At the service of a dynamic and increasingly international congregation

The third day of the chapter was dedicated to the Superior General's report on the state of the Congregation.

by  Willyans Prado Rapozo, SCJ

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The third day of the General Chapter started with Holy Mass in Spanish, presided by Fr. Juan Manuel Yépez Barreto, superior of the Region of Venezuela. Then, in the chapter hall, Fr. Juan also gave us a short homily based today’s liturgy. He remembered how, through the mouth of the prophet Elijah, God reproached the sin of King Ahab, and defended his people from oppression. In the same way, the Lord calls us to be prophets of love and ministers of reconciliation, denouncing injustice and showing compassion for all. Jesus challenges us to love even our enemies, with a total gift of ourselves.

After welcoming God’s word, the chapter assembly listened to the presentation of the superior general’s report. Fr. Carlos shared that the document was the result of the dedication of all members of the general administration, as it is a summary of the richness of the entire congregation. It is above all an expression of gratitude for the work and testimony of every Dehonian who has made history in the last six years. Fr. Carlos divided his report in two main blocks: first, he gives an account of the work of the general administration in relation to all our entities, emphasizing the gifts and challenges they have encountered, and then an appreciation on the activities of all sectors, commissions, and groups of our congregation.

Fr. Carlos stated that the general council tried to translate into concrete actions what they have understood as results of the last two general chapters, considering that the previous one in 2018 was called in extraordinary circumstances, and had as main objective to elect a new a new administration. The XXIV General Chapter lasted only two weeks, and it was like “a train in high-speed stopping to change passengers.”

Fr. Carlos spoke about the challenges faced by the new administration, particularly after the resignation and substitution of two counselors, the COVID 19 pandemic preventing them from traveling and visiting entities during the lockdown period, and the difficulty of establishing a good communication within our congregation. Despite these limitations, we are doing an amazing work throughout the world. In fact, everyone is making a great effort to share our spirituality, to continue the work of evangelization, and to manifest a charismatic presence in the service of the Church.

In terms of the membership, the status of the congregation is stable. However, we have noticed a real change in the make up of the congregation. It is true that our face is becoming more Asian and African as these geographical areas are blooming with vocations and new energy. But it is also a time to rediscover who we truly are and are called to become, to revisit and to promote our Constitutions which express our common identity. We realize that the Rule of Life is still unknown by many members of the congregation.

We are in communion with the Universal Church, and thus we have listened to invitation of Pope Francis to care for our common home, to welcome refugees, to protect the dignity of the most vulnerable. Our entities have shown great creativity in responding to the urgent needs of our wounded societies, concretely living the ministry of reparation with the love of Christ. A moment of deep emotion was seen when the superior general shared the experience of visiting our confreres in Ukraine who courageously chose to remain with the victims of war, serving them as a sign of concrete oblation of their lives.

The advance of internet and information technology has offered us new possibilities to evangelize and to spread our Dehonian charism to all the ends of the earth. However, we recognize that sometimes we misuse these instruments and instead of communicating the Gospel and the person of Christ, we make it a platform to promote individual interests. It is important to reflect on how to create a true and legitimate internet apostolate in our entities.

Other important issues to be considered are formation, spirituality, mission, internationality. The general chapter must be a time of sincere evaluation of the work we have done so far, and of the new possibilities given by the Spirit. We continue to affirm our commitment to going to the peripheries and to creatively finding new forms of living our call to be missionary disciples of the Heart of Christ. We are not discouraged, rather, these challenges are seen as blessing to push us forward. Fr. Carlos concluded by inviting all of us to a renewed availability to mission, to promote vocations, and to strengthen our fraternity.

After lunch, we were divided in language groups to work of the superior general’s report. Appling the process of spiritual conversation, listening to God’s Spirit and to each other, we were asked to reflect on what are the strengths that must be taken on and developed by the next administration, and what are the shortcomings that must be changed. Returning to the plenary assembly, we had the opportunity of sharing the results of this rich moment. Overall, we thank the Lord for a real sense of hope and joy seen today. As Dehonians in the world, we desire to continue to be faithful to our call and to give testimony of our Sint Unum in this world in transformation.

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