Dehonian retreat in Macau

 

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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 crowded20180111_1336381 (002) 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 20180115_121717_resized (002)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.

 

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Fr. Greg Murray joins Montréal community

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Fr. Greg

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.

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International Theological Commission meets in Rome

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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 yearCSD-CTI_12-2017_2[1] 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.
CSD-CTI_12-2017_3[1]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 CSD-CTI_12-2017_5[1]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.

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Antonio Maria Rezende

On Thursday we received news from Fr. Ronilton Souza de Araujo, Provincial of BSP Province of Brazil that their Council had decided on November 8 to send us a confrere to help us in our parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in Scarborough. As the message below of his upcoming ordination shows, he is a student in theology in Taubaté who will be ordained on December 15 in  Lavras Minas Gerais. He would come to Canada as his first appointment. Fr. Willyans has already been in touch with him. We wish him a hearty welcome to our Region. antonio Maria Resende

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A year later…

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Nada, Riwa and Andre surrounded by the members of the SCJ community and members of the Sunday Worship Community on Sunday evening.

On Sunday October 22 the Boulad family celebrated their first year in Canada. They had invited the community and the members of the Sunday community who had helped to 20171022_181559_resizedallow the family to become familiar to Canada and its services for a Syrian meal. It was a wonderful evening with lots of laughter. On behalf of the family Riwa Boulad thanked the sponsors and all the new friends of the family for their support. It was an emotional moment for them. They have come to love their new country and have come a long way becoming part of the mosaic that is Canada.

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NORAM meeting in Montréal

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October 16 – 17 the councils of the United States and Canada met at Maison Dehon in Montréal for their biannual meeting.  The community of Montréal had prepared a wonderful, catered meal for the first evening. From the US Province Fr. Ed Kilianski, Fr. Jack Kurps and Fr. Quang Nguyen attended; from Canada it was Fr. John van den Hengel, Fr. Richard Woodbury, Fr. Maurice Légaré and Fr. Paul Tennyson. In the report on the events of the two entities, the issue of aging and the decreasing number of people upon whom one can rely on fulfilling the ministries was mentioned. The US Province indicated that of the 86 members only 29 are in full-time ministries. The US council spoke of the need to mindfully look at future commitments. The Canadian Region undertook a ten-year plan only last year.

DSC_0677Dehonian Family: In North America the lay interest in the Dehonian spirituality has grown in the past few years. In the USA there are now groups in Texas, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. Some of them are employees of the Province but others are interested in this spirituality for their personal lives. Also the Canadian Region has developed a group in St. Thomas More parish in Scarborough, among the Indonesian UKI group and the Becoming Neighbours ministry. At the meeting a graph found in The Spiritual Path (Year 4, meeting 40) was distributed to clarify what type of groups we want to develop and what is their relationship to the SCJ Congregation. According to the graph developed by Fr. Virginio Bressanelli, the Dehonian Family is an independent group which derives its spirituality directly from Fr. Dehon’s charism while other groups, such as groups of employees derive their spirituality from the Congregation. The meeting expressed the hope that at some point we might be able to organize a North American meeting of lay Dehonians and of people interested in the Dehonian charism. The NORAM meetings will continue to follow the progress of this venture.

Immigration Committee: Peter McKenna, the co-chair of the committee, had provided a report on their activities. The Committee has been very active in the past half year. At the June assembly of the US Province, Sr. Norma Pimentel, MJ, executive director of Catholic Charities in the Rio Valley and Barbara Graham, director of Legal Services for Immigrants for Catholic Charities of Milwaukee, gave presentations. At the October assembly of the Canadian Region the committee had again been present and showed a video of Sr. Norma, who spoke of working with Latino immigrant children at the US-Mexican border. At the Canadian assembly Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice, presented the Canadian immigration situation. After the Canadian Assembly, the immigration committee met with the Ottawa and Montreal communities to talk with them about their sponsorship programs of two Syrian families. The committee will continue its efforts to strengthen the membership of the committee by inviting younger members and by developing an action program for the SCJ communities in North America.

Theological Commission: John van den Hengel gave a report on the recent meeting of the theologians of the congregation in Yogyakarta in Indonesia. He also mentioned that the North American theological committee had met in September in Hales Corners to discuss its future work. The committee decided to explore further one of the key concepts of Fr. Dehon in his social writings: pure love. It was one of the core concepts to come out of the seminar in Indonesia.

Vocations: The letter of Fr. General on youth and vocations in view of the Bishop’s Synod of 2018 was discussed. It led to a presentation of the work of the vocation efforts in the United States.

North American Retreat: The evaluations of the August Mississauga retreat were presented. The retreat was highly successful as evidenced by the evaluations. The next retreat will be given in Racine, WI, from May 7 – 12,  2018. 24 participated in the Mississauga retreat. The numbers in Racine will be much higher. The retreat committee will be sending out a reminder notice in the near future to those who have signed up for the May retreat.

Communications: Mary Gorski, who had returned from Rome on Sunday, gave a report on the work of the International Communications Commission of which she is a member. There is a lot of activity in Rome around communications. A new website is in the process of being developed; some entities have begun to develop activities around the new mission and vision statement. The meeting raised the question whether on the North American level we should be developing new strategies around this issue. It was suggested that at a future meeting of NORAM this issue could be explored at greater length.

General Conference 2018: From July 14 – 28, 2018 the Region of the Philippines will be hosting the General Conference of the Congregation. Fr. Quang is the head of the organizing committee and he gave us an overview of the work that has been done to prepare for the Conference. Both the US and Canada have responded to the questionnaire that has been distributed.  Fr. Quang expressed surprise at the minimal response to the questionnaire from other entities. But from the submissions the program for the conference will be developed at the next meeting of the committee in November.  From North America there will be three people attending: Fr. Ed Kilianski, Fr. John van den Hengel and Fr. Quang Nguyen.

Religious response to current situation: The two councils gave some time to express their desire to find an appropriately religious response to the political and social situation in which they find themselves. How can we help respond differently to the polarization of groups and opinions that is overwhelming so much of the conversations since the migration crisis started some five years ago? What does it mean to be a servant of reconciliation today? Is there anything we religious should be doing to help alleviate the enormous political pressure caused by the 65 million people who have been displaced in various parts of the world? It would be good if in our communities we could raise this issue so that it might become integrated into our prayer, our communications and our actions.

Next meeting: the councils also reflected about the purpose, frequency and the topics of the NORAM meetings. The meetings are held twice a year, once in the USA and once in Canada. The councils recognized the usefulness of the meetings, although there are times in which the topics could be prepared with better support of documentation or further information. The meetings are excellent opportunities for interaction between the two entities and for staying in touch with the issues. But the council members often find themselves overwhelmed by their pastoral activities, their tasks as councllors, and the travel to the international meetings. It was  decided to bring the Council and NORAM meetings together more often so that the travel could be consolidated. The next meeting will be in Hales Corners on April 9, 2018.

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New Vice-general secretary

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We have just received the information that Fr. Antonius Purwono SCJ has been appointed as vice general secretary at the Generalate in Rome. Antonius completed his master’s degree in Canon Law in Ottawa in 2016 and has spent the last year learning Italian in Naples. He is now ready to fill this new post. He will be replacing Fr. Radek Warenda who will now be able to give all his time and talent to the post of communications.   We wish Antonius all the best in this new position.

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