International Formation Meetings Urge Collaboration

HNP Communications Friar News

Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, the Province’s secretary for formation and studies, recently traveled to Italy and Ireland to participate in a series of meetings regarding formation. In this article, he summarizes the discussions that took place during last month’s international congress and English-speaking Conference meetings.

NEW YORK — Last month, as Secretary of Formation for our Province, I was called to participate in the International Congress of the General Secretariat of Formation and Studies in Italy. On Sept. 8, all the Secretaries of Formation from around the world — approximately 85 delegates in all — converged on the Domus Pacis in Assisi, the large pilgrimage and conference center adjacent to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels (the Portiuncula).

This Congress, the first of its kind in about a dozen years, was called in response to a directive of the General Chapter of 2009. It followed up on a series of Continental Congresses of Formators held between 2010 and 2012 that reviewed how the Order’s Ratio (or Plan) for Formation was being applied in different cultural and social settings. What are the challenges we face? Our own Congress for the English-speaking Conference was held in Colorado Springs last August.

The theme of this International Congress was “accompaniment” — how best for formators to walk with men who are joining our brotherhood, as they attempt to make their own the foundational values of our Franciscan way of life. The Congress itself was organized in a typical fashion for Roman meetings over the span of two weeks: talks by various experts on various aspects of accompaniment and discussion in small language groups, with secretaries reporting the results of these group discussions back to the full assembly. I was asked to serve as one of the moderators of the Congress. At the end, some draft conclusions were reached, which a commission will work into a formal document.

Discussions were organized according to the three official languages of the Order: Italian, Spanish, and English, with two groups for each language. My own English group, for example, included friars from England, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Slovenia, and Tanzania, in addition to three of us from the United States. It was tremendously enriching to get to know these men and the unique challenges the work of formation faces in each of their countries.

Other than our work — which kept us busy — two other aspects on the Congress were the real highlights for me. First, the opportunity to return to Assisi once again and drink in the spirit of our Franciscan holy places: liturgical celebrations at the basilicas of San Francesco and Santa Chiara, the Portiuncula itself, and a day trip to Mount La Verna on the Feast of the Holy Cross. But even more important was the first-hand experience of our Order as an international and multicultural brotherhood.

When we departed from Assisi on Sept. 22, the Formation Secretaries of the English-speaking Conference, reassembled for a follow-up meeting in Ireland, where we could have the time to discuss at length some of the issues facing us. The Province of Ireland graciously arranged for us to gather at All Hallows College in Dublin, where we met on Sept. 23 and 24.

We examined especially greater opportunities for deeper collaboration among our provinces in a number of formation endeavors, and made a number of proposals for the consideration of the provincial ministers of the English-speaking Conference, meeting this week in San Diego, Calif. We ended our time in Dublin with a “free-day” tour of the city on Sept. 25, again hosted by the Irish friars.

 Fr. Dominic has served as Provincial Vicar of Holy Name Province since 2005.

Editor’s note: Photos of last month’s congress in Assisi can be found on the website of the Order of Friars Minor.