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Formation is the art of shaping the hearts of candidates

Participants. (Photo: supplied)

The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) Commission for Vocations, Seminaries, Clergy, and Religious (VSCR) is organizing a one-week training program for the formators of Juniorate religious from March 11–16 at Shanti Sadan, Benaulim, Goa, western India.

The training program aims to sustain and nurture vocations in their early stages of formation. Twenty-five Juniorate religious formators from various congregations are participating in this workshop.

Father Lucio Dias, the Episcopal Vicar of the South Goa Zone, presided over the inaugural Mass and emphasized the role of formators as heart transformers, highlighting it as an art.

He emphasized the sacredness of the call, arguing that every vocation is a calling from God. Father Dias underscored the importance of personal encounters with Jesus, drawing parallels to Jesus' methodology when commissioning the apostles for their mission.

Father Aleixo Menezes, the former Rector of the Patriarchal Seminary in Rachol, delivered the keynote address and inaugurated the training program.

He urged formators to discern the motivations behind candidates choosing religious life and emphasized their role in guiding candidates onto appropriate pathways.

Furthermore, he differentiated between baptized Christians and living Christians.

The topics covered during the training included church teachings on the purpose and features of early formation, mechanisms for understanding candidates' personality growth, and discerning the Holy Spirit.

Other topics include techniques for fostering vocations and experiencing community life, spiritual mentoring, formators' roles, minors' rights, and the implications of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in early formation stages, challenges of social media and digital awareness programs, identifying challenges in human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral orientations, various coping mechanisms, and sharing best practices in early formation houses.

Jesuit Father Joy James, Father George Jackson, and Father Charles Leon oversaw leading sessions and workshops.

The program's final day will focus on bringing about significant shifts in the role of formators, reflecting the fruits of training. Participants will also embark on a pilgrimage to Old Goa and other centers of devotion.

Father Duming Gonsalves, administrator of Shanti Sadan, is coordinating the program.
Religious congregations have praised the CCBI Commission for VSCR's initiative. Shanti Sadan, Goa, will host the second group of the formators' program from May 6–11, 2024.


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