Rome (Italy) From February 17 to May 29, 2020, the Permanent Formation Course for Vocation Formators of Consecrated Life, Diocesan Clergy, and Community Animators was held at the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) in Rome, promoted by the Formation Department of the Salesian Congregation, in collaboration with the Institute of Vocation Pedagogy of the Faculty of Educational Sciences of the UPS.
The aim of the course is to offer an opportunity for spiritual and pedagogical renewal for formators who “have as their main mission that of transmitting to the people entrusted to them the beauty of following the Lord” (CIVCSVA “For new wine in new wineskins. From Vatican Council Consecrated Life and challenges still open.” GUIDELINES, 16).
There were 65 participants from 31 female and male religious congregations, and 2 diocesan congregations from 34 countries of five continents. Of the Salesian Congregation, there were 3 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and 16 Salesians of Don Bosco.
The Director of the Course, Fr. Carlo Maria Zanotti, SDB, explained that the image accompanying the Formators along the way is that of a tightrope walker walking on a suspended rope: “The image of balance helps us understand that the formation path is a path towards stability, understood as a constant search for it, through the care of our emotions and sensitivities.”
The formation proposal is divided into five closely linked dimensions so as to allow a relaunching of Consecrated and Priestly Life in its essential and vital aspects: spiritual, biblical/theological, anthropological (psycho-sociological-cultural), ecclesial/charismatic, and pedagogical/ experiential.
One of the participants, Sister Marie Marthe Ekengbi Ndong, FMA of the Equatorial Africa Province M. Domenica Mazzarello (AEC), underlined that “one of the fundamental aspects of the journey was accompaniment: only when you feel accompanied, can you accompany a formandee in following Christ, to gradually acquire His same sentiments”.
After an initial time of presence at UPS, with the lockdown due to the Covid-19 Pandemic that led to the early return of some participants to the countries of origin – the journey continued online through an education platform.
The emergency situation prevented the implementation of some experiences that characterize and integrate the Formation Course: the week of residential living, the pilgrimage to Assisi, and visits to some formation and monastic communities.
In spite of this, the participants retained their motivation and spirit of adaptation to this unprecedented reality. Through the use of technology, everyone was able to complete their journey, reaching the objectives.