In the year 2003-04, the Provincial Formation Commission worked towards the formulation of the Provincial Formation Directory. After completion, it was presented at the Provincial Chapter V in 2004. During the same period, the commission brought to completion, the process of the three-tier assessment of the three formation houses of the Province, as per the guidelines of the Department of Formation. The performance and functioning of the formation houses were done at the community level, at the level of the Formation Commission, and at the level of the Provincial Council.The Commission completed the task of drawing up the Vocational Fragility Report of the Province in September 2005 as requested by the Councilor General for Formation (Acts 385).
Preparation of Provincial Formation Plan
In accordance with the requirements of Ratio 2000 and the directives of the Councillor General for Formation, the Commission has initiated the process of formulating the Provincial Formation Plan, taking into account of the priorities of the Provincial Organic Plan, as discerned by the Provincial Community in Provincial Chapter V. The Commission envisages the Provincial Formation Plan to be the result of a process involving the participation of all the members of the Province, at different levels, through grassroots participation. The revision of the formation programme, especially of the Pre-novitiate, as per the changes in the Ratio, has already been completed and is being implemented.
a) Selection and follow up of the Candidates
Concerning the work of vocation promotion, the criteria and norms of the vocational discernment prescribed by the Ratio are kept in mind. Regular three-day vocation camps are held in different regions at Hyderabad, Kadapa, Chandur, Mariapuram and Gunadala from where selected boys attend the final three-weeks camp in summer. This is conducted either in Gunadala or in Guntupalli by the Vocation Promoter with the help of a team of Brothers. Those selected finally reach our aspirantate. Furthermore, regular visits to their schools, boardings, homes and correspondence with them has resulted in building rapport with them. The Vocation Promoter through his regular visits and meetings stays in contact with the formation team, in particular to the formation community at Gunadala.
b) Formation Houses:
We have aspirants in Gunadala (Vijayawada). The Gunadala community looks after the aspirants who have completed their class X and who complete their one year course in English. There are also students who are doing their higher secondary studies in Gunadala.
One year of Pre-novitiate was introduced in the aspirantate in Gunadala. The pre novices are given training in Salesiana, Christian Doctrine, Religious Life, and Scripture.
Over the past few years we have had a decent number of novices every year and this is a good sign. Every year we have on an average 12 novices each year.
iv) Post novitiate
Building up on what has been taught in the earlier stages of formation, the philosophate has its curriculum chalked out with its focus on helping the young Salesians grow up to be responsible, mature and efficient religious. The various input sessions, the weekly oratory, the three week long exposure programme, the availability of competent staff members, a well-equipped library and an ambience of study and reflection aid in achieving its goal. The Vishwa Jyothi College also formulated its statutes and they were passed by the Provincial council. This was done with the intent of opening up our college to all interested parties while retaining the Salesian identity of the college.
While we have the Pre-Novitiate at Gunadala, novitiate at Manoharabad and the post novitiate formation house at Karunapuram within the province, we also send our young confreres for their initial formation outside the province for the following studies:
Specific Formation of the Salesian Brother
Don Bosco Philosophate, Karunapuram (post novitiate) [earlier was at Kalyani, W. Bengal]
Mathias Institute, Shillong (post perpetual)
Post Novitiate for Clerics
The Retreat, Yercaud
Salesian College, Sonada
Specific Formation of the Salesian Priest
Kristu Jyoti, Bangalore
Jnanadeepa Vidyapeet, Pune
Sacred Heart, Poonamallee
However the primary centres for Theology remain the KJC, Bangalore and SHC, Shillong. This decision is made as per the Ratio, which requires us to follow up our students in the formation houses.
v) Practical Training and College Studies
Normally our Clerics and Brothers after completing their Post novitiate formation do two years of Practical Training. After their Practical Training they are sent for college studies keeping in mind the need of the Province and the aptitude of the young confreres. Owing to the fact that many of our young Salesians in their years of Aspirantate have done commerce, we had very few science students among them. Gradually this scenario is changing.
All of them have regular monthly recollections and annual retreats, but are not so regular with regard to manifestation and spiritual direction. Every year the province with the help of the vice provincial organises a 15 days of summer formation programme and a two day meeting for practical trainees and college students separately, on religious themes like the Preventive System, Salesian Spirituality, the Power of Prayer, as well on various social themes. During these meetings, the clerics also have opportunities to share their experiences and difficulties with the group and also express their anxieties and growth in Salesian life. The Rectors send to the Provincial regular scrutinies of the young Salesians, after communicating to them their observations and remarks. In order to help college students to integrate study and life, they are usually asked to be part-time assistants and to help out in a few community activities whenever possible.
vi) On-going Formation
Following the directives of the Ratio, the process of ongoing formation too has been taken into consideration seriously. To this end, several animation programmes mentioned earlier are held at regular intervals and at appropriate occasions. Individual confreres too are encouraged to go for some renewal programmes as and when thought opportune.
Regular meetings and interactions for all the formation personnel of the Province help in making formation a collaborative venture rather than a piece meal individualistic effort.
Our Formation centres in the Province…
Don Bosco Phlosophate, Karunapuram (Warangal Dt)
St John’s Regional Seminary, Kondadaba (Vizianagaram Dt)
Sacred Heart Novitiate, Manoharabad (Medak Dt)
St Paul’s Regional Seminary, Nuzvid (Krishna Dt)
Don Bosco, Gunadala (Krishna Dt)
Don Bosco, Guntupalli (was an apostollic school till 1996)
St. Xavier’s Seminary, Karunapuram (APBC major Seminary in which we directly assisted till May 2005)