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The First Week of the Current Formators Program

22/05/2018: General House
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Seventeen Brothers from fourteen different countries have arrived at the General House in Rome for the Current Formators Program. Welcoming us at the airport were two members of the Escorial team, Br Antonio Peralta and Br Joaquim Sperandio. Two others leading our program include Br Tony Leon, from the Secretariat of Brothers Today, and Br Teofilo Minga, from Manziana.

On Tuesday May 15, the program started with a “bingo formator” game conducted by Br Tony, as a way for us to get to know each other better. Following that, a prayer and reflection helped us focus on the question “what do I thirst for?” - a powerful question for us to reflect on at the beginning of the program.

The image of the Roman arch was introduced, following on from the third call of the General Chapter, for us to be bridge builders. Each stone in the arch must be cut and shaped to take its place, and the keystone helps the whole system to stand firm after the supportive wooden scaffold is taken away.

There are different elements or ‘stones’ that will contribute to building our arch, our program, over these nine weeks. The arch image, with Jesus as the keystone, can also help us to understand various aspects of our role as Formators. For example, we are called to help construct sound formation programs, so that when we remove the “wooden scaffolding”, the support for our young men at post-novitiate stage 2 level, the vocation and sense of belonging and direction for the young Brother will still be solid stones in his life.

On Wednesday, May 16, the programme continued with the topic of listening. Br Tony explained to us the meaning of listening by using the Chinese symbol for writing, which is composed of images of listening with one’s ears, eyes, heart, and whole being. The symbol gives a sense of listening fully and deeply.

The themes of identity and mission were then highlighted, with the questions: “Who does God want me to be?”, and “What does God want me to do?” After some reflection we were invited into some “circle sharing” where we were invited to listen to each other attentively. Before ending the second day Br Joaquim introduced to us to the program outline.

For the next two days – Thursday, May 17 and Friday, May 18 – we were blessed to welcome Sr Guadalupe from Spain, our speaker on the topic of accompaniment, a deeply important part of our ministry as Formators.

The week concluded with a group outing into Rome for an orientation to the old city, to visit the Champagnat statue at St Peter’s, to share lunch together, and to attend our Pentecost Eucharist at Santa Maria de Trastevere – a fitting feast for us to celebrate, as we strive to build supportive community over these days of growth and learning together!

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Br. Anton Cong

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