Holy See Directive of Formation

18 July 2018 by

The Holy See’s Congregation for Institutes for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life oversee most of the Australian PJPs.

Holy See Directive on Formation 1990


The following are some comments by Lawrie Hallinan: AMPJP Executive Officer on the applicability of this document to ministerial PJPs:

The Holy See’s 1990 document, Directives on Formation in Religious Institutes, is of limited value as a guide to the formation, identity and role of trustees of ministerial PJPs.


It has some general points about the domains of ongoing formation (#68) that could apply to trustees of ministerial PJPs:


In using the domains above, trustees of ministerial PJPs would understand their “pastoral activity” as being governance and their “professional updating” as referring to skills and knowledge for governance.



Section #29 speaks of the individual having the “first responsibility” for their formation. This is as true for trustees of ministerial PJPs as it is for Religious. Also true is the other point of #29 that the individual’s formation needs must be balanced by the needs of the group to which they belong.


There are some very inspirational sections on the call to discipleship (#8-9, 19) which apply equally to all the baptised. However, the document gives the impression that Religious were not disciples before joining and doesn’t credit the baptised as also having a call to discipleship. Similarly, the document uses scripture references on the nature of the Christian life to support the vowed life of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience but these scriptures were written with reference to discipleship when no Religious Life existed. A more authentic foundation is found in chapter five of Lumen Gentium which states “…that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” (LG#40).


The document is not helpful for the formation of trustees of ministerial PJPs in the following areas:

  • Trustees are lay people and have a call that includes: sexual relationships, family commitments and responsibility for their own current and future financial security. These are essential elements of the person’s life and are their points of encounter with God. There is a need for a different formation document that specifically celebrates and addresses the life situation of laity.

  • The lay vocation is as an individual or family and usually within the wider church rather than primarily within one Religious Institute. Trustees do not necessarily make a lifelong commitment to one Religious Institute although they are assumed to have a lifelong commitment to Jesus and his Church. Many people become trustees because they have a long-standing affinity to the charism/spirituality of the Religious Institute that founded the ministerial PJP. For the duration of their term as trustee the person is expected to deeply love and promote the charism of the ministerial PJP. However, it should not be seen as unusual for former trustees to see the charism/spirituality as just one treasured, but not necessarily dominant, element of their ongoing faith life.

  • The document is addressed to people who give over all aspects of their life to a Religious Institute and often from their young adulthood until death. This enables a formation process that follows the life stages of an adult as well as their stages of incorporation into a group. Religious have a novitiate and a longer period of formation/group inculturation before they are entrusted with roles such as community superior or member of the province leadership team. Formation for the role of trustee of a ministerial PJP is time-limited (maybe 6-10years). Trustees need formation both into the charism of the ministerial PJP and into the community which is the council of trustees to which they are joining. The trustee and Religious have vastly different formation contexts and time frames.


[1] Section #67 is actually a quote from: Mutuae relationes (Holy See (1978:12b) Directives for the mutual relations between bishops and religious in the Church)