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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Regional Assembly: 31 Août

Chers confrères, paix et joie du Christ.

J’espère que chacun de nous se porte bien surtout en cette période de l’année où le beau temps est souvent au rendez-vous.

Dans ma lettre du 07 juillet dernier, j’annonçais l’annulation de la visite du Supérieur Général dans notre entité et en même temps des inquiétudes par rapport à la tenue ou non de notre assemblée régionale. Dans son conseil tenu par zoom le 30 juillet 2020, il a été proposé que, malgré les temps particuliers que nous traversons, nous puissions quand même tenir notre assemblée en nous adaptant aux conditions qui nous sont imposées par les conséquences de la Pandémie. Ainsi donc, plutôt que de nous retrouver à Arnprior comme initialement prévu pour y passer quatre jours, nous allons nous contenter de quelques heures pour partager et vivre ensemble ce grand rendez-vous qui marque notre « Sint Unum ».

Je suis conscient que ce nouveau mode de rencontre n’est pas l’idéal et ne facilite pas le contact direct les uns avec les autres, certains peuvent même le trouver artificiel, mais face une situation de crise dont dépend notre santé et celle des autres, nous ne devons pas nous avouer vaincus et céder au défaitisme; il nous faut réagir et proposer une situation qui s’adapte aux conditions du moment. D’ailleurs, dans son message du 08 août (que vous trouverez en pièce jointe), le gouvernement général qui venait de recevoir de la Congrégation pour les Instituts de Vie Consacrée et les Sociétés de vie apostolique (CIVCSVA) l’autorisation pour les rencontres en ligne, nous encourage à utiliser ce moyen télématique qui a fait ses preuves lors du séminaire théologique organisé par la Congrégation en juillet dernier. Le système a montré ses avantages tout comme des inconvénients, l’essentiel est de nous adapter en temps de crise.

Considérant tout ce qui précède, nous avons fixé la date pour notre mini assemblée régionale au 31 août avec deux moments importants : La Conférence qui sera donnée dans l’avant-midi, par le Révérend Père Michel TEMGO scj sur les défis et perspectives de la vie fraternelle, dehonienne et chrétienne dans nos communautés et en après-midi, l’écoute des rapports de différentes commissions de notre Région. Je demande à tous les responsables de préparer un rapport succinct de leurs activités (Immigration (Peter McKenna), Vocations (Antonio Risende), Théologie (John Van Den Hengel), Communications (Maurice Légaré), Finances (Jim Casper). La Parole sera donnée ensuite au Père Paulin Makiala pour nous parler de l’organisation des archives de la Région et à la fin le Père Paul Tennyson, économe régional nous présentera la situation financière de la Région. (cfr. le programme intégral en pièce jointe). Aux supérieurs locaux de m’envoyer le rapport des activités de leurs communautés respectives avant le 24 août si possible.

J’espère que chacun de nous saura trouver du temps et mettra un peu de volonté pour la réussite de cet événement. Mes salutations fraternelles,

An image of last year’s assembly in Kingston.

Dear confreres, the peace and the joy of Christ be with you.

I hope each one of us is doing well, especially at this time of year when the weather is so good.

In my letter written on July 07, I announced the cancellation of the visit of the Superior General to our entity and at the same time some concerns about whether or not, our Regional Assembly would take place. In our council meeting held by Zoom on July 30, 2020, it was proposed that, despite the particular times we are going through, we can still hold our assembly by adjusting ourselves to the conditions imposed by the consequences of the Pandemic. So, rather than meeting at Arnprior as initially planned to spend four days, we will be content with some few hours to share and experience together this great meeting which marks our “Sint Unum”.

I am aware that this new way of meeting is not the ideal and does not facilitate direct contact with one other, some may even find it artificial, but facing the situation on which our health and that of others depends, we must not admit defeat and give in to defeatism; we have to react and propose a solution that adapts to the conditions of the moment. Moreover, in its message of August 8 (which you will find in attachment), the general government which had just received from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CIVCSVA) the authorization for the meetings online, encourages us to use this telematic means which proved its worth during the theological seminar organized by the Congregation last July. The system has shown its advantages as well as its disadvantages, the important thing is to adapt in times of crisis.

Considering what has been said above, we have fixed the date for our mini regional assembly for August 31 with two important moments: The Conference which will be given in the morning, by Father Michel TEMGO scj on the challenges and perspectives of the fraternal, Dehonian and Christian life in our communities and in the afternoons, we will listen to the reports of different commissions in our Region. I ask all those in charge to prepare a brief report of their activities (Immigration (Peter McKenna), Vocations (Antonio Risende), Theology (John Van Den Hengel), Communications (Maurice Légaré), Finances (Jim Casper). We will then listen to Father Paulin Makiala on the organization of the archives of the Region and at the end Father Paul Tennyson, the regional treasurer, will present the financial situation of the Region. (The full program is attached). Local superiors are asked to send me the report of the activities of their respective communities before August 24 if possible.

I hope that each one of us will find the time and put the effort into making this event a success. My fraternal greetings,

Gustave Lulendo N’Dotony, scj

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Theological Seminar of the Congregation

North American Theological Commission: Fr. Zbigniew Morawiec, Fr. John van den Hengel, Fr. Charles Brown, and Fr. Gustave Lulendo. The commission met each day by Zoom after the International Session.

Sint Unum: Challenges and Perspectives Today: 11-18 July 2020

Final Message

Dear confreres, dear members of the Dehonian Family,

1. Between July 11-18, 2020, with fraternal joy, we Dehonian Theologians met for a Theological Seminar of the Congregation entitled “Sint Unum: Challenges and Perspectives Today.”  Originally planned to be held in Yaoundé (Cameroon), the seminar was held online because of the pandemic crisis.  This situation brought limitations with regard to personal encounters among us; yet, given the reality of our times, this mode of gathering still provided us with the opportunity to live out Sint Unum and to exercise it in a concrete and constructive way.

2. As we read in the letter of the preparatory committee, the seminar “intends to explore the actuality, challenges and implications of Sint Unum, not only for the Congregation, but also for our world—today’s world damaged by growing particularisms and polarization.  Sint Unum, central to the Dehonian tradition, makes it possible for us to reflect upon the links that tie the spiritual, communal, and social dimensions of our life. In this way we will strive to discover how the theme still has much to say for today’s societies.”  The introductory words of Father General encouraged us to proceed with the seminar in this way.

The reality of sin

3. As our Rule of Life states (Cst. 4), Fr. Dehon was “very sensitive to sin”; he thus analysed sin in its causes and its consequences. He saw the roots of sin “in the refusal of the love of Christ”: not only in human refusal to love Christ, but also—and above all—in human obstacles that close off the love that comes from Christ.

4. It is from this theological (indeed, Christological) view of sin that we are able to discern its results and, at the same time, understand how sin may permeate reality on anthropological, communal, social, and cosmic levels. Sin, thus, threatens the integrity of the human person, our links with one another, and our relationship with the entirety of creation.

5. The manifestations of sin are pervasive; its forms often take on various disguises. Already, the preparatory letter for the seminar mentioned “worrying nationalism, racial and religious issues, tribalism, ethnicism, racism, caste system, . . . which damage our communities and future generations.”  To this can be added other manifestations:

– the disregard for God,

– the absolutization of freedom without proper limits and responsibility,

– the denial of the dignity of the other through an irresponsible exercise of power and authority,

– the objectification of the other,

– economic poverty arising from oppressive and unfair economic systems,

– the indiscriminate exploitation of creation (“ecological sin”).

It seems to us particularly necessary to re-emphasize how these different forms of sin constitute a “pseudo-culture,” definable as a “culture of death” (John Paul II), or a “culture of waste” (Francis) which crystallize into “structures of sin.”  For us, any conversation on Sint Unum which disregards the complexity and pervasiveness of these dimensions of sin risks being purely ungrounded spiritualism.

The dimensions of Sint Unum

6. In the face of this reality, Jesus’ invitation resounds with his imperative that all be one (Jn 17:11, 21, 22).  If sin is ultimately the breaking of the bonds which honour the dignity of humans and the world, Sint Unum presents itself as the response which God expects from his disciples . . . and from all humanity. In the following paragraphs, we wish to highlight three aspects of our life of Sint Unum, along with accompanying challenges and perspectives which confront our Congregation.

a) Priority of God’s Agape in Christ

7. Father Dehon’s hermeneutical approach emphasized the idea that the root of sin lies in the refusal of, and the indifference toward, Christ’s love for us; so, instead of understanding Christ’s love in the light of sin, Fr. Dehon understood sin in the light of God’s love. Because of this, Sint Unum and sin are not on the same level: there is a priority of God’s love (agape) in Christ.  This priority reveals the possibility of living Sint Unum. We grasp this priority in the fact that Christ humbled himself (kenosis) to the point of dying for us in order to bring together all the children of God (Phil 2:6-11, Jn 11:52). Risen, with the Father he lives in us (Jn 14:23) and draws us to himself, so that we may share in his full communion of love with the Father and the Spirit.

8. The priority of God’s agape in Christ presents us with challenges:

– to live fully in union with the heart of Christ, especially through the Eucharist in which he makes us “one body and one spirit”;

– to live a fully integrated life;

– to witness that Sint Unum, before being a human effort, is a gift from the Trinity;

– to live reparation as an urgent response to the priority of God’s oblative love for us; that is, as a “welcome to the Spirit” (Cst. 23).

b) The “sacrament” of fraternal life

9. Sint Unum places us within the life of the Trinity. This Trinitarian life is the locus in which we recognize the perfection of love which gives itself to others, which defines the uniqueness of each person, and creates unity among them.  The “conversation” of love in the Trinity (pericoresi) becomes for us an inspiration and reference point for our fraternal life. Sint Unum, however, is not a simple premise; it is a gift, a process, a task always to be completed.  It is, in the words of Pope Francis, the “mystique of living together” (EG 87).  We exercise Sint Unum above all in our fraternal life—which is, indeed, our primary apostolate (Cst. 60).  Since our community life is the place where the invitation to live mutual charity resounds, our witness on behalf of the life of the world emerges more clearly: “Through fellowship even above and beyond conflicts, and through mutual forgiveness, we would like to be a sign that the fraternity for which people thirst is possible in Jesus Christ and we would like to be its servants” (Cst. 65).

10. This “sacrament” of fraternal life presents us with some challenges.  Because of the power of the mercy given to us in the heart of Christ, we are called to welcome one another in our diversity (i.e, our cultural, ethnic, generational diversity); and, even more, to consider one another—and fraternal life with one another—as “sacrament.”  In order to make this possible in concrete terms, we have identified three areas in which we may easily forget this sacramental aspect of our life.

– The first area concerns psychological dynamics which often unconsciously prevent us from welcoming and valuing each other. Our relationships are marked by a “power” which, if it is not converted into “service,” denies the uniqueness of the brother and, in the most serious cases, leads him to self-destructive behaviour.

– The second area concerns the administration of goods. Fraternity is also built up by means of the proper relationship with what we possess: we, therefore, believe it necessary to grow in the transparency and co-responsibility with respect to our financial administration; this, not only within the commonwealth of society’s goods, but also in solidarity among ourselves.  Our efforts must be aimed at restoring a human face to the economy, especially in this time when, as Pope Francis says, it often “kills” (EG 53).

– The third area touches on the aspect of synodality, our walking together. As we adopt synodality from a theological point of view, we must also incarnate synodality in concrete, practical, and verifiable ways.  This is true concerning the exercise of authority, as well as the need to live a life more fully grounded in reconciliation.

c) “That the world may believe…”.

11. Sint Unum is also prophetic: Jesus desires that his disciples be “one . . . so that the world may believe . . .” (Jn 17:21).  In this sense, Fr. Dehon asked that his religious be “prophets of love and servants of reconciliation of people and the world in Christ” (Cst. 7).  Sint Unum, in other words, does not close us in on ourselves, but urges us to be on the road, to go always further: Sint Unum sends us on mission (Adveniat Regnum Tuum) as a constitutive dimension of our discipleship.  By walking with the Lord and striving together with our brothers and sisters, we come to know how to approach each person, especially the poorest and those most in need.

12. Jesus’ words “that the world may believe” challenge for us.

– The quality of our union with Christ is not only manifested in our community life, but it is also revealed in our commitment to, and dialogue with, those who are oppressed and needy. Living our fraternal life and our missionary life go hand in hand.

– In the present situation of our Mother Earth we recognize the challenge of a particular form of poverty.  Promoting an ecological spirituality and commitment seems to us to be particularly necessary in today’s context.  This, indeed, is a form of communion with creation, and with future generations.

– Finally, Sint Unum calls us to witness and commit ourselves to the unity of the Church of Christ (ecumenical commitment), as well as to engage in constructive dialogue with other religious and cultural expressions (inter-religious and transcultural dialogue).

Disciples and servants of fraternity

13. In light of this Seminar, we would like to encourage all our confreres to explore, experience, and promote a spirit of Sint Unum in their communities and apostolates. Sint Unum opens to us various and captivating avenues for reflection; in its richness we will be able to analyse and appreciate it only gradually.  Sint Unum—invoked, practiced, and witnessed, above all, in fraternal life—presents itself as a remedy for our selfishness, a check on our desire to dominate others out of economic and power interests, and a balm for the traumas that mark our lives. Sint Unum, in short, loosens the chains of sin, gives us the freedom of the children of God, and opens for us our mission for the life of the world. May Mary, first disciple of the Lord and promoter of unity, and always attentive to doing the Father’s will, help us in this fascinating task.

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Séminaire théologique de la Congrégation: Message final

Séminaire théologique de la Congrégation

Sint Unum : défis et perspectives aujourd’hui: 11-18 juillet 2020

Message final

Chers confrères et chers membres de la famille dehonienne,

1. Du 11 au 18 juillet 2020, s’est tenu le Séminaire théologique de la Congrégation ayant comme thème, « Sint Unum: Défis et perspectives aujourd’hui. » Originellement prévu à Yaoundé (Cameroun), le Séminaire s’est déroulé online à cause de la situation provoquée par la pandémie. Ceci a comporté des limites dans les échanges entre nous, mais la situation a aussi d’une façon ou d’une autre offert une possibilité réaliste de vivre le Sint Unum et de l’exercer de manière concrète et constructive.

2. Comme on peut lire dans la lettre du Comité préparatoire, « Le séminaire entend explorer l’actualité, les défis et les implications du Sint unum, non pas seulement pour la Congrégation mais aussi pour notre monde, caractérisé par des particularismes et des contrapositions croissantes. Le Sint unum, central dans notre tradition dehonienne, nous permet de réfléchir sur le lien entre dimension spirituelle, communautaire et sociale. Ainsi on cherchera de démontrer comment le thème est pertinent et enrichissant pour nos sociétés d’aujourd’hui. »Les mots d’introduction du Père Général nous ont encouragés à vivre ainsi le Séminaire  dans l’esprit du Sint unum.

La réalité du péché

3. Comme stipule notre Règle de Vie (Cst. 4), le P. Dehon était « très sensible au péché ». Il a su analyser ses causes et ses conséquences. Il en reconnaissait les racines « dans le refus de l’amour du Christ »: non seulement dans le refus d’aimer le Christ mais, aussi et surtout, dans la fermeture à l’amour qui vient de Lui.

4. C’est à partir de ce regard théologique, et plus précisément christologique, sur le péché que nous pouvons en percevoir le drame et en même temps comprendre comment il peut nécessairement avoir de l’incidence sur les dimensions anthropologique, communautaire, sociale et cosmique. En d’autres termes, le péché menace l’intégralité de la personne, nos relations avec l’autre, notre rapport avec la création entière.

5. Le péché se manifeste et se camoufle sous de multiples formes. Déjà dans la Lettre préparatoire au Séminaire on mentionnait « les nationalismes préoccupants, les problèmes raciaux et religieux, le tribalisme, l’ethnicisme, le racisme, le système de castes, etc. qui blessent nos communautés et les nouvelles générations. » À ceux-ci on peut ajouter d’autres manifestations: par exemple, l’oubli de Dieu; l’absolutisation de la liberté sans restrictions ni responsabilité; la négation de la dignité de l’autre par l’exercice irresponsable du pouvoir et de l’autorité; la chosification de l’autre; la pauvreté économique dérivante des formes oppressives et des systèmes financiers injustes; l’exploitation aveugle de la création (“péché écologique”). Il nous semble particulièrement important de mettre en relief comment ces différentes formes constituent une « pseudo-culture », qualifiée de « culture de la mort » par Jean Paul II ou de « culture du déchet » par le Pape François, et se cristallisent dans les structures injustes (“structures de péché”). Un discours sur le Sint Unum qui fait abstraction de la complexité et de l’omniprésence de ces dimensions risque d’être simplement spiritualiste.

Les dimensions du Sint Unum

6. Devant ce scénario résonne, avec insistance, l’invitation de Jésus que « tous soient un » (cf. Jn 17,11.21-22). Si le péché est en dernière analyse destruction, rupture des liens qui déshonorent la dignité de l’homme et du monde, le Sint Unum apparaît comme la réponse que Dieu attend de ses disciples et de l’humanité entière. De ceci, mettons en relief trois aspects, avec les défis et les perspectives qui l’accompagnent et qui interpellent notre Congrégation.

a) Priorité de l’Agape de Dieu en Christ

7. Justement l’affirmation, que le péché se trouve dans le refus ou l’indifférence de l’amour du Christ envers nous, met en évidence l’option herméneutique du père Dehon: plutôt que de comprendre l’amour du Christ à la lumière du péché, il comprend le péché à la lumière de l’amour de Dieu. Ainsi péché et Sint Unum ne sont pas sur le même plan: il y a une priorité de l’amour (agape) de Dieu en Christ qui donne un fondement aussi à la possibilité de vivre le Sint Unum. Cette priorité nous la reconnaissons dans le fait qu’il s’est baissé jusqu’àmourir pour nous (kenosi) (cf. Ph 2, 6-11), pour rassembler tous les enfants de Dieu (cf. Jn 11,52). Ressuscité, il prend demeure en nous avec le Père (cf. Jn 14,23) et il nous attire vers lui, pour nous faire participer à sa pleine communion d’amour avec le Père et l’Esprit.

8. D’ici émergent quelques défis pour nous:

  1. vivre de manière pleine l’union avec le cœur du Christ, surtout à partir de l’eucharistie dans laquelle il nous rend « un seul corps et un seul esprit »;
  2. mener une vie entièrement intégrée et unifiée ;
  3. témoigner que le Sint Unum, avant d’être un effort humain, est un don de la Trinité;
  4. vivre la réparation comme réponse urgente à la priorité de l’amour oblatif de Dieu pour nous, autrement dit, comme l’accueil de l’Esprit (cf. Cst 23).

b) Le “sacrement” de la vie fraternelle

9. Le Sint unum nous situe dans la vie de la Trinité dans laquelle nous reconnaissons la perfection de l’amour qui se donne aux autres, en les engendrant dans l’altérite, et en les enracinant dans l’unité. La réciprocité d’amour de la Trinité (périchorèse) devient pour nous inspiration et référence à laquelle notre vie fraternelle est appelée à correspondre. Le Sint Unum n’est pas cependant un simple présupposé, mais il est un don, un processus, une tâche toujours ouverte, dans la lignée de cette « mystique de vivre ensemble » dont parle le pape François (EG 87). Nous l’exerçons d’abord dans la vie fraternelle, qui représente notre premier apostolat (cf. Cst. 60). Etant le lieu où résonne l’invitation à vivre la charité réciproque, en elle émerge de manière plus évidente notre témoignage pour la vie du monde: « Dans la communion, même par-delà les conflits, et dans le pardon réciproque, nous voudrions témoigner que la fraternité, dont les hommes ont soif, est possible en Jésus Christ et nous voudrions en être les serviteurs » (Cst. 65).

10. De cela émergent quelques défispour nous. Grâce à la force de la miséricorde qui vient du Cœur du Christ, il nous est demandé d’accueillir l’autre dans sa diversité, culturelle, ethnique, générationnelle…) ; ou mieux de considérer l’autre – et la vie fraternelle avec l’autre – comme “sacrement.” Pour que ceci soit possible nous avons concrètement identifié trois domaines dans lesquels cet aspect est facilement oublié.

  1. Le premier domaine concerne les dynamismes psychologiques qui nous empêchent souvent de manière inconsciente d’accueillir et de valoriser l’autre. Nos relations sont marquées par un « pouvoir » qui, s’il ne se convertit pas en « service », nie l’altérite du frère et, dans les cas les plus graves, nous conduit aux comportements (auto)destructifs.
  2. Le second domaine concerne la gestion des biens. La fraternité s’édifie aussi à travers un sain rapport avec tout ce que nous possédons: nous croyons donc qu’il nous est nécessaire de grandir dans la transparence et dans la responsabilité de la gestion économique, dans la capacité productive autant que dans la solidarité entre nous. Notre effort devrait être de tendre à rendre un visage humain à l’économie, surtout en ce temps où, comme l’affirme le pape François, « elle tue souvent » (cf. EG 53).
  3. Le troisième domaine touche l’aspect de la synodalité du « cheminer ensemble ». Si désormais cet aspect est acquis au point de vue théologique, il doit se réaliser de plus en plus dans des processus concrets et en voies de réalisation et de vérification, aussi par rapport à l’exercice de l’autorité et à la nécessité de vivre de manière de plus en plus profonde la réconciliation.

c) Pour que le monde croie…”  

11. Le Sint Unum est aussi prophétie: Jésus désire que ses disciples « soient un pour que le monde croie que tu m’as envoyé » (Jn 17,21). En ce sens, aussi le p. Dehon désire que ses religieux soient des « prophètes de l’amour et des serviteurs de la réconciliation des hommes et du monde dans le Christ » (Cst. 7). Le Sint Unum, en d’autres termes, ne nous ferme pas en nous-mêmes, mais nous pousse à nous mettre en chemin, à aller toujours au-delà. Il nous ouvre à la mission (Adveniat Regnum Tuum)comme dimension constitutive de notre être disciples. En cheminant avec le Seigneur, en nous mettant au pas de nos frères, nous savons aussi aller vers l’autre, vers chaque personne, surtout la plus pauvre et indigente.

12. D’ici émergent quelques défispour nous :

  1. La qualité de notre union avec Christ se révèle non seulement vis-à-vis de notre communauté, mais aussi dans notre engagement et dans le dialogue avec les opprimés et les nécessités. La qualité de notre vie fraternelle et de la vie missionnaire vont de pair.
  2. Nous reconnaissons en outre une forme spéciale de pauvreté qui nous interpelle dans la situation dans laquelle se trouve notre Mère-Terre. Promouvoir une spiritualité et un engagement écologique nous semble particulièrement important dans le contexte actuel comme forme de communion avec la création et avec les générations futures.
  3. Enfin, le Sint Unum nous invite à témoigner et à nous engager pour l’unité de l’Église du Christ (engagement œcuménique) et de nous mettre en dialogue constructif avec les différentes expressions religieuses et culturelles (dialogue interreligieux et transculturel).

Disciples et serviteurs de la fraternité

13. À la lumière de ce Séminaire nous voudrions encourager tous les confrères à explorer, à expérimenter et à promouvoir dans leurs communautés et dans leur apostolat l’esprit du Sint unum. Ceci ouvre des domaines de réflexion si diversifiés et fascinants que nous pourrons seulement progressivement les analyser et apprécier. Le Sint unum – invoqué, pratiqué et surtout témoigné dans la vie fraternelle – apparaît un remède pour nos égoïsmes ; pour notre désir de dominer les autres pour des intérêts économiques et de pouvoir ; pour les traumatismes qui marquent nos vies. Le Sint unum desserre enfin les chaînes du péché, nous restitue la liberté des fils de Dieu et nous ouvre à la mission pour la vie du monde. Que Marie, premier disciple du Seigneur et promotrice de l’unité, nous aide à accomplir ce devoir si fascinant.

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Lettre du p. Gustave – Letter of Fr. Gustave Lulendo

Les Prêtres du Sacré-Cœur Le Supérieur RégionalThe Priests of the Sacred Heart The Regional Superior

Chers confrères,

Paix et joie en Jésus-Christ. Espérant que le beau temps que nous avons maintenant a apporté plus de gaieté et de sérénité dans la vie de tous les jours, même si l’avenir reste tributaire de l’évolution de la pandémie de Covid-19.

Je sais que nous sommes tous affectés par cette situation qui ne dépend pas de nous et que chacun de nous est appelé à revoir ses plans pour l’été étant donné que certains ont prévu des vacances bien méritées ou des visites en famille ou entre amis. Les activités de notre Région n’ont pas été épargnées non plus et la nouvelle situation nous a amenés à prendre certaines décisions parfois avec un petit pincement au cœur.

En effet, après avoir été forcés de célébrer la fête du Sacré-Cœur d’une manière peu traditionnelle par rapport à nos habitudes, nous regrettons de devoir manquer une réunion doublement importante pour la Région. Il s’agit de la visite du Père Carlos Luis Suarez scj, notre Supérieur général, ainsi que de la tenue de notre Assemblée régionale initialement prévue pour août prochain. Le Père Général, qui avait le désir de visiter notre région, a finalement décidé de le reporter car les conditions actuelles ne favorisent pas son déplacement. Nous le remercions de l’attention particulière qu’il porte à notre région; cela s’est manifesté par sa présence lors de notre zoom à l’occasion de la fête du Sacré-Cœur. C’est l’occasion pour moi de remercier tous les confrères pour leur participation à la célébration de ce rendez-vous à travers lequel nous avons pu revivre notre «Sint Unum», quoique en mode virtuel.

Parmi les raisons qui ont amené le changement dans le programme du père Carlos, il y a la fermeture des frontières canadiennes au reste du monde sauf aux États-Unis, et à toutes les personnes venant de l’extérieur jusqu’au 31 juillet, et l’obligation de se mettre en quarantaine en entrant au Canada. Ces deux mesures nous ont amenés à prendre cette décision onéreuse en concertation avec l’administration générale.

Un autre événement important qui nous manquera ou du moins que nous ne célébrerons pas selon nos coutumes, est la tenue de notre Assemblée Régionale, prévue du 24 au 27 août 2020. Les raisons sont directement liées à la pandémie de Covid-19 qui nous empêche de rassembler plusieurs personnes en même temps et au même endroit. Bien que pour ce type de rassemblement, le port d’un masque et la distanciation physique soient recommandés, notre situation particulière est très délicate: le nombre de confrères âgés ainsi que ceux qui ont des problèmes de santé qui peuvent compliquer leur situation en cas de contamination. C’est une triste situation mais nous n’avons pas d’autre choix que de l’accepter avec foi. Une autre raison liée à ce changement de programme est que le centre de retraite Arnprior – Ontario qui a été réservé pour nos réunions ne peut pas être rouvert au public avant le 1er septembre alors que le “Providence Spirituality Centre” à Kingston n’est pas disponible pour la période prévue pour notre Assemblée. Plus tard, le conseil régional pourra nous donner des orientations précises sur la tenue ou non de cette réunion et sous quelle forme.

Chers confrères, avec cette situation, nous pouvons remarquer que le tableau est encore sombre et que la menace est omniprésente. Personne n’est à l’abri et chacun de nous doit collaborer pour que la maladie n’entre pas chez nous et que nous devenions à notre tour des agents de propagation, exposant nos confrères et ceux qui nous entourent.

Je sais qu’avec la déconfinement progressif, la tentation d’un relâchement est très présente mais en même temps il reste le risque de se contaminer ou de contaminer les autres. Que faire?

Avec le beau temps et la reprise des activités dans les paroisses comme dans la plupart des secteurs de la vie ordinaire, la distanciation physique n’est plus respectée et nous sommes aussi exposés que les autres. C’est pour cette raison que je viens encore une fois pour nous rappeler ce que nous savons déjà mais dont nous avons trop entendu parler au point de nous en lasser, mais notre santé et notre avenir en dépendent. Il y a donc des actions et des comportements à adopter à la fois au niveau communautaire et individuel pour nous protéger et protéger les autres. Chacun doit être conscient de la situation et s’engager dans cette bataille qui demande beaucoup de sacrifices, parfois pour les personnes, les choses et les activités qui nous tiennent à cœur. Prenons la mesure du danger sans trouver de bonnes excuses pour l’éviter. Chaque communauté doit être créative et conscientiser ses membres tout en tenant compte des enjeux pastoraux et des contacts autorisés liés au ministère assigné à la communauté ou à l’individu. Les membres doivent discuter ensemble et prendre des décisions par rapport à leur réalité quotidienne et avoir le courage de s’approcher fraternellement en cas d’abus ou de laxisme. Je sais qu’il n’est pas toujours facile de se dire la vérité, surtout dans le cas de sujets embarrassants, mais tout dépend de la façon dont nous le faisons, tout en évitant de devenir des donneurs de leçons.

À ce sujet, j’apprécie l’initiative de la communauté de Montréal qui, malgré tous les discours déjà entendus sur la pandémie du Covid-19, a accepté d’accueillir une équipe de spécialistes de la santé composée de 3 médecins, dont une religieuse, pour discuter ensemble de la pandémie et ses conséquences dans la vie des communautés en général. La réunion aura lieu le mercredi 08 juillet 2020.

Face à cette situation difficile qui peut conduire à la dépression et au découragement, je pense que le moment est venu pour nous de vivre vraiment notre charisme en étant signes d’espérance les uns pour les autres, et en consolidant nos liens de solidarité et de fraternité. Notre témoignage d’une vie véritablement déhonienne vécue en communauté peut devenir une source d’espoir pour le monde qui nous regarde et vers qui nous sommes envoyés en tant que prophètes de l’amour et serviteurs de la réconciliation. C’est ce que nous pouvons faire par la grâce de Dieu à travers l’intercession du Père Dehon.

Pour conclure, je recommande à vos prières, le séminaire théologique qui se tiendra en mode «google meet» du 11 au 19 juillet 2020, un séminaire international organisé par la Congrégation et initialement prévu à Yaoundé, Cameroun sur le thème: «Sint Unum: défis et perspectives aujourd’hui ».

Que le Seigneur bénisse chacun de nous, notre Région et toute la Congrégation. Bon travail à ceux qui reprennent les activités pastorales et bons moments de repos aux autres.

In corde Jesu                      


Dear Confrères,

Peace and joy in Christ Jesus. Hoping that the good weather we are having now has brought more cheerfulness and serenity in everyday life, even if the future remains dependent on the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I know that we are all affected by this situation which does not depend on us and that each of us is called to review his plans for the summer given that some have planned well-deserved vacations or visits with family and friends. The activities of our Region were not spared either and the new situation has led us to make certain decisions sometimes with a little tug of the heart.

Indeed, after having been forced to celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart in a way that is not very traditional compared to our habits, we find ourselves in regret at having to miss a doubly important meeting for the Region. This is the visit of Father Carlos Luis Suarez scj, our Superior General, as well as the holding of our Regional Assembly initially scheduled for next August. Father General, who had the desire to visit our region, finally resolved to postpone it because the current conditions do not favor his displacement. We thank him for the special attention he pays to our region; this was manifested by his presence during our zoom on the occasion of the feast of the Sacred Heart. It’s time for me to thank all the confreres for their participation in the celebration of this great meeting through which we were able to experience our “Sint Unum” once again, albeit in virtual mode.

Among the reasons which brought about the change in Father Carlos’ program, there is the closing of the Canadian borders to the rest of the world except the USA, and to all people coming from outside until July 31, and the obligation to quarantine oneself when entering Canada. These two measures, have led us to take this onerous decision in consultation with the general administration.

Another important event which we will miss or at least we will not celebrate according to our customs, is the holding of our Regional Assembly, scheduled from August 24 to 27, 2020. The reasons are directly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic which prevents us from gathering several people at the same time and in the same place. Although for this kind of gathering, wearing a mask and physical distancing are recommended, our particular situation is very delicate: that is the number of older confreres as well as those who have health problems which can complicate their situation in the event of contamination. It is a sad situation but we have no choice but to accept it in faith. Another reason linked to this change in program is that the Arnprior – Ontario retreat center which has been reserved for our meetings cannot be reopened to the public until September 1 while the “Providence Spirituality Center” in Kingston is not available for the period scheduled for our meetings. Later, the regional council will be able to give us specific guidelines regarding whether or not to hold this meeting and in what form.

Dear confreres, with this situation, we can see that the picture is still grim and that the threat is omnipresent. No one is immune and each of us must collaborate so that the disease does not enter our doors and that we become propagating agents in turn, exposing our confreres and those around us.

I know that with progressive deconfinement, the temptation to relax is very present but at the same time the risk remains of contaminating oneself or others. What to do?

With the good weather and the resumption of activities in the parishes as in most areas of ordinary life, physical distancing is no longer respected and we are as exposed as others. It is for this reason that I come once again to remind us of what we already know but have heard too much about to the point of getting tired of it, but our health and our future depend on it. So there are actions and behaviors to adopt both at the community and individual level to protect yourself and others. Everyone must be aware of the situation and engage in this battle which requires a lot of sacrifice, sometimes for people, things and activities that are important to us. Let us take the measure of the danger without finding good excuses to avoid it. Each community must be creative and aware of its members while taking into account pastoral challenges and authorized contacts linked to the ministry assigned to the community or to the individual. Members must discuss together and make decisions in relation to their daily reality and have the courage to approach one another fraternally in the event of abuse or laxity. I know it is not always easy to tell  the truth to one another, especially in the case of embarrassing subjects, but it all depends on how we do it, while avoiding becoming lesson givers.

On this subject, I appreciate the initiative of the Montreal community which, despite all the speeches already heard on the Covid-19 pandemic, has agreed to welcome a team of health specialists made up of 3 doctors, including a nun, to discuss together about the pandemic and its consequences in the life of communities in general. The meeting will take place on Wednesday 08 July 2020.

Faced with this difficult situation which can lead to depression and discouragement, I think that the time has come for us to truly live our charism by being signs of hope for one another, and by consolidating our bonds of solidarity and of brotherhood. Our testimony of a truly Dehonian life lived in community can become a source of hope for the world that is watching us and to whom we are sent as prophets of love and servants of reconciliation. This is what we can do by the grace of God through the intercession of Father Dehon.

To conclude, I recommend to your prayers, the theological seminar which will be held in “google meet” mode from July 11 to 19, 2020, an international seminar organized by the Congregation and initially planned for Yaoundé, Cameroon with the theme: “Sint Unum: Challenges and Perspectives Today ”.

May the Lord bless each of us, our Region and the whole Congregation. Good work to those who resume pastoral activities and good times of rest to the others.

In corde Jesu

Gustave Lulendo N’Dotony, scj

        Regional Superior                         

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Regional Council by zoom: June 25

The meeting started at 10:00.

Reports of the communities:

Toronto:

  1. During this period of pandemic the community has continued to hold the weekly community zoom meeting connecting the parish community and the community house at 58 High Park each Monday evening. The meetings have continued to support the members during a time in which it was impossible to come together physically.
  2. The parish of St. Thomas More has opened up again for Sunday Eucharist with all the restrictions and the following of cautionary protocols to protect against the coronavirus. Both the Church and the hall of the parish are being used to allow for appropriate distancing.  The return at the Portuguese parish did not result in a full church because of the fear of parishioners for infections.
  3. Most of the members of the Toronto community have been tested for the coronavirus. All tests have been negative.
  4. Fr. Willyans Raposo has entered into the licentiate program at Regis College. He will be finished with his studies next semester.
  5. Fr. Petrus Murwanto has been able to study online with occasional zoom sessions.
  6. The office for Fr. Peter McKenna’s ministry has not yet opened. Peter is doing his ministry from the house with the help of a secretary.
  7. Fr. Yuliwan Maslim continues his ministry among the Indonesian community with life-stream masses and evening prayer. This may change in the near future when things in Toronto will open up more. Because of the need to sanitize all items used at meetings, it is difficult to hold meetings in person.
  8. All members do their part to stay healthy by different physical exercises.

Ottawa

  1. The celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart was much appreciated, especially with the surprise participation of Fr. General in the Zoom gathering. The menu of the elaborate meal, reflecting the annual gathering of the Region at the community house in Ottawa, was announced to the Region.
  2. In view of the limited space and the general age of the participating group, it was decided not to open up the chapel for the Sunday community for the time being. The churches in Ottawa were allowed to open up for Sunday Eucharist but with a limitation of 30% of the church’s capacity.
  3. Fr. Paulin Makiala has begun to catalogue the holdings of the congregational library. It was hoped to combine this work with the cataloguing of the Montreal holdings. An electronic version will be made available.
  4. The members of the community try to stay fit despite the closure of the swimming pool during the COVID-19.
  5. Fr. John van den Hengel reported on his writing projects. He completed a meditation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, an article on the devotion to the Sacred Heart as a result of the Sacred Heart meeting in Rome of last November. He also completed the translation of David Neuhold’s book on Fr. Dehon that will be published shortly in Krakow, Poland.
  6. Both Gustave Lulendo and John van den Hengel will participate in the virtual meeting of the Theological Seminar on Sint Unum from July 11 – 19th. John wrote a paper on behalf of the North American Commission that will be used during the Seminar to discuss the psychological dimensions Sint Unum.

Montréal:

  1. Everyone in the community is well. The community held its final meeting before the summer. They will resume in September. The Thursday community gatherings, however, will continue.
  2. The Feast of the Sacred Heart was well celebrated. Fr. Roger Phaneuf unfortunately could not participate. Only now is it possible to visit again at Square Angus.
  3. In order to open up the parishes of the Unité pastoral for Eucharistic celebration, the community will have to wait until the parish committee will permit the gathering of the people. The regulation for each parish is different. Only this week Fr. Louis Marie will send a message to the diocese of Montréal to ask for permission to open. Almost all the weddings of this year have been postponed until later this year or till next year.
  4. After his operation for cancer early in the year, Dieudonné Tchouteu has regained his health and is once again engaged in his work
  5. Fr. Claude Bédard has injured his back once again and is now in a wheelchair. He cannot stand or walk without a help.
  6. Fr. Richard Woodbury was happy to have been able to join the community for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. He had not been in the community since the beginning of the pandemic in March. He remarked how well the Montréal community had endured the isolation of the pandemic. He reported that he will be beginning to have Eucharist at the parishes this coming weekend. There are six pages of directives to be followed. It takes a lot of work to get the correct spacing of people. Many people are hesitant to come to Church now. Richard also mentioned that one of his nephews had passed away and that another nephew was seriously ill.

2. Regional assembly and General Visitation 2020

Originally it had been decided that the Regional Assembly would be held in conjunction with the General Visitation from August 24 – 27 in Arnprior, Ontario. With the changed situation because of the pandemic, the retreat house in Arnprior will not be open again until September 1. Moreover, with the cases of the coronavirus still not totally under control in Québec and Ontario and with the absence of a vaccine, it is not advisable to hold an assembly with 22 people. The Region may organize a zoom conference instead. The details of this conference are not yet determined.

AS to the General Visitation, it was already decided that Fr. Stephen Huffstetter would not be coming since his ticket to the USA was cancelled. Fr. General still intends to come to Canada for the visitation. However, council found it not advisable to hold  visitation at this time. First of all, it is not certain that  by August 10 the borders between Canada and Europe will be opened again. Moreover, Fr. General would have to quarantine for two weeks after entry into Canada and another two weeks after entry into the Province of Ontario. At this point, it is not clear whether Canada will be hit by a second wave of the pandemic. With no vaccine in sight as yet, safety is a constant issue. Upon reception of the information from the Council, Fr. General has decided not to come in August.

  1. Montreal SCJ Properties

The renovations of the Boismenu house have now been completed. It required a new roof, the cleaning up of the water damage and some other renovations in other parts of the house. The total cost: $ 40,000. Two new tenants have agreed to pay a more equitable monthly rent. About Maison Dehon there is not yet any new decision. Some repairs will be required. It was decided to await the evaluation and advice of Mr. Peter Berkers about the future of the whole property and its individual houses.

  1. Finances

Fr. Paul gave a brief overview of the finances of the Region. Although the shrinking of the financial markets due to COVID-19 also affected the finances of the Region, the effects have been manageable. The losses for the two corporations were 5.4% and 2 %.  Fr. Richard Woodbury was given permission to buy a new car. Also, the Ottawa community was given permission to complete the renovation of the chimneys of the house which are in need of repair. The allotted amount: $30,000. The first stage of the repair is now under way. Also, the deck and wheelchair access at Sacred Heart House in Toronto requires renewal. Estimates for the costs of the repair will be sought and passed on to the Council.

The zoom meeting closed at 12:52.

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