Tuesday 30th March 2004

The Third Meeting of the International Formation Commission met at the General Curia of the Order, Rome. The meeting started at 0930hrs. Members present were: Fathers Carlo Cicconetti, Dionysius Kosasih, John Keating, Simone Gamberoni and Conrad Mutizamhepo. Conrad Mutizamhepo was invited to be secretary. Other members had not yet arrived. We therefore deferred the beginning of the meeting to 1600hrs. Still other members had not yet arrived so we had to defer it to Wednesday.

Wednesday 31st March 2004

The meeting opened with a prayer led by Fr Carlo Cicconetti.
Members present were: Fathers Carlo Cicconetti, Dionysius Kosasih, John Keating, Romualdo Borges de Macedo, Simone Gamberoni Gunter Benker, Desiderio Garcia Martinez and Conrad Mutizamhepo.

Fatima Message of Provincials (2003)

Carlo began by reading an extract from the Fatima message of Provincials. He pointed out that the message of the Provincials stressed four significant areas:
1. the need to give priority to formation;
2. the need to encourage and stimulate brothers to participate in ongoing formation;
3. the importance of guaranteeing the formation of formators at regional or local levels;
4. the need to equip local priors to help promote the living of our charism.

The Malta Document:

We then discussed the proposals of the document Some Reflections and Ideas with Regard to the Work of the International Formation Commission drawn up by Alexander Vella, Christian Korner, Mario Alfarano, Desiderio Garcia Martinez and Gunter Benker.
Carlo pointed out that our task is to discuss and present proposals to the General Council who have already received this document. The document highlights the importance of formation and suggests the scrapping of the proposed work on the Manual of Carmelite Formation and suggests the following:
* drawing up a two year Carmelite Formation Programme for Formators;
* establishing international novitiates;
* supporting further studies and
* supporting life styles according to our Charism.
It also points out that those two courses for formators in a sexennium are not adequate for our needs.
The whole Commission recognizes the importance of training formators. In some regions formators meet for joint courses, e.g., Latin America. In many places the greatest need is with respect to availability of materials and books to help formators. While there may be the need for many formators, it has been experienced in some regions that some people are not always suitable for formation work; others do not wish to be considered for the job because they feel that they are not up to it. Another problem is that formators keep changing and so we loose continuity.
Agreeing that two courses in six years are not enough, John Keating suggested that there be a facility for distance learning in formation work. There would be the opportunity for work at both the international and regional levels. The international level is important because it gives unity on the contents but how this may work out on a regional level needs to be teased out. Representatives who attend international meetings may be the ones who return to their regions to arrange regional meetings.
It was pointed out that there seems to be an impression that the policy of the Order on formation appears to be in conflict with the programmes of Provincials. There is therefore the need to communicate and inform Provincials about these programmes. Gunter, Desiderio and Simone were appointed into a subcommittee to follow up, organize, spell out the content and methodology to deal with these proposals.
It was agreed that formation work is not merely academic. Rather it involves discernment and accompaniment of formandi. Formators need skills to help them in their work.

Anthony Scerri:

Anthony Scerri came and addressed the Commission at 1115hrs. He spoke about the importance of supporting the formation course for formators in Africa scheduled for 4 to 17 October in Nairobi, Kenya. He pointed out that formation in the developing world is a major task. There are near 600 formandi in Asia, Africa and Latin America while there are barely 60 formandi in Europe, Australia and the United States. He therefore stressed the point that there is need for formation courses in Africa for Africans, Asia for Asians and Latin America for Latin Americans. He ended by saying: Formation is the basic thing in the Order. I pass this on to you for your consideration.

Issue of the Manual for Carmelite Formation:

The document drawn up in Malta does not favour the writing of a Manual for Carmelite Formation: In our view there is the danger of investing a tremendous amount of energy and work in producing another theory book which then would have to be translated in many more than only the official languages of the Order in order to really have a chance of being used.
Discussion followed with Dionysius being in favour of a project on Manual but the rest of the Commission felt that there were other ways of assisting Formators such as the Carmelite Directory or setting up a Carmelite website on our spirituality. It was felt by many that the manual is not feasible due to perennial problems of personnel and the difficulty of finding translators. It was also pointed out that there is need to dialogue with other Commissions of the Order and the Carmelite Institute to see which work need translating following the style of the Carmelite Directory. It would be beneficial to ask David Waite or his successor or E.Boaga to provide a bibliography on Carmelite Formation materials.
While these resource materials are important we should not loose sight of the importance of trained personnel in this area. Our formators do not just need to work with books (books on their own can be dangerous), areas such as spiritual direction and accompaniment require continual formation in groups at regional or international meetings.

International Noviciates:

In some regions like Latin America and Italy and some parts of Africa, this is already a reality. Of course there are some difficulties but where people are serious about it, it is workable. The advantage of this kind of initiative is that it promotes the international dimension of the Order and facilitates the learning of another language and is an avenue for team ministry. The disadvantage for this kind of situation is the difficulty of living in an international community; difficulties with respect to nationalities and national temperaments. There are changes that go with such an initiative, for example, the host community that receives formandi from various countries needs to change its attitude. Furthermore, putting young candidates into such a scenario may not be too helpful at an early age. What is preferable is that candidates study philosophy and theology in their countries of origin before they can join an international community. Furthermore, if joint novitiates are to be taken seriously, they have to begin with prenoviciate programmes so as to synchronize activities.
The Formation Commission therefore supports the idea of joint novitiates but how that translates in different regions needs to be discerned.

Supporting Further Studies:

This needs to be put to Provincials for their consideration. There is need to organize a long course (three to six months) to transmit culture, history, spirituality of Carmel, to promote a common responsibility for the Order.
There is need to do some stock taking on what members of the order have done Carmelite studies.
It is the realization of the Commission that our world demands that people be educated to professional level for those who have the capacity. Furthermore, we need to use our resources while thinking about the future.
We also would like to encourage greater dialogue between the General Council and the Provincial Councils with respect to the issue of further studies.

Supporting lifestyles according to our Charism:

The vision that pervades all our recent documents is that we are a praying brotherhood in the midst of the people.
There is need at formation level to establish communities. We need to consider and imagine what Carmelite life is in the 21st century. There is need for ongoing formation of communities, adoption of new initiatives. The success of this will depend on the willingness of communities to implement proposed programmes.

Strategy and Methodology for Local Implementation of Charism

A significant question is: what can we do in our communities to make community life better. There is need to animate the brotherhood to take personal responsibility for community living if this process is to be taken forward.
The Formation Commission cannot direct provinces on the way forward; but it can merely encourage and point out to possible ways.
Changing structures is difficult, but sometimes one feels that there is lack of leadership to take the process forward.
Some young Carmelites feel free after initial formation and do not like to have things imposed on them. There is therefore need to fight against a ´tunnel vision´ of formation. There is therefore need to help Provinces and local communities in nonthreatening ways. It is incumbent upon Provincials to help people who block movement in the community. There is also need to find sensible ways of dealing with the problems as well as promoting good will at the level of reception.

Aylesford Formators Course (July 2003)

The message of Formators who met at Aylesford (July 2003) was presented to the Council of Provinces at Fatima and it was accepted.
An important issue addressed at Aylesford was: How do we promote Carmelite Charism so that each community is a centre of Carmelite spirituality.

International Congress of Young Carmelites:

Two such congresses have already taken place: Lisieux (1997) and Israel (2001). The next one is scheduled to be in Spain, preferably in July 2005, lasting between 10 to 14 days; the proposed theme is ´JOURNEY OF TRANSFORMATION´ IN THE SPANISH MYSTICS.
The steering subcommittee for this congress will consist of Desiderio Garcia Martinez, Simone Gamberoni, Gunter Benker and John Keating.
Other notable considerations: need for a good translation system; organizers can liaise with Alexander Vella who organized the previous ones.

Joint Formation Commission OCarm – OCD.

There is need for new members to replace Alexander Vella and Christian Korner. Those to replace the two friars who are now Provincials in their Provinces are Simone Gamberoni, John Keating and Carlo Cicconetti.
Is this an important commission: hopefully it will promote goodwill among the two Orders; being nice to each other. They will meet in May.

Carmelite Directory:

There are new additions to the Directory on the following topics: Carmelite Symbols; Contemplative Dimension and Significant Carmelite Figures which has been sent to the Charism Commission for them to look at it.
We need to look at what is lacking on the overall list and to check whether communities are happy with the Directory.

Centenary of the Formula of Life (1207-2007)

The Dutch will initiate a book for personal reflection. Provincials welcomed this by applause at Fatima. In Brazil there are three booklets that might be of interest: Rule and Prayer; Rule and Fraternity; Rule and Prophecy but they are in Portuguese.
Representatives of the laity will be invited for a day or two.

Ongoing Formation 2005

There will be an ongoing formation course scheduled for 30th January 2005 to 12th February 2005.
Members of the steering committee for this course are Alexander Vella, Christian Korner and Mario Alfarano. The programme for this course is already out. Speakers will include: E.Boaga, H.Blommesteijn, A.Vella, C.Cicconetti, K.Alban, P.Chandler, and G.Grossi.

Thursday 1st April 2004

The meeting opened with a prayer from Fr Carlo Cicconetti. He read an extract from the RIVC.44.
Draft on Methodology for Ongoing Formation of Formators
Simone Gamberoni read out what the subcommittee had agreed on. They pointed out the following issues:
* With regard to methodology, there is need for continuity (probably something that can continue for a three year period);
* the use of seminar rather than too academic style of presentation;
* importance of accompanying formators in their experiences;
* helping formators to learn how to accompany candidates (e.g., accompaniment with respect to internalizing prayer, fraternity and the prophetic dimensions of our spirituality); incorporating the lectio divina method in relation to fraternal life;
* assistance in the area of guidance in spiritual direction;
* resources on how to understand experience and life of young people today, e.g., issues of communication with young people;
* the need to enlist the services of experienced persons like Alexander Vella for the sake of continuity.
* That this new methodology be used for the 2006 meeting.

Programmes of Formation

Many Provinces responded to the invitation to submit their programmes of initial and ongoing formation. There is need to exchange these programmes.

Programmes of Preparation for Solemn Profession

The Parana Commissariat has an extensive and comprehensive programme which needs to be translated from Portuguese into other languages for the benefit of the Order. Their programme traces the vocation story of the person with a view to deepening and renewing a person’s commitment to Christ and to the Order.

Any Other Business (AOB)

Carlo invited members to suggest how we might better organize and conduct our meetings. Members felt that there was a need to present the reality of what is going on in their regions as a means of promoting some understanding of what is happening in the Order.
Each formator should bring a brief report on issues or problems on hand and to discuss on those issues.
It was suggested that the Commission could meet in other parts of the world, but visa requirements for some countries are so stringent that it might not be viable. So Rome remains the preferred place of meeting.
John Keating suggested that there is need for practical organization before the meeting, e.g., access to relevant documentation; need for a secretary and translator other than members of the commission to facilitate free participation; the need to invite an expert to address us on pertinent issues of our choice.
There is also need for a facility for feed back to the regions from which members come from.
There is also need to invite other Commissions of the Order, e.g., Justice and Peace, Communications, Commission on Charism etc., so that we can coordinate our activities and raise awareness of what is going on in other areas. In any case, there is much in common between the Formation Commission and the Commission on Charism.
There is need for a change of mentality from Euro centrism to becoming developing world-centred.
John Keating and Gunter Benker to prepare for the next meeting of the International Congress of Young Carmelites in Initial Formation scheduled for Spain, July 2005.

Address by Antonio Silvio da Costa (Justice and Peace Commission)

Antonio addressed us on the importance and significance of incorporating Justice and Peace issues into the formation programmes. He said that the Union of General Superiors in Rome requested Orders and Congregations to include Justice and Peace issues in formation programmes. He pointed out that our Constitutions and Ratio already contain some of these issues. The Justice and Peace Commission is therefore appealing to all Provinces to take this up in a serious way and to make it concrete. Quite clearly, justice and peace issues are a significant component of our charism. The aim of such an enterprise is to make justice and peace issues real in our communities, provinces, regions, and our world. Our commitment in this issue is a commitment to follow Christ and so it will be a prophetic sign of living a new lifestyle which is the evangelical lifestyle of mendicants. He also stressed that our spirituality and justice and peace issues are inseparable. Already the Order has an NGO status in the United Nations in the Department of Information. He said that at the moment the Order is represented on the Department of Information by two American Sisters from Louisiana. Religious groups like ours will therefore be relied upon to give up to date information on the ground in situations where this is need.
Antonio proposed that there be a promoter of Justice and Peace in every Province; that there be a course for Justice and Peace promoters in 2006 or 2007. Other members of the Commission suggested that there are already resources for justice and peace, for example, Justice and Peace in the Spiritual Directory Project written by Tracy Sullivan.
The Justice and Peace Commission is looking forward to the production of a small magazine, Zelo Zelatus to reconstruct our history with Justice and Peace issues. Many other issues can be incorporated for wider circulation for example, issues on water, conflict resolution.

Next Formation Council Meeting 2005

The next meeting will take place at the General Curia, Via Giovanni Lanza, Rome, from 14th to 17th March 2005.
Fr Carlo Cicconetti thanked everyone for attending and for contributing to the discussions and closed the meeting with a prayer. Simone Gamberoni then invited everyone for dinner at San Martino at 1930hrs.

E-mail Addresses of Formation Commission Members

Carlo Cicconetti: pcarlo@pcn.net
John Keating: jtkeating@eircom.net
Desiderio Garcia Martinez: desi.ocarm@telefonica.net
Gunter Benker: gbenker@carmelnet.org
Simone Gamberoni: simone.ocarm@infinito.it
Dionysius Kosasih: dionkosasih@yahoo.com
Romualdo Borges de Macedo: romualdocarm@yahoo.com.br
Conrad Mutizamhepo: mhepocon@mweb.co.zw



El encuentro anual se ha desarrollado en Roma con una serie de cuestiones: formación internacional, incentivar estudios avanzados y colaboraciones con los Carmelitas Descalzos. La comisión se ha concentrado de manera especial en el curso de formación permanente que se tendría que desarrollar del 31 /05 al 12 /02 /05 sobre los primeros escritos carmelitas con excepción de la Regla. En el 2005 es España tendrá lugar también un curso Internacional del los estudiantes cuyo tema será “Viaje de transformación con los Místicos de España”. La comisión esta de acuerdo en decir que queda todavía mucho trabajo por hacer para mejorar la cualidad del Formación en la Orden. El próximo encuentro de la Comisión será del 14 al 17 Marzo 2005.

(NB: Para la versión completa de las notas ver la versión inglesa).



L’incontro annuale si è svolto a Roma, con una serie di questioni: formazione internazionale, incentivare studi avanzati e collaborazione con i Carmelitani Scalzi. La commissione si è soffermata, in particolare, sul corso di formazione permanente che si dovrebbe tenere dal 30 gennaio al 12 febbraio 2005 sui primi scritti carmelitani, ad esclusione della Regola. Nel 2005, in Spagna, si prevede anche un corso internazionale degli studenti, il cui tema sarà “Viaggio di trasformazione con i mistici spagnoli”. La commissione è concorde nel dire che c’è ancora molto lavoro da svolgere per migliorare la qualità della formazione nell’ordine. Il prossimo incontro della commissione sarà dal 14 al 17 Marzo 2005.

(NB: Per la versione completa dei verbali vedi la versione inglese).


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Last revised: 29 April 2004