Those who work for the Church’s charitable organisations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment but dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity. Consequently, in addition to their necessary professional training, these workers need a formation of the heart.Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est #31
How can Catholic Agencies, which continue to make present and active the transforming mission of Jesus, achieve maximum impact on the society around them as providers of high quality services and as change agents with an alternative vision of justice and compassion?
It is surely the priority they give to Catholic Identity and Mission that provides Catholic health, education and community services with a unique edge. Ensuring that the innovation, imagination and passion which leaders, staff and volunteers bring to their Catholic Agencies is always in dialogue with the Gospel and their originating story and heritage, Catholic organisations will continue to make the unique contribution to the common good which has been their hallmark.
Health, education and community service organisations in the Catholic tradition, have been pioneered by leaders whose vision and commitment forged strong and innovative institutions able to play a very significant, transformative role in the life of local communities, the states and the nation. Their vision sprang from a conscious and deliberate identification with the mission of Jesus concretely played out through the community of the Church.
The role of leading and inspiring these Catholic organisations has passed today to lay leaders who are seen by their sponsoring body, whether a Diocese or a Religious Congregation, as genuine partners in the mission of Jesus as this is expressed through the services provided in the name of the sponsoring body.
Ensuring that Mission remains the ‘senior partner’ in the operation of Catholic organisations, and that these Agencies live out their Mission from a strong sense of Catholic identity, requires good Formation.
In our Catholic tradition, when we talk of preparing people to share more effectively in the mission of Jesus, we speak of ‘formation’. Formation is much more than training and education because it is about the internalisation of values, attitudes and ways of seeing, and the maturation of faith. It is something that we do in cooperation with God. Formation seeks to develop in us sensitivity to where God is leading our lives and our mission.’Fr Steve Curtin SJ, quoted in Edmund Rice Australia Formation in Identity Series