When listening to my podcast conversation with Jack Peterson, the founder of Managing for Mission, about the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education 2002 document Consecrated Persons and Their Mission in Schools the one recurring them was formation. This podcast is part of a series of Church documents podcasts on Catholic School Matters.
First, I think it’s important to recognize that Consecrated Persons is less for consecrated persons (priests, sisters, and brothers) and more about consecrated persons. How were they formed? What is the value of their witness? The bishops call them (through their vocations) “to be experts of communion, to promote human and spiritual bonds that promote the mutual exchange of gifts between all the members of the people of God” (paragraph 16). This communion is centered in their lived community life and in the sacrifices they make. But it’s also found in the deliberate and intentional formation program. Lay leaders can learn from this process.
A school forms when it offers a precise proposal for fulfilling those desires, preventing them from being deformed, or only partially or weakly achieved. With the testimony of their lives consecrated persons, who are at the school of the Lord, propose that form of existence which is inspired by Christ, so that even a young person may live the freedom of being a child of God and may experience the true joy and authentic fulfillment that spring from the project of the Father (19).
The true value of consecrated persons in schools is not the free labor. It’s the example of formation and witness. “Consecrated persons are thus leaven that is able to create relations of increasingly deep communion that are in themselves educational” (41). I suppose I’m preaching to the choir here. Who’s opposed to more consecrated persons in our schools? What do we do with this?
The bishops propose “formation itineraries” for schools. This challenges school leaders to think about faith formation as more than an annual retreat or “one and done” type of professional development. Peterson pointed out that he challenges schools to develop scope and sequence for their faith formation programs. What are you hoping to accomplish? This is the one of the reasons I liked Jonathan Doyle’s “Going Deeper” online program—its weekly videos were consistent and followed a program.