Q – When is a good time to extend formation versus saying no?
A – This came up when the Provincial Statutes were being developed. There are two periods; each period can be extended for one year. It can be extended by the Council if it is in the best interest of the candidate. It is not the Formation Director’s idea, but the Council together has the authority to do it. There is no way to build a hard and fast rule for all the circumstances that may arise. The Council will know each candidate and what is his/her best interest. Sometimes candidates do not always know what is in their best interest.
What if they already had an extension and nothing really has changed? The Statutes do not state anything about a second extension. If they cannot complete formation in this period it is highly unlikely they have a true vocation or that they will ever complete it. Thomas said it is his experience that it very seldom pans out. They should say at that time, “This is all there is, if you can’t finish it, then it is not likely that you have a vocation.”
There is the case where someone suffers from an illness. Maybe now is not the time for them, but maybe at a later date. There is also the case of a young mother who is unable to give herself completely, but feels the call deep in her heart. Maybe these people are indeed called, but just not yet! In between time, they can live Carmelite spirituality and when they do come to the community – wow – what a gem!
That kind of situation should not be confused with a situation where the person who is in formation is gravely ill. There is an option to accelerate the process for that person to make the promise.
When we apply our legislative documents, it is always to be done with love! When they were written, we couldn’t know each situation. When you apply them, you can always do it with love!
Because you give an extension, it does not mean a leave of absence. The person must be connected and the community should be praying for them! The connection should still be there.