After a year’s delay, due to the many Provincial Chapters that took place in 2017, the formators of the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP) went to the beautiful island of Malta and met in Birkirkara, a city where the friars of the Province of Malta have a church, a communications center and a spiritual retreat center.
The meeting was held on July 16-20, 2018, in a friendly atmosphere, made even more so by the hospitality and attentiveness of the Maltese friars towards the meeting’s participants.
A good number of formators were present. The Minister Provincial of Malta, Friar George ZAMMIT, started the meeting with some introductory comments.
The theme chosen for this year was: “Formation and Connection”, since everyone can see that the digital world is leading us toward a momentous transformation, in fact it is modifying our perception of time and space. Our lifestyles, our way of thinking and acting, they are all changing. In short, we are faced with a real anthropological turning point. Therefore it seems important that we should be dealing with the challenges that these changes pose to our formation paths and to ourselves as well. Father Eric CACHIA, a Maltese Salesian who has also had experience in formation, helped the formators explore this subject with two reflections.
He first examined the theme starting with a sociological description of the youth world, referring to some English and American studies that compared the differences between different generations up until up to today and highlighting how important it is in formation to activate certain “processes”. The fundamental task of the formator is to accompany; his role is to guide the experience of the young, to set off on their journey with them.
The second reflection was entitled “A Time to Be Renewed”. Here he showed the importance of helping to recover young people’s prophetic dimension, as Pope Francis has directed in his teachings.
At the end of each reflection, there was time for a question and answer period with Father Eric. Although the topic couldn’t be covered exhaustively, it was still useful to start questioning and discussing it and to exchange opinions, ideas and formation methods regarding this and other aspects of formation.
Friar Louis PANTHIRUVELIL, the Secretary General for Formation (SGF), also attended the meeting. He pointed out some of the challenges in formation today, as experienced in the various Federations and Conferences of the Order, and he presented some basic guidelines for a Franciscan formation.
The program also included a day for a fraternal outing to the island of Gozo, and a pilgrimage to the Maltese people’s most important national shrine, the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu. The friars went on to visit a friary and church dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua. The fraternal outing ended in the afternoon with a brief swim in the crystal clear waters surrounding the island’s coastlands.
Friar Alessandro PERISSINOTO