Called to be prophets and servants of reconciliation

Day dedicated to voting on the theme of formation. Presented guidelines for the celebration of two jubilees: the centenary of Fr. Dehon's death (1925) and the 150th anniversary of the founding of the congregation (2028)

by  Willyans Prado Rapozo, SCJ

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The nineteenth day of the XXV General Chapter began with the Holy Eucharist celebrated in Spanish. We remembered the anniversary of the approval of our first Constitutions. Fr. Arildo José Ferrari, superior of the Argentina-Paraguay-Uruguay Province was the main celebrant. In his homily given at the chapter hall, Fr. Arildo spoke about the role of a prophet. In the First Reading, Amos answerer to Amaziah that he was a shepherd before being called by the Lord. God made him a prophet to announce his word and denounce injustice. Despite all obstacles, Amos was faithful to the Lord. In this world in transformation, we need courageous prophets like Amos. As Fr. Dehon has said, we are called to be “prophets of love and servants of reconciliation”. In the Gospel, a paralytic was brought to Jesus by his friends, and Jesus said, “Courage, son, your sins are forgiven.” The pharisees were in rage accusing Jesus of blasphemy. Many people today need the help of Dehonians to approach the Lord. Who are we? Those who rejoice at the Lord’s favour for our brothers, or those who are envious and complain like the pharisees?

After Fr. Arildo’s meditation, we proceeded with the voting of the decisions and recommendations on the theme of formation, and the presentation of the Commission for the Celebration of the Centenary of Fr. Dehon’s Death (2025) and 150th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Congregation (2028). The theme is “For him I live; it is Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2. 20). There will be a period of four years of various celebration and pilgrimages (from August 12, 2024 to June 28, 2028). The commission has thought of presenting the life and works of Fr. Dehon as a message for the Church and for the world today. The main celebrations will take place in:

  • Quentin and Brussels (France-Belgium): With the theme “Domine, quid me vis facere?” we will remember these significant places in the life of the Founder. It is a return to our spiritual identity;
  • Quito (Ecuador): With the theme “Adveniat Regnum Tuum!” we will return to the first mission embraced by the Founder, to celebrate the missionary dimension of our charism, and the primacy of God’s kingdom;
  • Kisangani (Congo): With the theme “Ecce Venio! Ecce Ancilla!” we will visit the place of the first martyrs of our Congregation and reflect on our reparative oblation;
  • Yogyakarta (Indonesia): With the theme of “Sint Unum” we will celebrate our call to dialogue with the different cultures and religions in the world. It will be a year to foster communion and unity.

The commission concluded inviting confreres to participate and offer suggestions. It is going to be a time of thanksgiving to God for the gift of Fr. Dehon’s charism to himself, to the Congregation, and to the Church.

After the presentation, chapter members gathered for the last group work to reflect on how to ensure reception of the outcomes of the General Chapter. After the Chapter, the sharing must happen in every possible opportunity, such as in assemblies, community meetings, personal conversations and visits, etc. We acknowledge that we, participants of the Chapter, are the first messengers of what we experienced, lived and learned here. We must do it with joy and enthusiasm.

In the afternoon, major superiors gathered in continental groups for sharing experiences. The Congregation wants to strengthen the relationship and collaboration of entities in the same geographical area.

The last day of the General Chapter will be dedicated to the approval of the Final Message, the closing speech of the Superior General, and the closing Mass to be celebrated at Cristo Re Basilica.

We all share a common feeling of hope and joy. This has been a true moment of fraternity, learning, sharing, and celebrating the richness of our Congregation. We return to our countries with a deep sense of gratitude. May the Sacred Heart be praised for this Kairos in the life of the Congregation!

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