Our presence becomes effective and witnessing when we are fully involved in the respective area of our apostolate and bring about the Kingdom values of Love, Peace and Justice to the people whom we serve. Molding the society in that dimension is challenging.We aim at getting more and more vocations to carry out this mission of Jesus entrusted to us through our Foundress.
Formation Program of Nirmala Province
Formation is the process of our growing into the image of Christ. It is what we do—and what God does—to conform our lives, inwardly and outwardly, to the life of Jesus. It involves a change in character. It includes the whole person – the renewing of our minds, the restoring of our affections, the maturing of our faith, the healing of our souls, and the adoption of a new way of living, thinking, feeling, giving and receiving. Formation could be a term for those processes through which people are inwardly transformed in such a way that the personality and deeds of Jesus Christ naturally flow out from them as they are being shaped by the Spirit into the likeness of Christ, filled with love for God and the world. In other words, it can be understood as the process by which true Christlikeness is established in the very depths of our being. It is the process through which Christ is formed in you and me.
Formation begins with grace. It is first of all—and last of all—something that God does for us, and in us, through the Holy Spirit. It is being formed, transformed in such a way that its natural expression comes to be the deeds of Christ done in the power of Christ. We know, as Jesus says, “Without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). It is the initiative of God and the presence of God without which all of our efforts are in vain. We need to understand as well as we can what is our part and what is God’s part, and take care of our part that God may be able to work with us in bringing us to be the kinds of people that we need to be and he wants us to be.
Religious formation has to be based firmly on our experience of God in Jesus Christ. This experience alone will lead to the inner freedom and detachment so necessary to respond authentically to challenging situations. Today formation needs to be continually recreated and rediscovered in every historical context especially in an era like ours marked by rapid and profound changes. Hence formation in the changing context must be open to the action of the Holy Spirit who is present in every human situation and it must be centered on the Gospel. Today to form is to help the formee discover the ways and means to arrive at authenticity and depth of life, to actualize the plan God has for her. No doubt, the formation model has to be adapted to the actual situation.
According to the Directives on Formation in Religious Institutes, ‘the renewal of religious life depends primarily on the formation of its members’. Our vocation is prophetic by its very nature; hence our formation programme focuses to prepare our young women to be prophetic leaders of tomorrow pointing the way to Jesus. In reality formation has always been considered instrumental in the long process of preparation for consecrated life and the offering of the self to God and it has its icon as Christ offers himself out of love for the Father to his brothers and sisters in the kenosis of his passion. The one in formation must progressively identify with this attitude of Christ (Phil. 2:5). Thus becoming conformed to Christ leads the one being formed to take on ever more profoundly the very mind and heart of the Son to share in his total self-offering to the Father and to his brothers and sisters. So the formation cannot be considered a mere human action but must be thought of as divine and Trinitarian. God the Father is the formator, and “the activity of the Father through the Spirit molds the hearts of persons in formation according to the mind of the Son”.
Conscious of the demands of a life of consecration, we are to understand the vital role of the formation period, especially that of the initial formation. The entire period of formation is to help the formee for a life of consecration which is a choice in total freedom. There is the necessity of planning out the formation programme which will help the person to become totally free and to take her own decision for God and for His people within the setup of the Congregation. Formation today must deepen in us the awareness that only a life of witnessing can speak to the people of our time. Today more than ever, religious life should present itself as credible to the people.
Women today are called upon to make her presence more significant in the Church. Called by God to participate in the mission of the Church, Nirmala Province seeks in a constant attitude of faith, to discover and fulfill the plan of salvation. The programme of formation draws its inspiration and criteria from the Word of God, from the Directives of the Church and from the Charism of the Congregation with due attention to the person in her total reality of the present.
The call of the Ursuline centers on the Mystery and contemplation of the Crucified Saviour and implies for those called to it, a specific way of participating in and reliving this Mystery of our salvation.
Although we live in a cultural context quite different from that of our Foundress, her charism and spirit guide and influence us, above all by the example of her life. We need creativity, originality and spontaneity in our apostolic formation in order to make her spirit and charism dynamic and relevant.
In candidacy main stress is given to character formation. Candidates are taught to pray which helps them to deepen their faith and grow in their spiritual life. They are introduced to Scripture and the life and spirituality of the Foundress. We follow the candidates, helping them to arrive at that degree of human and spiritual and intellectual maturity that permits her to respond to her vocation with freedom and responsibility.