Formation: a two-stage process
Being a member of a religious Order is all about ‘formation’ since ‘metamorphosis’ [a change of form] is the express purpose of the call of the Holy Spirit. We can rightly speak of formation in the OFS as a two-stage process, Initial and Ongoing – the former, the length of which is defined by National Statutes, leads to Profession; the latter, is life-long.
- Initial Formation is itself in two parts. Having attended fraternity meetings for at least six months, the “Visitor”, who senses a call to the OFS, with the agreement of the fraternity, is Welcomed as an “Enquirer”, and embarks on the approved course of formation giving an introduction to our way of life – including our beginnings, the Rule, the importance of prayer, the bible, and the meaning of secularity. Where a genuine vocation to the OFS is discerned, the Enquirer may then be
- Admitted as a “Candidate” for Profession. Initial Formation continues with a much deeper formation programme, including further study of the Rule, vocation, our history, and distinctive Franciscan theology.
Formation is about undergoing a change in form – a “metamorphosis”
Formation is not just ‘training’, ‘education’, ‘acquisition of knowledge & skills’ – important as all these are in both life and the Christian life. Formation in religious life is about undergoing a change in form. For us as members of the OFS it is by study, and sharing the Franciscan charism with the rest of Francis’ family, that we experience ‘metamorphosis’ – in the form of Christ in the footprints of St Francis of Assisi.