11. Intercongregational centers49
a) Centers and their constitution
Conferences of Major Superiors, which have as their purpose “fostering more effective cooperation for the good of the Church,” or a group of Major Superiors who wish to collaborate among themselves in the area of formation may for this purpose organize services or constitute interinstitute centers.
These have very diverse configurations. Some are designed to provide complementary services; others provide for the formation of religious from the doctrinal aspect; still others set up specific structures to prepare religious who are candidates for the priesthood. The norms and directives which follow take these differences into account.
The formal establishing of an interinstitute center of formation requires the written consent of the Ordinary of the place.
. John Paul II, Address to Women Religious, Florianopolis, 18 October 1991, n. 6. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1991, n. 43, p. 14.
. Cf. Essential Elements in the Church’s Teaching on Religious Life III 12; Mutuae relationes, 46; Religious and Human Promotion, 9; can. 659, 665. 1.
. In this document, “intercongregational centers” of formation (as indicated in note 7) are all intercongregational institutions which collaborate in the formation of their own members, whether they offer complementary courses or complete programs of study. In this document, centers which give a complete academic formation are called “institutes of religious sciences” and-or “institutes of philosophical and theological formation.”
. Perfectae Caritatis, 23.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 98-100.
b) Directive responsibilities
The Superiors who initiate the project also bear the ultimate responsibility for the center. In the spirit of Mutuae relationes, they shall seek the most appropriate way to inform the Bishops about the activities of the center and to maintain with them an open dialogue that will contribute to the richness and advancement of the center. The Holy Father reminds us that they are responsible for following the activity of the centers and for guaranteeing that the teaching in them conform to the Magisterium of the Church.
All interinstitute initiatives should be run directly by a team, under the responsibility of one person, who enjoys assured stability and is competent in formation.
In choosing professors, attention is to be given to sound doctrine, specific competence, pedagogical ability, and ability to work as part of a team. Consideration shall also be given to their knowledge and esteem for religious life in its various forms and developments, according to the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium.
The centers should promote a lively formational sensitivity in the professors, organizing meetings with the formators for the exchange of ideas and for evaluation.
II. COLLABORATION IN THE VARIOUS PHASES OF FORMATION12. Collaborative initiatives take place in the various phases of religious formation. They can be part of initial formation: preparation for novitiate, formation of novices, formation of religious in temporary vows, formation of candidates for ordained ministries; and part of continuing formation.
. Cf. Mutuae relationes, 28, 31; Vita Consecrata, 46, 50.
John Paul II, Address to the Bishops of Northeast Region II of the National Conference of Bishops of Brasil, 11 July 1995. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1995, n. 29, p. 5.
Services should be organized by the Conferences of Major Superiors, or by a group of Major Superiors, who bear ultimate responsibility for them. These Superiors are responsible for informing this Congregation every three years about the life and activities of the centers.
The organization of the programs ought to offer effective help for doctrinal formation and for the vocational growth of the candidates, according to the criteria indicated by the Code of Canon Law and by complementary norms issued by competent authorities.
The courses should be based on the mystery of Christ55 and developed with gradualness and attention to persons and cultures. They should propose to the students the theology of consecrated life and help them deepen the sense “of that one ecclesial charity by which all work to build up the organic communion — charismatic and at the same time hierarchically structured — of the whole People of God.”
Preparation for novitiate
13. Given the diversity of human experience and of religious formation in the candidates, preparation for the novitiate, in today’s sociocultural circumstances, is seen to be ever more necessary and demanding. Intercongregational initiatives should offer candidates from the various institutes programs which address, with competence and solidity, the fundamental contents of human and Christian formation so as to promote an integral formation and satisfy any existing gaps. Further, formators themselves need to be able to take part in programs designed to enliven religious life and to apply instruments and criteria for careful vocational discernment. This collaboration is particularly helpful for formators who work in cultures different from their own or who accompany candidates from diverse cultures.
. Cf. can. 646, 659-661; Pastores dabo vobis, 42-59.
. Cf. Optatam totius, 14; Vita Consecrata, 14-16.
. Vita Consecrata, 49; cf. Potissimum institutioni, 24-25.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 42-44.
14. Novitiate constitutes a formative phase which is fundamental and delicate. Here the young person begins the journey of vocational identity in religious life. This phase has as its purpose forming the novice well in the spirit and praxis of the specific vocation of the institute and further evaluating the motives of vocational choice, spiritual commitment, and the necessary suitability. In each institute, this phase requires a personalized accompanying, attentive to the growth of each novice, a formative atmosphere which is evangelical, serene, rich in values, sustained by the joyous testimony of the formators and of the community, nourished by authentic and deep experience of the foundational charism.
Where circumstances make it advisable, an interinstitute program can contribute to the adequate doctrinal formation of those who are beginning their formation for consecrated life, helping them to define themselves, in their own specific identity, as members of the Church mystery-communion and mission and to act as such, developing, in the rub of daily life, attitudes of fraternal coresponsibility. We must be mindful, however, that “one can speak of ‘intercongregational courses for novices,’ men or women, separate from one another, but it is impossible to speak of an ‘intercongregational novitiate’.”
15. Interinstitute collaboration in the novitiate phase is one of the “complementary services.” Not included under the category of collaboration is the creation of so-called “intercongregational novitiates,” which would have male and female novices living in the same community. Indeed, such an arrangement does not correspond to the proper character of the beginning of religious life, which ought to introduce the novice to what characterizes the patrimony of every institute. Consequently, every institute should have its own novitiate.
. Cf. Renovationis causam, 4.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni,45; can. 646.
. Cf. can. 646, 652.2, 652.3, and 652.4.
. John Paul II, Address to the Bishops of Northeast Region II of the Conference of Bishops of Brasil, 11 July 1995, n. 6. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1995, n. 29, p. 5.
16. In organizing such “complementary services,” the following points should be kept in mind:
a) The necessary harmonizing of the courses offered by the center and the process of initiation into the religious life of each institute require as appropriate, if not necessary, that the novice directors be present for the courses in order to help the novices integrate the contents.
b) The program should offer basic courses on different subjects in such a way that institutes can choose those which will complete the formation they themselves give. The program should be well structured and harmonious, include fundamental elements of Sacred Scripture, spiritual theology, moral theology, ecclesiology, theology and the law of religious life — in particular of each of the evangelical counsels — liturgy, and also fundamental concepts of anthropology and psychology which should give to the novice, at the beginning of the formative journey, the possibility of knowing himself or herself better, particularly in those areas most needing formation. These subjects should be treated as contributors to formation.
c) During the novitiate, the courses should not be programmed with a frequency or intensity which impede the purpose proper to this phase of formation. They should be carried out in such a way that residing outside the novitiate is avoided. In the event that novices must go to another place for this purpose, for brief periods of time and sporadically, the Major Superior shall observe canons 647.2, 648.1 and 648.3, and 649.1.
d) Also to be promoted is knowledge of the respective institutes, of the founders and foundresses, and of the various spiritualities. In fact, fraternal exchange contributes to the maturing of a more lively appreciation of one’s own foundational originality and to discovering the value of each founder or foundress in helping articulate the mission of the Church, in promoting collaboration and a mentality of communion.
. Cf. can. 652.2.
. Cf. can. 646, 648, 652.5.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 46, 52.
e) Formators, according to their specific responsibilities, are to meet at regular intervals with the team responsible for the center — also listening to the views of those in formation — to monitor the program and, in relation to the reports received from the various parties, the purpose of the courses. Because of their primary responsibility in formation, Major Superiors should follow these initiatives attentively.
f) The courses can offer the directors of novices the opportunity for constant updating, for monitoring their own formative role, and for mutual support in a concrete and enlightened dialogue. Given the nature of this initial phase, characterized by the process of psychological maturing and of charismatic identification by the novices, a process which allows them to acquire a new way of living, the programs of collaboration should foresee, to the extent possible, meetings of the formation directors to consider specific pedagogical subjects which would then be taken up in more detail in the novitiates; among these are psychophysical development, affective-sexual maturity, and other aspects of human maturity.
Formation of those with temporary vows
17. The Instruction Potissimum institutioni, referring to the norms of the Code67 and to the requirements of formation of religious in temporary vows, indicates the fundamental lines and offers appropriate indications about the objectives and program of studies.
Every institute, according to its own plan of formation, has “the grave responsibility of providing for the organization and duration of this period of formation, and of furnishing the young religious with favorable conditions for a real increase in their donation to the Lord.”
a) In this phase also, intercongregational initiatives are designed to promote the training of young religious in relation to their consecration and the deepening of their spiritual, doctrinal, and pastoral formation, with
. Cf. can. 652.1.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 13, 39-41.
. Cf. can. 659-661; Potissimum institutioni, 58.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 58-65.
. Potissimum institutioni, 60.
particular attention to the history, theology, and mission of consecrated life, and to their pastoral preparation. This is especially so for institutes which are unable to provide for their needs in other ways.
b) In particular, in order to respond better to the demands proper to this phase of formation, interinstitute initiatives of collaboration should be mindful of the characteristics and circumstances of life of those professed of temporary vows.
In fact, the time of temporary profession is characterized as a propitious moment for the maturing of an intimate relationship with Christ70 and the maturing of a faithfilled vision of the world, the Church, and history. It is a time for committing oneself to the kingly, priestly, and prophetic mission of the People of God. It requires, in a kind of sapiential integration, both a study of theological disciplines and a deepening of the biblical foundations of a vocation to the radical following of Christ. To this must be added adequate knowledge of the means and steps which lead to human and Christian maturity. Thus, this phase of formation continues the study of Sacred Scripture and other theological subjects such as Christology, ecclesiology, Mariology, moral theology, and the theology of history, and the additional fields of spirituality, ascetical theology, and human sciences, which contribute to a maturity in Christ of the human person, should also be included.
c) Because community life, right from the beginning, should disclose “the essential missionary dimension of consecration,”72 and because this stage is characterized by the apostolic commitments taken in the name of the community, courses in catechetics and pedagogy, especially for pastoral work with youth, will be of great value. Apostolic commitments require a deepened knowledge of some themes of the ecclesiology promoted by the Second Vatican Council, e.g. the pastoral collaboration of religious with priests and lay persons under the guidance of the Pastors, the law of the Church, the
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 16, 65.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 35-38.
72. Vita Consecrata, 67.
. Cf. Mutuae relationes, 18, 36, 37, 40, 5658; can. 675.3, 678, 680, 680.1, VC 16, 31, 54-55.
missio ad gentes, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, the relation of the Church to the world, the social and political duties of Christians and the specific responsibility of consecrated persons in this sector. All these themes should offer a solid foundation for the pastoral and missionary action of the Church-mystery and communion in the New Evangelization. In this phase of temporary profession, it will be helpful to deepen the charismatic contribution by which the various institutes share in the mission of the Church.
d) Such goals can be satisfied by the specialized centers of study which will be considered in Part III or by initiatives or courses which are more accessible, whether by reason of the level of studies, or the basic level of courses offered, or the short duration of the commitment.
Interinstitute collaboration has particular importance in initiatives or courses which help prepare for perpetual profession.
For initiatives and courses in this phase also, the formators should be involved in the programming, execution, and evaluation. This involvement can become a stimulus for their own renewal in view of their responsibility as well as a reminder for all to respond more effectively to the expectations of the young.
e) Religious who attend other centers of study, especially civil centers (universities, academies, etc.) in order to study the humanities or engage in other scientific or technical studies can find in the interinstitute centers the possibility of integrating their formation, especially by courses in theology and pastoral studies.
18. “Continuing formation, whether in institutes of apostolic or contemplative life, is an intrinsic requirement of religious consecration.” It promotes theological and pastoral renewal, enhances the quality of life of each member and of the whole community through careful attention
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 102.
. Cf. Religious and Human Promotion.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 64.
. Vita Consecrata, 69.
to the moments of particular commitment or when the interior life is challenged to grow. In relation to these dynamics of formation, “there is a youthfulness of spirit which lasts through time; it arises from the fact that at every stage of life a person seeks and finds a new task to fulfill, a particular way of being, of serving and loving.... If the subject of formation is the individual at every stage of life, the object of formation is the whole person, called to seek and love God ?with all one’s heart, and with all one’s soul, and with all one’s might’ (cf. Dt 6:5), and one’s neighbour as oneself. Love of God and of the brethren is a powerful force which can ceaselessly inspire the process of growth and fidelity.” Each institute is called to provide continuing formation in an organized manner, consistent with its own character. In this way, it can become a model of consecrated life, fraternity, and apostolic commitment for new generations in formation and attract, by its vitality and fruitfulness, new vocations.
The Instruction Potissimum institutioni and the Exhortation Vita consecrata give ample space to continuing formation, describing its nature, identifying its objectives and contents, asking Superiors, according to the norm of the Code, to provide for their members the “assistance and the time” necessary and to designate a member as responsible for continuing formation.
Interinstitute collaboration can be helpful for organizing temporary and permanent services which should give new impulse to the spiritual life, to theological-pastoral updating, and to a renewed professional training for carrying out the responsibilities entrusted. It will give an important place to deepening the general lines and pastoral priorities of the Church for carrying out better her mission of evangelizing today’s world. Hopefully, religious families will offer their best trained members for this purpose.
Conferences of Major Superiors and those responsible for centers of study should include among their objectives and programs adequate initiatives for the continuing formation of religious. In this way, more effective collaboration and complementarity among them will be achieved.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 70.
. Vita Consecrata, 70-71.
. Cf. Fraternal Life in Community, 43, 54-57; Vita Consecrata, 64.
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni, 66-71; Vita Consecrata, 69-71.
. Can. 661.
III. INSTITUTES OF RELIGIOUS SCIENCES AND OF PHILOSOPHICAL AND THEOLOGICAL FORMATION19. In Part I and Part II, some fundamental criteria referring to interinstitute initiatives of formation and some forms of collaboration in the various phases of formation itself were considered. In Part III, institutes of religious sciences and institutes of philosophy and theology which provide a complete academic formation and have their own juridic structure and particular organizational requirements will be considered.
It is helpful to recall that the formation of religious brothers, sisters, and permanent deacons, and the formation of religious who are candidates for priesthood, all have specific requirements which must be respected. In order to respect the identity of each one, it is necessary to distinguish between priestly formation, diaconal formation, and the formation required for other ecclesial services. Consequently, in organizing the contents of its programs, a center of studies which prepares such religious should be mindful of the characteristics proper to each group.
Institutes of religious sciences
20. Institutes of religious sciences arose to provide religious brothers and sisters an adequate level of formation in the humanities and in theological-pastoral areas, keeping in mind the social and cultural contexts of those to whom the courses are offered, in order to qualify and prepare them for diverse ecclesial services, according to the purposes of their institutes.
It is necessary to offer the participants a solid philosophical and theological foundation; to prepare them to be educators of the faith; to prepare them for the explicit proclamation of the Gospel and for human and social promotion; to make them sensitive to the relationship between the Gospel and culture, to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, to discerning the signs of the times, to being part of an overall pastoral program, and to missionary openness in communion with the universal and particular Church.
. Cf. can. 659-660.
. Cf. Mutuae relationes, 31.
Also, such institutes should offer a good preparation, permeated with evangelical values, in the human sciences (pedagogy, psychology, sociology, communications sciences), enabling the participants to use them for transmitting the faith and forming disciples of Christ.
Attention should also be given to assure a knowledge of the human groups and the cultural contexts which they are to evangelize, collaborating in this way to overcome the danger of a dichotomy between the formation which religious receive and an evangelization correctly inculturated.
Finally, these institutes should provide courses suitable for training religious to carry out more effectively their specific apostolate in the Church: courses for pastoral work with youth, the infirm, the elderly, the marginalized, or other particular apostolic activities proper to the mission of each institute.
21. The founding and running of these institutes depend on the Conferences of Major Superiors of men or of women, or on a group of Major Superiors. This group bears ultimate responsibility for the institutes. It is necessary that every center have its own Statutes, in which are defined its purpose, those for whom it is intended, the services it offers, and the body which bears immediate responsibility for it. Confirmation of erection and approval of the Statutes is reserved to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life.
To assure its adequate functioning, the center must be run by a team with a person designated as responsible for the team. In carrying out responsibilities, this person is to assure stability and formational competence. Every three years, he or she shall send a report of activities to this Congregation.
For the organization of courses, the prescriptions of canons 659, 660, and 661 along with Potissimum institutioni, n. 61, apply.
. Cf. John Paul II, Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (14 September 1995), 55-71.
. It is necessary to distinguish institutes of religious sciences (which are considered in this document) from higher institutes of religious sciences which are erected by the Holy See and are sponsored by a Theological Faculty. Cf. Norms for Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences, Seminarium 1 (1991), pp. 194-201.
Institutes of religious sciences, intended for the formation of those who are not candidates for priesthood, are encouraged to establish a relationship with a Faculty of Theology. In this way, a better doctrinal formation can be promoted, so that the participants will eventually be able to earn appropriate academic degrees or diplomas.
Possible civil recognition of these institutes is of great benefit, but ought not prejudice or alter the formative goals proper to them.
In this area, Catholic universities as well as other organisms at the level of local Churches can offer helpful initiatives of study to be carried out in collaboration with the Bishops and Major Superiors.
Institutes of theological and philosophical formation for religious who are candidates for priesthood
22. The following are the fundamental norms which regulate interinstitute centers of philosophical-theological formation for religious who are candidates for priesthood:
a) Canonical erection. Before proceeding to the canonical erection of an interinstitute center of philosophical and theological studies, it is necessary to receive approval both for erection of the center and for its Statutes from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life89 which, prior to giving approval, will request the authoritative judgment of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples for territories of mission and the approval of the Congregation for Catholic Education90 regarding the programming of philosophical and theological studies as well as academic degrees. In this connection,
. Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana, 1979, Part I: Common Norms, art. 62 §1, and Part II (Congregation for Catholic Education), Applied Norms, art. 47.
. Mutuae relationes, 31.
. Cf. can. 237.2. Given the lack of specific law in this area, canonical references should be interpreted “by analogy.”
. Cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus (28 June 1988), 108.2.
institutes of philosophy and theology reserved for candidates to the priesthood are encouraged to affiliate to a philosophical or theological Faculty91 respectively.
b) Authority over the institute. The Statutes shall define clearly how the Major Superiors who constitute the organism which bears ultimate responsibility for the center are to exercise their authority.
This authority, or the one delegated by it — usually the Board of Directors — appoints, confirms, or substitutes the professors, in conformity with the procedure indicated in the Statutes, and also requests the consent of the competent Superior, and receives the “profession of faith” which is required. The “mandate” for teaching in the name of the Church94 goes together with appointment as professor. The teaching which the professors give shall be “an objective and complete presentation of doctrine, structured in harmony with the Church’s Magisterium.”
The same authority shall, with reference to the instruction which is given and the progress of the center, regularly inform the Major Superiors who send students and who must guarantee to the Church and their own congregation the adequate formation of their future priest-religious. It is necessary that the authority inform the president of the Mixed Commission of Bishops and Major Superiors in order to promote mutual knowledge and collaboration. The Superiors of the students — whether religious Superiors or responsible Bishops — or, where it might be the case, their representatives, should be invited to regular meetings of consultation regarding the progress of the center. Where the ecclesial and pastoral importance of the center requires it, it is recommended, in the spirit of communion, that a Bishop be a member of the Board of Directors.
. Cf. Sapientia Christiana, Part I: Common Norms, art. 62, and Part II: Applied Norms, art. 47.
. Cf. Sapientia Christiana, Part I: Common Norms, art. 24.
. Cf. can. 833.
. Cf. can. 812.
. Mutuae relationes, 31.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 50.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 48-50.
c) Programs. The intellectual formation of a future priest is based and constructed above all upon the study of Sacra Doctrina.
“True theology proceeds from the faith and aims at leading to the faith.” “Theological formation, given in the light of faith and under the guidance of the Magisterium, is to be imparted in such a way that the students learn the whole of Catholic teaching, based on divine revelation, that they make it a nourishment of their own spiritual lives, and that in the exercise of the ministry they may be able properly to proclaim and defend it.”
In relation to studies, special attention shall be given to the completeness of the subjects and to the content prescribed for the six year period of philosophical and theological studies. While respecting the demands proper to priestly religious life and to the “intrinsic unity of the Catholic priesthood,” whether secular or religious, these studies should be carried out in light of the plan for priestly formation established by the Holy See and by the episcopal conference of the country, and provide that there always be included a course on the theology and spirituality of the religious life and the theology of the particular Church. Also in this case, possible civil recognition should not prejudice or alter the program of studies prescribed by the Church.
Where centers for the formation of religious candidates for the priesthood, for serious reasons, also admit as students candidates for the permanent diaconate or religious brothers or sisters preparing for other apostolic activities, the program of studies for future priests must appear as a unit which is special and fully recognizable, in such a way that the formation not be a generic ministerial formation common to all. Thus, the specific requirements of the other students are to be respected, offering them an appropriate program which prepares them for the ministry of
. Pastores dabo vobis, 53.
. Can. 252.1.
. Cf. can. 250, 252-258; 1032.
. Cf. Optatam totius, Introduction; Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis, I, 14; Potissimum institutioni, 108-109.
. Cf. can. 242; Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis, I, 2.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 50.
. Cf. Pastores dabo vobis, 61.
permanent diaconate or for the other ecclesial services consistent with their vocation.
d) Professors. The formative validity and the consistency of the initiatives described depend in great part on the professional quality, on the sensus Ecclesiae, and on the religious qualities of the professors, in addition to the organization of the programs and the life of the center itself. The professors should be mindful that their teaching ought to “open and communicate to others the understanding of the faith, in the last analysis in the name of the Lord and his Church.” Major Superiors shall be mindful of this in their choice of professors. Above other pastoral commitments, the preparation of future generations is to be privileged, assigning to them the best professors and formators. This is an ecclesial responsibility which they may not neglect, for the good of the People of God, of religious life, and of their own institute, both in the present and in the future.
In addition to academic competence, the professors shall be attentive to the didactic art required by their office. There should be special care to assure the quality of teaching for the disciplines which constitute the fundamental part of the curriculum of studies.
Every professor of theological disciplines must possess the mandate to teach. Competent Superiors, before consenting to the appointment of a professor, shall be sure that the person in question have the proper preparation, fidelity to the Magisterium, and respect for the tradition which are necessary, and the ability to prepare priests for the service of the men and women of our time.
e) Admission. For admission to a center of philosophical-theological studies, it is necessary that the candidate have achieved the level of studies indicated in the Statutes, taking into account the canonical norms and the
. Pastores dabo vobis, 67.
. Cf. can. 254.
. Cf. can. 812.
. Cf. can. 248, 253. Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae On Catholic Universities (15 August 1990) Part II General Norms, 4, 3. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Veritatis On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian (24 May 1990), 6 and 7.
needs of places and times. Written authorization of the Major Superior or of the Superior of the house of formation to which the candidate belongs is also necessary.
Candidates of the diocesan clergy can also be admitted upon written request of their respective Bishop, who assumes, according to the norm of the Statutes of the center, the rights and duties of Superiors who send students there.
The center has the right to exclude from its programs a student who during the course of the year shows himself incapable of measuring up to the center’s objectives and conditions for admission, even if he shows superior intellectual ability and diligence in studies. Such dismissal does not impede his respective Major Superior from providing other options for him in another place.
f) Formation community and center of philosophical-theological studies. The Superior and the formation team of every religious institute are always the ones primarily responsible for the religious and priestly formation of their own members. They should guide and coordinate community life, the overall program of formation and the complementary courses proper to their institute, according to the institute’s own spirituality and pastoral purpose, as the unifying basis of human, doctrinal, spiritual, and pastoral formation. They should maintain regular contact with the center of studies and be actively interested in its programs.
In the process of discerning and evaluating the suitability of their religious candidates for the priesthood, Superiors should also consult the professors and those who collaborate in pastoral formation. This exchange can be a source of advantage for both the formation community and the center of studies, who will feel that their responsibility in the formative journey of future priests is sought.
Finally, it is to be hoped that every religious institute which sends students to the center also be committed to contribute a qualified member for teaching or for animating the life of the center.
g) Proper initiatives. The initiatives of interinstitute collaboration described are distinct from a philosophical or theological center erected
under the responsibility of one religious institute which, maintaining its own autonomy, admits as students religious of other institutes. These centers follow their own norms.
IV. INTERINSTITUTE COLLABORATION FOR THE FORMATION OF FORMATORSThe service of formation
23. The service of formation, an authentic “ecclesial ministry” (Paul VI), is an art, “the art of arts.” Formators must come to know the world of the young and should develop pedagogical ability to accompany and guide those being formed. Theirs is a service marked by the mystery of the Trinity: “formation then is a sharing in the work of the Father who, through the Spirit, fashions the inner attitudes of the Son in the hearts of young men and women.” In exercising this 'participative mediation,’ “those in charge of formation must therefore be very familiar with the path of seeking God, so as to be able to accompany others on this journey... They will combine the illumination of spiritual wisdom with the light shed by human means, which can be a help both in discerning the call and in forming the new man or woman, until they are genuinely free.” This task requires of formators a serious and solid preparation, and a generous and total dedication in their commitment to be imitators of Christ in the service of their brothers and sisters. “Notwithstanding the great apostolic demands and the urgent situations in which religious families are working, careful attention in the selection and preparation of those responsible for formation remains a top priority. This ministry is one of the most difficult and delicate... Young men and women above all need teachers who will be for them: men and women of God, respectful discerners of the human heart and the ways of the Spirit, capable of responding to their needs for greater interiority, experience of God, fraternity and initiation to their mission. Those responsible for formation must know how to teach discernment, docility and obedience, reading the signs of the times and people’s needs, teaching their charges
. Cf. can. 586.
. Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis, V 30.
. Vita Consecrata, 66.
. Cf. 1 Cor 11:1; 1 Thes 1:6. Cf. Jean Galot, S.J., “Mutual Esteem in Community,” Informationes SCRIS 1980, 269-274.
to respond to those needs with solicitude and courage, in full ecclesial communion.”
Careful choice and solid preparation of formators
24. Major Superiors, as their primary responsibility, should choose future formators carefully so that a religious family have available members qualified for such a ministry. The criteria for choosing, the qualities required, the preparation and updating should be defined by the norms proper to each institute and developed in the Ratio Institutionis.
Major Superiors should offer the formators programs and opportunities which assure the necessary theological and pedagogical formation, spiritual formation, competence in the human sciences, and specific training for the tasks to be carried out on the journey of formation. Formators should be expert particularly in the matters which refer to the spiritual patrimony of the founder or foundress.
This Dicastery again urges religious families to continue developing efforts toward the adequate preparation of those responsible for initial and continuing formation.
25. The experiences of interinstitute collaboration reveal a broad panorama of models in the preparation of formators. There are centers at the level of university or comparable institutions with systematic programs offering the possibility of academic degrees or degrees recognized by the Congregation for Catholic Education; intensive courses spread over a year or a semester, designed for formators at the beginning of their charge as well as for those already serving in formation communities. There are courses for updating, regular meetings for formators engaged in the same phase of formation and sessions of study, exchange, and reflection on specific educational topics. Many of these courses are organized by the
. John Paul II, Message to the XIV General Assembly of the Conference of Religious of Brasil, 11 July 1986, par. 4. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1986, n. 35, pp. 2, 10. Cf. also John Paul II, Address to the Plenary of CICLSAL, 1 December 1988: Insegnamenti, XI4 (1988), pp. 170306.
Conferences of Major Superiors, others by a consortium of institutes, or are initiatives promoted by specialized centers or by university Faculties.
Given the urgent need for qualified formators, this Dicastery invites institutes to intensify interinstitute collaboration, making available for each other programs, experiences, and, to the extent possible, even the most qualified personnel for mutual enrichment in benefit of the institutes, of the Church, and of her mission in the world.
26. Among the criteria which guide the organization of such courses, we underline the following:
a) Their specific organization should have as its purpose preparing educators for the task of the integral formation of a religious in the unity and uniqueness of the person, developing all the dimensions of baptismal and religious consecration. Thus, courses should contribute to a formation which is doctrinal, spiritual, canonical, and pedagogical-pastoral. In particular they should ensure solid theological formation, especially in the fields of spirituality, moral theology, and religious life. Further they should make the formators aware of the organic unity of the formation process and of the specific goals of each stage of formation.
The courses should above all help the formators in transmitting the art of a theological reading of the signs of the times115 so as to discern the presence, the love, and the will of God in all things: in revelation and in creation, in the Church, in the sacraments, and in persons, in the ordinary and extraordinary circumstances of life, in the unfolding of history. They should be a help in acquiring the art of inspiring and nourishing a deep love for the Persons of the Blessed Trinity and the Eucharist; as well as for Our Lady, Mother of Jesus and of the Church; and for the holy founders and foundresses, and in leading to a deeper life of prayer.
. Cf. “Directives Concerning the Preparation of Seminary Educators,” Congregation for Catholic Education, 4 November 1993, nn. 79, 82; CD 5, 35; Mutuae relationes, 31, 37; Vita Consecrata, 53.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 73, 94.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 53.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 94, 95.
The organization of the courses should give proper importance to the topic of fraternal life in community and to the mission of the institutes118 and should offer the means adequate for consolidating or recovering the spirit of unity and coresponsibility among the members, an apostolic spirit and an attitude of justice, solidarity, and mercy toward the most needy. “Consecrated persons are asked to be true experts of communion and to practise the spirituality of communion as ‘witnesses and architects of the plan for unity which is the crowning point of human history in God’s design’.” They should remember to underline the dignity of the vocation of the laity and of the diocesan clergy, promoting collaboration with them and a sharing in the spirit and mission of the institute.
b) The courses
– should develop the formators’ ability to relate, listen, discern vocations, guide, and educate young people and adults to discernment and commitment.
– should develop the ability to accompany another spiritually, pedagogically, and psychologically; the purposes of these and the levels of intervention differ, even though they converge in the integral maturing of the person consecrated to God. They should offer skills for handling and knowing how to face particular situations and personal problems, with the help of experts when necessary.
– should help one read and understand the diverse cultural contexts in order to promote a formation consonant with the demands of the culture of origin of the religious or with the culture of the people among whom they will be working. It is important that they learn to appreciate those authentic values which bear the stamp of the Gospel or are open to it and to discern those elements which ought to be purified or rejected.
– should help formators know and respond to the challenges which the Church faces in our time and take up the pastoral priorities which the Holy Father and the Bishops in union with him propose for the reflection of the faithful. “Institutes of consecrated life are
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 41-42; 72.
. Vita Consecrata, 46; cf. Religious and Human Promotion , 24.
. Cf. Mutuae relationes, 37; Vita Consecrata, 4, 15, 31, 56.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 79-80.
thus invited courageously to propose anew the enterprising initiative, creativity and holiness of their founders and foundresses in response to the signs of the times emerging in today’s world. This invitation is first of all a call to perseverance on the path of holiness in the midst of the material and spiritual difficulties of daily life.”
c) Formators should learn how to prepare the members of their communities for the task of the New Evangelization: announcing Christ, the Good News of the Father, to all men and women. This implies preparation for the evangelization of cultures, for pastoral work in favor of life, the family and solidarity, for the evangelical option for the poor, for the formation of youth, for the mission ad gentes, for ecumenical commitment and interreligious dialogue, social communications, etc. They should learn to welcome the hopes and questions of youth, children of our time, who are entering communities and prepare them to incarnate the best of their own epoch and give a response of holiness and of effective charity to the needs of our times. To form is always to prepare for the service which the Church and society need in a determined epoch and cultural setting.
A formation which is integral, precisely because its hinge is in the education of faith and in maturing the commitment of consecration-mission, must be mindful also of the new forms of poverty and injustice of our time. In this area, interinstitute courses, without falling into simplistic formulas, can be a helpful support for formators.
d) Courses for formators should provide an experience of spiritual growth and contribute to their continuing formation. The responsibility of accompanying young people on their journey of growth includes a constant invitation from Christ, Master and Lord, to intensify the life of prayer, intimacy with him, and to embrace the cross which seals this delicate ministry of formation, placing always one’s own trust in his guidance and his grace.
The work of formation is carried out along the axis of the following of “Christ chaste, poor, and obedient – the One who prays, the Consecrated
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 37.
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 77-83, 96-99; 101-103.
One, and the Missionary of the Father” – and has at its center the Paschal mystery. Thus the preparation of formators may not be merely intellectual, doctrinal, pastoral, and professional; it is, above all, a deep, human, and religious experience of sharing in the mystery of Christ while respectfully approaching the mystery of the human person. In Christ is the experience of sonship before the Father and of docility to the Spirit, of fraternity and sharing, of fatherhood and motherhood in the Spirit: “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!” (Gal 4:19). In this light it is helpful that formators be able to meet among themselves as consecrated persons, to support one another on their journey of faith, to pray together, to let themselves be questioned by the Word, and to celebrate the Eucharist. They can be enriched by experiencing the goodness and wisdom of the Master who, by the outpouring of his Spirit and by the mediation of the maternal action of Mary, continues his work and, in a privileged way, by means of their own mediation in the life and experiences of those whom they help to live as “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19).
CONCLUSION27. “Awareness of the times in which we are living and of our responsibilities demands that we assure young men and women religious of an adequate formation, more complete than ever, in dynamic fidelity to Christ and the Church, to the charism of the founder and to mankind today.”
In offering the criteria and the directives presented in this document, the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, has intended to evaluate, order, and promote the vast and varied experience in the area of interinstitute collaboration, supported by the Second Vatican Council and developed in these years.
Interinstitute collaboration, which respects the sharing of charismatic gifts, respects their diversity, and is placed at their service, is a concrete
. Cf. Vita Consecrata, 77.
. John Paul II, Message to the XIV General Assembly of the Conference of Religious of Brasil, 11 July 1986, n. 4. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1986, n. 35, p. 2.
response to the calls of the Church to help form a religious by promoting his or her unity of life in Christ through the Spirit. Consecrated persons are called to insert themselves in the contemporary world to offer valid models of human and Christian fullness, according to the form of life which Christ the Lord chose, which Mary, Virgin and Mother embraced, and which he himself proposed to his disciples.
Thus religious will fulfill their mission as Christians called to be “a living memorial of Jesus’ way of living and acting,” and “moved by God to be pioneers on the missionary road and the paths of the Spirit.” With the new ardor of their lives and of their word, with new methods and new expressions of their works, they will be faithful and bold instruments of God, signs of hope in “serv[ing] man by revealing to him the love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ.”
On 31 October 1998, the Holy Father approved this document of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life and authorized its publication.
Rome, 8 December 1998, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Eduardo Card. Martínez Somalo
Piergiorgio Silvano Nesti
. Cf. Potissimum institutioni,1.
. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 46; Vita Consecrata, 18.
. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 44.
. Vita Consecrata, 22.
. John Paul II, Message to the XIV General Assembly of the Conference of Religious of Brasil, 11 July 1986, par. 1. Found in L’Osservatore Romano (English version) 1986, n. 35, p. 2.
. Cf. Redemptoris missio, 2; Vita Consecrata, 110.