In between his travels as Superior General, especially his visit to the provinces and entities of Africa, Fr. Heiner Wilmer found time to write a book. The book, not surprisingly, has a clear African connection. After his foray into the life of Abraham in his first year of his office who also at one moment fled to Africa, he now has explored the life of another major figure with an African background: the personality of Moses. It carries the title Hunger nach Freiheit (Hunger for Freedom). It is published by Herder in Freibourg. The events of the life of Moses is throughout juxtaposed with Fr. Heiner’s own experiences, especially his experiences of his recent travels through the African countries of Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Chad, Mozambique and Madagascar. These voyages through Africa left a deep impression on him. To deal with these experiences, he calls on Moses to serve as a key to interpret his own life. The style of this book is similar to a book he published in 2013: Gott is nicht net (God is not nice), very personal, constantly in dialogue with the God who is entangled in our life. In this way this is a very post-modern account. It is a deeply moving book.
On Sunday morning Fr. Willyans notified us about the sudden death of his father in Brazil.
“My father, Mr. João Batista Abreu Couto Rapozo, died this morning after a heart attack. He was taken to hospital but did not resist the attempt of an emergency catheterism.
Please, pray that the Good Lord may grant him eternal life. Pray also for my family, my grandmother Amelia (my father’s mother), my mother Rosa Maria, my brothers Anderson (Erika), Robson (Veronica), Felipe (Daiany), my sister Cintia (Larissa) and the grandkids Heitor and Luiz Gustavo.”
Willyans will go to Brazil this evening to be with his family. Our prayers are with him.
Willians a écrit ce matin:
« Mon père, M. João Batista Abreu Couto Rapozo, est décédé ce matin après une crise cardiaque. On l’a conduit à l’hôpital mais il a succombé malgré les soins d’urgence. Veuillez pour que le Seigneur de miséricorde d’accueille chez lui. Priez aussi pour ma famille, ma grand-mère Amelia (la mère de mon père), ma mère Rosa Maria, mes frères Anderson (Erika), Robson (Veronica), Felipe (Daiany), ma soeur Cintia (Larissa) et les petits-enfants Heitor and Luiz Gustavo.”
Willyans partira ce soir pour le Brésil, afin d’être avec sa famille. Nos prières l’accompagnent.
The picture says it all: on Thursday March 8 Fr. Jim Casper and Willyans Prado Raposo welcomed the arrival of Fr. Antonio Maria Resende Pereira SCJ from Brazil. Fr. Antonio will spend his first few months in Canada becoming better acquainted with the English language. He will then become part of the pastoral team at St. Thomas More and Our Lady of Victory in Scarborough. Fr. Antonio is a member of the Brazil Sao Paolo Province and was ordained last December. Welcome, Fr. Antonio.
During his first months, as he will achieve competency in English, he will be living at the Sacred Heart community at 58 High Park Avenue. On the weekends, he can become acquainted with the parish and the Portuguese Catholics of Our Lady of Victory. In the meantime, we have also heard from Fr. McQueen Mascarenhas, the district superior of India that Fr. Martin Anthony K has also obtained his visa to come to Canada. He too will become a member of the team at St. Thomas More. It will greatly enhance our capacity to serve the parish of 7500 families. Fr. Anthony speaks Spanish and will make it possible for him to attend to the pastoral needs of Spanish-speaking members of the parish.
On February 27 and 28, Regional Council met in Toronto at 58 High Park. Here are some of the highlights of the meeting.
Meeting with the Toronto Community
The members of Council arrived at 28 High Park prior to 4 p.m. so that they could meet with the Toronto community and have supper with them. The community had prepared a dossier about all its ministries. Some points of interest:
- Becoming Neighbours is moving. Until this point the ministry was hosted out of the Scarborough Missions house on Kingston. In August or September of this year the work will be moved to Presentation Manor. Moving to the new residence will also mean a re-evaluation of all the programs and their feasibility. Peter also mentioned that three of his co-workers and prayer partners have died in recent months.
- UMAT Katolik Indonesia has now been in existence 38 years and it is still a vibrant community stretching from London to Scarborough and beyond with about 600 registered families. There are now two distinct cells, one in the east and one in the west of the GTA. There have been discussions in the past few months of concentrating some of the activities at Our Lady of the Rosary. particularly in view of the restorations at St. Anselm’s church where the group has been meeting two Sundays each month. The community has worshipped at St. Anselm’s now for 12 years. Without a personal vehicle, Fr. Yuliwan manages to get around the city to meet with his communities east and west, his bible study groups, his prayer groups.
- St. Thomas More and Our Lady of the Rosary Parish. The parish of 7500 families requires eight Sunday Eucharistic celebrations in Portuguese, Spanish and English. The ethnic mix of St. Thomas More of 30 % from India, Goa, Sri Lanka, 30% from the Philippines, and 40 % from some thirty other countries, continues to amaze. The parish has hired a youth minister. It is hoped that with the two young Vietnamese members and the new priests from India and Southern Brazil who should be arriving in the next months we will be able to set up a vibrant youth program, including a vocational ministry.
- Fr. Willyans Prado Raposo. With the arrival of a newly-ordained Portuguese-speaking priest in the near future, Fr. Wills will have an opportunity to fulfill one of the dreams that brought him to Canada: to begin his post-graduate studies in theology. He has registered at Regis College of the University of Toronto to begin studies in systematic theology in September, 2018. He hopes to complete his Master’s studies in two years.
- Loretto Abbey Infirmary. Fr. Jim Casper continues to celebrate Eucharist at Loretto Abbey twice a week. This ministry will end when the sisters will move to Presentation Manor when it is completed in August or September of this year.
- Presentation Manor. The Region has invested $ 500,000 in the construction of Presentation Manor: a residence for religious, some ministries, and for interested laity. The residence is under construction and ready for occupancy in late summer. At the meeting, Council discussed with the community the feasibility of renting space for our community. Council asked Fr. Maurice Légaré to study the financial implications. Because the Manor is in the east end of Toronto, it would make it easier for the community to gather and to pray/eat/work as one community.
- Lay Dehonian Family. The community has continued to meet with members of the parishes and UKI who are interested in Dehonian spirituality. A group of nine people are now meeting with members of the community as a chapter of the Dehonian family. Fr. Jim is their main chaplain.
Chaplaincy at the Séminaire du Sacré-Coeur. For some time, Council has spoken about having a full-time chaplaincy service at the Séminaire making use of the money with which the Corporation of the school paid to the Congregation for the ownership of the property and the school. The Director of the school, Mr. Christian Lavergne, has indicated his desire to have such a service and he has offered to come to speak to the Ottawa community about his plan for this chaplaincy service.
Finance Committee. Jim Casper presented the minutes of the meeting of the Finance Committee of January 17 in Montréal. In July 2018 the General Bursar, Fr. Luca Zottoli and Mr. Aldo Ivaldi will come to visit our Region. The Finance Committee and the council will meet with them on July 6 in Montréal together with Michel and Benoit Levebvre. On the agenda will be the financial statement of 2017, the finances of the Region, and a report of the investments. We hope also to give a summary of the Financial Review of the Region that will be presented on May 23 at the next meeting of the Council. On their part, the General Bursar’s Office will give the Region an overview of the finances of the Congregation and of our contributions to the Congregation. Fr. Luca and Mr. Aldo will visit the Montreal community from July 4 to 7, Ottawa from July 7-9, and Toronto, July 9 to 12. Their touristic highlight will be a trip to Niagara Falls on July 11.
NORAM meeting. The two North American councils will meet in Hales Corners on April 9. The councils meet twice a year. This time the USA Province hosts. The meetings touch on common issues and on the work of shared commissions.
Feast of the Sacred Heart. Council decided to continue the practice of having a shared gathering on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. The Ottawa community invites all members to come to its community house on Wednesday June 6 and Thursday June 7. At the holy hour on Wednesday John will give a presentation and reflection on the Sacred Heart using the recent book on Dehonian spirituality by Marcello Neri (Giustizia della misericordia)
Annual Assembly. Council decided to hold the annual assembly of the Region from September 17 to 20 at Providence House (1200 Princess Street) in Kingston. It will be a regular session with a celebration of jubilees on Wednesday, September 19. Fr. Paul Tennyson celebrates his 25th anniversary of vows this year. Frs. Aegi Warsito and Yuliwan Maslim celebrate their 25th anniversary of ordination, and Frs. Jim Casper and John van den Hengel celebrate their 60th anniversary of vows.
Participants of the retreat on Macau: January 15 – 22, 2018
I had a hard time locating our house on Macau island to start the retreat. The taxi driver had dropped me on the street but I had difficulty finding number 43. It was a non-descript entry to an apartment building where the community is situated on the first floor with about six rooms, a kitchen and dining space, a common space. Very crowded
for north Americans. It made do for the three days prior to the retreat for me to work out the 13 hour time difference. The community consists of 9 members right now with a tenth one to come from Vietnam in the near future.
All but three of the members are still in the language mode. They are studying Mandarin and Cantonese. Difficult as the language is, the members seem to be fascinated by the characters of Mandarin and Cantonese. Cantonese is the language of Hong Kong and Macau. It is fascinating for a first-time visitor to understand how a pictogram figure becomes a sound but even more so to learn how the character is formed by images. Fr. Stan from Poland showed me his book with Mandarin characters and the lengthy explanation of the images in the character. I had called the retreat “Open Heart” and I found the Mandarin character that translated open heart: 開心.
The retreat began on one of the islands of Macau on January 15. It was an eight day silent retreat with nine participants. I used the format of the North American Retreat held in Mississauga in August, except that this retreat was three days longer. To the topics of the Mississauga retreat I added three other topics: the Sacred Heart as a devotion, mercy as a Dehonian theme and Eucharist. The retreat house belonged to the diocese of Macau and was run by a consecrated lay group. It was beautifully located on a bay separating Macau from the mainland. The hills nearby gave great opportunity for the more adventuresome to walk its beautiful paths which gave wonderful vistas of the island and the beaches.
At the end of December 2017 Fr. Greg Murray finished his year as assistant at Good Shepherd parish in Ottawa and prepared to join the Montréal community. He will be assigned for a two-day a week position at the three parishes of the Unité pastorale for the first months so that he can brush up on the French language and Québec culture. By September 2018 he will be full-time. In the beginning of January he packed everything into his car and settled in at the community house in Montréal. We wish him a fruitful ministry in his old home city.
Every year towards the end of November the International Dehonian Theological Commission meets at the Generalate in Rome give an account of their activities and to plan its future. The Commission consists of five members, one from each continent, with the two members of the Centro Studi Dehoniani, Fr. Stefan Tertunte and Juan Jose Arnaiz, under the presidency of a member of the General Council, in this case, Fr. Artur Sanecki. As is normal for such meetings, the minutes of the meetings of the previous year are read and approved.
It had been decided last year that the committee meeting would also include a round-table discussion on theological issues that had been raised in the past year. 2017 was a year with a symposium (Charism and Devotions: Towards an inculturated Dehonian Identity: July 20 – 25) with all the members of the different theological commissions in the five continents in Yogyakarta. The symposium left a lot of interesting theological tid-bits for our discussion. discuss.
With the papers that were read at the Seminar in July there was a highly valued reflection made on the papers by Sr. Nicla Spezzati, an Italian theologian who works at the Congregation of Consecrated Life in Rome. In her conclusions she summarized in seven points what she thought was the spiritual and intellectual orientation of the Congregation. We have shared her vision at our Assembly in October. It was for most of us a somewhat surprising and uplifting view of the Congregation. The commission decided to spend some time to absorb its text. It then asked Fr. Joao Almeida from Taubate in Brazil to write an article about her conclusions for the Congregation. It will probably appear in one of the next issues of Dehoniana.
Also, as part of the theological discussion, Fr. Stefan Tertunte and John van den Hengel gave a reflection on Dehon’s meditations about the Sacred Heart. The devotion to the Sacred Heart is our central devotion. Fr. Dehon wrote seven books about the Sacred Heart. What is most surprizing about these books that all but one are meditations. The Theological Commission explored the possible implications of this use of meditation for our current understanding of the Sacred Heart. It is clear that for Dehon the devotion to the heart of Christ is a spiritual quest. He wanted his followers to enter mystically and spiritually into the love of God as revealed in the pierced side.
There was also a session on the latest book of Marcello Neri, Giustizia della Misericordia (Justice of Mercy) in which he speaks of Europe and Christianity in the context of Dehonian Spirituality. It is a highly dense book with an interesting, contemporary approach to Dehon. The members of the Commission have accepted to each tackle one of the issues of the book and write an article for Dehoniana. You will be hearing more about this book when the issue of Dehoniana appears.
Finally, the Commission held a lengthy discussion on the next Theological Seminar in 2020. The topic is not quite there yet and will be discussed in each of the continental commissions during this next year. There was a keen interest to examine how for Dehon the Sacred Heart was not only an entry or spiritual thrust into the personal, devotional sphere but also into the social sphere. As he wrote in the first issue of Le Regne: “It is necessary that the cult of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, begun in the mystical life of souls, descends and penetrates in the social life of peoples.” It was felt that this requires a better understanding. A decision will be made at the next meeting of the International Theological Commission next year.
The next meeting will be from November 29 to December 2, 2018.