Monday, 12 June 2017

Abridged formation course

This province of Great Britain does not have any initial formation house.  The only formation house that it can speak of is that of Battersea where there are three clerics staying and attending college at St Mary's studying theology.  So unlike most Indian provinces it has neither an aspirantate, pre-novitiate, philosophate, nor any house of specific formation.  I was thinking that's a huge reduction on expenditure.  For I know that most of my province's expenditure is on formation and formation houses.  (Perhaps that's the only advantage, if one can speak of at all... for not having vocations is perhaps an absolute loss!)

However, this particular trip to Turin with 9 of us is perhaps an investment in formation...  formation of lay collaborators.  Much more than me, a professed Salesian, this visit would throw up for the collaborators many more views and options and messages and most importantly, questions about the Salesians and Don Bosco.  Some of them have been working with the Salesians for years and some are new but all the same their love for the Salesians is great.  This guided tour certainly offers them a great possibility of deepening their love for Don Bosco and a unique flavour to their Salesian ministry.

For me, it offered a great chance to meet and interact with these individuals. Each of them unique, different and greatly experienced in their own field of work.  Besides their work ethic I admire their fidelity to their Catholic faith.  For them the latter is not something pietistic or ritual, it is something that enthuses them and something they are very convinced of passing on... not only for their families but for young people whom they teach.  Best of all, it was not as if I was or for that matter even Fr John was, 'better off' than them merely because we were 'SDBs'.  We walked, talked and shared life and mutually enriched one another!

I'm sure if I were to have come here with a group of (professed) Salesians only, it would have been very different.  But thanks to the unique composition of this group and the slant of Fr John's explanations, I can boldly say that this 'formation course' is more holistic and meaningful than the decades of 'cloistered formation' we Salesians often insist on. 

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