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South Asian Formation Commission Meets at Odxel, Goa

By Castilino
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Hyderabad, Sep. 11. The South Asian Formation Commission (SAFC), met for its first annual meeting of the academic year 2011-2012 at the Provincial house of Panjim Province, Odxel.  Animated by Fr Francesco Cereda, General Councillor for Formation, Fr Chrys Saldanha from the department of Formation, Rome, and Fr Loddy Pires, the national coordinator of SAFC, the four day meeting commenced on September 10, 2012. Among the many concerns and matters related to formation, the gathering will focus on specifics of intellectual formation, the Salesian Brother, formation with the laity, and an assessment of the six-year plan for the region.  
The first session of the meeting began on a very delicate note discussing the departures from the congregation and the region specifically.  Based on the statistics at hand and the evaluation of each Province, the group tried to pin-point some of the key issues leading to the young people leaving the congregation.  In an attempt to counter this phenomenon, it was stressed among the proposals made, that candidates needed to be accompanied in personalising the formation process, and that the family background ought to be taken into account while recruiting and in the process as well.  Moreover, formation communities ought to offer an experience to our formees and not serve as mere settings, added Fr Cereda.  He also challenged the members to introspect as to whether our large numbers made us complacent about the increasing number of departures and not pay attention to the seriousness of the issue at hand.  

The revised document on the intellectual formation at the various levels was taken up in the evening session for discussion in groups. At the pre-novitiate level, a test at the end and preferably mid-way through the year was recommended to study their intellectual ability, rather than one at the beginning of the post-novitiate.  The need to qualify staff especially in the field of psychology, for better accompaniment of the young was also felt.  

In the novitiate, certain sections of the books by Fr Arthur Lenti were recommended as valuable complements to the Memoirs of the Oratory.  Furthermore the revised document lays greater emphasis on workshops involving the novices rather than long lectures in the form of courses.  

Speaking of our post-novitiates, and clarifying the consequences of juridical association of our post-novitiate centres with the Salesian University in Rome, UPS, Fr Cereda stated that it ensured a minimum of two years of study whereby a confrere would obtain a Pontifical certificate and subsequently be eligible to teach in the future.

There was also a concern expressed with regard to the inclusion of Latin in the post-novitiate level and the lack of sufficient space for local studies (languages and Philosophical trends).

It was quite a sight to see the meeting proceed paperless with each one the 17 participants effectively using only their computers to read, study and discuss the various documents and reports.  The warm hospitality of the Panjim province amidst the lush green and scenic beauty of Odxel house in Goa, certainly adds to the conducive ambiance.  

The days ahead will witness the group discuss matters related to formation to affective maturity, motivation to study, and personal accompaniment.
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