On Saturday April 13, Claude Bédard, Lily Ooi and Peter McKenna who were recently appointed as the members of the Immigration Committee of the Region of Canada by Gustave Lulendo and members of his council met in Montréal. It was a time to “get to know each other”, revisit not only the work of the North American Migration Committee of which they are also now members, but also to explore possibilities for how to accompany and join with the members of the three local communities of Canada in their response to what refugees are experiencing.
The committee will next meet on July 13 to continue the discussion of the Canadian reality and then on September 23/24 meet with the other members of the North American Migration Committee to continue to explore how Dehonians in North America can respond collaboratively and collectively in their own context. This first meeting was full of lots and lots of spontaneous sharing, dreaming of possibilities and yet focused with our eyes and hearts on heaven and our feet on the ground.
On Saturday / Sunday March 30-31, the North American Theological Commission had the first of their two annual meetings. This time it was in Toronto at Sacred Heart House. The meeting was attended by John van den Hengel (chair), Gustave Lulendo and Charles Brown.
The meeting brought the group up to date about the activities of the International Theological Commission and the work of other theologians on the five continents. It also discussed the topic of the next Theological Seminar, entitled “Sint Unum Today” that will be held in Ngoya, Cameroon, in July 2020. The Seminar will explore the actuality, challenges and implications of Sint Unum for the Congregation today but also for the world that is increasingly marked by nationalisms, racial and religious tensions, tribalism, ethnicisms, casteism, etc. In his reflections with the International Theological Commission in December, Fr. General raised this issue and suggested Sint Unum as a topic for next year’s seminar. He asked: Is Sint Unum really part of the DNA of the Congregation?
The committee members also gave a report on their individual research on the topic of “pure love” in the writings of Leo Dehon. This has been the topic of the North American Group since 2017. Fr. Dehon saw pure love as the spiritual mission of his Congregation. In the end, Charles Brown said in his evaluation, “This is a type of forum that I love.” The committee will meet again in the beginning of October.
To the members of the Congregation and Members of the Dehonian Family
On December 19, 2018, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the priestly
ordination of Fr. Leo Dehon. In the Christmas letter that we sent you, we referred to this anniversary in these terms: “his ministry in the Church was a continuous learning to walk with others and for others.” As we approach the day of his birth, we wish to seize another opportunity to renew our thanks to God for the gift of Fr. Dehon’s life, vocation and ministry.
In his continuous desire to learn, we recognize his constant
willingness to understand and live God’s will, his great passion. On this new
anniversary, we deem it appropriate to highlight that the priestly ministry
that he received did not mean, for Fr. Dehon, the fulfilment of his desire to
seek God’s will. In fact, our Founder did not limit himself to living that
conformist clericalism that even today, as then, lurks behind every corner. On
the contrary, he felt called to go deeper into the dynamics of the baptismal
grace that had bound him forever to the Trinitarian life.
After he became aware of his intimacy with the Lord, of the merits
and limitations of the Church in which he lived, as well as the political,
social and economic challenges of those times, he realised that the Lord, whom
he so loved to please, called him to religious life. How beneficial it is for
us to contemplate the vocational dynamic that has taken place in the life of
our Founder! An inner journey enabled him to integrate vocation, ministry and
community. Only after much prayer and discernment, and encouraged by the many
illustrious men and women of his time to whom he humbly turned for advice and guidance,
did he understand that God was calling him to share a journey of faith with the
others, inspired by the profound contemplation of the pierced Heart of the
Saviour. This is the origin of the Oblates,
Priests of the Heart of Jesus.
We must recognize that our personal itinerary and religious
consecration acquire greater identity and meaning insofar as we discover Fr.
Dehon’s vocational itinerary. Along his journey, he developed his heart of a
father and brother within him. Today, we live our consecration to God through
religious life, as priests or brothers, and must continue to embrace the
indispensable lymph that is the charismatic patrimony that was given to us.
There is no doubt that we are aware that on many occasions the good
development of our vocational journey is affected by the way in which we
respond to the needs, tasks and compromises that we come across in the
ecclesial reality, and the society or even by our strictly personal interests.
In the face of such emergences, we must be vigilant so that our identity is not
reduced to a mere ministerial or professional function. If this were the case,
we would risk depriving the Church of the genuine vocation that we have
received in order to live our religious life.
In this sense, we must remember that twenty-five years ago the
Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
published “Fraternal life in Community”. Over the years, this document has
helped many religious communities to renew themselves and to focus on what is
asked of them for the life of the Church:
Experts in communion, religious are, therefore, called to be an
ecclesial community in the Church and in the world, witnesses and architects of
the plan for unity which is the crowning point of human history in God’s
design. Above all, by profession of the evangelical counsels, which frees one
from what might be an obstacle to the fervour of charity, religious are
communally a prophetic sign of intimate union with God, who is loved above all
things. Furthermore, through the daily experience of communion of life, prayer
and apostolate – the essential and distinctive elements of their form of
consecrated life – they are “a sign of fraternal fellowship” (VFC 10).
If we read this text anew, we can notice how the Spirit incessantly urges us to
incarnate what it has given us in our Dehonian charism here and now. May our
daily oblation, expressed in words and deeds, be a sincere declaration and
distinctive trait of our shared availability in proclaiming the Gospel:
The religious are often
identified by the colour of their garments; the garment of our soul before God
must be love and if there were two, the second would be compassion. There is no
Oblate without this; this is absolutely necessary (Cahiers Falleur 1/48).
We hope that you shall celebrate this new anniversary joyfully and
profoundly. May this encourage us to journey together and may the Lord grant us
the grace of vocations that are eager to continue to walk along the path traced
by Fr. Dehon.
Immediately after the first council meeting of the Region on January 16, Richard Woodbury conducted a consultation of the members of the Canadian Region to determine their choice for the Regional Bursar. In a telephone conference on Tuesday January 29, the Regional Council put forward the name of Paul Tennyson to the General Administration so that they might appoint him as Regional Bursar for the next three years.
On February 13, 2019, the Superior General, with the consent of his Council, confirmed the appointment of Fr. Paul Tennyson as Treasurer of the Region of Canada.
Immédiatement après la première réunion du Conseil Régional, le 16 janvier, Richard Woodbury a consulté les membres de la Région sur leur choix de l’Économe Régional. Au cours d’une conférence téléphonique, le mardi 29 janvier, le Conseil Régional a proposé à l’Administration Générale la nomination de Paul Tennyson (photo ci-dessus) comme Économe Régional pour les trois prochaines années.
Le 13 février 2019, le Supérieur Général, avec le consentement de son Conseil, a confirmé la nomination de Paul Tennyson comme Économe de la Région du Canada.
Right after the installation of a new Regional Administration on January 16, the new council met to take the first steps in setting an agenda for the next three years. Most of the meeting consisted in appointments and in the structuring of the committees of the Region.
Council of the Region: Fr. Richard Woodbury was appointed as Vice Regional Superior and John van den Hengel as the secretary of the council. The Bursar of the Region will be appointed after a consultation of the Region.
Communications: A communications strategy will be developed before the next meeting of council to determine the method of communication of the Region. John van den Hengel was asked to continue to write the blog of the Region.
Other committees: The membership of the other committees and the two foundations (Prêtres du Sacré-Coeur, Inc. and SCJ Canada Foundation) will be made known after the Regional Superior has contacted the members.
Local Superiors: The appointment of the local superiors of the three communities needs to be take place during this year. The most urgent will be the Montréal community whose superior has just been installed as the Regional Superior. Gustave Lulendo will begin a discussion in the Montréal community as soon as possible.
NORAM meeting: The next meeting of the council of North America, it was suggested, will be held on April 24. Gustave will contact the US Province whether this date is suitable.
Council meetings: Gustave proposed to have council meetings every two months. The next meeting will be in Montréal on February 26.
On December 19 it was the 150th anniversary of the ordination of Fr. Dehon. Here is a brief reflection that came from the community of Rome who remembered this day by celebrating a Eucharist at St. John Lateran, where Fr. Dehon was ordained 150 years ago. Our Founder left us some memories of this day.
“The feelings on the occasion of the ordination are hard to put into words. I stood upright as a priest, possessed by Jesus, truly filled with him, with his love for the Father, with his care for souls, with his spirit of prayer and oblation.” (NHV 6/85)
On December 20 when he celebrated his first mass in the Santa Chiara seminary, he recalled: “The emotion was general. When my father and my mother knelt for communion no one could resist their tears. As to me, I was entranced with love for our Lord and full of contempt for my poor self. It was the best day of my life.” (NHV 6/86) These words expressed so many of my feelings: love, emotions, lively thanksgiving for God for so many gifts. Days of thanksgiving and happiness.
During the retreat before the ordination, he wrote: “The Lord wanted to prepare me himself by giving me an abundance of gifts. He must have had in mind my current mission. Today I can see it clearly. He gave me so generously the spirit of love and reparation which are at the heart of my vocation.” (NHV 6/82)
The celebration of the 150th anniversary took place at the Pontificio Seminario Francese di Santa Chiara, where Fr. Dehon studied prior to his ordination to the priesthood.
At the installation of Fr. Gustave Lulendo as Regional Superior, Fr. John van den Hengel reflected on the event in his homily. You can access the homily at mass of installation 2018.
At the end of the service, Fr. Gustave Lulendo addressed the community expressing his hopes and his view of his mission. Here are his remarks:
PETIT MOT A L’OCCASION DE PASSATION DES SERVICES DANS LA REGION DU CANADA, Ottawa, mercredi 16 janvier 2019
Dans la vie il y a certaines coïncidences qu’on ne sait pas toujours expliquer tout simplement parce qu’elles relèvent du pur hasard. C’est ce qui arrive en cette date du 16 janvier proposée par le Père John pour la passation des services. En effet le 16 janvier 2005, un certain dimanche dans le petit coin de Saint Gabriel à Kisangani, je recevais des mains de son Excellence Monseigneur Monsengwo, l’ordination diaconale. Dans son homélie, il avait plus insisté sur le diaconat comme ministère au service de Dieu et de son Eglise. Aujourd’hui 16 janvier, je commence un autre ministère qui rentre dans la même ligne que celle commencée il y a 11 ans. Je dois avouer que le jour de mon diaconat je n’avais pas vraiment compris le sens du service auquel j’étais appelé et c’est pendant l’exercice de ce ministère que j’ai compris que servir c’est tout simplement mettre son temps, ses dons et capacités, bref toute sa vie à la disposition des autres, c’est être utile pour les autres en travaillant pour une même cause.
C’est le sens que j’aimerais donner à cette célébration qui ouvre une nouvelle porte dans ma vie personnelle mais surtout dans la vie de toute la Congrégation dont la région du Canada est une des entités. Servir la Congrégation à travers le ministère du leadership est certes une tâche difficile et parfois source de plusieurs soucis, mais je pense que le oui que j’ai dit le jour de l’acceptation de cette fonction a été inspire par la confiance que les Confrères de la Région ont manifestée a mon égard, m’assurant de leur collaboration et de leur soutien voilà pourquoi, bien que n’ayant pas la maitrise de tout ce que ce ministère implique, je reste optimiste et confiant en la providence qui permettra que nous travaillions tous comme équipe acquise à la même cause, celle de témoigner d’une vie authentiquement dehonienne ici au Canada.
Il y a aura des défis majeurs ou bénins à relever, et c’est spécifiquement à ce niveau que notre sint unum devra se manifester, notre volonté de travailler ensemble pour trouver les solutions à nos problèmes sera une caractéristique de notre famille religieuse au Canada. C’est ensemble que nous chercherons des solutions aux différents défis de notre région.
En ce début du mandat de la nouvelle administration qui reflète l’internationalité de notre région, je tiens a remercier toute les confrères de la Région pour votre confiance en me choisissant comme supérieur et je pense que c’est guidés par l’Esprit de Dieu que vous avez fait ce choix qui fait qu’une page spéciale de l’histoire de la région soit écrite aujourd’hui. C’est pour cette raison que je rends grâce a Dieu pour toutes les grâces et bénédictions dont il nous comble pour continuer à être des signes visibles de sa présence dans notre monde.
Je rends grâce et je remercie tous les confrères qui ont accepte de faire partie du conseil provincial pour qu’ensemble nous puissions réfléchir et proposer des pistes susceptibles de nous conduire vers un avenir radieux. Merci au Père John Van Den Hengel avec l’administration régionale qui a fait un travail important surtout a travers le plan décennal que nous allons suivre en y apportant des ajustements si nécessités il y a.
Un merci spécial a la communauté d’Ottawa qui nous as accueillis pour célébrer ce jour, et il sied de signaler que ce choix, bien que relevant du fait que ce lieu plus accessible a toutes les communautés, tient au fait aussi que c’est dans cette communauté que mon aventure au Canada a commencé, un certain 08 janvier 2008.
Merci particulier a ma communauté de Montréal qui m’a toujours soutenu et sur laquelle peut toujours compter lors des moments difficiles qui peuvent donner des maux de tête ou des insomnies. Merci de m’avoir libéré pour le service de la région et j’espère que votre soutien indéfectible m’aidera dans l’accomplissement de ce ministère.
Chers confrères, pour terminer ce petit mot, et marquer d’une empreinte indélébile notre cérémonie de ce jour, j’aimerais confier toute la région mais en particulier ce ministère sous la protection de la providence et solliciter vos prières pour qu’avec l’aide de Dieu nous soyons capables de répondre efficacement à nos attentes. Une prière spéciale pour le néophyte que je suis dans cette tache afin que le Seigneur me donne assez d’humilité pour comprendre qu’il ne s’agit que d’un service pour Dieu, son Eglise et notre Congrégation. C’est ainsi que je demanderai à tous les confrères, de venir et m’imposer les mains en silence, signe que vous me bénissez pour aller de l’avant. Je vous remercie.