Formation of Formators

Ivo Coelho sdb

The editor has asked me to put down my expectations of PC2010 on a single topic, such as that of formation.

My expectations are simple: I think the province should take seriously one master line of action in formation: formation of formators.

True, the Department of Formation in Rome has issued a letter on this topic, and has also conducted a longish course for select formators quite recently in Kolkata. However, it is also true that, when it comes to specifics, my impression is that the main issue tends to be skirted, or at least not dealt with at the depth that it deserves.

What I mean to say is that formation of formators is not so much a matter of attending more courses supplying an intellectual output. It has to take the shape of a practical experience, a therapy, and skills training.

By 'practical experience' and 'therapy' I mean probably the same thing: the first step in formation of formators is 'personal growth,' cleaning up one's own basement, undergoing therapy for oneself, becoming aware of one's own problems, tendencies, characteristics, personal history, owning it, and doing what one can to move towards healing. This may also require that formators access spiritual direction for themselves.

By 'skills training' I refer to training basically in personal counselling, formation skills, and spiritual direction. Training in counselling involves learning to listen (not only to words but also to what is not said, to feelings), give feedback, and so on. Training in what I am calling 'formation skills' would involve learning the art of 'participatory formation,' personalization, helping formees own the aims and processes of formation. Training in spiritual direction will build on these skills, but has a quite different finality: that of helping a person discover and follow God's will in his or her life; or, put differently, helping a person to put on the mind of Christ.

And by 'formators' I mean not only those confreres residing in places like Pune and Nashik, but also each Rector, and why not, each future Rector. We need to keep reminding ourselves that 'formation' includes not only 'initial' formation but also 'ongoing' formation.

But I think we should not also bite off more than we can chew.

So I would be happy if PC2010 can work out some system to ensure that a certain number of confreres receive preparation for the specific work of formation.

And there are excellent resources available in our own country: I am thinking of places like Atma Darshan, Patna; Atma Darshan, Andheri - Mumbai; Sadhana, Lonavla; NVSC, Pune; perhaps our own Don Bosco Renewal Centre, Bangalore; and so on.
Inviting someone like Selvaratnam, OMI from Sri Lanka to conduct courses for formators (and not merely lectures) would be a very good idea; and if he is unable to come to India, why not, we could think of sending people to him in Sri Lanka. It would be a worthwhile investment. Or again, there are people like Sr Cynthia Gonsalves, FMM, who I think has either finished or should be finishing her term of office as General Councillor of her congregation. Cynthia used to be a valued resource person at the then DBYP, Bangalore, and I remember she gave us an excellent 10 day formation of formators course in Hyderabad.

No comments:

Post a Comment