29 May 2024

Asian Franciscan Formators Training programme launched

“Today the weak link is the pedagogy and not the theology”. This quote from “The Sentiments of the Son: A formation journey in consecrated life” by Amadeo Cencini is so true today. As Cencini says, we struggle with the transmission and reception (pedagogy) of the wisdom of the Church (theology).

What is the point of having a beautiful collection of teachings when it is not embodied and passed on intellectually and affectively? This is the purpose of the Asian Franciscan Formators Training (AFFT) programme which launched on 11 March 2024, says Friar Derrick Yap, the programme’s designer and coordinator.

He shared that the acronym AFFT is intended to sound like affect (Latin: affectus), to reflect the emphasis on affectivity, the importance of the heart and our emotions in the formative process.

The programme is modelled on the Diploma in Formation for Consecrated Life at the Franciscan University of Antonianum in Rome, but it includes elements of interculturality within the Asian context, appreciation of generational awareness (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, etc), the ubiquity of technology in our modern world, safeguarding principles and policies. There are 16 modules.

Although the AFFT is primarily conducted online, there are two residency programmes – in Manila in June and in Singapore in November – to immerse in modules that require in-person instruction, such as Emphatic Listening, Group Dynamics and Psychology of Institutions, and Franciscan Formative Approach.

For the first run, eight OFM friars are enrolled – two each from the Philippines and Malaysia, and one each from Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The hope is that potential formators from the entire Franciscan Family will participate in future runs. Minister General Friar Massimo Fusarelli and Asian Definitor Friar John Wong popped into the first Zoom tutorial to meet and encourage the participants.

Already the participants are seeing benefits from the programme.

“The AFFT has been enlightening. I already feel equipped with insights from our speakers that will not only enhance my role as a formator but also deepen my understanding of Franciscan values,” said Friar Francis Moneda from Cebu Province.

For Friar Aiden Peter Jr, the course has been a transformative journey. “One lesson resonates deeply: the significance of adult pedagogy in Franciscan formation elucidated by Friar Augustinus Nggame from Indonesia. His teachings illuminated the formator’s role not merely as an educator, but as a facilitator of life, engaging in the divine act of creation,” he said.

Friar Bernat Anthony from Sri Lanka is grateful for the opportunity to participate. “It (has) helped me to understand the most challenging and delicate part of the ministry of formator is to be a patient and discerning guide to those entrusted to my care,” he said.

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