The Commission on Initial Formation of the Secretariat of Formation and Spirituality gathered at the Order’s Collegio Sant’Ildefonso e San Tommaso da Villanova in Rome, Italy on October 9-13, 2017 to discuss formation concerns that directly affect and involve the formation of both the OAR formands and formators. Topics with special concentrations on the different stages of seminary formation were treated in order to provide objective standards and concrete guidelines for the formation project of the Order.
The Commission is composed of Fray Francisco Javier Monroy (President), Fray Miguel Ángel Hernández Domínguez (Province of Santo Tomas), Fray Hector Manuel Calderon (Province of Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria) and Fray Ian Anthony Espartero (Province of Saint Ezekiel Moreno).
The Concerns of the Days
The Prior General, Fray Miguel Miro Miro, in his opening statement during the first day, emphasized the concern of the Order for revitalization whereby the stages of initial formation play a very important role in its fulfillment. He reminded the team that while the Augustinian Recollect elements are considered in the program development, respect for the reality of each Province must be maintained. This is to ensure that the OAR formation is responsive to the holistic and integral development of the formands and formators in a context that promotes the OAR identity and spirituality during the contemporary time.
The Augustinian Recollect Formation Itinerary (ARFI) was likewise revisited during the first day. Each member shared their experiences on the completion of the IFAR in their respective provinces. Certain challenges were highlighted. In order to guarantee the continuity in the implementation of the programs, Fray Javier Monroy tasked each member to create a framework for each formation stage that includes both the speculative and practical dimensions. This is intended to serve as the basis for personal accompaniment in the different formation stages. Fray Javier and Fray Ian were charged to develop the Postulancy program, Fray Hector for the Novitiate and Fray Miguel for the Professed.
The second and third days tackled the concern on the Common Month of Preparation of the entire Order. The deliberations revolved around the pros and cons of its realization and how to carry this out since it is already a mandate of the General Chapter. One of the highlighted difficulties is language barrier. Recommendations were made which would form part of the agenda for the meeting of the General Council with the Priors Provincial of each Province in Spain on November. On the same day, the guidelines for the time of community and pastoral insertion were defined to pave the way for a unified direction of the program. Some points were clarified in order to shed light to some gray areas especially in the accompaniment and evaluation of those who are its recipients.
With all the procedures set, the topic on the formation of formators ensued. Suggestions for the three-week meeting of formators of the Order came up. This time, it will not simply be pure encounter for talks and conferences, but a continuous and ongoing personalized formation that will extend to some years with corresponding credits from one of the Universities of the Order, like the Uniagustiniana in Colombia or in other Universities in the Philippines. They are required to experience themselves the process of accompaniment and transmit this same encounter to the formands once they return home to their respective posts/assignments. Fray Antonio Carron presented how the pedagogical aspects of this program be carried out with the offering of courses online for a specific time duration. He volunteered himself to be the moderator of this online course. After meeting a consensus on the contents and processes of this method of accompaniment for formators, Fray Javier presented the statutes of the General Secretariat of Formation for modifications, clarifications and comments.
Conclusion of the Meeting
The meeting was concluded on October 12, 2017, a day earlier than the scheduled date. The results of the meeting together with the suggestions and proposals were presented by Fray Javier to Fray Miguel Miro for considerations and approval. However, due to the complexities of some areas of concerns, Fray Miguel Miro purported that all these matters be taken up during the gathering of the Priors Provincial and the General Council in Spain on November 28, 2017. Fray Javier concluded the sessions with the review of the topics that were discussed during the previous days, and reminded each member about the deadline of the completion of assignments which will be on or before November 16, 2017, the same date when the members of the commission on initial formation will do the telephone conference via skype or messenger for updating.