02 June 2023
02 Jun 2023

40 years of history of the Argentine Province

The Province of Argentina is going through a process of restructuring. "We want to put our energies into some provincial priorities, such as vocations, fraternity and the administration of goods. We want to walk together, in synodality, supporting each other with prayer and life in fraternal communion."

by  Arildo José Ferrari, scj

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Last May 8, the Solemnity of Our Lady of Lujan, the Argentinean Province celebrated the 40th anniversary of its creation. The Dehonians had been in Argentina for a long time. In fact, in 1936, coming from Spain, as refugees from the civil war, Fathers Trinidad Salto Herraiz and Rufino Javier Castro arrived. In February 1938, from the north of Brazil, Father Juan van der Donk, of Dutch origin, joined the group. On April 1 of the same year, 1938, Fathers Salesio Babolin, Federico Ravasio and Bernardo Longo arrived from Italy, together with Father Juan Dimas Laan, Dutch. The seven of them began to work pastorally in the Santa Fe towns of Barrancas, Perez and Villa Guillermina. But the union of these three national groups in a single mission project was not achieved. After barely two months they were already three different projects that responded to their distant entity of origin. The Spaniards remained in Barrancas, where they carried out praiseworthy pastoral work, and in the following years, they were incardinated in a Diocese. The Dutch religious, with new reinforcements, extended to Tucumán, Mendoza and Buenos Aires Capital, and in 1940 they extended their presence founding in Uruguay and then also in Chile in 1950, where they concentrated definitively in 1966, withdrawing from Uruguay and Argentina. On the other hand, the Italians, besides staying in Santa Fe, began new presences in Chaco and Córdoba (where we still are) and in the parishes of Longchamps and Gerli, then archdiocese of La Plata (Province of Buenos Aires). In 1947 the Argentinean Region began to depend on the Italian Province; and on May 8, 1983, the Superior General of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with the consensus of his Council, canonically erected the ARGENTINEAN PROVINCE – URUGUAY. The same has its effective beginning on November 1, 1983 (Prot. N. AG-50/83). The first provincial government was composed of: Father Virginio D. Bressanelli as provincial superior, assisted by 5 councillors who, at the same time, each one was a representative of one of the 5 Zones that made up the province. They were Frs. German Toninato, Severino Verzeni, Mario Moraschetti, Primo Corbelli, and William A. Exner. The provincial treasurer was Father Lino Frizzarin. It should be noted that Fathers Virginio, Severino, Primo and Guillermo are still in the province and are an example of Dehonian religious life.

The Present

The Province of Argentina is going through a process of restructuring. Since last year the territorial community of Paraguay has been incorporated into the Argentinean Province with the intention of forming a new entity. The province today has 30 religious priests. Twenty-three are members of the Province of Argentina and seven have not yet made their option for the province. The province is made up of members from various provinces: 9 from Argentina, 7 from Italy, 7 from Brazil (3 BRM, 3 BSP, 1 BRE), 5 from India, 1 from Chile, and 1 from Indonesia. In addition, 3 Argentinean religious are abroad, assigned to the international scj missionary project. By the grace of God, we have 3 aspirants in formation.

The future of the province

The province has a beautiful history and a present based on the experience of the past, but we want to renew our commitment to the Lord, to the Church and to the Congregation. We want to focus our energies on some provincial priorities, such as vocations, fraternity and the administration of goods. We want to walk together, in synodality, supporting each other with prayer and life in fraternal communion.

Our thanksgiving

We thank God for the life of the province, for his presence and his salvific action in the heart of history. We thank all the Superiors General and their councils who supported and accompanied the province over these 40 years. We thank the Mother Province (Northern Italy) that founded this congregational entity, endured the most difficult years and has continued to support and help us in different ways. We thank all the SCJ religious, brothers and priests, who gave and spent their lives for the mission of the Church in this province. We thank the Dehonian laity, benefactors, collaborators, the young people of the Dehonian youth mission and the religious of other congregations who have always supported the projects of the province. We are grateful to other SCJ entities that supported us with personnel and financial support. God repay them all!

Our apologies

We want to recognize that along the way we failed many times, so we want to apologize to God, to the Church, to the Congregation and to all those people for whom, in one way or another, we were not a channel of the Grace of the Lord. Forgive us, Lord, forgive us!

“Being a Province is both a grace and a choice. It is an option of faith, which places trust and abandonment in the Sacred Heart of Jesus above other securities, and establishes the value of the Kingdom above the attractions of any human good”. (Fr. Virginio Bressanelli, 27.12.1983).

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