Letter of Fr. Gustave

 

REGION DU / OF  CANADA

Dear confreres,

Today we are entering Holy Week, a special time in our journey of faith and perhaps in our personal history, given the context in which we will live this highlight of the Church. Many people will not be able to celebrate Easter as they would have liked, especially because of the Coronavirus Pandemic which affected us through the confreres who experienced it directly by contracting the virus or indirectly by providing spiritual, moral, psychological and material support to those who need it most, starting with the members of our respective communities before extending this solidarity to a much wider circle: our parishioners, our families, friends and acquaintances. We cannot yet say that the worst is over because the threat is omnipresent with the third wave on the horizon, but we must gratefully acknowledge the efforts of the international scientific community to put in place vaccines that make us dream of seeing the end of the tunnel and coming out in the months that follow. It is for this reason that I encourage confreres who wish to do so not to hesitate to take the vaccine once they are eligible according to the criteria setup by the health services, and to those who have already received it, all my congratulations despite the sometimes discouraging speeches surrounding these vaccines.

In relation to the life and activities of our region, the regional council and some commissions have met several times to plan or decide on certain issues relating to the smooth running of our entity. Most recently, the Regional Council invited Father Peter McKenna scj to speak about his apostolate with immigrants here in Canada and the work of the North American Immigration Commission. We salute their efforts and their concern to work to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters who are in need and especially in search of the regularization of their status in Canada. Welcoming and accompanying immigrants or asylum seekers is everyone’s job because by this act we not only give a concrete face to Jesus, but also we respond effectively to his invitation: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Mt 25:35).

At the same time, the Council thanked and encouraged Father Antonio Maria Resende Pereira scj in his work as responsible of vocations in our Region. Father Antonio presented his activities with optimism and he highlighted the concrete difficulties in welcoming future or potential Candidates who will knock on our doors. The issues and challenges raised will be the subject of profound analysis at our next regional assembly, since the issue of vocations is not a matter for one person but for all the members of the Region gathered in their local communities.

My dear confreres, let me now point out some news that has characterized the life of our region in recent times and which for us are signs of Providence. In this register, we place the appointment of Father Willyans Prado Rapozo scj as Administrator of St. Helen Parish in Toronto, for a period of six months at the end of which an evaluation and other proposals will be made depending on the circumstances that will arise. We are also grateful to Providence for the arrival of Father Ushindi Kambale Sahani scj, whom the province of Congo has freed to work in the Sault-au-Recollet Pastoral Unit, entrusted to the Priests of the Sacred Heart by the Archdiocese of Montreal.

Another point that we can put to our credit is the permission granted by the General Administration to our entity, to experiment a new process of appointment of the new regional administration. As a reminder, at our Regional Assembly in Kingston (August 12-15, 2019), we discussed without finding a solution, on the procedure in force and which some found very long. This task was subsequently entrusted to the regional council, which, at its council meeting on January 25, 2021, came to propose a text to Rome for ad experimentum use from the next consultation which will take place this summer 2021. The General Government welcomed this proposal, especially as it joined the practice of most of the Congregation’s entities. This is only on an experimental basis and will be evaluated in the next regional Chapter for its adoption and possible inclusion in the Regional Directory. (You’ll find the proposed text attached). I know that this text will not meet everyone’s expectations, but like any human work, it is perfectible and I ask everyone for its effective implementation and amendment when the time comes.

Dear confreres, I also take this opportunity to thank all three communities for the much appreciated work that we have done in relation to the questionnaire received from Rome in connection with our Rule of Life. The various responses have shown the interest we have in this founding text of the Congregation, which for us consists of a code of conduct and a guide for our commitment to Christ as disciples of Father Dehon.

My dear brothers in Christ, I cannot close this message without mentioning the mystery of Easter, which we will soon celebrate in special circumstances, as I pointed out at the beginning of this letter. Easter is this great passage from Darkness to Light, it is the Victory of Good over Evil; it is the victory of Life over Death. It is this good news and this message of faith that we are called to announce, starting with our own community, to encourage each other and to inspire hope in a humanity facing challenges where human beings feel left without a solution. Yes, Christ is alive forever and we are witnessing it.

It is with this optimism of the Easter message that we can dream of a better future and think that in the coming days we will be able to meet again physically as members of the Region and to celebrate our Regional Assembly next Summer or next Fall. This is my wish and that of several confreres. To all of you, I wish Good Holy Week and Happy Easter. May the Light of the Risen Christ enlighten us in our journey and in our ability to renew the “Fiat” of our Baptism and religious Consecration every day of our lives.

 

                                                                                                 

   Chers confrères,

Nous allons bientôt entrer dans la Semaine Sainte, un temps particulier dans notre cheminement de foi et peut-être dans notre histoire personnelle, vu le contexte dans lequel nous allons vivre ce temps fort de l’Église. Plusieurs personnes ne pourront pas célébrer Pâques comme elles l’auraient souhaité, surtout à cause de la Pandémie du Coronavirus qui nous a affectés par les confrères qui l’ont expérimentée directement en ayant contracté le virus ou indirectement en apportant un soutien spirituel, moral, psychologique et matériel à ceux qui en ont le plus besoin, commençant par les membres de nos communautés respectives avant d’étendre cette solidarité à un cercle beaucoup plus large : nos paroissiens, nos familles, amis et connaissances. Nous ne pouvons pas encore dire que le pire est passé car la menace est omniprésente avec la troisième vague qui pointe à l’horizon, mais nous devons reconnaître avec gratitude les efforts déployés par la communauté scientifique internationale, de mettre en place des vaccins qui font que nous puissions rêver de voir le bout du tunnel et en sortir dans les mois qui vont suivre. C’est pour cette raison que j’encourage les confrères qui le souhaitent à ne pas hésiter de prendre le vaccin une fois qu’ils sont éligibles selon les critères suivis par les services de santé, et à ceux qui l’ont déjà reçu, toutes mes félicitations malgré les discours parfois décourageants qui entourent ces vaccins.

Par rapport à la vie et aux activités de notre région, le conseil régional ainsi que certaines commissions, se sont plusieurs fois réunis pour planifier ou statuer sur certaines questions relatives à la bonne marche de notre entité.  Tout récemment, le conseil régional a invité le Père Peter McKenna scj qui a parlé de son apostolat avec les immigrants ici au Canada ainsi que les travaux de la commission nord-américaine d’Immigration. Nous saluons leurs efforts et leur souci de travailler pour améliorer la vie de nos frères et sœurs qui sont dans le besoin et surtout en quête de la régularisation de leur statut au Canada. Accueillir et accompagner les immigrants ou les demandeurs d’Asile, c’est le travail de tout le monde car par cet acte, non seulement nous donnons un visage concret à Jésus, mais aussi nous répondons efficacement à son invitation : J’étais un étranger et vous m’avez accueilli (Mt 25, 35).

Par la même occasion, le Conseil a remercié et encouragé le Père Antonio Maria Resende Pereira scj dans son travail comme chargé des vocations dans notre Région. Le Père Antonio a présenté avec optimisme ses activités en même temps qu’il a souligné les difficultés concrètes par rapport à l’accueil de futurs ou potentiels Candidats qui frapperont à nos portes. Les questions et défis soulevés feront l’objet d’analyse profonde lors de notre prochaine assemblée régionale, étant donné que la question des vocations n’est pas l’affaire d’une personne mais de tous les membres de la Région réunis dans leurs communautés locales.

Chers confrères, permettez-moi de souligner maintenant quelques nouvelles qui ont caractérisé la vie de notre région ces derniers temps et qui pour nous sont des signes de la Providence. Dans ce registre, nous mettons la nomination du père Willyans Prado Rapozo scj comme Administrateur de la Paroisse Saint Hélène à Toronto, pour une période de six mois au bout de laquelle une évaluation et d’autres propositions seront faites selon les circonstances qui se présenteront. Nous sommes également reconnaissants à la Providence, pour l’arrivée du Père Ushindi kambale Sahani scj que la province du Congo a libéré pour travailler dans l’Unité Pastorale Sault-au-récollet, confiée aux Prêtres du Sacré-Cœur par l’Archidiocèse de Montréal.

Un autre point que nous pouvons mettre à notre actif, c’est la permission accordée par l’Administration Générale à notre entité, de pouvoir expérimenter un nouveau processus de nomination de la nouvelle administration régionale. A titre de rappel, lors de notre Assemblée régionale tenue à Kingston (du 12 au 15 Août 2019), nous avons réfléchi sans trouver de solution, sur la procédure en vigueur et que certains ont trouvé très longue. Cette tâche a été confiée par la suite au conseil régional qui est arrivé, lors de son conseil du 25 janvier 2021, à proposer un texte à Rome pour une utilisation ad experimentum à partir de la prochaine consultation qui aura lieu cet été 2021. Le gouvernement général a accueilli cette proposition avec joie surtout qu’elle rejoint la pratique de la plupart d’entités de la Congrégation. Ceci n’est qu’à titre expérimental et sera évalué lors du prochain chapitre régional pour son adoption et son éventuelle insertion dans le Directoire Régional. (Vous trouverez le texte proposé en pièce jointe). Chers confrères, je sais que ce texte ne rejoindra pas les attentes de tout le monde, mais comme n’importe quelle œuvre humaine, elle est perfectible et je sollicite le concours de tout le monde pour sa mise en pratique effective et son amendement le moment venu.

Chers confrères, je saisis également cette opportunité pour remercier toutes les trois communautés pour le travail très apprécié que nous avons fait par rapport au questionnaire reçu de Rome en lien avec notre Règle de Vie. Les différentes réponses ont montré l’intérêt que nous avons vis-à-vis de ce texte fondateur de la Congrégation et qui consiste pour nous un code de conduite et un guide pour notre engagement à la suite du Christ en tant que disciples du Père Dehon.

Chers confrères, je ne peux pas clôturer ce message sans évoquer le mystère de Pâques que nous allons bientôt célébrer dans des circonstances particulières comme je l’ai souligné au début de cette lettre. Pâques c’est ce grand passage des Ténèbres à la Lumière, c’est la Victoire du Bien sur le mal; c’est la victoire de la vie sur la Mort. C’est cette bonne nouvelle et ce message de foi que nous sommes appelés à annoncer en commençant par notre propre communauté, pour nous encourager mutuellement et susciter l’espoir dans une humanité aux prises avec des défis où l’être humain se sent dépourvus de solution. Oui, le Christ est vivant pour toujours et nous en sommes témoins.

C’est avec cet optimisme du message de Pâques que nous pouvons rêver d’un avenir meilleur et penser que dans les jours à venir nous seront capables de nous retrouver physiquement comme membres de la Région pour vivre notre Assemblée régionale l’été ou l’automne prochain. Tel est mon souhait et celui de plusieurs confrères. A vous tous, je souhaite bonne Semaine Sainte et Bonnes fêtes Pascales. Que la Lumière du Ressuscité nous éclaire dans notre cheminement et dans notre capacité à renouveler le Oui de notre Baptême et de notre Consécration religieuse tous les jours de notre vie.

Montréal, March 29, 2021

Gustave Lulendo N’Dotony,scj 

Supérieur régional

 

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Père Ushindi Kambale Sahani est arrivé

Bienvenu!

Fr. Ushindi

Le Père Ushindi Kambale Sahani a finalement rejoint la communauté de Montréal ce 25 février 2021. Après presque une année d’attente, il enfin reçu l’autorisation de voyager vers le Canada. Parti de Kinshasa le 23 février, il est arrivé à l’aéroport Montréal-Trudeau, via Istambul, le 24 à 18h35. Conformément aux consignes sanitaires, il a passé un test de dépistage de la COVID-19 puis a gagné un hôtel pour y attendre le résultat. Celui-ci, négatif, est arrivé cet après-midi et il a donc pu rejoindre la communauté de Montréal pour y poursuivre sa quarantaine. Nous lui souhaitons la plus cordiale bienvenue et espérons qu’il saura apprécier les derniers jours de cet hiver canadien.

Welcome!

Father Ushindi Kambale Sahani finally joined the Montreal community on February 25, 2021. He waited almost a year to finally get the authorization to travel to Canada. He left Kinshasa on the 23 and arrived at the Montreal-Trudeau airport, via Istambul, the 24 at 6h35 PM. In accordance with the sanitary orders, he was tested for COVID-19 and went to a hotel to wait for the result of the test. This afternoon, he got the result, negative, and got permission to go to the Montreal community for the rest of his quarantine. We wish him a warm welcome and we hope he will appreciate the last days of the Canadian winter.

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Regional Council meeting: March 2: 2021

The Regional Council met virtually on March 2, 2021. It started with a review of life in the three communities.

Toronto news

  • The pandemic is still making the members cautious. Yuliwan and the others seek to stay healthy by exercises. They mostly stay at home. The community still meets twice a month on Mondays by zoom between 11:30 and 12:30. For Dehon Day the community held a day of reflection on Dehon. Fr. Andrzej Sudol led the reflection. Also, Paulin Makiala was invited to speak about reconciliation. For the day of reflection also the lay Dehonians joined.  It is hoped  that with Holy Week and Easter there may be greater flexibility for welcoming participants for religious services.
  • The Scarborough community is continuing its pastoral services with lots of telephone calls, communion services on Saturday and Sunday, scheduled daily prayers and adoration for the parishioners.  The community has decided to move their common prayer to noon.
  • The 58 High Park community has discussed their community treasury. Until now Jim Casper has fulfilled the role for a long time and it was felt that the time had come to begin considering training someone else. Fr. Yuliwan Maslim will  with Jim about the finances and the books so that his knowledge and expertise can be maintained.  .

Ottawa news

  • Fr. Herman Falke has written a memoir “A Celebration of Life in Art”. It was done at the request of Mr. Michael Walsh of Burlington who studied with Herman at king’s College in London.  The proceeds of the book will go for supporting future students at King’s College. John van den Hengel wrote the introduction. The book is now with a production company.
  • Council held a lengthy discussion about the pastoral ministry in Vanier which is about to undergo a change. In Vanier the four  Francophone parishes have amalgamated under Marie Médiatrice, of which Frère André is a part. The participation of Franco-Ontarian population of this parish has suffered a severe decline, forcing the Archdiocese of Ottawa with its new Bishop Marcel Damphouse to make some changes. The parishes were no longer financially self-sufficient. Regional Council asked Fr. Gustave to initiate a conversation with the Archdiocese to assure the future ministry of Fr. Elie Muzungu, who has been administrator of Frère André.    

Montréal nouvelles

  • The Montréal community held a day of recollection. Being unable to engage a conferencier, the  community reflected on the questionnaire on the Rule of Life-Constitutions sent by the General Administration on February 2.  
  • Maison Dehon was rented out for the first part of this year to a Ukrainian family (the mother was involved with a group of international students from Ukraine at the Séminaire last year and heads the international student project of the Séminaire). The family found other accommodations and, after a joyful celebration with the community,  left on March 1.
  • The community also reported that during the past week Fr. Ushindi Kambale Sahani from the Congolese Province had arrived in Montréal for an initial three-year appointment to the Canadian Region. The decision to transfer Fr. Ushindi  to our Region was begun in December 2019. Because of Covid-19, after he received his Canadian visa in July 2020, he could not come to Canada. After arrival he entered into a two-week in quarantine. Fr. Ushindo is bilingual since he studied in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.
  • In order to receive the vaccination against COVID-19 somewhat earlier, the Montréal community has registered with the Québec government as a home for seniors. It also means that  Public Health Québec now regularly monitors the house.
  • Br. Dieudonné has returned early from holidays in Cameroon to prevent having to undergo the new restrictions for returning travelers that was imposed by the Federal Government for early February. He returned on February 2.
  • Fr. Richard Woodbury who was in reported that the effects of COVID’19 on his voice continues. He has begun to take more vigorous physical health exercises. He also reported that the Québec government had relaxed the rules regarding gatherings which had been extremely restrictive. He though that the interventions of the Bishops of Québec and Montréal may have influenced the government’s decision. 
  • At the Séminaire the students of group 1 and 2 have classes every day at the school. The students of group 3-5  have distance learning every other day. Fortunately, there have been no COVID cases in the last three weeks at the Séminaire.

Commission Reports

Vocation committee

Fr. Antonio Maria Resende Pereira gave a report on the vocation ministry.  He indicated that he had two contacts. He presented council with a number of questions:

  • Where will future candidates live?
  • Is there a policy regarding immigrants entering the community?
  • At what minimum and maximum age will the community accept candidates?
  • Is there a history of the Canadian Region that we can give the candidates? He was told that there exists an bilingual booklet on the history of the region which he can offer to potential candidates.
  • Is there an introductory questionnaire to give to prospective candidates?
  • Can I count on all the members of the Region being in one way or another vocation directors?

Although Regional Council responded to the questions, it was suggested that  he write up his questions and present them to the council for their consideration and as a topic for the assembly of the Region in August or later this year. Fr. Antonio also asked that the members make use of Dehonian symbols to give the community higher recognition.  He also wanted to acquire other items (bookmarks, a statue of Fr. Dehon, and pamphlets). He has had little contact with the  vocation committee (Frs. Willyans Raposo, Yuliwan Maslim and Paulin Makiala) because of COVID-19. Fr. Antonio will present a budget for the vocation ministry and present it at a future meeting of Council.

Migration committee

Fr. Peter McKenna gave a report on Becoming Neighbours and the North-American Migration Commission.

  1. Becoming Neighbours

Fr. Peter provided background to the Becoming Neighbours ministry that has been in operation since 2006 mainly through the efforts of Sr. Margaret of the St. Joseph Sisters. The project has become a ministry to Refugees in the Toronto area. There are 20 religious communities that participate in the ministry. The pandemic has made the work much more restrictive but also dangerous.  The office at Presentation Manor has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. Peter stays in touch by telephone and zoom.

Fr. Peter talked about a new project: “Gathering Place” seeking the help of the Toronto Separate School Board to allow him to use a three-floor office space for refugee services. The “Gathering Place” would function  as a one-stop place where refugees can obtain all the information that is required for their status as refugees. This project has received the approval and finances from the religious communities of Toronto. Council agreed to provide monetary support of $ 5,000 to this project.

2. Migration Commission

Fr. Peter also heads the Migration Commission of the US Province and the Canadian Region. Members of the commission are Richard MacDonald (Co-chair) Mark Peters, Tony Russo, Jan de Jong, Diego Diaz and Lily Ooi. Since there is no member of the Montréal community, Fr. Gustave approached the recently-arrived Fr. Ushindi to become a member.  The commission meets four times a year. However, since the beginning of COVID – 19 the commission has met by zoom eleven times. The commission has published two brochures one on Sr. Norma  who is involved with the cross-border refugees in the Southern United States and the second, entitled “Restoring Human Dignity” which has been translated in French, Indonesian, Spanish, and Vietnamese, on the ministry to refugees . The booklet is based on the model of “ See, Judge, Act”.  Fr. Peter encouraged all to prominently display the brochures in their places of ministry.

With Mark Peters, the director of the US Social Justice Office, retiring in the near future,  the commission is looking again at its mission and hopes to attract younger members. It is putting in place a new communications strategy, with as its central theme the protection of children, many of whom have been separated from their parents, particularly in the United States during the Trump Administration. The commission also sponsors family reunification. Fr. Peter reported that normally it takes two years for refugees to be recognized as such and another three years to get accepted by countries. For African applicants it takes even longer. For African migrants there are  only three places on the African continent for refugees to be processed.

Theological Commission

The theological commission consists of John van den Hengel (chair), Gustave Lulendo, Charles Brown, and Zbigniew Morawiec.

The International Dehonian Theological Commission met  by  zoom on December 4 – 6, 2020. From this meeting came an international project to continue the topic of the 2020 Seminar SINT UNUM and to undertake a study of the situation post-COVID. Together with Fr. Manuel Antonio Teixeira of Venezuela, John van den Hengel was asked to head this project.  

In a letter sent to Fr. Stefan Tertuente and Artur Sanecki  at the end of December, Fr. Antonio and John proposed two projects: (1) a questionnaire to be sent to  the different entities of the Congregation asking their members what they had learned from the COVID -19 experience and (2) a more academic work by the members of our international community to address a number of situations affected by the coronavirus. In their meeting of February 2, the General Council did not accept the first proposal but it did the second. As a consequence the International Commission met by zoom on February 20 to discuss the academic project.

Frs. Manuel Antonio Teixeira and John van den Hengel were asked to act as editors of the project to be published by the end of 2021; The texts of the project – 25 papers to be written by the members of the Congregation on a variety of topics on the effect of the pandemic – were to be 10 pages (space and a half) in length. The proposals for papers were to be in  by April 20 of this year. The North American Commission will meet by zoom on March 18 to present their concrete proposals and possible authors.

John van den Hengel, after discussion with the members of the North American Commission, was renewed for a mandate of three-year as president of the commission. The appointment has also been confirmed by the US Province at their meeting of March 9.

Regional Directory

Fr. Richard Woodbury presented the new procedure for the change of administration for the Canadian Region. Council  accepted the new procedure to be used for the next administration. They have since then been accepted by the General Council and will be used for the appointment of the next Regional Administration this year. The full text of the process is given here.

English follows the French text

DIRECTOIRE RÉGIONAL, IV, A: STRUCTURES DE GOUVERNEMENT. 

2, e: Consultation pour une nouvelle administration régionale scj. NOUVEAU PROCESSUS. PROPOSITION.  En vue de la nomination d’un nouveau Conseil régional…               

1- Six mois avant la fin du mandat de l’administration régionale, le Supérieur régional et son Conseil nommeront un scrutateur qui devra mettre en marche le processus de consultation.

2- Le scrutateur procède d’abord à un sondage d’opinion, en envoyant à chaque membre de la Région, y compris aux profès de vœux temporaires, une liste complète des membres éligibles au poste de Supérieur Régional et de conseiller régional, de même qu’un bulletin de sondage sur lequel on peut inscrire le nom de trois candidats potentiels au poste de Supérieur  régional. Il indique aussi une date limite, soit le jour et la date  où les bulletins doivent lui être retournés. Ce sondage est fait à titre indicatif et n’a aucune valeur légale.

3- Sur réception des bulletins dûment complétés, le scrutateur compile les résultats et dresse une liste des candidats potentiels en indiquant le nombre de votes reçus par chacun. Ces résultats du sondage font alors partie d’un nouvel envoi offrant l’information sur les procédures de consultation, un bulletin de vote invitant à inscrire trois candidats au poste de supérieur régional, et quatre candidats  au poste de conseiller régional. Le scrutateur inclut également  toutes les autres indications jugées utiles ou nécessaires, dont la date limite pour le retour des bulletins de vote, soit le jour et la date.            

4- Chaque communauté locale est invitée, par son supérieur local, à se rassembler pour échanger sur les résultats du sondage, en tenant compte des vrais besoins de la Région et des candidats les plus en mesure de répondre à ces attentes et orientations de la Région. Cette rencontre ne vise ni à exercer quelque pression ni à orienter de quelque façon les choix de chacun. Durant cette rencontre, le supérieur rappelle à chacun la nécessité de respecter la date limite indiquée par le scrutateur.             

Chaque membre complète ensuite son bulletin de vote en indiquant dans l’ordre de préférence ses trois choix comme supérieur régional et quatre noms comme conseiller régional, en les justifiant, de préférence.   Il importe que les confrères respectent la date limite de retour des bulletins.                

5- Dès qu’il aura reçu les bulletins de vote, le scrutateur s’empressera de les faire parvenir au Gouvernement Général, par courrier recommandé, sans les ouvrir, préservant ainsi la confidentialité absolue du vote.        

6- Le Conseil Général examine alors les résultats de ce vote puis le Supérieur Général, avec le consentement de son Conseil, nomme le nouveau Supérieur régional. Le Conseil Général vérifie ensuite auprès du nouvel élu s’il accepte la charge de Supérieur régional. 7- Après consultation avec le nouveau Supérieur régional, le Conseil Général procède à la nomination de trois conseillers qui vont composer, avec le Supérieur régional, le nouveau Conseil régional.                              

English:

REGIONAL DIRECTORY, IV, A: STRUCTURES OF GOVERNMENT.  

2, e:  Consultation for a new SCJ Regional Administration. NEW PROCESS. PROPOSAL.   In view of the appointment of a new Regional Council   

1- Six months before the end of the term of office of the regional administration, the regional superior and his council name a scrutineer who begins the consultation process.   

2- The scrutineer proceeds with a straw vote. He will send to each member of the Region, including those in temporary vows, a list of all members eligible for the office of regional superior, together with a consultation form on which three names for the office of regional superior can be proposed. He also indicates a dead line, that is the day and the date on which the consultation forms must be sent back to him. This consultation is done as an indicative process and has no legal value.   

3- Upon receipt of the completed forms, the scrutineer will add up the results and will compose a list of the names proposed, together with the number of times each name appeared. The results of this straw vote are then part of a new mailing including all information about the consultation procedures and a consultation form on which each recipient will write down three candidates for the office of regional superior, and four candidates for the office of regional councillor.  Also to be included are all necessary and useful indications, such as the deadline for the sending back of the ballots, that is the day and the date. 

4- It would be most appropriate for each local community to meet in order to discuss the needs of the Region, and which candidate(s) might best respond to the needs and desired direction of the Region. In no way should this community meeting be an occasion for anyone to direct or pressure members into selecting a candidate from the published list. During that meeting, the superior reminds every one of the necessity to respect the deadline that the scrutineer has indicated.   Each member then completes his consultation form, indicating the order of preference of his three choices as Regional superior, and his four choices as Regional councillor, preferably giving the reasons for his choices. It is really important that the confreres respect the given deadline   

5- When the scrutineer receives the completed consultation forms, he sends them directly to the Superior general, by recommended mail, without opening them, thus preserving the absolute confidentiality of the vote.’   

6- The General Council examine the results of this vote and then the Superior General, with the consent of his Council, appoints the new Regional superior.  The General Council then checks with the new elected superior whether he accepts the charge of Regional superior.  

7- After consultation with the new Regional superior, the General Council then proceeds with the appointment of three councillors who together with the Regional superior will compose the new regional Council.

Rule of Life

On February 2 the Region received a questionnaire from the General Administration regarding the Rule of Life. The General Administration had proposed in the programmatic letter to have a new look at the Rule of Life. It now seeks to consult the various groups in the Congregation. Council decided to send the text to the communities with a cover letter of Fr. Gustave to discuss the section of the questionnaire that pertained to the communities. The members of Council were asked to gather the responses of the communities and present them to Council at a zoom meeting of March 24.

Contact with the Archdiocese of Toronto

In a report sent to Council, Fr. Jim Casper reported on a meeting  with Msgr. Thomas Kalarathil, the personnel director of the Archdiocese of Toronto on February 23, 2021 regarding the presence of the community in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Correspondence

1- Letter from the Indonesian Province

Council reflected on the letter received from Fr. Yulius Sunardi of the Indonesian Province in which he announced to us the arrival of Fr. Antonius Suedi Oki Kuncoro who will be asked to work in Canada for the next six years. It was decided that he would undertake to work in Montréal with the Indonesian community there. Fr. Kuncoro was born on April 17, 1981. In order for him to study English, he will first go to Ottawa for six months and subsequently to Montréal to study French and to work with the Indonesian community there.

2- Letter from Mozambique

Fr. Claudino da Piedade scj  from the Province of Mozambique has requested  financial help for office equipment for the Instituto Medio Agro-Industrial de Gurué. Council approved an amount of 5,000 euro. John van den Hengel, who has visited the school as a General Councillor proposed that the Mission Office take on this project for future funding.

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International Dehonian Theological Commission

An image of the members on Google Meet: Arthur Sanecki, Stefan Tertünte, Michael Augustin (Ind), Joseph Kuate (Cam), Manuel Antonio Texeira (Ven), Stephano Zamboni (It) and Jakub Bieszczad. Absent: John van den Hengel (Can)

On December4 -6 the International Dehonian Theological Commission met by Google Meet. Present were the Coordinator of Centro Studi in Rome, Fr. Stefan Tertünte, Fr. Artur Sanecki, General Councilor, and the coordinators of the commissions of the five continents. The Commission meets once a year.

Fr. General Carlos Luis gave a brief introductory statement, encouraging the commission to help the Congregation to walk in the way of our charism today in this world – so different from even a year ago.

The meeting began with a review of the activities of each of the continental theological commissions. Each commission has its own theological agenda for their meetings throughout the year, such as Asia who has begun to examine the meaning of reparation in the Asian context or Europe who has undertaken a study of Dehon’s Couronnes d’amour. This exchange of information is valuable because it allows the Commission members to see the broad range of interest of the continental commissions.

Also Centro Studi gave an overview of its activities. Some of the information of Centro Studi:

  1. The papers of the Sacred Heart Congress held at the Generalate in November 2019 have now been published in a volume with the title Sacred Heart Devotion. It has just been published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in Göttingen, Germany. The academic papers were read by mainly historians and theologians. The cost of the volume is 70 euro.
  2. The book of David Neuhold on Fr. Dehon has now been translated into Italian (Stepano Zamboni), English (John van den Hengel), and Spanish (Juan José Arnaiz Ecker). The English version will also appear in digital form on the website of Centro Studi.
  3. The website of Centro Studi will also publish the biography of Fr. Dehon by Bishop Joseph Philippe, the second Superior General. The biography is noteworthy because it provides a perspective of Fr. Dehon by someone who was very close to him. As Stefan Tertünte remarked: “The last years have shown the value of the writings of Fr. Dehon. Dehon displayed a deep spiritual method.”
  4. The website has also updated the publication of the letters of Fr. Dehon. Centro Studi has uncovered more than 10.000 letters and has transcribed them. Currently his letters up to 1901 have been edited and can be found on the Congregational website.

Other topics of discussion on the agenda of the International Commission meeting were:

The Constitutions are under discussion again. A number of members of the Congregation have indicated a desire to re-read and revitalize the constitutions. They have found that the text of the Constitutions reflects too strongly the optimism of the church after Vatican II and insufficiently the contemporary way of reading our spirituality. The Commission proposed to the General Administration that a committee be set up to undertake this rereading and revitalization of the Constitutions.

The Theological Seminar on Sint Unum

The Commission also did an evaluation of the Theological Seminar on Sint Unum of last July. As a first experience of a virtual meeting, most found that the Seminar was successful. It certainly reduced the cost of holding such a seminar. Although the final statement of the seminar was highly praised, the commission found that the results of the meeting were not sufficiently practical. As a consequence, the commission asked that each member to write a 4-10 page submission on how he would apply the results of the seminar in his own area, to assess the obstacles to Sint Unum in his continent, and to consider ways of resolving the obstacles. These papers would be circulated among the members of the International Commission. The results would be presented to the General Council by June 2021.

COVID 19

Since it is the aim of the Theological Commission to promote a theological and cultural reflection on urgent, current issues, the Commission discussed each member to reflect on the impact of COVID 19 upon our lives. What have learned this past year? The result of the reflections will be passed on to the General Administration.

General Conference 2021

The General Administration also asked for input in the determination of the topic of the 2021 General Conference. Our General Directory says that during the course of the mandate of a Superior General he is to call a General Conference “of a consultative nature” (Const. 139). The Conference next year will be held in 2021 and will probably be virtual. The topic is not yet fully determined but the General Administration is thinking of having a discussion on the teaching of Pope Francis as found in Laudato si, Fratelli tutti, Evangelii Gaudium and Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Christus vivit and how it might impact our understanding of the D ehonian charism. Originally a General Conference was to slated for Manilla in 2018 but with the appointment of the previous Superior General as Bishop of Hildesheim, the Conference was replaced with a General Chapter. Much has happened since 2018 and the Congregation is finding itself in a different place today. The Commission encouraged the exploration of the topic and is asking the Continental Theological Commissions to become involved in the discussions on the topic and the modality of the General Conference.

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Meeting of the Regional Council : Number 131

The Regional Council met virtually on November 12 with all members present.

The communities of the Region

The Council members reported on the situation of each community in this time of pandemic.

During this time some members of the Toronto and Montréal have tested positive. For that reason, some of the reporting on the communities dealt with the coronavirus epidemic and the impact it has had on our communities. Here some other items on the life of each community:

On November 11 the Toronto community commemorated the deceased members of the community by  visiting the cemetery.

Fr. Willyans Raposo has obtained his licentiate in Theology at Regis College in Toronto with an A for his work on a thesis entitled: “There is One Body and One Spirit.” (Eph. 4.4): Challenges and Perspectives of the Roman Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue in Brazil.” He is currently helping out at St. Anthony’s parish. With the completion of his studies Fr. Gustave will be contacting the Toronto Community in order to consider expanding our ministry in the Toronto area.

Fr. Martin Kadamattu has helped in the ministry to Catholics from the state of Kerala (India) for about two months

Fr. Peter Sanders recently underwent cataract surgery on his right eye. He will undergo a second operation in the near future. Fr. John van den Hengel also had cataract surgery on the right eye. His left eye will be operated on on December 15.

Fr. Pauline Makiala is following some online courses from Saint Paul University. He has involved with the Congolese community in Ottawa where he has given a number of lectures.

On December 15 a stairlift will be installed in the house of Ottawa to facilitate movement between the first and second floor for Fr. Herman Falke. As an interesting side note, Fr. Herman has been encouraged through his correspondence with Mr. Michael Walsh to write his memoirs in order to allow others to benefit from the message of his biblical sculptures.

Fr. Gustave Lulendo reported on his recent visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was present at the ordination to episcopacy of a classmate and friend.

Mission Office.  Also, the Mission Office was on the agenda of Council. For some time, it has been felt that Mme Nicole Béland who has run the Mission Office since the retirement of Fr. Claude Bédard should receive additional help. Fr. Gustave and Frère Dieudonné will assist the Finance Committee to write a job description for Mme Béland and for the second person in the office who is to assist her with different projects of the Office, the annuities and with the other financial dimensions of the Office.

Conseil d’administration: Pointe-au-Chene: Fr. John van den Hengel asked to be relieved of his position on the Conseil d’administration at the Séminaire du Sacré-Coeur. He took over the position when he became Regional Superior. Since Fr. Richard Woodbury is more involved at the Séminaire and has better insight into its workings, he was asked to take over that position. He accepted the position “for the time being.”

M. Robert Laurin. M. Robert Laurin, the chaplain at the Séminaire, indicated that because of the lingering repercussions of his cancer, he had offered his resignation. Council expressed their appreciation for the work that he did at the Séminaire. It was decided to find a replacement in order that the school may retain its Catholic identity. It was suggested that Fr. Gustave speak with Christian Lavergne, the principal of the school, about the replacement of M. Robert Laurin.

GST Québec: The community of Montréal has contacted the office regulating GST refunds in Québec. They have obtained a Québec registration number and will begin to send the QST tax portion for rebates.

Finances  Paul Tennyson gave a report on the finances of the Region.

  1. The investment portfolio has recovered almost completely after the initial financial downturn due to COVID 19. The situation of the local communities is also solid so that this year we did not have to dip into our investments to cover the number of construction projects in the three communities.
  2. Fr. Paul asked that all communities and individuals with bank accounts send him their bank statement of 2020 as soon as possible in January. The bank statement should indicate the December 31 balance of the account.
  3. A Financial Meeting is planned for December 14 to receive from M. Michel Lefebvre an update on the financial situation of the Region.
  4. Fr. Paul reported that because of the rent control imposed by the Province of Ontario in relation to COVID 19, Presentation Manor of Scarborough asked to be able to postpone one of the interest payments. These had been set at 1 %.  Since the payment could not be made, the Board approached all stakeholders for their permission. Council agreed.
  5. Fr. Paul also reported that with the introduction of new higher rents on the properties in Montréal, the SCJ community there has not asked for additional subsidies.
  6. The request for a contribution towards a  vehicle for the Kilwa community was approved.
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Félicitations, Willyans

P. Willyans écrit:

Heureux de célébrer une victoire de plus dans ma vie. Terminer mon Master avec une note ′′ A ′′ sur ma thèse est un accomplissement inestimable.

Le sujet est : ′′ Il y a un corps et un esprit.” (Éph. 4.4) : Défis et perspectives du Dialogue catholique-pentecôtiste au Brésil.”

Fr. Willyans writes:

Happy to celebrate one more victory in my life. To finish my Master’s degree with an “A” grade on my thesis is a priceless accomplishment.

The topic is: “There is One Body and One Spirit.” (Eph. 4.4): Challenges and Perspectives of the Roman Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue in Brazil.”

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What can I do to respond to migrants and their needs?

The following text is from a brochure published by the North American Migration Committee. Links to the brochures in English, French, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese, along with accompanying letters, are available at the end of this page.

More than ever before, we are aware that there are countless migrants in every part of the world. They are fleeing from danger, from ecological devastation, from tyranny and oppression. Life is so unbearable that it is preferable to abandon their homes and risk the unknown in search for a place to live safely and with dignity. We invite you to turn your mind and heart to Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan who crossed the road to care for his neighbor who was beaten, robbed, and abandoned. As followers of Jesus, who teaches us that every human being is our neighbor claiming our love and attentiveness, how do we respond to the suffering of migrants among us searching for a place to belong? How does the Parable of the Good Samaritan call us to go further than just to say a prayer for the faceless and nameless mass of migrants?

Pope Francis identified migration as the greatest challenge of our time. We, as Dehonians, have tried to find various ways to respond to those most in need and to challenge each other to act on what we observe. Yet, we were not ready to be so disturbed by what we saw. We still are searching for ways to help migrants reclaim the dignity taken from them. So we want to share how we started our journey.

We chose a very traditional process called “SEE, JUDGE, and ACT”. This model, common in Catholic Social Teaching, has helped many of us to analyze and act upon what we observe. Those who take this journey often experience a change of mind and heart.

It is imperative that we remember that we enter this process as followers of Jesus. That is why it is important to begin with prayer, especially Prayer to the Holy Spirit. We pray that we may know God’s will and act with a love that has its roots in the Heart of Jesus.

SEE

Realizing your response begins by knowing what is true.

Meet a migrant in your area. Listen to his/her story. Try to understand the pain, frustrations, and courage of this person.

Share the history of your own family arriving in North America. What were their struggles and what were their hopes for the future? What helped them to make this country their home?

JUDGE

Why are migrants forced to leave their homes? What are the root causes? As we try to understand what is happening, we begin to engage in social analysis to arrive at an informed judgement.

Helpful resources include (click on the desired link):

Why Don’t They Just Get In Line? 
Message Of His Holiness Pope Francis For The 106th World Day Of Migrants And Refugees 2020
Read Laudato Si’ on the Care of our Common Home (LS 52 and 91)

ACT

Prayerfully look again at the Parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke Ch10) Let the Holy Spirit guide you. Let the unconditional love of the Sacred Heart be your model. Our actions might seem so limited but there are ways each one of us can make a difference.

Possible actions for you to consider:

Get to know a migrant family. Experience their culture and even learn some of their language. Offer to help them learn your culture and language. Sponsor/adopt a migrant family. Learn about migrant services in your community. Use your voice as a citizen to advocate for more humane migration policies. Offer your time and financial resources to agencies working with migrants.

Helpful resources include (click on the desired link):

Your local Catholic Charities website.
Dehonian Social Justice
Archdiocese of Chicago: this is perhaps the best web page available regarding Ministry to Migrants.
This link brings you to the methodology of SEE, JUDGE, and ACT. This will be valuable to get you started.

Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ

Click here to learn more about Sr. Norma’s ministry.

Consider donating to her ministry:

Sr. Norma Pimentel, MJ
700 N. Virgen de San Juan Blvd. 
P.O. Box 1306
San Juan, TX 78589

To receive her “needs list”: 956-702-4088

To help us journey with migrants we pray:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

The materials on this page were prepared by the North American Migration Committee of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). The text is available as a brochure at the links below (or at the top of the page). 

Cover photo is by Veronica Cardenas, from her exhibit “traveling soles”. She has graciously donated her copyright fee in solidarity with Sister Norma’s ministry

DOWNLOAD THE TEXT ABOVE AS A BROCHURE:

English (letter)       French (letter)       Indonesian (letter)     

Portuguese (letter)       Spanish (letter)       Vietnamese (letter)

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Paulin Makiala: Maîtrise en Études de conflits

Le Père Paulin Makiala est heureux d’annoncer qu’il a officiellement terminé sa Maîtrise en Études de conflits. L’Université St-Paul lui a fait parvenir son diplôme il y a quelques jours. La communauté d’Ottawa célébrera ce succès lundi prochain, le 14 septembre. Le Père Gustave sera présent. Félicitations à Paulin!

Père Paulin with the Master of Conflict Studies certificate

Father Paulin Makiala is happy to announce that he officially finished his MA in Conflict Studies. He redeived his diploma from St. Paul University a few days ago. The Ottawa community will celebrate this success next Monday, Sept. 14. Father Gustave will be present. Congratulations, Paulin!

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Black Lives Matter

The communications office of the General Administration asked Gustave Lulendo and Maurice Légaré to write their views on the issue that has engaged North Americans during this summer: the unequal treatment of blacks in our societies. Here are the two reports, the first one by Gustave, the second by Maurice.

(editor)

Venant d’un pays qui a connu l’esclavage, la colonisation, la dictature puis la guerre, il est tout à fait naturel de réagir face à la discrimination sous toutes ses formes ou encore à l’injustice surtout quand celle-ci tend à s’institutionaliser. Avec le mouvement Black Lives Matter initié à la suite de la mort de George Floyd, nous avons vu comment l’humanité tout entière peut réagir et répondre à ceux qui entretiennent les anti-valeurs. Il ne s’agissait plus d’un slogan mais d’un plan d’action pour dénoncer voire éradiquer le racisme; les différentes voix qui se sont levées avaient pour but de changer les choses dans le présent mais surtout pour un futur meilleur pour toute l’humanité. Le racisme n’est donc que la pointe de l’iceberg qui cache une grande masse de discrimination; cependant lutter contre ce  fléau en particulier est déjà un engagement à voir les choses bouger.

Père Gustave avec le Supérieur général

Il n’est pas seulement question de protéger une minorité jugée par la couleur de sa peau, mais de l’engagement de toute l’humanité contre les discriminations basées sur le sexe, la religion, la race pour ne citer que ces aspects contingents. Le combat n’est donc pas une affaire des noirs contre les blancs, c’est plutôt la préoccupation d’une humanité soucieuse de faire de la terre un lieu commun où tout le monde a les mêmes droits fondamentaux qui promeuvent sa dignité. Garder silence face à ce phénomène c’est accepter l’exclusion et dénier le droit d’exister à une catégorie des personnes. Par vocation, nous sommes appelés à vivre ensemble dans l’acceptation de nos diversités qui peuvent devenir des opportunités plutôt que de nous appesantir sur ce qui nous différencie.

Les expériences des uns comme des autres doivent nous pousser à l’action. Mon expérience personnelle, comme noir vivant dans un pays dont la majorité de la population est blanche, ne m’a jamais découragé mais m’a permis de prendre conscience de la réalité et sans juger les autres, de comprendre les limites des autres qui s’enferment dans les préjugés raciaux. Voir une personne blanche quitter un siège parce que je me suis assis à côté d’elle, ou encore cette femme chargée à qui je cède ma place, ne veut pas l’accepter parce que je suis noir et un arrêt plus loin accepte la place qui lui est offerte par un blanc, sont autant de comportements qui touchent et qui nous parlent. Parfois certains discours venant de ceux qui nous sont proches par le style de vie et qui stigmatisent les noirs comme inférieurs aux blancs à cause de la simple pigmentation de la peau blessent le noir que je suis alors que pour celui qui les tient, c’est un fait normal. Les exemples sont légions mais nous ne devons pas nous limiter à les énumérer, il faut une action, une réaction mais pas en utilisant les même armes que les auteurs de ces actes et paroles odieux.

Comme prêtres du Sacré-Cœur, nous sommes héritiers d’une tradition basée sur l’amour et l’acceptation de l’autre comme don. Le Sint Unum cher au Père Dehon notre fondateur, peut devenir ainsi un tremplin et une réponse face à la question de la discrimination, mais il faut une éducation à cela et que chacun essaie de le traduire en actes concrets dans son milieu de vie; ce sera un témoignage éloquent pour l’humanité et ainsi l’invitation du Christ à l’amour mutuel aura toute sa signification : « Aimez-vous les uns les autres; comme je vous ai aimés » (Jn 13, 34-35). A chacun d’agir là où il se trouve si nous voulons que l’humanité ressemble à une grande famille où la vie vaut la peine d’être vécue.   

Coming from a country that has experienced slavery, colonization, dictatorship and then war, it is quite natural to react to discrimination in all its forms or to injustice, especially when it tends to be institutionalized. With the Black Lives Matter movement initiated after the death of George Floyd, we have seen how humanity can react and respond to those who hold anti-values. It was no longer a slogan but an action plan to denounce or even eradicate racism; the different voices that rose up aimed at changing things in the present but above all for a better future for all humanity. Racism is therefore only the tip of the iceberg which hides a great deal of discrimination; however, fighting against this scourge in particular is already a commitment to seeing things change.

It is not only a question of protecting a minority judged by the color of its skin, but of the commitment of all humanity against discrimination based on sex, religion, race to name only these contingent aspects. The fight is therefore not a matter of blacks against whites, it is rather the aim of a humanity concerned with making the earth a common place where everyone has the same fundamental rights which promote their dignity. To remain silent to this phenomenon, is to accept exclusion and deny the right to exist to a category of people. By vocation, we are called to live together in accepting our diversities which can become opportunities rather than dwelling on what differentiates us.

Each other’s experiences should spur us to action. My personal experience, as a black person living in a country where the majority of the population is white, has never discouraged me but allowed me to become aware of reality and without judging others, to understand the limits of others who s ‘trapped in racial prejudice. To see a white person leave a seat because I sat down next to her, or this woman to whom I offered my sit, did not accept it because I am black and one stop further accepts the place offered to her by a white person, are all behaviors that touch and speak to me. Sometimes certain comments coming from those who are close to us by the lifestyle and who stigmatize blacks as inferior to whites because of the simple pigmentation of the skin hurt the black that I am whereas for the one who holds them, it is a normal fact. The examples are legion but we should not limit ourselves to enumerating them, we need an action, a reaction but not using the same weapons as the authors of these heinous acts and words.

As priests of the Sacred Heart, we are heirs to a tradition based on love and acceptance of the other as a gift. The Sint Unum dear to our founder Father Dehon can thus become a springboard and a response to the question of discrimination, but this requires education and everyone must try to put it into concrete acts in their living environment; it will be an eloquent witness for humanity and thus Christ’s invitation to mutual love will have its full meaning: “Love one another; as I have loved you ”(Jn 13, 34-35). It is up to everyone to act where they are if we want humanity to be like one big family where life is worth living.

Gustave Lulendo scj.                

BLACK LIVES MATTER! Voici un slogan que l’on peut entendre ou lire dans de nombreux pays aujourd’hui. Si je suis d’accord avec cette revendication, j’aimerais bien qu’on en élargisse le sens. Il fait bien sûr référence aux manifestations de racisme que subissent nos sœurs et frères noirs, et plus spécialement encore aux actes extrêmes de racisme où des gens sont tués ou grièvement blessés. N’oublions pas cependant que toute minorité est susceptible d’être discriminée. C’est le cas par exemple des Premières Nations en Amérique du Nord, et de plusieurs autres groupes. Cette discrimination se révèle parfois plus subtile : un membre de ma communauté a été interpellé par un policier parce que « dans ce quartier, il est rare de voir un Noir conduire une telle voiture », a expliqué l’officier.

Maurice Légaré

Nous savons tous que ce genre de choses existe, mais ne les considérons pas toujours comme importantes. C’est très différent quand cela vous arrive à vous-mêmes ou à un proche. Comme Dehoniens, nous devons être attentifs à toute forme de discrimination et apporter notre soutien à ceux qui en sont victimes, parce que nous croyons que nous sommes tous frères et sœurs. Selon nos possibilités, nous devons aussi dénoncer de tels comportements et tenter d’éduquer les personnes avec qui et pour qui nous travaillons à faire de même, et prier pour qu’un jour nous puissions vraiment dire : « Il n’y a plus ni juif ni grec, il n’y a plus ni esclave ni homme libre, il n’y a plus l’homme et la femme, car tous, vous ne faites plus qu’un dans le Christ Jésus » (Galates, 3,28) ainsi que ALL LIVES MATTER!

Maurice, scj

BLACK LIVES MATTER! This is the slogan that we hear and read in many countries these days. If I agree with it, I wish we could widen its significance. It certainly refers to manifestation of racism against our Black brothers and sisters, and especially extreme manifestations of it where people died or were seriously injured. But we must not forget that all minorities may be object of discrimination. It is the case, for example, with First Nations in North America, or other groups. Ans discrimination is sometimes more subtle: a member of my community had his car controlled because “in that neighbourhood, it is unusual to see a Black person driving such a car”, said the police officer.

This is the kind of things that most of us know, but don’t consider very important. It is different when this happens to you or to a person close to you. As Dehonians, we must be attentive to all manifestations of discrimination and support the victims of those, because we strongly believe that we are all brothers and sisters. As far as we can, we should also denounce such behaviours and try to educate people to whom we minister to do the same, pray that one day we can say: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3, 28) and that ALL LIVES MATTER!

Maurice, scj

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Canadian Region meets in virtual assembly

The Montréal community during the assembly

The Canadian Region held its Assembly on August 31, 2020, through a zoom meeting connecting our three SCJ communities located in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. All but two of the confreres were present. The meeting opened  with a song, followed by a prayer and opening speech given by our Regional Superior, Fr. Gustave Lulendo. Due to the  COVID 19 pandemic there could only be a virtual gathering of the community. He hoped that it could lead to a “dialogue about our community life as it is lived in the everyday” during this pandemic. He also gives a brief history of the last regional meetings, and acknowledged the efforts taken by all confreres who cared for the well being of our communities and ministries during the pandemic. A special congratulation was directed to our confreres celebrating their birthdays, Fr. Herman Falke (92, on August 31) and Fr. Aegi Warsito (55, on September 1), as well as to this year’s jubilarians. The regional superior concluded his remarks remembering that we are completing 110 years of SCJ presence in Canada, an important event to celebrate.

From Rome, the general councillor, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, joined the meeting and shared how the General Council is also looking for new ways to work and live together during the pandemic time. He commended the Region for organizing this virtual assembly and wished fruitful discussions for the good of our life and ministry. Then, each member of the Region was asked to briefly share their lives, projects and personal experiences in the last months. In general, despite the challenges of COVID 19 pandemic, all confreres have been making good use of their time. Many expressed their appreciation as our communities are spending more time praying together, cooking and sharing meals. In fact, during the lockdown, our communities have changed significantly with both losses and gifts. Members shared how people’s life and suffering have touched us. Moreover, US political situation has strongly affected Canadian life.

We continue our ministry to God’s people through online platforms, broadcasting services, and slowly resuming church activities following heath safety guidelines. Some have shared the strange feeling of celebrating the Eucharist in front of cameras without the physical presence of the faithful. It was also noted the increasing number of funerals compared to marriages and baptisms. Other confreres are dedicating time to study and to write papers and books, noting the challenge to conduct research while libraries are closed.

Fr. Stephen Huffstetter joining us from his office in Rome

Our work with refugees has also been affected. Becoming Neighbours’ office at Presentation Manor (Scarborough) is closed, but the team continued their ministry through letters, emails and phone calls. Fr. Peter McKenna shared how they have been accompanying families currently facing deportation, and remembered that some racial and ethnic groups are experiencing unjust persecution at this time. We are conscious of our privileged condition as priests in a religious community, and this should make us more compassionate towards those who are more vulnerable and discriminated. Members of the Region express their deep gratitude for the generosity of many benefactors, people who continually support us with their prayers and donations. The COVID 19 pandemic has been a time of new possibilities; we know that we not be “going back to the normal,” so this is a time to use creativity and find new ways to live and serve.

For the assembly Fr. Michel Simo Temgo, a member of the Cameroon Province had been invited to give us a presentation  entitled “Jesus’ Lifestyle and the Welcoming of the Other in the Community.” The presentation reflected on the topic of Sint Unum – a topic of the Theological Seminar held with Google Meet in July. The Congregation needs to respond to the dire need of overcoming the sort of divisions and acrimony that is devastating the world today. He made specific mention of  Pope Francis’ message encouraging  a “culture of encounter.” At the end of his presentation, he gave some questions for community discussion. Each of the communities worked until lunch on responding to the issues. In the reports from the communities in the afternoon, there were references to work of hospitality in the Canadian Region, since the Francophone and Anglophone provinces came together: the work on convergences and the promises to learn each other’s language, the welcoming of members from other provinces for studies and ministry, the shaping of international communities, the new ministries especially among refugees and migrants.  

Fr. Michel Simo Temgo

The last part of the Regional Assembly was dedicated to the reports of the various committees: finances, vocations, communications, archives and migration. Frs. James Casper and Paul Tennyson presented an overview of our financial situation of the Region and answered questions from the confreres. Paul Tennyson concluded by remarking: “Because of all the present global political uncertainty and the ongoing pandemic threat, the markets will probably continue to be quite volatile. Our investments carry much less risk than most others.”

Fr. Antonio Maria Resende Pereira presented the report of the Vocation Committee. He affirmed that, first of all, we need to remember our personal vocation call. Antonio talked about the challenge to promote  vocations among young people who come to Toronto.  Fr. John van den Hengel gave the report of the North American Theological Commission. He spoke of their participation in the International Theological Seminar  held online between July 11 to 18, 2020. The theme of the seminar was Sint Unum and a final message has been published by the participants of the event. At the proper time, the various papers will be published in Studia Dehoniana. The report of the Communication Committee was given in French by Fr. Maurice Légaré.  

Fr. Paulin Makiala spoke about the Regional Archives which he helped to re- organize and put on a catalogue. He found to his surprise the Book of Life which Fr. Bill More had put together on all the members of the Anglo-Canadian Province before he died. Paulin found it to be a valuable work which he said needs to be continued and updated.

Fr. Peter McKenna spoke about the work of the North American Migration Committee (NAMC). The committee works in close relationship with the Justice, Pease and Reconciliation commission of the US Province. He spoke about the work of NAMC in hosting on-site meetings in our local communities, both in Canada and in the United States. During the pandemic the committee has held eight meetings using Zoom continuing to express their concern about the situation of migrants, who have received little protection during this pandemic, and about  human trafficking. Peter shared that recently the committee has prepared two brochures. One is about the ministry of Sister Norman Pimentel who works migrants in the Texas-Mexico border. The other is called “Restoring Human Dignity”.

Fr. Willyans presented his program of studies

In conclusion, the two students Paulin and Will shared their research projects and perspectives for the future. Fr. Stephen Huffstetter added that it was very important to know the blessings and struggles our communities are facing during the pandemic. He congratulated the Region on its online assembly and wished blessings to all the members of the Region.

Gustave closed the assembly with the question “Where do we go from here?” That will be the question that should preoccupy the Region and he hoped that with his council he could address it during the coming year.

These notes on the assembly were compiled by Fr. Willyans Prado Rapozo (in English) and Fr. Paulin Makiala (in French)

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