Message from the formation Director

The purpose of religious formation is to bring together Disciples of Christ who should be assisted in accepting and growing in “the gift of God which the Church has received from her Lord and which by his grace she always safeguards” (LG, 43). The growth and renewal of every religious congregation or institute will depend chiefly on the formation of its members. Religious formation in the Society of St Paul aims at the formation of candidates to a particular way of life according to the Charism and spirituality of the congregation.

Pauline formation in India has to take place in the cultural, religious, social, economic, political and linguistic contexts of India. It is the seventh largest country by area, the second most populous country with over 1.2 billion people and the largest democracy in the world. Republic India is governed under a parliamentary system and consists of 29 states and 7 union territories. There are 22 major languages in India, written in 13 different scripts, with over 720 dialects. The official Indian languages are Hindi (with approximately 420 million speakers) and English, which is also widely spoken.

India, known as the land of spirituality and philosophy is the birthplace of four major religions—Hinduism (79.5%), Buddhism (0.8%), Jainism (0.4%) and Sikhism (1.9%). Other religions like Christianity (2.3%), Islam (13.4%), Zoroastrianism and Judaism arrived in the 1st millennium CE and significantly contributed to the shaping of diverse cultures of India. There are over 19.9 million Catholics in India which represents 1.55% of the total population. There are 168 dioceses, of these 131 are Latin Dioceses, 29 are Syro-Malabar Dioceses and 8 are Syro-Malankara Dioceses. 

To address the diversity of languages and cultures, the Province has established regional vocation promotion teams and formation communities. However, we notice a significant decline in the number of genuine vocations to priesthood and religious life. Some of the reasons could be fewer children in the families, lack of encouragement from family members, incidents of Church and clergy exposed by the media, better job opportunities and standards of life compared to the past, materialistic culture, etc. However, where traditional families still thrive, we do find more children and vocations to religious life. Generally, we promote students who passed 10th or above and between the age of 15 to 20. Due to cultural influence and social status priesthood is preferred over brotherhood in the country.

In the recent years India has been facing rising religious intolerance and religious extremism perpetuated by some fundamental groups creating tension ad conflicts in the civil society. They interpret missionary activities as means of converting the poor and the less privileged of the society. But as it has always been “blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

The Manual for Pauline Formation (Formation Iter) aims at presenting the objectives of formation at every stage in the Society of St Paul in India and what guidelines could help the candidates and formators to achieve the set objectives. The programme is meant to help the aspirants, postulants, novices and the young professed to assimilate and deepen their religious identity in the Congregation, and it encourages a perpetually professed Pauline to rededicate himself completely to God and find joy in his life and mission by inserting himself into the world as a significant, effective and faithful witness to Christ through the means of social communications. 

Thomas Mangamthanath SSP

Director of Formation &

Coordinator of Vocation Promotion