Sr. Paula Drass will facilitate the novice directors support groupOne of the Vision Statements of the Unified Vision for Life Long Formation, the guiding document for the work that the US Federation provides, is that it “Supports formation ministers with a structure that provides direction, resources and best practice standards.”  Beginning next month a new service is being provided to novice directors actively working with a novice.  Sr. Paula Drass (Baden) will offer an online support group for Sisters of St Joseph who are novice directors so that they have a safeplace to discuss their work and learn from each other. 

Evaluation is a major component of the Unified Vision and the suggestion to offer these support groups came from the mid-year evaluation of the US Federation Novitiate.  This new service fills a need for many of the novice directors who are directing novices for the first time and sometimes in a congregation that has not had a novice for a while.  Federation best practices suggest that all formation personnel attend formal preparatory training for their role and obtain professional consultation.  This less formal peer support seems to be an added support that novice directors desire to have available.

All the novice directors have access to the Life Long Formation’s best practice handbook, Initial Formation for Sisters, which will receive its first revision by November 2018.  It will contain several new articles that are being commissioned including living in multi-cultural communities, helping candidates and congregations discern the call to religious life in our congregations, and a reflection on the theology of religious life and the theological preparation that newer members need.  We will also have on article on the evolution of Social Justice as an essential component of religious life.

Sr Mary Alice

Support for Member Congregations is also an important aspect of the Unified Vision for Life Long Formation.  Programs to prepare local communities for their participation with newer members need to be developed. These programs would be geared to formators, local communities where newer members might live and to elected leaders who hold responsibility for formation programs. Some programs will be online, and some will be offered at certain sites on a regular schedule, where mentoring and onsite support can be provided. This year, three programs will be offered for those novices in their non-canonical year and also be open to their novice director and local living community.

Also, a new subcommittee of the Life Long Formation Committee will develop tools, workshops, mentoring and consultation for communities so they can develop vital places for new members to live, places that are prepared and sensitive to the needs of those under 50 years of age and of different cultures.  The outline for these programs and materials will be developed by November 2018 and implemented in 2019.

With our clear and unified vision, we move forward with programs and resources to support those in initial formation.  Click here to read more about our ongoing formation efforts.