House of formation
Following Jesus in our religious Congregation
Our Formation Programs aim to prepare young men to become religious and missionaries: religious, namely radical disciples of Jesus Christ who was poor, chaste and obedient; missionaries in the footsteps of Blessed Scalabrini, namely to become migrants with the migrants for the sake of the Kingdom of God and to devote their lives to the assistance of migrants.
The training period is divided into five different stages: Propaedeutic or Preparatory Year, Philosophy, Postulancy, Novitiate, and Theology (including one or more years of missionary in-training). Its purpose is to help the candidate achieve human maturity, adequate academic education and a deep spiritual, religious and pastoral Scalabrinian formation.
Students reside at our Formation Centres and are supported by the Congregation through contributions from our Parishes and Mission Centers, Chaplaincies and through donations given by generous people.
In South Africa our Scalabrinian Seminary is actually based in Cape Town, in Holy Cross Parish.
The dimensions of Scalabrinian religious formation
1. Community Dimension
After a long and adequate time of Vocational Animation and Orientation, candidates starts the experience of Community Life in a House of Formation.
Here each one is called to develop his personal character. The formation process unfolds through stages and diversified experiences, bringing all the dimensions of formation together in a single harmonious moment – the human, the spiritual, and the religious life, the intellectual and Scalabrinian pastoral.
Through various mediations, the community welcomes and accompanies the candidate or confrere in formation. It supports him with its help, offers him the possibility of a serious dialogue in his search for God’s will and carries out the necessary discernment in his vocational choices. It provides him with a community life that is conducive to his formation, and offers him an environment and the means to promote his growth. Meanwhile, advancing in his formation journey, the Scalabrinian brings to his community the riches of his gifts of nature and grace.
The Rules of Life require that the Provinces that have houses of formation carry out the formation process according to the needs of the specific cultural context; that is, the needs arising from the candidate and his culture and those deriving from the context in which the charism must find expression.
During the initial formation the confreres should be helped to deepen their identity of consecrated persons, in the light of the directives of the church and the charism, to develop solid convictions about the educative value of consecration itself and to assume an attitude of ongoing formation 40, “in every aspect of the personality, in behavior and intentions”.
The story of every Christian vocation is “the story of an inexpressible dialogue between God and human beings, between the love of God who calls and the freedom of individuals who respond lovingly to him. Jesus ‘went up into the hills, and called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him’. On the one hand, we have the completely free decision of Jesus; on the other, the ‘coming’ of the Twelve, their ‘following Jesus. Freedom, therefore, is essential to vocation – a freedom which, when it gives a positive response, appears as a deep personal adherence, as a loving gift – or rather as a gift given back to the giver who is God who calls an oblation”. Vocation is a gift of God and as such it needs to be welcomed and assumed. It is a gift, but, not for the person himself, but it is addressed to the Church.
When he enters the seminary, the young man begins to make an experience of what are family spirit and fraternity. The positive presence of formators and of other Scalabrinians enables him to know and love in a concrete form the real community assessing his own capacity to consider the new family as his own. During this formative phase, the candidate cultivates:
a) a spirit of cooperation for a smooth running of community life, thus developing also a sense of belonging;
b) an openness to all members of his community through sincere and authentic relations;
c) the trust in the formators and the docility that lets him be guided by them;
d) the ability to accept the values and limitations of the people and of the community exercising realism and forgiveness;
e) an initial sharing of money and of things;
f) the initiation to the practice of community prayer, founding one‟s own relationships with others on the base of faith;
g) a sincere and personal love for the Congregation and its many missionary activities.
2. The Intellectual dimension
The pursuit of the studies is an essential part of the formation in view of the Scalabrinian mission that the seminarian is called to live; and it will take up most of his time. It is important to stress the necessity of a serious and methodic study practice, and to make sure that the daily schedule sets aside a sufficient amount of time to dedicate to the study.
After a first introductory year, the Scalabrinian seminarian starts his studies of Philosophy.
The Propedeutic is a time of verification and orientation, characterized by great flexibility for what concerns the course of formation, the method of organization, and the duration. In fact, if ordinarily it lasts for a year, it can be stretched to accommodate the needs of individual people.
Courses of study are in St.Francis Xavier, the Orientation Seminary in Cape Town that offers the first year programme for diocesan seminarians of the Catholic Church in South Africa and Swaziland. The equipe is leaded by the Rector fr. Thomas Plastow SJ, the Spiritual Director fr. CHris Chatteris SJ and fr. Hughes O’Connors.
St.Francis Xavier Orientation Seminary Contact Information
The study commitment, viewed not as a privilege but as a means of human and personal promotion and of work and service to others, is also an indicator of the motivations and intentions of the seminarian.
To acquire the resources he will need for the subsequent stages, especially to lessen the impact that philosophy frequently has on beginners, and according to his needs, the seminarian will be directed:
a) to work on his personality at the human, intellectual, emotional and relational level,
b) to acquire some knowledge of the Bible, Old and New Testament,
c) to delve into the mystery of Christ and of the Church, on the basis of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
d) to learn the main traits of the biography of Scalabrini, of the history of the Congregation and of the evolution of the charism in the other Institutes of the Scalabrinian family;
e) to pick up some notions of spirituality, and of theory and practice of the liturgy;
f) to acquire a scientific method of study and research,
g) to discover a taste for reading,
h) to refine the knowledge of one‟s own language,
i) to expand the knowledge of the culture and history of one‟s own country,
j) to form a critical awareness of reality,
k) to learn some notions of Philosophy,
l) to approach music, the sacred arts, popular culture, and the theater,
m) to become proficient in the use of the computer and of the means of communication,
n) to make up for what is missing in one’s academic education.
The courses of the 3 years of Philosophy are in Redemptoris Mater Seminary, in Rondebosch. The Rector is fr. Zygmunt Kurzawinskie, helped by fr. Lorenzo Ricci.
Redemptoris Mater Seminary Contact Information
3. The Missionary and Apostolic Dimensions
“The whole formation imparted to candidates for the priesthood [and to religious life] aims at preparing them to enter into communion with the charity of Christ the good shepherd. Hence their formation in its different aspects must have a fundamentally pastoral character”.
The seminarian lives his own apostolate – although rather limited at this stage, -as a commitment flowing from his being a Christian.
He improves his sensitivity towards the poorest among the migrants through:
- a) his presence in the life of the community where he is pastorally active, even though he has no duties of leadership nor stable obligations;
- b) the knowledge of the pastoral undertakings of the Local Church (with special focus on the importance and challenging character of the pastoral care for human mobility);
- c) making the experience of extreme situations lived by the migrant people;
- d) sharing of experiences;
- e) apprenticeship in teamwork while doing weekend pastoral activity.
Once he has assimilated these aspects, the candidate should have acquired to a sufficient degree the following skills and attitudes in pastoral activity:
a) take part in various activities;
b) be creative;
c) discover people‟s attitudes;
d) organize activities;
e) make the best of the activities.
a) sharing even outside the group;
c) generosity in his activities;
d) concern and sensitivity towards other people and migrants problems
Seminarians, with the help and accompany of the Formators find the conditions for a balance between the various formative experiences: self knowledge, studying the charism, apostolic experiences, prayer times, personal reflection and group sharing, and the community activities. They are urged openness to and direct contact with the problems of human mobility and with the ecclesial, social and political reality of the territory where the community is located even through participation in the most significant local events and a discerning contact with the mass media.
About Vocation anf Formation
Each person is invited to live “the life as a vocation” and should be understood, accepted and fulfilled as such. A combination of talents and gifts to be developed, a project to be realized is given to everyone.
Signs of a vocation can be identified in an individual. However, to draw out from the signs of the “divine vocation”, it is necessary to know the person in depth, his personality, his history and his present situation.
The vocation is recognized through the sign of everyday. Usually, the Spirit speaks through the attitudes and the aspirations, the intentions and the motivations, which can be recognized in everyday life, in relationships with the persons, in dealing with reality and in the ordinary course of events, and not through extraordinary ways.
The Scalabrinian vocation, as a specific form of religious life, is recognized through those characteristic signs which demonstrate the agreement that there is between the personal vocation and the Scalabrinian missionary project.
Attitude of faith. Vocational discernment is spiritual discernment. Therefore:
- A perspective of faith has to be vigorously cultivated, convinced that it is God who calls and that the vocation is a grace from the Father, “who never ceases enriching our humble family” with new members.
- One is moving on the plan where God alone is the master (of the heart), and our efforts in everything are doomed to failure unless God teaches us how to act and provides us with the key. “The vocation to the sacred ministry is like a very delicate seed, planted by the very hand of God in the soul that comes as a pilgrim to this earth.”
- To live in harmony with God and to be docile to the Spirit are indispensable attitudes to understand God’s intentions, to discover and to interpret what He is saying.
Those in formation have a special duty:
a) to know and accept their cultural roots,
b) to be able to live in the midst of diversity by respecting, dialoging and listening to the cultures of others,
c) to translate their cultural values in an evangelical and Scalabrinian key.
Scalabrinian House of Formation
Rector of the Seminary and Local Superior: fr. Gerardo Garcia Ponce CS