Council Resources

Provincial Formation Plan



Via della Pisana 1111 - 00163 ROMA

The General Councillor for Formation To Rev.

Father Provincials

Provincial Delegates for Formation


Guide for the process of drawing it up

The Provincial Formation Plan is one of the new requirements mentioned in the Ratio (FSDB 18, 24, 235). Together with the formation section of the Provincial Directory, the Plan spells out how the Ratio is to be implemented in the life of the Province. The Provincial Directory and Plan 'lay down the method of formation according to the needs of its own cultural context and in conformity with the directives of the Church and of the Congregation' (C 101).

The Provincial Formation Plan takes the Directory as its starting-point. While the Directory lays down the fundamental decisions and the norms of the Province in the field of formation, the Plan presents the concrete choices that have been made in line with the Directory and are now to be implemented over a certain period of time.

The Provincial Formation Plan also takes into account the Provincial Structural Plan, which may contain some formation priorities. The Formation Plan pays attention to them and translates them into practical steps. For example, the priority regarding the qualitative and quantitative strengthening of communities as expressed in the Structural Plan will require practical steps to be laid down in the Formation Plan.

Already in the Ratio you will find suggestions about how to draw up the Provincial Formation Plan (FSDB 572 - 576). With these notes, the Formation Department offers further help with the Plan, suggests a way of involving the Province and presents the same discernment methodology used in the other Plans.

The Provincial Plan is the result of the reflection and discernment of the whole Province (FSDB 574). The Province needs to look into the question of its own formation: it has to ask itself what kind of Salesian it is trying to form, what are its greatest needs in the area of formation, how effective are the various stages of formation and the methods used in the formation process, what aspects of formation require more attention in the immediate future, and what practical decisions need to be made.

It is therefore important that the whole Province, and not only those directly responsible for formation, take part in the drawing up of the Provincial Plan, since in the Provincial community all are in a state of ongoing formation and all have a responsibility for initial formation. The Province is a community that forms and is being formed. Rather than a document written by a small group, the Plan represents the convergence of a Province around certain important decisions. The drawing up of the Plan, if well organised, can become an opportunity for ongoing formation.

At the same time, the Plan is the direct responsibility of the Provincial and his Council. He is helped by the Delegate and the Provincial Formation Commission. Clearly a task of such importance cannot be realised in a short space of time; it would be reasonable to expect the Provinces to devote at least a full year to it. We would suggest that the Provinces commence this work after studying the question of vocational frailty and that they complete it by 2007.

Here it should be recalled that in those Provinces which cooperate in the work of formation, the Provincial Plan requires the involvement of the Provinces concerned. In this case it is a question of two or more interested parties discussing together and seeking agreement regarding formation issues.

Since the Provincial Formation Plan, like the other Plans, uses a discernment methodology, the usual three steps are to be employed: God's call, the current situation, and the proposed course of action. The Ratio suggests the same three stages, though it uses different terminology (FSDB 575 - 576). These three steps will be reflected in the written-up version of the Plan.

2.1. God's call

Every plan is first and foremost a projection of the future: it expresses the goal to which God calls us. Since the Salesian vocation is a 'gift of God' (FSDB 1), formation too, which makes it grow and flower, is a 'grace of the Spirit' (FSDB 1). In the discernment process it is therefore necessary to place oneself in the presence of God and to ask oneself: 'In the current situation of the Province what is God expecting of someone He has called to follow His Son more closely in imitation of Don Bosco?'. It is, in other words, a matter of describing the profile of the Salesian to whom all formation ought to be directed. It is clear that this profile will have to take account of the decisions laid down in the Directory and in the Strategic/Organic Plan.

There is already the profile of a Salesian set out in general terms by the Ratio in chapter two, entitled 'The starting point and goal of our formation: our identity as Salesians', and developed in chapter three which bears on 'Aspects of formation: values and attitudes.' Now it is a question of turning to these parts of the Ratio, drawing out the common aspects of the Salesian vocation, identifying those proper to the vocation of the Salesian priest and of the Salesian brother, and adding particular features that derive from the actual situation in the Province.

In each Province there can be different emphases in presenting the portrait of the Salesian, since it is a question of inculturating the charism in a specific place. For example, in a Province within whose territory ethnic groups in conflict are to be found, the confreres could feel themselves called to be bearers of reconciliation and to become experts in dialogue.

The profile needs to be formulated in terms of attitudes to be adopted, values to be lived, ways of behaving to be followed, and capabilities and skills to be acquired. It presides over the whole planning exercise and the entire formation process. The profile is the goal in fact of both initial formation which is a process of gradual and progressive identification with the Salesian vocation, and of ongoing formation which is a process of creative fidelity to the same vocation. All the Salesians in a Province direct their attention to the same profile and try to live it; in this way any gap between initial and ongoing formation can be bridged.

2.2. Current situation of formation

Having ketched a profile of the Salesian in response to God's call, the second step to be taken is that of becoming aware of the current situation regarding formation in the Province.

In this exercise it would be well to take a brief look at the various chapters of the Ratio. In particular, consideration should be given as to how the profile of the Salesian is being realised in the context of the Province situation, as well as to the formation methods in use, the stages of initial formation and ongoing formation.

For each of these four elements, some positive aspects of the situation should be identified together with the resources and possibilities; some unsatisfactory aspects together with the areas of resistance and difficulties; and the challenges and basic needs.

In more practical terms, looking at the profile of the Salesian, it is a question of seeing what has already been acquired and what instead is still lacking or is proving difficult to achieve.

As regards formation methods, the assessment should be made of those that are being utilised and those being neglected, those that are effective and those less so, and always in terms of realising the profile of the Salesian.

Regarding initial formation, there should be an examination of the process and of all the stages of formation, indicating those that are going well and stopping awhile to consider those that need more attention in the Province.

Finally there should be a look at ongoing formation from the point of view of the confrere, the local community and the Province community, at the qualification of the confreres and at the joint formation of Salesians and lay people, highlighting in each case the more evident positive and negative aspects.

2.3. Courses of action

These first two phases naturally lead to the third, that is, deciding on the courses of action to be taken. This step builds on God's call, keeping clearly in mind the profile of the Salesian to be achieved, and then on the survey of the situation, having clearly identified the elements that need attention in the formation process of the Province.

It is advisable that the courses of action be spelt out in the form of objectives, strategies and things to be done, and that this section be divided into three parts: the common aspects of formation, initial formation, ongoing formation.

a. Common aspects of formation

Courses of action should be formulated with regard to aspects common to all confreres, in both initial and ongoing formation, in particular with regard to the profile of the Salesian and the formation method. Common aspects could be, for example, formation in human relationships or the use of a personalised approach in all formation. Also to be considered among the common aspects of formation is the whole formation process in its entirety, with particular attention given to the continuity between initial and ongoing formation.

b. Initial Formation

Next to be drawn up is a complete and well-structured programme spelling out the courses of action to be followed with regard to the whole of initial formation: first, the individual stages, and then, those aspects that concern all the phases taken together.

First of all, the various stages presented in the Ratio should be looked at, identifying in each case the objectives, the formation process and the necessary conditions for a good formation. For each stage the structure of the Ratio should be followed, without repeating what it says, but highlighting only those particular aspects that need to be taken care of in a special way in the Province. It is important not to omit the specificity of the programme of formation for the Salesian cleric and brother in every stage.

Next, the conditions necessary to ensure continuity between the various stages of formation need to be considered.

Finally, a complete overall view of the curriculum of studies in the various stages should be presented, together with a graduated and systematic programme of Salesian studies and a programme of educative and pastoral activities covering all the stages of formation. In the case of the curriculum of studies, it is also a question here of highlighting if there are differences in the curriculum of Salesian clerics and Salesian brothers.

c. Ongoing Formation

Next, a complete programme of courses of action regarding ongoing formation should be drawn up, highlighting the salient aspects.

This means that, first of all, the overall structure of ongoing formation should be dealt with; then particular life situations should be given attention; finally consideration should be given to the animation of ongoing formation at the personal level and at that of the local community, of the Provincial community and the interprovincial community.

The qualification of the confreres should then be considered, identifying the needs of the Province, and suggesting the areas for qualification and the necessary specialisations together with indications of time and place. Particular attention should be given to the formation of formation personnel and to the preparation of experts in Salesian studies.

Finally, the elements for joint formation between Salesians and lay people should be outlined

As has been said above, the Provincial Formation Plan is a process of discernment and of Provincial sharing. It is therefore the result of wide participation and involvement.

By way of example, the following could be the stages and the manner of involvement at Provincial and interprovincial level, leading to the drawing up of the Plan:

1. Communities in the Province

The Provincial Formation Delegate and Commission charged by the Provincial with the drawing up of the Plan, take into consideration the interest and readiness of the confreres and communities, and devise a method for their involvement.

For example, using material prepared by the Commission on the basis of the second and third chapters of the Ratio, the communities could be invited to reflect on what ought to be the profile of the Salesian in the Province; their opinion could also be sought about the current situation regarding both initial and ongoing formation in the Province and the challenges needing to be faced.

2. Provincial and Interprovincial Formation Communities

As regards formation in the various stages, it is clear that this work needs to be done principally in the various formation communities, both Provincial and interprovincial. The formation communities could also be asked to reflect on the curriculum of studies, the programme of Salesian studies, and the programme of educative and pastoral activities, and ensure that these are well-structured, graduated and progressive, suited to the purpose of each stage of formation.

3. Formation Delegates and Commissions from other Provinces

Where Provinces cooperate in formation, there should be discussions with the Formation Delegates of the other Provinces in order to arrive at a common position regarding the various aspects of collaboration.

4. The Provincial Formation Delegate and the Formation Commission

While these various forms of coinvolvement are taking place, the Provincial Commission should be working on what regards preparation for perpetual profession, the topic of the continuity of formation, ongoing formation at the level of the confrere, the community and the Province, and the programme for the qualification and specialisation of the confreres. A small group of Salesians and lay people should draw up the joint formation programme for Salesians and lay people.

The Commission gathers all the material prepared as well as the various contributions, puts it all together, and finally prepares a working document, taking pains to maintain unity and structure in the draft.

5. Rectors and formation personnel

The working document prepared by the Commission is then considered with the Rectors and formation personnel, or also with others, for example young confreres, in order to have their contributions.

6. Provincial and the Provincial Council

In the end, the Commission presents the final draft to the Provincial who studies it with his Council and approves it.

The Provincial Formation Plan should be drawn up to cover a certain number of years. However, This means that, with a view to putting the Formation Plan into practice, the Province can select some particular aspect and make it the focus of special planning (or programming) for a single year or for a longer fixed period of time.

For example, the Province could concentrate one year on encouraging the lectio divina or spiritual direction or religious poverty. This annual programme always needs indications of time, place, manner of implementation, and specific things to be done.

As a matter of interest, there are a good number of Provinces that take the topic of the Strenna as a focus for the formation programme of the Salesians, the Salesian Family, the pastoral and educative communities, and the SYM. They make use of it for the whole formation year or pastoral year, and not necessarily for the new calendar year; in this way they give unity to all the educational and formative processes.

It is necessary to decide how long the Plan will be in operation; this will mean choosing courses of action in the Plan that can be attained in the given period, and also knowing what the deadlines are and when the assessments are to take place. For the Provincial Formation Plan it is advisable that it cover a period of five or six years starting immediately after the review of the Provincial Structural/Organic Plan.

As regards the assessment of the implementation of the Plan and the annual programme, it would seem sufficient for the Formation Delegate with the Commission to do it at the end of each year and to pass on the results to the Provincial and his Council.

In the light of the annual assessment, it would not be advisable to carry out a partial or total revision of the Provincial Formation Plan. Tinkering with it would only lead to confusion: the Plan is a means for continuity in the formation work of a Province.


The Provincial Formation Plan is a very important instrument that, especially through the profile of the Salesian to which we feel called by God, helps to foster a certain culture in the Province. This culture is made up of the mentality, the assessment criteria, the models of behaviour, the personal and community style of life, the way of living the life of the Church, the concept of the religious life, and the practice of the evangelical counsels.

Sometimes the culture in a Province can be a weak one that does not help in overcoming vocational frailties, that does not strengthen fidelity, that does not attract vocations, and that does not make any impact on education and on the locality. On the other hand, there can be a stimulating Provincial culture that encourages fidelity, vocational growth and pastoral effectiveness, and exerts a good influence all around.

The Provincial Formation Plan offers a great opportunity to question ourselves about the culture of the Province and to point ourselves in the direction of one that is stimulating.

Rome, 1 October 2005


Scheme for its construction


What kind of Salesian does God want us to be in this Province at this moment?

1. The starting-point is the profile of the Salesian that God is calling us to be and towards which our efforts are directed. In this profile are described:
-   the common characteristics of the Salesian vocation
-   the specific characteristics of the Salesian priest and of the Salesian brother.
2. The description of the profile is done in terms of attitudes, behaviour, skills and capabilities; in sketching the profile, reference should be made to FSDB chapters 2 - 3.
3. The profile takes into account the situation of both the Congregation and the Province.


Where does formation in the Province stand with regard to God's call: near or far?
1. The situation is analysed briefly according to the following four elements:
-   profile of the Salesian
FSDB chapters 2 - 3
-   formative methods in use
FSDB chapter 4
-   process and stages of initial formation
FSDB chapters 5 - 11
-   ongoing formation
FSDB chapter 12.

2. For each of these four elements consideration is given to:

-   positive aspects, resources and possibilities
-   unsatisfactory aspects, areas of resistance and difficulties
-   challenges and requirements


What steps does the Province need to take? In what direction, by what means, with what activities?
The section is divided into three parts:
-   common aspects of formation
FSDB chapters 2 - 3, chapter 4 and chapter 5
-   initial formation
FSDB chapters 6 - 11
-   ongoing formation
FSDB chapter 12.

1. Common aspects of formation
Here are indicated matters of general application, both during initial formation and during ongoing formation, with particular reference to the profile and formation methods. The formation process as a whole is then considered, with particular attention being given to the continuity between initial and ongoing formation.

2. Initial Formation
Practical decisions are taken regarding :
-   each stage with its objectives, formation process and conditions
-   continuity in formation between the stages
-   systematic programmes for the various stages regarding:
* the curriculum of studies: FSDB Appendix 3
* Salesian studies: FSDB Appendix 3
* educative and pastoral activities

3. Ongoing Formation
With reference to FSDB chapter 12 the following are indicated:
-   objectives, formation process and conditions
-   special attention to some life situations
-   animation of ongoing formation at personal, local, Provincial and interprovincial level
-   qualification and specialist preparation of the confreres
-   practical proposals for the joint formation of Salesians and lay people.


The length of time covered by the Plan is indicated as are the method and timing of its annual assessment.


With the completion of the formulation of the Plan or its annual assessment, the Province proceeds to draw up its programme for the year, choosing some specific aspects and determining the people responsible, the time scale, the places, the way of proceeding and the things to be done.