Regional assembly looks toward the future
From August 8 to 11 the Canadian Region met in assembly at Ermitage Saint-Croix in Pierrefonds, Québec. The Assembly is an annual event. This year it had a special accent. As John van den Hengel, the Regional Superior said in his introductory remarks, “When I returned to Canada last year, I had the sense that the Region was sleepwalking to its future.” To counter the sleepwalking, it is not enough to see how we can manage to get through the next few years. The Region, he said, could not just make “A few adjustments here, a few adjustments there.” It needs a longer term plan.
So the Assembly took aim of trying to get a focus of where the Region wanted to be ten years hence.
In preparation for the Assembly the three communities of the Region had responded to a questionnaire that asked each of the communities to take stock of its present composition and its ministries. Where would the community be in ten years? In view of that future, what projects do we wish to maintain at all costs? Would the present community in its make-up still be viable? What in our communities will need strengthening; what needs to be re-visioned, what provisions would need to be made regarding the members, the house, finances, care, support? Each of the communities presented their vision at the Assembly.
The Assembly took a good look at its present membership. Of the 25 SCJs in Canada, 12 have their roots in Canada, four in the Netherlands, three in Indonesia, two in Congo, two in Cameroon and two in Brazil. Without the presence and membership of those who have come to us from other nations, the Region’s life would be much diminished. The Assembly also looked at all the ministries. It asked the participants, Which of these ministries would be considered essential for the future and which could be let go off?
The Regional Council, on its part, also presented its outlook. It gave an assessment of the different houses, ministries, and various aspects of the life of the Region. At the Assembly, the members were asked to take these assessments and to agree, disagree with them or to ask for further discussion. It became part of the homework that the communities promised to return to the council some time before the end of September. The assessments touched on the Regional Superior, the bursar, the vocation ministry, the Dehonian Family, the Sunday community in Ottawa, the Seminaire du Sacré-Coeur, the study bursaries, the relations of the Region with the entities of origin of the membership, etc. The interaction of the members with these assessments created an unexpected road map of the possible future of the Region. It led to a real sense of relief and optimism.
The Assembly was guided by the able moderation of Sr. Emma Bezaire. We are much grateful to her. The Region was happy to welcome Fr. Stephen Huffstetter who presented an overview of the work of the General Administration and their six-year plan. He will be visiting the Canadian communities as part of his initiation into the different parts of the Congregation. Also a welcome presence at the Assembly was Fr. Ed Kilianski, the provincial superior of the USA province. He was invited to speak briefly about his experience of participating in the Assembly from an USA perspective.
The Assembly had its celebratory moment as well. On Wednesday the Region remembered and feted Rein van Leeuwen (60 years of ordination), Bill Marrevee (60 years of vows), Jim Casper (50 years of ordination), Claude Bédard (50 years of ordination), and Giovani Pontes (25 years of ordination.) A bus brought the whole gathering to 2830 blvd Gouin where a wonderful meal was catered by Charles and Anatalia.
A sweltering heat accompanied the work of the Assembly. While the work in the Assembly took place in an air-conditioned room, the individual rooms took the full impact of the heat. Nothing like a bit of heat to stir a group. The assembly ended with a Eucharist presided over by John van den Hengel. In his homily, he touched on the core of religious life, the community. Click here for the text of the homily.
View a slideshow of the assembly below: