Charism and devotions: Towards an inculturated identity

In 2017 there will be another Theological Seminar, held this time in Yogyakarta between July 20 and 25. The last one was in Taubate in 2014. This time the International Theological Commission is asking for the input from all the members. The topic, as will become clearer below, is about our charism that is closely linked with the devotion to the Sacred Heart. This devotion is expressed in different ways in different countries and cultures. The question of the seminar is to gather these different expressions and to provide them with a theological reflection.

At the end of the letter of the International Theological Commission there is a request addressed to all the members with a number of questions. It asks all the members to respond to the questions. The Canadian Region is working together with the US Province to develop a North American Theological Commission and so the request applies also to us; one of the first tasks of this commission will be to gather the responses and to arrive at a North American reflection on devotional life. We encourage all of you to give input on the questions and then send your responses to John van den Hengel.

What follows is the letter sent by the International Theological Commission.


The dehonian theological seminars are one way to fulfil the mission entrusted to the International Dehonian Theological Commission (CTID). As laid down in the statues of the CTID (Rome, 2014) the purpose of these gatherings is

–        to bring together Dehonians engaged in theological reflection
–        to examine more thoroughly issues of common interest

The CTID entrusted the preparation of the theological seminar to an organizing committee on the one hand to a local committee in Indonesia and, on the other hand, to a scientific committee, consisting of Fr. Artur Sanecki (General councillor and a member of the CTID executive) Fr. Maurizio Rossi (ITS), Fr. Leszek Poleszak (POL), Fr. Pedro Iglesias (ESP), Fr. Stefan Tertünte (Executive CTID), Fr. Juan José Arnaiz Ecker (Executive CTID). They gathered in Rome on April, 30 and May, 1st to prepare what will be presented in this dossier.

With this document, the executive of the CTID formally launches the preparation of the theological seminar.

The seminar will be held in Yogyakarta/Indonesia, from July 20th (evening) until July 25th 2017.

For any questions regarding travel and stay in Indonesia, please contact p. Yulius Sunardi (INA) at

The participants will be:

  1. The members of the International Dehonian Theological Commission (CTID)
  2. The members of the Continental Dehonian Theological Commissions (CTDC) (Statute CTID, no. 18)
  3. Representatives from Asia
  4. Other dehonian scholars, identified by the continental commission and presented to their respective major superior for an official invitation. The invitation of such scholars is limited to 3 per continent.

As laid down in the statutes of the CTID (no. 8), travel and accommodation fees for the members of the CTID and the continental commissions are covered by the budget of the CTID.

We would like to emphasize in particular at this stage the importance of the preparatory work of the continental commissions. It will be determinative for the ultimate quality and success of the seminar in Yogyakarta.

Rome, June 1st, 2016


The Theological Seminar of Yogyakarta 2017

The theme

The itinerary of the Theological Seminar

Starting stage

                        Pre-Seminar stage
                        Seminar stage
                        Post-Seminar stage

The task of the Continental Dehonian Theological Commission



In the recent theological seminars of the congregation we sought to take as our point of departure the actual situation of the Congregation: its international character and its diversity. We want to take up the challenge of doing our theological reflection out of local contexts and to do it in dialogue with other local contexts: to dialogue in diversity.

The starting hypothesis for this seminar is the reality that Dehon’s faith comes to us by way of a devotion. Is it possible, therefore, to say that devotion is for us a theological location inasmuch as Dehon found his access to the mystery of Christ through a devotion?

For Dehon, theology was not the privileged channel to express and communicate his experience of faith. For this reason, what we are interested in is not so much the devotional forms themselves but rather the specific way in which they give access to the mystery of faith, so that we may speak of a devotional schema of the faith experience of Dehon. As such, the devotion of the “Sacred Heart” as a devotion is the central foundation for our understanding of Dehon’s access to God, to faith and to the world. This way of believing of Dehon shaped his identity which became the basis of our charism (Const. 2).

Therefore, we foresee that the work to be carried out will have three approaches:

  1. Basic elements: research into the significance of devotions in Dehon’s relationship between faith and life and research into the distinction and the link between devotion and devotions.
  2. An historico-critical approach: research into the practices and viewpoints found either in the dehonian patrimony or in the experiences of dehonians today.
  3. Constructive part: the purpose of the seminar is to come to a deeper understanding of Dehon and of our dehonian existence from a devotional point of view, exploring the potential for today: dialogue, culture, inculturation.

 The itinerary

The itinerary of the Theological Seminary consists of 4 phases: start, pre-seminar, seminar, post-seminar. Here is a brief summary description of these stages. 


The work of the Seminar will begin with the presentation and the first outline of the work, dynamics and objectives of the Seminar. It is to be found in this document. At the end of the document you will find a questionnaire that is intended to identify the devotional reality in the Congregation. 


–        This phase is to be completed by each Continental Theological Dehonian Commission (CTDC)

–        The two areas of interest at this stage are (1) the devotions (seeking to identify their weaknesses, their potentialities…) and (2) the dehonian charism (evaluating the incidence of the devotional within the SCJ identity)

–        The two tasks to be accomplished during this stage are: (1) the identification of the devotional experience among dehonians in a specific continent and (2) a theological interpretation of the data collected.

–        This dossier contains a draft of a questionnaire. The results of the questionnaire ought to give sufficient data for a common reflection by the CTDC of the different continents. However, every CTDC has to find its own way of organizing this stage.

–        The data gathered during this stage, representing the devotional dehonian experience, then has to undergo a theological reading, using the instruments of the theological culture of each continent. Examples of the elements to be considered are their relationship with the Scriptures, with the teaching of the Church, with the thinking of Fr. Dehon and of the Congregation, the relationship with history, anthropology, culture etc.

–        Every CTDC is asked to send to the secretary of the CTID ( the following documents:

  1. The questionnaire the commission has adapted and sent out
  2. The data collected (the number of recipients of the questionnaire, the number of responses, the age of the respondents…)
  3. A written report containing
  4. a presentation about the methodology used to read the data collected (criteria…) theologically
  5. the conclusions, hypotheses, proposals, etc. by the CTDC of the theological examination of the responses
  6. The name of the CTDC member, who will present the data (Ideas, conclusions, thesis) at the seminar.

All this information is to be sent to the CTID secretary by February 28, 2017.


The preparatory committee has developed a first basic schedule for the seminar itself. However, it remains open to modifications. The seminar itself maintains the following criteria: 1. Continuity with the pre-seminar work; 2. A process which will include personal study, creative discussions in groups and an elaboration of its results/conclusions; 3. The selection of ‘trackers’, that is, of  participants, whose task it is to follow carefully the seminar work with regard to one of the following themes: devotions, charism, identity, inculturation, practices in order to avoid the loss of proposals, ideas, orientations.

Day 1

–        The speakers of the different CTDC present the report of their commissions
–        Time to study the reports
–        Discussion and work in small groups

Day 2

–        Conference about devotion and devotions in Dehon
–        Exchange, discussion

Day 3

–        Listening to the ‘trackers’
–        Discussion and building of consensus about identity-inculturation-pastoral

Day 4

–        Conclusions

  1. a) elements of consensus (to be proposed and published)
  2. b) elements to be developed (define research orientations, ask the theologians who are present to commit to these orientations)

Day 5

–        Excursion

  1. a) Visit to places related to the topic of the seminar
  2. b) Despite being called “Day 5” this activity will be inserted in the process of the seminar wherever it fits best.



–        In the fall of 2017, the CTID and the Centro Studi Dehoniani will begin the publication of the acts of the seminar and contact the theologians who committed themselves to work on the research topics of the seminar.


Tasks of the Continental DehonianTheological Commissions (CTCD)

This is a summary of what has already been said regarding the task of the continental commissions

–        The commitment and the quality of the continental work in the pre-seminary will affect substantially the quality of the seminar itself. Thus the outcome of the seminar is in your hands. 

–        All members of the CTCD are invited to became acquainted with this dossier. 

–        The continental commissions (CTCD) are invited:

o   to examine the attached questionnaire

o   to possibly adapt and complete the questionnaire if appropriate

o   to decide to whom to send the questionnaire

o   to establish a date by which the questionnaire has to be sent back to the continental commission

o   to collect the data of the questionnaire

o   to establish criteria for a theological reading of the data

o   to work out a theological analysis in a written report which is to be sent to the CTID secretary ( by 27 February 2017 (in English or Italian). It should include:

                          the collected data

           the theological analysis (method, interpretation, conclusions)

           the name of the CTDC member who will present the findings                        of the CTDC at the seminar.


Dear Confrere,

The next Theological Seminar of the Congregation will be held in Indonesia in 2017. It has as title: “Charism and devotions – towards an inculturated dehonian identity”.

The objective of the seminar will be to better understand how Fr. Dehon lived his faith and how he approached the mystery of God in devotional patterns. The seminar will also explore how we may grow in our dehonian identity today in fidelity to the founder’s experience.

In preparation of the seminar, we seek the help of our confreres in order to better understand how they link dehonian identity and devotions.

We want to do this with the help of some questions.

Your answers will be given to the Continental Theological Commissions so that they may arrive at a theological reading of what is lived and experienced in the entities.

  1. How old are you?
  2. What is the SCJ entity to which you belong?
  3. What was your original Entity?
  4. What practices help you, on a personal level, to live this “interior attitude of faith” (devotio) which supports you in your dehonian identity?
  5. What practices help you, on a community level, to live this “interior attitude of faith” (devotio) which supports you in your dehonian identity?
  6. What role does devotion (or devotions) play in your life of faith?

[feel free to choose from among all the elements of the dehonian heritage or from any of the other ways that strengthen the link with our Dehonian identity]

Please, send your response by [date] to the following address: [mail]


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