The Regional Council met virtually on March 2, 2021. It started with a review of life in the three communities.
- The pandemic is still making the members cautious. Yuliwan and the others seek to stay healthy by exercises. They mostly stay at home. The community still meets twice a month on Mondays by zoom between 11:30 and 12:30. For Dehon Day the community held a day of reflection on Dehon. Fr. Andrzej Sudol led the reflection. Also, Paulin Makiala was invited to speak about reconciliation. For the day of reflection also the lay Dehonians joined. It is hoped that with Holy Week and Easter there may be greater flexibility for welcoming participants for religious services.
- The Scarborough community is continuing its pastoral services with lots of telephone calls, communion services on Saturday and Sunday, scheduled daily prayers and adoration for the parishioners. The community has decided to move their common prayer to noon.
- The 58 High Park community has discussed their community treasury. Until now Jim Casper has fulfilled the role for a long time and it was felt that the time had come to begin considering training someone else. Fr. Yuliwan Maslim will with Jim about the finances and the books so that his knowledge and expertise can be maintained. .
- Fr. Herman Falke has written a memoir “A Celebration of Life in Art”. It was done at the request of Mr. Michael Walsh of Burlington who studied with Herman at king’s College in London. The proceeds of the book will go for supporting future students at King’s College. John van den Hengel wrote the introduction. The book is now with a production company.
- Council held a lengthy discussion about the pastoral ministry in Vanier which is about to undergo a change. In Vanier the four Francophone parishes have amalgamated under Marie Médiatrice, of which Frère André is a part. The participation of Franco-Ontarian population of this parish has suffered a severe decline, forcing the Archdiocese of Ottawa with its new Bishop Marcel Damphouse to make some changes. The parishes were no longer financially self-sufficient. Regional Council asked Fr. Gustave to initiate a conversation with the Archdiocese to assure the future ministry of Fr. Elie Muzungu, who has been administrator of Frère André.
- The Montréal community held a day of recollection. Being unable to engage a conferencier, the community reflected on the questionnaire on the Rule of Life-Constitutions sent by the General Administration on February 2.
- Maison Dehon was rented out for the first part of this year to a Ukrainian family (the mother was involved with a group of international students from Ukraine at the Séminaire last year and heads the international student project of the Séminaire). The family found other accommodations and, after a joyful celebration with the community, left on March 1.
- The community also reported that during the past week Fr. Ushindi Kambale Sahani from the Congolese Province had arrived in Montréal for an initial three-year appointment to the Canadian Region. The decision to transfer Fr. Ushindi to our Region was begun in December 2019. Because of Covid-19, after he received his Canadian visa in July 2020, he could not come to Canada. After arrival he entered into a two-week in quarantine. Fr. Ushindo is bilingual since he studied in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.
- In order to receive the vaccination against COVID-19 somewhat earlier, the Montréal community has registered with the Québec government as a home for seniors. It also means that Public Health Québec now regularly monitors the house.
- Br. Dieudonné has returned early from holidays in Cameroon to prevent having to undergo the new restrictions for returning travelers that was imposed by the Federal Government for early February. He returned on February 2.
- Fr. Richard Woodbury who was in reported that the effects of COVID’19 on his voice continues. He has begun to take more vigorous physical health exercises. He also reported that the Québec government had relaxed the rules regarding gatherings which had been extremely restrictive. He though that the interventions of the Bishops of Québec and Montréal may have influenced the government’s decision.
- At the Séminaire the students of group 1 and 2 have classes every day at the school. The students of group 3-5 have distance learning every other day. Fortunately, there have been no COVID cases in the last three weeks at the Séminaire.
Fr. Antonio Maria Resende Pereira gave a report on the vocation ministry. He indicated that he had two contacts. He presented council with a number of questions:
- Where will future candidates live?
- Is there a policy regarding immigrants entering the community?
- At what minimum and maximum age will the community accept candidates?
- Is there a history of the Canadian Region that we can give the candidates? He was told that there exists an bilingual booklet on the history of the region which he can offer to potential candidates.
- Is there an introductory questionnaire to give to prospective candidates?
- Can I count on all the members of the Region being in one way or another vocation directors?
Although Regional Council responded to the questions, it was suggested that he write up his questions and present them to the council for their consideration and as a topic for the assembly of the Region in August or later this year. Fr. Antonio also asked that the members make use of Dehonian symbols to give the community higher recognition. He also wanted to acquire other items (bookmarks, a statue of Fr. Dehon, and pamphlets). He has had little contact with the vocation committee (Frs. Willyans Raposo, Yuliwan Maslim and Paulin Makiala) because of COVID-19. Fr. Antonio will present a budget for the vocation ministry and present it at a future meeting of Council.
Fr. Peter McKenna gave a report on Becoming Neighbours and the North-American Migration Commission.
- Becoming Neighbours
Fr. Peter provided background to the Becoming Neighbours ministry that has been in operation since 2006 mainly through the efforts of Sr. Margaret of the St. Joseph Sisters. The project has become a ministry to Refugees in the Toronto area. There are 20 religious communities that participate in the ministry. The pandemic has made the work much more restrictive but also dangerous. The office at Presentation Manor has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. Peter stays in touch by telephone and zoom.
Fr. Peter talked about a new project: “Gathering Place” seeking the help of the Toronto Separate School Board to allow him to use a three-floor office space for refugee services. The “Gathering Place” would function as a one-stop place where refugees can obtain all the information that is required for their status as refugees. This project has received the approval and finances from the religious communities of Toronto. Council agreed to provide monetary support of $ 5,000 to this project.
2. Migration Commission
Fr. Peter also heads the Migration Commission of the US Province and the Canadian Region. Members of the commission are Richard MacDonald (Co-chair) Mark Peters, Tony Russo, Jan de Jong, Diego Diaz and Lily Ooi. Since there is no member of the Montréal community, Fr. Gustave approached the recently-arrived Fr. Ushindi to become a member. The commission meets four times a year. However, since the beginning of COVID – 19 the commission has met by zoom eleven times. The commission has published two brochures one on Sr. Norma who is involved with the cross-border refugees in the Southern United States and the second, entitled “Restoring Human Dignity” which has been translated in French, Indonesian, Spanish, and Vietnamese, on the ministry to refugees . The booklet is based on the model of “ See, Judge, Act”. Fr. Peter encouraged all to prominently display the brochures in their places of ministry.
With Mark Peters, the director of the US Social Justice Office, retiring in the near future, the commission is looking again at its mission and hopes to attract younger members. It is putting in place a new communications strategy, with as its central theme the protection of children, many of whom have been separated from their parents, particularly in the United States during the Trump Administration. The commission also sponsors family reunification. Fr. Peter reported that normally it takes two years for refugees to be recognized as such and another three years to get accepted by countries. For African applicants it takes even longer. For African migrants there are only three places on the African continent for refugees to be processed.
The theological commission consists of John van den Hengel (chair), Gustave Lulendo, Charles Brown, and Zbigniew Morawiec.
The International Dehonian Theological Commission met by zoom on December 4 – 6, 2020. From this meeting came an international project to continue the topic of the 2020 Seminar SINT UNUM and to undertake a study of the situation post-COVID. Together with Fr. Manuel Antonio Teixeira of Venezuela, John van den Hengel was asked to head this project.
In a letter sent to Fr. Stefan Tertuente and Artur Sanecki at the end of December, Fr. Antonio and John proposed two projects: (1) a questionnaire to be sent to the different entities of the Congregation asking their members what they had learned from the COVID -19 experience and (2) a more academic work by the members of our international community to address a number of situations affected by the coronavirus. In their meeting of February 2, the General Council did not accept the first proposal but it did the second. As a consequence the International Commission met by zoom on February 20 to discuss the academic project.
Frs. Manuel Antonio Teixeira and John van den Hengel were asked to act as editors of the project to be published by the end of 2021; The texts of the project – 25 papers to be written by the members of the Congregation on a variety of topics on the effect of the pandemic – were to be 10 pages (space and a half) in length. The proposals for papers were to be in by April 20 of this year. The North American Commission will meet by zoom on March 18 to present their concrete proposals and possible authors.
John van den Hengel, after discussion with the members of the North American Commission, was renewed for a mandate of three-year as president of the commission. The appointment has also been confirmed by the US Province at their meeting of March 9.
Fr. Richard Woodbury presented the new procedure for the change of administration for the Canadian Region. Council accepted the new procedure to be used for the next administration. They have since then been accepted by the General Council and will be used for the appointment of the next Regional Administration this year. The full text of the process is given here.
English follows the French text
DIRECTOIRE RÉGIONAL, IV, A: STRUCTURES DE GOUVERNEMENT.
2, e: Consultation pour une nouvelle administration régionale scj. NOUVEAU PROCESSUS. PROPOSITION. En vue de la nomination d’un nouveau Conseil régional…
1- Six mois avant la fin du mandat de l’administration régionale, le Supérieur régional et son Conseil nommeront un scrutateur qui devra mettre en marche le processus de consultation.
2- Le scrutateur procède d’abord à un sondage d’opinion, en envoyant à chaque membre de la Région, y compris aux profès de vœux temporaires, une liste complète des membres éligibles au poste de Supérieur Régional et de conseiller régional, de même qu’un bulletin de sondage sur lequel on peut inscrire le nom de trois candidats potentiels au poste de Supérieur régional. Il indique aussi une date limite, soit le jour et la date où les bulletins doivent lui être retournés. Ce sondage est fait à titre indicatif et n’a aucune valeur légale.
3- Sur réception des bulletins dûment complétés, le scrutateur compile les résultats et dresse une liste des candidats potentiels en indiquant le nombre de votes reçus par chacun. Ces résultats du sondage font alors partie d’un nouvel envoi offrant l’information sur les procédures de consultation, un bulletin de vote invitant à inscrire trois candidats au poste de supérieur régional, et quatre candidats au poste de conseiller régional. Le scrutateur inclut également toutes les autres indications jugées utiles ou nécessaires, dont la date limite pour le retour des bulletins de vote, soit le jour et la date.
4- Chaque communauté locale est invitée, par son supérieur local, à se rassembler pour échanger sur les résultats du sondage, en tenant compte des vrais besoins de la Région et des candidats les plus en mesure de répondre à ces attentes et orientations de la Région. Cette rencontre ne vise ni à exercer quelque pression ni à orienter de quelque façon les choix de chacun. Durant cette rencontre, le supérieur rappelle à chacun la nécessité de respecter la date limite indiquée par le scrutateur.
Chaque membre complète ensuite son bulletin de vote en indiquant dans l’ordre de préférence ses trois choix comme supérieur régional et quatre noms comme conseiller régional, en les justifiant, de préférence. Il importe que les confrères respectent la date limite de retour des bulletins.
5- Dès qu’il aura reçu les bulletins de vote, le scrutateur s’empressera de les faire parvenir au Gouvernement Général, par courrier recommandé, sans les ouvrir, préservant ainsi la confidentialité absolue du vote.
6- Le Conseil Général examine alors les résultats de ce vote puis le Supérieur Général, avec le consentement de son Conseil, nomme le nouveau Supérieur régional. Le Conseil Général vérifie ensuite auprès du nouvel élu s’il accepte la charge de Supérieur régional. 7- Après consultation avec le nouveau Supérieur régional, le Conseil Général procède à la nomination de trois conseillers qui vont composer, avec le Supérieur régional, le nouveau Conseil régional.
REGIONAL DIRECTORY, IV, A: STRUCTURES OF GOVERNMENT.
2, e: Consultation for a new SCJ Regional Administration. NEW PROCESS. PROPOSAL. In view of the appointment of a new Regional Council
1- Six months before the end of the term of office of the regional administration, the regional superior and his council name a scrutineer who begins the consultation process.
2- The scrutineer proceeds with a straw vote. He will send to each member of the Region, including those in temporary vows, a list of all members eligible for the office of regional superior, together with a consultation form on which three names for the office of regional superior can be proposed. He also indicates a dead line, that is the day and the date on which the consultation forms must be sent back to him. This consultation is done as an indicative process and has no legal value.
3- Upon receipt of the completed forms, the scrutineer will add up the results and will compose a list of the names proposed, together with the number of times each name appeared. The results of this straw vote are then part of a new mailing including all information about the consultation procedures and a consultation form on which each recipient will write down three candidates for the office of regional superior, and four candidates for the office of regional councillor. Also to be included are all necessary and useful indications, such as the deadline for the sending back of the ballots, that is the day and the date.
4- It would be most appropriate for each local community to meet in order to discuss the needs of the Region, and which candidate(s) might best respond to the needs and desired direction of the Region. In no way should this community meeting be an occasion for anyone to direct or pressure members into selecting a candidate from the published list. During that meeting, the superior reminds every one of the necessity to respect the deadline that the scrutineer has indicated. Each member then completes his consultation form, indicating the order of preference of his three choices as Regional superior, and his four choices as Regional councillor, preferably giving the reasons for his choices. It is really important that the confreres respect the given deadline
5- When the scrutineer receives the completed consultation forms, he sends them directly to the Superior general, by recommended mail, without opening them, thus preserving the absolute confidentiality of the vote.’
6- The General Council examine the results of this vote and then the Superior General, with the consent of his Council, appoints the new Regional superior. The General Council then checks with the new elected superior whether he accepts the charge of Regional superior.
7- After consultation with the new Regional superior, the General Council then proceeds with the appointment of three councillors who together with the Regional superior will compose the new regional Council.
Rule of Life
On February 2 the Region received a questionnaire from the General Administration regarding the Rule of Life. The General Administration had proposed in the programmatic letter to have a new look at the Rule of Life. It now seeks to consult the various groups in the Congregation. Council decided to send the text to the communities with a cover letter of Fr. Gustave to discuss the section of the questionnaire that pertained to the communities. The members of Council were asked to gather the responses of the communities and present them to Council at a zoom meeting of March 24.
Contact with the Archdiocese of Toronto
In a report sent to Council, Fr. Jim Casper reported on a meeting with Msgr. Thomas Kalarathil, the personnel director of the Archdiocese of Toronto on February 23, 2021 regarding the presence of the community in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
1- Letter from the Indonesian Province
Council reflected on the letter received from Fr. Yulius Sunardi of the Indonesian Province in which he announced to us the arrival of Fr. Antonius Suedi Oki Kuncoro who will be asked to work in Canada for the next six years. It was decided that he would undertake to work in Montréal with the Indonesian community there. Fr. Kuncoro was born on April 17, 1981. In order for him to study English, he will first go to Ottawa for six months and subsequently to Montréal to study French and to work with the Indonesian community there.
2- Letter from Mozambique
Fr. Claudino da Piedade scj from the Province of Mozambique has requested financial help for office equipment for the Instituto Medio Agro-Industrial de Gurué. Council approved an amount of 5,000 euro. John van den Hengel, who has visited the school as a General Councillor proposed that the Mission Office take on this project for future funding.