Building a Formation Community in Time of Pandemic

It goes without saying that we have all faced a myriad of challenges during this time of pandemic. Yet, in the face of these challenges we have still found ways to come together as a community. Doing so, even virtually, has been a critical means of support for many members of the Order. Platforms such as Zoom and other video-conferencing solutions have helped us maintain our ties, join together in prayer, and ensure that we continue to support each other.


Particularly affected by the pandemic were our candidates in formation. With the cancellation of the Day of Formation in March, the Formation Committee and Fra’ Tom Mulligan felt that it was critical to find a way to provide both formation information and support to our candidates. While there is no substitute for actually coming together in one place, it was agreed that it was still important to find ways for the candidates to come together at least virtually.  


The Formation Committee held an initial session with sponsors and hospitallers to go over the format and expectations for both the formal Virtual Formation Program and the coming Year of Formation. Next, over a period of four Zoom video sessions, candidates, sponsors, hospitallers, and presenters were able to exchange valuable information, ask questions, and share reflections.  


In the months to come, members of the Formation Committee will continue to serve as additional mentors to candidates to help them navigate the challenges of completing their Year of Formation during the pandemic. This mentoring effort is not new, and does not replace the crucial role of the sponsors. Rather, it provides another way of linking candidates to the larger Malta community. It is especially important during this time of pandemic to continue to build a sense of community, especially for our prospective newest members.  


I am truly appreciative of everyone who worked to make our Virtual Formation possible. The Order of Malta has been finding innovative solutions for over 900 years. The pandemic is proof we will still be finding new ways to serve!