Fr. Francesco CEREDA
General Councillor for Formation
In our Congregation interprovincial collaboration for initial formation is an interesting and promising phenomenon. In fact there are quite a number of formation communities and study centres in which formation is carried out with the cooperation of several Provinces, each making their contribution by sending formation personnel, teachers and young men in formation. In addition there are other interprovincial initiatives: preparation for perpetual profession, retreats for deacons, meetings for those in practical training. Finally there is a more recent form of collaboration, which involves the setting up of formation communities for the specific formation of Salesian Brothers.
Ongoing formation is also a fertile soil for interprovincial collaboration. There are a large number of different kinds of links, various levels of service, aimed at different groups. There are occasional meetings, periodic initiatives, structured programmes. At regional level there are on offer updating courses, seminars, materials to aid animation. Meetings are held for Provincial Formation Delegates, for formation personnel and various groups of confreres, especially Rectors, Salesian Brothers, Salesians both Priests and Brothers in their quinquennium years.
The Ratio is aware of the inability of the Provinces to carry out on their own all their formation responsibilities and recognises their need for mutual assistance; because of this it recommends strong and courageous decisions for collaboration between Provinces (FSDB 230). These notes are intended to examine more closely and focus on practical decisions, with regard to initial formation only; they are meant to draw out the reasons that may encourage the practice of interprovincial collaboration, identifying some questions, pointing out the priority areas for attention and proposing some requirements for their implementation.
1. Reasons for collaboration
Today it is difficult for one Province on its own to be able to cater for all or almost all of the stages of initial formation. It sometimes happens that in order to have a provincial solution considerable sacrifices are made with only partial results and some doubtful choices. It is therefore necessary to think about the reasons that might help in determining a decision based on conviction for interprovincial collaboration which cannot be a forced choice or just a lesser evil; in fact it is an opportunity to be weighed up even though it may be a challenge that has to be faced.
1.1. Experience of the charismatic identity
Initial formation is an experience of charismatic identity; it is a process of identification with the vocation; it is the gradual, responsible, and total assumption of the obligations that derive from it. The fundamental criterion that should guide us in the choices we make regarding formation is that of offering our candidates and young confreres experiences of the Salesian vocation that are valid, attractive and absorbing. We ought to pride ourselves on offering them meaningful experiences that provide the best formation conditions so that they can follow a good human, spiritual, intellectual and apostolic process. The Congregation has many examples of experiences and formation resources to offer young men. The formation choices that are made require a discernment process attentive to the charismatic quality of the experience offered. The charismatic criterion is the foundation of every formation decision and therefore also of the decision in favour of interprovincial collaboration.
1.2. Constitution of the formation community
During initial formation the one in formation learns by experience the meaning of the Salesian vocation (Con. 98). Now the community is one of the fundamental values. Every Salesian community is a setting for formation; but for initial formation the Congregation wants a community with special features: a formation community (FSDB 222). Special attention needs to be given to this kind of community, so that the conditions for a meaningful experience may be assured.
To carry out its tasks adequately, the formation community needs to be constituted of the right quality and number of members. If the community has too few people in formation there are certain limitations: the experience of living together and of constant give and take are weakened; relationships are limited; community activities such as discussions, sport, theatre, music, apostolates are restricted. If then the formation personnel are insufficient in number, their formation influence is generally diminished, since there is a lack of personal interaction and interpersonal relationships, of animation and encouragement, accompaniment and guidance.
In this regard the Instruction on formation in Religious Institutes Potissimum Istitutioni quotes an expression of John Paul II, who says: It will therefore be good that the young, during the period of formation, reside in formative communities where there should be no lack of the conditions required for a complete formation: spiritual, intellectual, cultural, liturgical, communitarian, and pastoral; conditions which are rarely found together in small communities. It is therefore always indispensable to keep drawing from the pedagogical experience of the Church all that can assist and enrich formation, in a community suitable to the individuals and to their religious vocation. 
The Ratio recognises the weakness of some formation communities and recommends collaboration between Provinces: In more than one situation the conditions for ensuring the consistency of formation centres in terms of quality and numbers are such that it is not easy for a single Province all by itself to meet them. In such cases, it is desirable that a few Provinces, especially if they belong to the same cultural context, pool their resources to set up interprovincial formation structures (FSDB 300). More specifically, considering the weakness of the formation, which is one of the criteria for the setting up of a formation community, it states that it is necessary in some situations to make strong and courageous decisions for collaboration between Provinces. (FSDB 230).
It would be as well therefore that as far as possible the Provinces avoid setting up or maintaining formation communities with a small number of confreres in formation and few formation personnel. By preference they should combine with other Provinces in an interprovincial collaboration so that together they might be in the position to provide the formation that alone they could not offer the young confreres.
1.3. Quality of the study centre
In a complex and pluralistic society one needs to have an open and critical mentality capable of discernment and dialogue. The choice for Salesian life needs to have a profound Christian cultural background, that helps a convinced faith and a motivated vocational experience to mature. Education and evangelisation, in particular the dialogue between faith and culture, demand a knowledge of the world of youth, a pastoral mentality, pedagogical competence, and a professional approach. Providing guidance for the adults involved in our mission requires the basis of a well-recognised competence. Today therefore there is an indispensable need for a solid and up-to-date intellectual formation based on serious study, one that develops the ability to reflect, to make judgements and to be discerning in the face of situations. (FSDB 124).
The quality of intellectual formation therefore is a matter of some urgency. This means having sound programmes of study, with an emphasis on pastoral development; uptodate methods of teaching and of study which foster reflection and involvement; a well prepared group of teachers who are able to relate well to the student confreres. A commitment to give a Salesian slant to intellectual formation is also demanded; and this requires a Salesian sensitivity in the way topics are dealt with (cf. FSDB 160), the choice of subjects which deal with our pastoral work (Reg. 82), the study of specifically Salesian subjects (FSDB 160).
For this reason the Congregation has decided in ordinary circumstances on the choice of a Salesian study centre: Among the different kinds of study centres, preference is to be given to the Salesian centre which offers a programme of studies with a Salesian slant and a particular pastoral and pedagogical character, and favours a blending of intellectual formation with an overall formation plan and a special relationship of Salesian students with their teachers; (FSDB 145). There follows an explicit invitation: the Salesian centre is ordinarily to be preferred (FSDB 168).
The Regulations require that the provinces able to do so should have their own study centre for the formation of the confreres (Reg. 84). A Salesian study centre is a heavy burden for a Province; Collaboration among the Provinces is therefore advisable and oftentimes necessary. (FSDB 146). In fact for the proper functioning of a study centre they have to be solicitous in the first place for its teaching staff, and therefore its academic structural organization as well as the preparation, permanence, rational deployment and necessary replacement of the personnel, teachers to be qualified in those subjects that give the centre a Salesian complexion. (FSDB 146). For this reason the Ratio says: There should be a determined and serious collaboration on the interprovincial level in establishing Salesian study centres (FSDB 171).
It would be well therefore that the Provinces, as far as possible, try to establish their own study centre or combine with other Provinces in the same context, in which there is already a Salesian study centre or with whom to set up a new one. Only when it proves impossible to frequent a Salesian study centre, even at interprovincial level (FSDB 178), can there then be other solutions, but it must be a case of a real impossibility.
2. Questions about collaboration
In addition to these positive considerations, which would encourage a positive view of interprovincial collaboration, one also finds some hesitation about its value. In fact there are Provinces which sometimes have doubts about collaboration in formation. For this reason it is important to consider the questions that arise about interprovincial collaboration especially those connected with contextualisation, inculturation, anad intercongregational collaboration in formation.
2.1. Contextualisation of formation
Formation is something that is contextualised. In fact it takes place in a particular context, which is determined by a number of factors: the social condition of the area, the culture and life style of the people, the situation of the Church, Provincial practice. The context with its advantages or disadvantages has a considerable inpact and influence on the formation process.
Our Constitutions require of each Province through the various organs of animation and government to lay down the method of formation according to the needs of its own cultural context (Cost. 101). The Ratio adds that this responsibility requires a permanent attitude of reflection and dialogue between Salesian identity and the cultural context. Collaboration in this field is to be encouraged among Provinces that are in similar circumstances. (FSDB 17)
Now then, when a choice is made for an interprovincial formation community, sometimes doubts arise about there being possible neglect in paying attention to the context; it is thought that those in formation may find themselves in a situation which will not help them to mature, given that they are being placed in a context different to that of the Province. The idea of formation in context is correct but it needs to be explained further.
Nowadays we are aware that formation cannot be limited simply to the context of the province, but must have wider horizons. The local and immediate context in fact is not the only one in which we live. Often within a province there are many contexts with considerable differences. Again, we belong at one and the same time to a plurality of contexts. For example, we live in the context of the local Salesian community, but also that of the provincial community and of the world-wide community; we are located in a particular area but also in that of the wider region, of the country, of the continent, of the world; we are part of a parish, but also a particular Church, of a Conference and of the universal Church. Very often we also live in plural contexts in which there are marked differences, as for example the pluricultural, multiethnic, interreligious contexts. Globalisation and immigration are certainly processes that produce a mixing pot of contexts.
Yet in the variety of contexts, practising discernment, we can still find homogeneous contexts. If we compare two contexts we find similarities and differences, with positive aspects to be embraced and negative ones to be purified. Again contexts are not static but evolving. It is therefore possible to find a homogeneous context in a group of Provinces in the same country or Conference or Region. Today, for example it could be said Europe is in the process of becoming ever more homogeneous as a context; analogous situations can be found in other Regions of the Congregation.
In an interprovincial formation community therefore, especially when it forms part of the same Conference or Region, contextualisation is not ignored. At the same time, the interprovincial community provides those in formation with the experience of different situations, creating openings for minds and hearts. It fosters the ability to fit into different circumstances through its openness to the outside, through an analysis of the situation, discernment, a response to needs. Certainly the process needs to unfold gradually.
2.2. Inculturation of formation
Inculturation in initial formation is a process of personalisation; it occurs when the values of the vocation are assumed first of all into the culture of the one in formation, in such a way that he changes his way of thinking, his attitudes, his way of life, his behaviour. In this sense formation always needs to be inculturated; in fact without a personal identification with the charismatic values there is no formation. To facilitate this process, generally the first formation takes place in the cultural context of the one in formation or in a similar one.
On the other hand inculturation in initial formation is a community process, one could say a process of socialisation, in which the charism is expressed in a particular culture. The formation community is the principal subject which begins, accompanies and assesses the process. For this reason the community needs to have a knowledge, an understanding and an experience of the charism; it is necessary that it knows its history, its identity, its expressions. In addition the community needs to know the culture of the context and the way of thinking of those in formation, so that they may be helped to assume the charismatic values in their own culture. Therefore it is a community that communicates, interprets and expresses the charism in a particular culture and in a specific context.
Besides this, inculturation always needs to be accompanied by a process of intercultural experience. This opens the one in formation to other cultures, leads him to appreciate their positive aspects and to recognise their limitations, brings him to value his own culture without making it an absolute value, and therefore invites him to assimilate and to integrate some valid elements of the other cultures with his own. This dialogue or exchange between cultures is an enriching experience which complements the process of inculturation. The interprovincial communities are open to a wider vision of the Salesian charism; they help to form the sense of belonging to the Congregation, attention to the needs of the young people of the world, a global vision of the urgent need for evangelisation, which are things that go beyond the horizons of the province.
The processes of inculturation and intercultural experience in initial formation are strictly connected to the charism, at the service of which they take their place. Ordinarily in the first phases of formation, until the postnovitiate practical training, we need to pay great attention to the processes of inculturation, that is to the transformation of the culture of the one in formation. This requires a knowledge of the person, closeness, continuity in formation, accompaniment in the processes of change. Starting from the phase of specific formation, we need to pay more attention to the processes of intercultural experience. In this stage those in formation will be seen to have reached a certain degree of maturity in culture and faith and to possess an adequate openness and critical sense; they are therefore able to cope positively with it.
2.3. Intercongregational collaboration in formation
In todays world of communion and collaboration among Institutes of religious life, some Provinces ask themselves whether it would not be better to attend intercongregational study centres. This would help in having a knowledge of other charisms and foster a pastoral approach of togetherness in the Church. The Instruction of the Congregation for Consecrated Life, entitled Inter-Institute collaboration for formation, has gone into the question of the situation regarding collaboration in the area of formation.
The Instruction states that every institute has a primary responsibility for its own identity and that it is in the process of formation that the charismatic identity is acquired; for this reason the first responsibility for the formation of religious belongs by law to each institute  . In addition it says that The formation community is a primary point of reference for which no intercongregational centre can substitute.  This means that in study centres in which we collaborate with other religious Institutes as for example in Belo Horizonte, Caracas, Melbourne, Nairobi the formation community assumes the taxing responsibility of ensuring the Salesian identity of the intellectual formation and makes sure that some requirements in regard to the study centre are fulfilled (cf. FSDB 178.180).
According to the Instruction, collaboration between Institutes for formation demonstrates a practical form of solidarity between the religious families who are better off in numbers and resources and those poorer; contributes to a better appreciation of ones own charism and of that of others; offers an eloquent testimony to the communion to which the Church is called by divine vocation; and is of great assistance so that formation acquires the level and the breadth that the mission of religious life requires in the context of the modern world  . On the other hand faced with the situation regarding existing collaboration, the Instruction considers itself responsible to offer some reflections and timely directives for the monitoring, consolidation, and development of these experiences. 
However, it would be an impoverishment for religious life itself and for the Church if in the name of these advantages there were to be the centralisation of formation for all religious in a geographical area and culture in a single study centre. Forms of collaboration between religious Institutes, also in formation, are varied and should be developed; not necessarily should this collaboration be by means of a common study centre. Each Institute is called upon to enrich the Church with the contribution of its own charism, which is not limited to its mission but includes different aspects: community life, prayer, the practice of the evangelical counsels and also formation.
If our Provinces, also by means of interprovincial collaboration, are able to set up a study centre with really Salesian characteristics, as far as is possible it should also be open to externs, religious and lay, as a service to the particular Church (Reg. 84), this is an enrichment for all. The Ratio in fact is convinced that Salesian centres can offer the Province and the local Church a qualified service of spiritual, pastoral and cultural animation, such as: initiatives for the updating of confreres, members of the Salesian Family and the laity; professional advice for provincial and interprovincial bodies; research papers, publications, and the preparation of materials for use in animation; and various initiatives in conjunction with Church and religious bodies (FSDB 146).
3. Priorities in collaboration
To foster the integration of the charism and the culture of the candidates, it is important that the first steps in formation should be taken in their own context. On this account each Circumscription Province, Vice Province, Delegation ordinarily has its own prenovitiate. In this way it is possible to ensure a better accompaniment of the candidates, better knowledge of the families and a more organised link with the aspirantate.
The criterion of paying attention to the context and the culture of the candidates also applies to the novitiate. That does not take away from the fact that there are interprovincial novitiates, located in homogeneous cultural contexts, such as that of Alta Gracia for the five Provinces of Argentina; that of Gbodjome in Togo for the Vice Provinces of AFO and ATE, in which the novices come from thirteen countries in West Africa; that of Johannesburg for the Vice Provinces of AFM and ZMB and that of Namaacha for MOZ and ANG; the novitiate in Granada for the seven Provinces of Spain; that of Cebu for the two Provinces in the Philippines; that of Siliguri for the Provinces of INC and INN; the novitiates of Pinerolo and Genzano for the ten Provinces of Italy and the Middle East and for some other European provinces.
The postnovitiate is a priority in interprovincial collaboration, since it is a stage which requires demanding formation provisions, including a Salesian study centre. In this case too we have a number of examples of collaboration, regarding both formation communities and study centres: at Cape Town, Lom, Luanda and Moshi in Africa; at Dimapur, Karunapuram, Sonada and Yercaud in India; at Canlubang in the Philippines; at Nave and Rome in Italy; at Burgos in Spain; at Krakow in Poland; at Avellaneda in Argentina; at Campo Grande in Brazil; in Mexico City; and Benediktbeuern in Germany ...
The postnovitiate has the purpose of consoliding the religious life begun in the novitiate, the maturing of a synthesis between faith, culture and life, and preparation for practical training. Consequently, The delicate process of forging a cultural and religious synthesis in this phase demands a wise organization or choice of a study centre offering an apt programme for the growth of vocations. This is why Salesian study centres - many of them are at inter-provincial level, are to be preferred as they have as their objective a stronger emphasis on connecting philosophy and the sciences of education and integrating them with typically Salesian subjects and all this in view of the unity of the Salesian vocation (FSDB 414).
This stage helps the postnovice to imbue his own way of thinking with Christian, religious and Salesian values, comparing them with his own frame of reference, forming a new synthesis between these values and his own culture, to the extent of changing his own way of thinking and acting. As a result of his intellectual development, the confrere gains a clear mental framework that is consistent with his fundamental options and that gives him a solid and open-ended outlook on his own life. He becomes capable of a serious encounter with culture, the world of youth, the problems of education, and the Christian viewpoint (FSDB 401).
Ordinarily is is appropriate that the choice of the postnovitiate is in continuity with the cultural context of the novitiate; but it is not always possible to provide this opportunity. So the Ratio says: Being a delicate and important phase and having characteristics of its own, the postnovitiate requires a number of conditions that cannot always be met by every single Province, either with regard to the community or with regard to the study centre. In some situations it becomes necessary for the Provinces, especially those of the same cultural area, to join hands in setting up inter-provincial formation and academic structures (FSDB 418).
3.3. Specific Formation
When we are dealing with specific formation, either of the Salesian priest or of the Salesian brother, the perspective is different. It is presumed that at this point the one in formation will have reached a certain personal maturity in his vocation and will have learned how to assume the demands of his vocation in relation to his own culture. It is considered therefore that it is more appropriate in this phase to foster the introduction to other contexts, to have an intercultural experience, to broaden ones horizons.
For specific formation preference ought to be given to the interprovincial study centre and formation community, at the level of ones own Conference or Region. For some confreres preference ought to be given to an experience in international formation communities and Salesian study centres such as Rome - Gerini where the Italian language is used, and Jerusalem - Ratisbonne where the English language is used; these are available to all Provinces precisely because of the valuable contributions these places can make.
Interprovincial collaboration is a characteristic of the specific formation of Salesian priests; we have examples in all the Regions. The formation communities and study centres of Manila, Bangalore, Shillong, Nairobi, Lubumbashi, Turin - Crocetta, Messina, Tlaquepaque, Buenos Aires, San Paolo, Santiago in Chile, Benediktbeuern, are an eloquent testimony to the fact that such collaboration is possible, profitable and indeed necessary. In these days of globalisation these centres are an invitation to emerge from an exclusive view of ones own province and culture and to combine with other provinces to provide a formation that is broader in all its aspects (cf. FSDB 170 - 171).
Analogously the specific formation of Salesian brothers can only be carried out through interprovincial collaboration. Attempts are now being made in some Regions with a two year formation experience. Our Ratio lists a series of necessary conditions for the specific formation of the brothers, and concludes saying: To ensure these conditions, the Provinces must give a responsible and persevering collaboration in this field (FSDB 458).
3.4. Preparation for perpetual profession
Finally there is the phase for preparation for perpetual profession. According to the Ratio This is one of the situations in which collaboration among the various Provinces can result in the organization of initiatives and special events and can enhance the quality of the formation experience by making it possible to have a substantial number to form a community, choose competent guides and share experiences and methods (FSDB 509; cf. 514).
3.5. Study of languages
During initial formation there are also examples of collaboration between provinces for the study of Italian and English, which need to be increased and given special attention. For example, in the East Asia and Oceania Region, in which there is the desire to develop the study of English, there are confreres who are doing their practical training or a year of studies in communities in the Philippine provinces. There are also Italian provinces which welcome those in practical training to study Italian in prepartion for studies in Rome.
In conclusion, in order of priorities interprovincial collaboration is to be encouraged above all in setting up Salesian postnovitiate study centres, then in having formation communities with a Salesian study centre for the specific formation of Salesian brothers, and finally in having a Salesian theological study centre. In general, where there are situations of weakness, interprovincial collaboration for formation communities is always necessary.
4. Requirements for collaboration
As we have pointed out, in the Congregation there are a number of cases of interprovincial collaboration for initial formation. Now it is necessary to ask ourselves what are the conditions that need to be fulfilled in such collaboration so that it is formatively effective. The starting point is a new mentality to be created regarding responsibility for formation: an interprovincial formation community or a study centre does not belong exclusively to the Province in whose territory it is located, and the formation and academic responsibility are matters for all the provinces involved. Therefore a province does not give up its formation obligation by sending its confreres in formation to an interprovincial community; what changes is only the way in which it exercises its role, which is carried out in a situation of shared responsibility.
There are some general conditions that assist interprovincial collaboration and which depend on the relationships of cooperation that are established between provinces. If for example in the Region or the Conference there is an annual meeting of all formation personnel, it is easier to ensure continuity in formation between the different phases and agreement among the various formation communities about methodology and contents. Analogously, if as the Ratio envisages, there is a link between the Delegates and the Provincial Formation Commissions in a Region or Conference this too will facilitate interprovincial collaboration (cf. FSDB 248). Now in what follows some of the particular conditions are explained.
4.1. Continuity in collaboration
Every case of formation collaboration between Provinces has its own story with its beginnings, initial progress, periods of slowing down, assessments, relaunching. Any collaboration needs time for it to mature and to grow; there cannot be an unstructured haphazard arrangement, nor improvisation in decision making. Only by means of a continuous process is it possible to harmonise different kinds of initial formation practice, a multiplicity of styles of life, varieties of the contexts from which people come. Only continuity will ensure a real inculturation in formation. The length of time for collaboration is guaranteed by the Provincial Directory, which is approved by the Rector Major with his Council. The interprovincial community and study centre then need a Statute that fleshes out the interprovincial characteristics and a Convention which indicates the practicalities of the collaboration between the Provinces involved.
4.2. Provincial formation plan
Interprovincial collaboration is not the renunciation by a Province of some of its formation responsibilities; it is rather a decision to assume them together with other provinces. The Provincial Formation Plan should state the decisions regarding collaboration. In it the phases, activities and interprovincial initiatives should have the same formulation that is found in the Plans of the Provinces with which it is collaborating. This means that the Provincials, with the Provincial Councils and the Provincial Formation Delegates with their Commissions must undertake a process of convergence on objectives, criteria, processes, and interventions.
4.3. Interprovincial Team
The team of the formation community and of the study centre should be interprovincial (cf. FSDB 173, 224, 300). This guarantees the committed cooperation of all in supporting the community and the study centre and above all facilitates a knowledge of the different cultural contexts from which those in formation are coming, in this way fostering inculturation. New formation personnel and teachers join the team on the recommendation of each Provincial, but are selected jointly. This is especially so in the case of the Rector of the formation community. For his appointment a practice is now generally being followed in which first of all candidates are proposed within the Provincial Councils. This is followed by a discernment process and a choice made by the Provincials which is then proposed for the approval of the Provincial Council of the place.
The Ratio explicitly states that interprovincial collaboration with regard to both the formation community and the study centre, implies the creation and proper functioning of an entity holding shared responsibility for example a curatorium. It also indicates what its components and its tasks are. Ordinarily only one curatorium is set up, which deals with both the community and the study centre (cf. FSDB 173 and 300).
The areas of competence of the curatorium are: the community Formation Plan, information and imput regarding the annual academic programme of the study centre, the annual calendar, the guidelines regarding Ministries and Ordinations, criteria for practical pastoral activities, the style and the practice of poverty, the period of academic holidays, returning to the provinces, the economic budget and annual accounts, determining the annual charges, the academic fees. According to the Ratio the curatorium establishes the direction of formation through the approval of the Formation Plan; ensuring the necessary conditions and the means for carrying out formation with personnel, structures, finances; undertakes proper assessments (cf. FSDB 300).
The curatorium has the authority to make decisions; on important questions the Provincials should previously consult their Provincial Councils. There could be two stages: one in which all members take part and one in which only the Provincials are involved. The President of the curatorium can be the Regional Councillor or the local Provincial. It is preferable to have two meetings a year: one to plan the programme and to approve the formation project, another for evaluation. It is appropriate that before the meeting of the curatorium, on some questions, the formation personnel hear the opinion of those in formation, and that the Provincials meet their own students. There are various ways in which this body can function; it is necessary therefore that each curatorium has its own set of Regulations.
Admissions are important occasions for discernment, both for the candidate who presents his request and for the one who is called to evaluate it (FSDB 274). Discernment takes place in close collaboration between the candidate and the local and provincial community (FSDB 269). The Ratio proposes a procedure in which, in the case of an interprovincial formation community, provision is made for the opinion of the Provincial and the Provincial Council of origin to be sought before proceeding to the decision of the Provincial and the vote of the Provincial Council of the place in which the formation community is located (cf. FSDB 301 e CNDV 111).
The Ratio recognises that the Provincial of origin has direct knowledge of the candidate, especially as regards the family, previous phases, his motives. For this reason the Provincial of the place where the formation house is located seeks the opinion of the Provincial of origin and his Council regarding the candidate. Taking also this information into consideration, the Provincial of the place where the candidate is resident takes the decision regarding admission. Prudence indicates that in the case of problems regarding the admission or of differences of opinion, the Provincial of the place informs the Provincial of origin and together they decide what to do; for example, the request of the candidate may not be presented or it may be withdrawn, or the candidate may return to his Province of origin.
4.6. A sense of belonging to ones province
To cultivate a sense of belonging to ones province among those in formation in the interprovincial communities, the Ratio requires that in addition to the presence in the formation team of members of their own province, frequent visits are made by the Provincial, news is exchanged, meetings are arranged for communicating information and fostering communion with the confreres of their own province, the programme of activities during the period of the academic vacations to be undertaken is arranged in agreement with Rector of the formation community and the province of origin, and there are be other forms of communication (cf. FSDB 290).
4.7. Links with the General Councillor for Formation
Interprovincial collaboration is given a particular kind of support and accompaniment by the General Councillor for Formation, who makes it his business to know, encourage and give support to the formation process, which is not always easy. Then care for the Salesian study centres of formation falls within his specific competence (cf. FSDB 154). He is President of the curatorium of the international formation communities in Rome - Gerini and Jerusalem. The Ratio invites each interprovincial formation commmunity to find a way to maintain contact with the General Councillor for Formation (FSDB 173); for example, a form of contact which would be desirable and which a number of interprovincial formation communities and study centres are already putting into practice consists in keeping him informed by sending him the agenda and the minutes of meetings of the curatorium.
At a time when net-working is becoming ever more necessary, interprovincial collaboration in formation is something that is bound to continue to develop more and more. It is based on a sense of belonging to the Congregation; it responds to the need for solidarity between provinces; it is animated by the desire to provide every confrere with a good quality formation; it helps to develop a single vocational identity. Conscious of the importance of collaboration, in our own contexts we will know how to discover new motivations, face certain questions, identify particular priorities, find further ways to implement them. It is the task of each province to press ahead with processes of collaboration in formation; the growing appreciation of the formation communities which is present throughout the Congregation, will back up their implementation.