Meeting of the Regional Council in Montréal

The Regional Council met on Thursday January 30 in Montréal. The main topic on the agenda was the Regional finances.

The meeting started with Michel Lefebvre giving us a report on our two Foundations: Les Prêtres du Sacré-Coeur Inc. and the SCJ Canada Foundation. He came with a happy message. Because of the great increase on the stock markets in 2019 he could report a gain on our investments for 2019 of 13.71% and 9.20% respectively. It meant that the return on our investments exceeded the rate of the markets. The good results made it possible for the Region to respond to a few more requests.

Council also had a lengthy discussion with Michel Lefebvre about the annuities gathered by the Mission Office. Council came to the conclusion that when the list of investors and the return on their investments were calculated, the benefits on the current annuities program was too generous. After discussion the following decision was made: (1) the Mission Office will honour the requests for this year but substantially reduce the benefits; (2) the Mission Office will stop the program at the end of this year and remove the option from our information pamphlets; (3) the Region will continue to honour our commitments to the current investors in accordance with the contracts; (4) the Mission Office will replace the annuities program with a request to benefactors to include the Mission Office and the Congregation in their last will and to make the Mission Office a beneficiary of life insurance policies.

Also Nicole Béland gave her annual report on the Mission Office. No new projects for support are proposed for this year. In general, the Office is doing well. The Office will have to make some changes in its relationship to the Banque National because of a reduction of personnel in the bank. The Office will acquire a scanner machine to read cheques and will receive access to the Bank for night deposits.

The Finance Committee which also attended the meeting proposed  three topics:

(1) Changes to our monthly statement. It proposed to eliminate the columns on the Financial Report under # 8 SCJ. The first item under #8 will now read “Region Contingency Fund”, and an addition was suggested under item # 2. There under 2.3 the report will read “Tuition and Conferences” and under 2.4 “Fees: applic. Immigr’n”.
(2) Regarding the pensions to members from other entities who have worked in our Region, the advice of the committee was that the Region pay a certain amount to all members from other entities each year. However, Council decided to pay these pensions, only if their entity had a pension fund, such as the Province of Brazil Sao Paulo. If the person stays in Canada until pensionable age and retires in Canada, the pension will come back to Canada.

(3) Jim Casper suggested that the Council add a financial expert to the committee either someone residing in Ottawa (to give direct input to Paul Tennyson) or in Montréal asking someone from ATTIR. ATTIR has shown interest in occupying the bottom floor of Maison Dehon for their activities.
At the end of this discussion on the finances of the Region, the Council thanked Paul Tennyson for his work. Also, the Finance Committee was thanked for its work.
Report on the communities
Montréal : In the review of the activities of the community, Fr. Gustave reported on the diagnosis of Dieudonné who was told just prior to Christmas that he had contracted prostate cancer. Dieudonné at the time of the meeting was on holidays in Cameroon. When he returns, he will receive the needed medical attention.
Toronto : Yuliwan Maslim reported on the events of the community over the Christmas holidays. The community gathered on December 26 for their Christmas party. Petrus is reported doing well in his language training and has learned to deal with the snow on the community property. Yuliwan also reported on the construction at St. Thomas More rectory. It is now complete. It has allowed the community to reassign the rooms in the rectory. The only renovations still to be undertaken are the renewals of the bathrooms. Jim Casper is currently receiving eye injections to deal with his macular degeneration. From February 7 – 17, Jim Casper will be going on pilgrimage with a group to the Holy Land.
Ottawa : Prof. Myriam Wijlens (Canon Lawyer at the University of Erfurt in Germany) has been visiting the community both in December and January. Peter Sanders has damaged his tendons in his right shoulder and is receiving physical therapy. The community also invited Bishop Paul Andre Durocher for supper on Sunday February 2. And since Archbishop Prendergast will be retiring this year the community also invited him to come for supper. He will visit on February 12.

Other specific points
a. Evaluations
– The November NORAM meeting in Mississauga. The meeting was very helpful, particularly for Fr. Gustave. It was his first meeting at which he presided. The meeting was held at an Airport hotel, which all thought was very helpful (even though the meeting room was a bit confining.)

– Regional administration: The Regional Administration has now been in place for one year. Gustave asked to have a brief evaluation of its effectiveness. The members expressed general satisfaction with the functioning of the council and the Regional Superior.

– Regional Bursar: There was also a general satisfaction with the new regional bursar. Our finances seem to be in good shape. What has been achieved has been the timely financial reporting of the communities. The annual report is now done and only needs to be passed to Benoit Lefebvre, our accountant, for final tune-up. Our relation with the government is back in place so that we can once again acknowledge the donations for tax receipts.

b. Feast of the Sacred Heart 2020: Organisation and tasks for the Regional celebration will be given to the communities. The celebration will take place in Ottawa as usual. It will start on June 17 at 4 p.m. for Holy Hour. The Mass of the Sacred Heart will be on Thursday June 18. Eucharist will be taken care of by Ottawa community. The Montréal will take care of adoration. The Toronto community will discuss in what way they can contribute to our gathering.

c. Regional Assembly 2020 : Council discussed the theme, dates and place of the Regional Assembly. Since the Spirituality Center in Kingston is not available, another location will have to be sought. The meeting will take place from August 24 – 27. Two themes were considered for possible consideration: Religious life: prospects and background or the revision of the Region’s  10 year plan. The assembly will coincide with the visitation of the Superior General and Fr. Stephen Huffstetter. The visitation will start in Montreal, and move from there to Ottawa and Toronto. There will be a meeting of Council with Fr. General and the General Vicar during the assembly, probably on Tuesday night.

d. Séminaire du Sacré-Cœur: On December 3 the members of the Fondation du Séminaire (M. Simon Lamontagne, Richard Woodbury and Mme. Manon Forget) met with Maurice Légaré and Gustave Lulendo to discuss the type of support the Fondation can provice to the Séminaire to overcome its deficit. The Fondation will make available $ 750.000 by way of a loan. It is hoped that with the rise of registrations to 75 students for both this year and next year that the deficit will be overcome in two years. The Séminaire had also approached the Region for financial help. Council accepted to make available $ 200.000 to the Fondation as a loan. It will be made available to the Séminaire in September. In June 2021 there will be an evaluation whether an additional $200.000 will be required to cover the deficit. Mme Manon Forget will be asked to draw up the conditions of the loan.

e. Update on the properties in Montréal. After the discussions of our last Regional Council, Pierre Berkers, one of our former members, had given Council advice regarding the possible sale of the properties. After having examined the advice, Council decided to ask for additional advice regarding the whole property. On January 31, there was a consult with ATTIR, the association of bursars of Québec, who are looking for office space at Maison Dehon’s first floor.

f. Commissions :
Theology The North American theological committee met in Hales Corners on October 4 and 5 and again on November 12 and again on January 18-19. It held a discussion on the topic of the next International Theological Seminar: ‘Sint Unum in the context of Synodality.” The theological seminar will be held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, July 12- 17. Gustave Lulendo and John van den Hengel will be attending. The theological committee will meet again in Hales Corners on April 29.
North American retreats : During the NORAM meeting in Toronto on December 6, the combined councils urged for another Dehonian Retreat for North America. Jim Casper has accepted to contribute on the part of the Canadian Region. We have not yet been informed about the American members of the team. John van den Hengel will function as advisor to the group.
– Vocations : Although Willyans Prado has accepted to lead the vocations committee, he has been prevented because of his studies to give it the needed attention. For this reason, Council will ask Antonio Resende to act as the chair of the Vocation Committee. Willyans Raposo will remain a member of the committee.

– In his contacts with the Provincial of RDC Fr. Gustave received a commitment from the Congo Province that they would send Père Ushindi Kambale Sahani to Canada to help with our ministry in Montréal. However, his first visa application was refused by Canada Immigration. Fr. Gustave will now go through the Directeur de personnel, Charles Langl, to make a new application.

Leopold Mfouakouet, a former member of the General Council, has asked to be allowed to spend a sabbatical year in Canada. Council accepted his request. He will be spending it in Montréal.

Next meeting: The next meeting of council will be in Ottawa on March 26.

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