The formation website is a resource for Oblate formators and Oblates in formation. It was created by Fr. Lewis S. Fiorelli OSFS and Fr. Kenneth McKenna OSFS in December 2010. Revisions were made in 2015 and 2020.
Origins of the Formation Coordinator
The origins of the General Formation Coordinator go back to the directive from the General Chapter of 2006 to "compile and formulate common guidelines for formation in Oblate spirituality" and the meeting of major superiors in 2007 which focused on formation. Then as now there were efforts in every province and region to offer effective formation, but the meeting also recognized there were striking differences, and an effort was made to reach greater common ground in formation throughout the congregation.
As a result of these meetings, Fr. Fiorelli was named the first formation coordinator and tasked with convening a congregational workshop. Following the workshop on the Oblate novitiate in 2010, he authored a document which captured the "Essential Salesian Components of the Oblate Novitiate," which was approved by the Superior General and his council. In 2016 another workshop presented videos and study guides on the Treatise on the Love of God. The principal purpose of this workshop was to assist Oblate formators in their accompaniment of men in formation as they study this major spiritual writing of our patron. The materials from both workshops remain available on this site and I trust is being utilized in the formation process.
Directives of the Church
We also need to respond to the directives of the Church. In March of 1992, St. John Paul II issued Pastores Dabo Vobis which spoke of the four essential pillars of formation: Human, Spiritual, Pastoral and Intellectual. In 2016 the Congregation for Clergy issued an update of that document called "The Gift of Priestly Formation." Once again it stressed these four essential elements of formation with renewed emphasis on human and spiritual development together with the critical process of discernment on the part of the aspiring religious throughout his formation process. The 2016 document draws on the teachings of Pope Francis with respect to formation. (Both documents can be found online.)
I invite us to a common reflection on this process of formation giving emphasis to the four pillars of formation as well as the process of discernment. All Oblate formators should have a thorough understanding of these documents. The Superior General and his council ask that formation evaluations reflect the growth of individual Oblates in formation in each of the four dimensions: Human, Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral. I am writing a series of reflections on the four dimensions which have and will appear in Generalate newsletters and on this website.
Since 2007 much has been accomplished. In some instances, formation programs have become joint ventures. As of 2020, we currently have 14 Oblates of St. Francis de Sales responsible for the ministry of formation throughout the congregation and six confreres involved in the ministry of vocation director. I have received the formation program for each unit, and I thank the confreres for their generous response to my request for an updated list of formation personnel and for the formation documents. The updated list of formators can be found on this website.
In my capacity as the General Formation Coordinator, I want to facilitate a thoughtful exchange concerning formation in our units. I encourage all formation personnel to engage in ongoing training for their ministry.
I intend over the next several years to visit all of our houses of formation. I visited the houses of formation in India in March of 2020, but because of the pandemic I will need to reschedule my visits to the houses of formation in the French-West African Province which were due to take place in the fall of 2020.
I am writing a series of reflections the Four Dimensions of Formation which will appearing upcoming editions of the Generalate News Letter and on this website. The reflection on the Human Dimension of Formation is already posted.
I want to thank our formators for all that you are doing for our confreres in formation. Your ministry is critical to the ongoing growth and health of our congregation. May all of us continue in our efforts to Live Jesus and may we be a bridge to others who seek Jesus Christ.
Fraternally yours, Frank Danella, OSFS General Formation Coordinator