Community Surveys and Modern Formation

Message of the Provincial 09.09.21

Dear Confreres,

Back in July, Fr. Dominic forwarded several emails about the revision of the ratio to all the directors. I’d like to offer a few comments about this massive project of the Congregation and emphasize the importance of our participation in this process.

Every confrere is invited to be part of the revision of the ratio. A series of questionnaires have been developed to seek your input. There are four questionnaires for the confreres to complete on their own (You don’t have to do all four). There are two questionnaires for the SDB community; you choose one. There is also another survey that involves the lay leaders, individual lay colleagues, and individuals in the area who are not part of the EPC.

Here are links to the surveys for the confreres:

Blue Individual English

Red Individual English

Green Individual English

Yellow Individual English

The director can print out the questionnaire for confreres who do not feel comfortable using the computer. It would be great if everyone could complete at least two of these surveys.

This past Monday, the questionnaires for the SDB communities and lay colleagues were sent again by email to the directors and SDB community leaders, who can help the directors find ways to complete them. The deadline for all the surveys is Thursday, September 30, which is only three weeks away!

The SDBs in New Rochelle completed one of the community surveys together during our orientation days. It took us about a half-hour. The questions stimulated some very interesting discussions about formation. The confreres recalled their own experiences of formation, as well as some personal observations about formation today. From this experience, I would like to offer four brief comments:

  • I hope all the confreres, SDB communities, and educative pastoral communities fill out the surveys. They can be the basis for some interesting discussion among the confreres and with our colleagues.
  • I thank all the confreres who were involved in updating the formation section of the province handbook and the province formation plan three years ago. Fr. Dominic Tran will work with the formation commission to ensure our handbook and plan are up to date in preparation for the provincial chapter in July 2022.

In our discussions in New Rochelle, I saw how important it is for the confreres to stay in touch with our men in initial formation and visit the houses of initial formation. Although we can recall Goshen and Newton with nostalgia, it would be better if we know the reality of initial formation today. I encourage all the confreres to visit the houses with the different phases of initial formation and to also invite the men in initial formation to visit your community. The Labor Day cookout in Orange was a great opportunity to know the present reality of initial formation.

We cannot forget the value of lifelong formation if we seek to live our Salesian vocation with ever-renewed vigor. For the ongoing formation plan in each community, I have asked the directors to schedule at least four sessions with the SDBs on the new book, Ministry of the Salesian Director, and at least two sessions on this topic with the local lay leadership. (The resources developed in Rome for this study are available here. Please let me know if you have any difficulty accessing them, and I can send them to you by email.) Also, I ask each community to incorporate the Letter of Fr. Alfred Maravilla on the Salesian Missionary Vocation and some study of the new books on meditation into their ongoing formation.

God bless you all,

Fr. Tim Zak

September 9, 2021 - 8:00am

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