DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR WORKS DON BOSCO
Via della Pisana 1111 - 00163 Rome
The General Councilor for Formation
Rome, 4 June 2012
To the Reverend
To the Reverend
Dear Inspector and Delegate,
I hope you are well. I am writing to you from Rome, where we are starting the summer session of the General Council.
During this year I carried out, on behalf of the Rector Major, the Extraordinary Visitation of the Vice Province of the UPS. This offered me the opportunity to make some reflections on the qualification of the confreres, particularly in the Pontifical Universities of Rome and in our Salesian University. I then tell you some simple assessments and information . Certainly it would be important to also consider the civil qualifications, but the narrowness of the space does not allow it.
The subject would deserve a completely different treatment, because I believe that it is a priority for the life and vitality of the Provinces. The Project of the Rector Major and of the Council asked me to prepare an orientation in this regard to be placed on the Acts of the General Council, but the preparation of the GC27 advised me to limit myself to this intervention. I consider it important that we begin a systematic reflection at least at provincial level, because without the qualification of the confreres the Provinces run the risk of spiritual mediocrity, generic pastoralism, poor reflexive capacity.
The reference framework for reflecting on qualification is the letter of the Rector Major Fr Vecchi "I for you study" (ACG 361), which retains its relevance and demands to be taken up again. This reflection must lead to the provincial plan for the qualification of the confreres for a period of at least five or six years; in fact, without multi-year planning, verified annually and shared with the confreres, the qualification would risk being improvised and some of the Province's needs could be neglected.
1. The qualitative consistency of the communitiesdepends on the qualification of the confreres, as well as on their relational skills, human maturity, spiritual life, pastoral passion,…. With fewer Salesians present in the educative pastoral communities and a growing number of lay people, it is necessary to guarantee the quality of the confreres and therefore their qualification. Among other things, the lowering of the cultural level in the Congregation, repeatedly recognized, fundamentally depends on the poor qualification of the confreres and therefore on their lack of aptitude for study and reflection. The qualification must be requested and offered to all the confreres. In particular, a civil or ecclesiastical license, which consists in the preparation for a task, can offer a good qualification;
2. The Salesian qualificationof academic studies helps to ensure the charismatic identity. The Rector Major undertook a considerable effort to qualify our Salesian University. I note that there are Provinces which for various reasons, even economic ones, do not value this opportunity. It is true that in many countries there are good university centers to qualify the confreres, but the presence of Pontifical Universities in Rome, in particular the UPS offers a peculiar experience: the Salesian characterization of the studies, the closeness to the life of the universal Church and at the center of the Congregation, the intercultural environment, the knowledge of the Italian language and of Salesian places. These are all essential elements for a worldwide and missionary Congregation, which lives in a context of globalization, immigration and multiculturalism.
3. The appropriate time for qualification also deserves consideration. I note that the confreres who are making a license to the UPS or to the Pontifical Universities of Rome often have a somewhat high age; it would be advisable for them to start a license after 2-5 years of ordination for priests or perpetual profession for the Salesian brothers. The confreres, having acquired a qualification, have thus immediately the possibility of offering a quality contribution to educational pastoral work. The same can be said for obtaining a doctorate; for those who are eligible to work in study centers or have to devote to research, it would be appropriate to undertake the doctorate 3-5 years after completing the license.
4. The duration of the qualification must correspond to the years foreseen by the curriculum. For the license the curricula are two or three years: there are two-year or three-year licenses. The doctorate should not exceed three years. It is necessary to take responsibility on the part of everyone, students, teachers and superiors, so that the study can be taken seriously, sometimes even in part of the long summer time. The duration of studies should not be prolonged unnecessarily; there is commitment on the part of the student confreres and vigilance on the part of the responsible superiors. The economic and financial crisis requires us to change lifestyles, choosing the more sober and essential ones. Even the scholarship of the Rector Major for these studies will be paid to needy applicants based on this duration.
5. The cost of qualification is another aspect taken into consideration. Qualification, like all training, has a considerable economic cost. For some years the fixed quotas of houses dependent on the Rector Major have not been increased: UPS, Testaccio, Gerini and Jerusalem. Furthermore, the communities are committed to containing community expenses. Individual confreres are also trying to reduce personal expenses, although this aspect can be further monitored and improved.
I take advantage of these more general evaluations, to offer you some special information on some news of our Salesian Pontifical University, also in reference to the needs of the Provinces.
1. Philosophy studies . In 2011 the Decree of "Reform of ecclesiastical studies of philosophy" was issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education; in this regard we met with the principals of our centers of philosophical studies and those in charge of post-novitiate studies to understand their implications. In these years it will be necessary to prepare Salesian and lay teachers with ecclesiastical licenses and doctorates in philosophy, above all because we will have to create a connection of "association" with our Faculty of Philosophy of the UPS, constituting at least "Associated Institutes", if not also "affiliates ". It is a requirement of the quality of the studies.
2. Studies of Salesianity. The capitular commitment to "start again from Don Bosco" and the bicentenary of his birth require us to enhance the Salesian studies of the UPS. The two-year license in Salesian studies is an opportunity to prepare good directors with a charismatic identity and also teachers in Salesianity for the initial and ongoing formation of the Salesians and for the formation of the laity. The Provinces and Regions also need some doctors, capable of research in Salesianity. At a time when there is motivation for salesianity, this is an opportunity to be valued.
3. Youth pastoral and catechetical studies . The Rector Major asked the UPS to rethink the “Department of youth and catechetical ministry; the new approach will come into effect from October 2012. It has led to the creation of two distinct curricula: one for youth ministry and one for catechesis, with common basic activities; these curricula tend to prepare the "pastoralist" and the "catecheta", who are two figures who have distinct profiles, even if they have some similar skills. These licenses are valid for two years; they can lead to the title in theology or in educational sciences, having the corresponding baccalaureate as entry requirement.
4. Social communication studies . For those who have obtained the baccalaureate in theology, a new social communication curriculum has started this year, called "pastoral communication", which lasts three years: 1 year for the baccalaureate and 2 years for the license, instead of 4 years . This is an address, in addition to the two already activated: "media for the community" and "journalism and publishing"; it pays attention to problems that communication raises in pastoral care.
5. Educational sciences studies. We note the lack both for post-novitiate study centers and for our IUS of preparation of Salesian educators; there are also no Salesian psychologists of education and vocation. The Faculty of Education Sciences of the UPS offers specific pedagogy curricula for school and social training, social pedagogy and psychology.
6. Studies for the formation of vocational animators and formators. For the formation of vocational animators and trainers we have two separate curricula for UPS with a two-year license. These curricula make use of pedagogical, psychological, spiritual and moral contents and methods of the Faculties of Educational Sciences and Theology. Titles can be obtained in educational sciences or in theology; the prerequisite of entry is having obtained the baccalaureate in the respective disciplines.
7. Latin studies. The request for the study of Latin during the philosophical studies by the Congregation for Catholic Education, through its Decree of reform of these studies, asks us to prepare teachers. The Faculty of Christian and Classical Letters offers differentiated and intensive courses to enable this task.
8. Studies of canon law . The Faculty of Canon Law has suspended enrollments for first-year license and doctoral students; it will resume the enrollments of the students of the first year of license and doctorate with October 2013. Meanwhile, at the request of the Rector Major, he is identifying forms of collaboration with other Pontifical Faculties of Canon Law, which are located in Rome.
More detailed information on the various curricula and on the innovations introduced this year can be found on the site of the Salesian Pontifical University: www.unisal.it
I cordially greet you and thank you for your attention. In Don Bosco.
Don Francesco Cereda