Boldness, disposition, availability and community sense are some aspects that should be present in the heart of those who wish to respond to the call of God in the construction of a vocational path. Fr. Jonas Pacheco, C.Ss.R., reflects on the Redemptorist vocation in our times in the interview with Brenda Melo.
What are the criteria for a healthy vocation?
Vocation is very much related to the response we give to the call of God to best help build the Kingdom, the way we can best serve the creator. But, as humans, we find ourselves limited, and our response happens according to our possibilities. Today many questions permeate the social context and affect our personal realities. Therefore, speaking of a healthy vocation becomes a challenge, especially regarding criteria. I think that God asks from us, above all, openness to improve those aspects that do not contribute to better service. We are never ready; we are always on the way! A second point, perhaps, is to understand that vocation supposes a response as service to God, to the Church and to the people to whom we are sent. It requires availability for the construction of the vocational journey.
What is the meaning of following the Redemptorist vocation today?
The meaning remains the same as when Saint Alphonsus founded the Redemptorist Congregation. It is the forms that are different. The Redemptorist should be ready to heal the wounds of today’s world, to offer people the way of Christ the Redeemer. To contribute to the mission that we have taken on in the Church to evangelize, to be a light on the path of the simplest, to alleviate the sufferings of so many. And we do this in solidarity, living in community, as a missionary body. There are many areas in which we work, and all of them aim at transforming the lives of our brothers and sisters.
What is the greatest challenge of formation for religious life today?
Redemptorist life is marked by community living, as our constitutions state: “To fulfil their mission in the Church, Redemptorists perform their missionary work as a community. For apostolic life in common paves the way most effectively for the life of pastoral charity”. (C 21). Today, individualism marks the experience of people. The idea of freedom, where each person carries out his or her will, is opposed to the community dimension. Therefore, individualism is a big challenge for religious life.
Tell us a little about the Meeting of Formators of the Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Costa Rica, whose objective was to organize the Ratio Formationis of the Conference! How was this experience?
The meeting took place from July 3-8, with the presence of Secretaries of Formation from various Redemptorist Unions of the Conference and the Commission on Formation. I, as Secretary for Formation of the Province of Rio, participated in this event. It was a valuable moment of conversation about Redemptorist formation, seeing commonalities, differences, as well as cultural issues that affect the formation process in different countries. The Congregation, at the level of the General Government, draws up the Ratio. Afterwards, each Conference organizes its Ratio based on the one that has been created with more general criteria, taking into account the issues that are more proper to Latin America and the Caribbean. The evaluation of the meeting is quite positive. We left with significant points to learn and the desire to continue seeking new paths so that Redemptorist formation may take place in a more adapted and effective way.
What is the significance of this document (Ratio Formationis) for the formation of Redemptorist Missionaries?
The Ratio Formationis is a document of the Congregation that is intended to address the fundamental aspects of Redemptorist life and how they are essential to the life of the Redemptorist Missionary as a formandee or congregant. It is meant to be a kind of compass for the Redemptorist. It brings out the spiritual, community, human and academic dimensions. The Ratio gives depth and meaning to formation in all its stages while at the same time being an aid that the specific programs in each Unit be guided by the general law of the Church and by the norms of our constitutions and statutes.
You also participated in the Meeting of Formators and Vocation Promoters of the New Redemptorist Unit of RJ-SP-BA. How was this moment of sharing and integration?
The meeting in Salvador (BA) took place from the 11th to 15th of July, attended by the confreres who work as formators and vocation promoters in the Units of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Bahia. The purpose was to work towards the elaboration of a directory for the new Unit, which is based on the Ratio Formationis and aims at the applicability of what is dealt with in that document. Our work, therefore, revolved around how formation in the new Province will put the formative dimensions into operation in a more similar way. It should be noted that formation takes place in the three current Units and has both common and divergent aspects. We are gradually converging these aspects in the restructuring process that will give rise to the new Unit of RJ-SP-BA.
How do you see Redemptorist formation with restructuring, a process that is already underway and has an important influence on the future of the new Unit?
The process of restructuring that we are going through touches all the confreres. But the formative process is the flagship since those in formation who enter the Congregation will already be living restructuring in an effective way. In a short time, the Units will give birth to the new Province and the young men who make their formative journey will be the fruit of the restructured context. We already have stages of formation in common, where those in formation from different Units live together. This is already restructuring taking place. Our future depends very much on this new mentality that is being awakened in the confreres and built up with the younger ones. This whole process is so that we can work more effectively for the mission of the Congregation in the world without barriers.
Leave a message for young men who wish to become Redemptorist Missionaries!
To be a Redemptorist Missionary as a priest or brother is to respond to a call of God in the world. In this way, the Congregation wants to touch young people’s hearts to collaborate in the Redemptorist Mission. It is a beautiful, daring journey where we feel we are a community and live fraternity. We carry a joyful heart full of hope to contribute to the mission of Christ in his Church in the world. Therefore, it is worth daring, going out of ourselves and challenging ourselves to the call that God makes to each one!
Brenda Melo Journalist
Courtesy of “Akikolá”, August 2022