“Communities places of trust and faithfulness.”

Report by Fr. Victor de Oliveira Barbosa on the Center for Dehonian Studies. The day was dedicated to the theme of Dehonian identity.

by  Willyans Prado Rapozo, SCJ

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The tenth day of the XXV General Chapter began with the Holy Mass celebrated in Italian. The superior of the South Italian Province, Fr. Michele Elia Ercolino, was the main celebrant. In the chapter hall, Fr. Michele reflected on the Word of God. He said that God’s Word is a light for today’s work. We should ask ourselves, “where do we place our faith?” In the first reading, King Hezekiah trusted in the God of Israel to win his battle. Saint Paul reminds us that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Our true and strong rock is God who lives in each person. Therefore, each one of us must decide where to place their faithfulness. In the Gospel, Jesus urges us to enter the narrow door, to leave behind what is superfluous. As Dehonians, we do not place our trust in the law, nor in tradition, but in the Heart of Christ. Fr. Michele highlighted that the lack of faithfulness can cause conflict in relationships. We become more defensive when we do not trust in each other. In this sense, our communities are called to become places of trust and faithfulness. This is our hope, we expect that through our testimony heaven’s brightness may continue to shine on earth.

After Fr. Michele’s meditation, we listened to the report from the Dehonian Study Centre given by its coordinator, Fr. Victor de Oliveira Barbosa. He presented the profile, mission, formation process, and perspectives of Dehon Study Centre. There are many confreres and lay people involved. In the last six years, the centre has focused on two main publications: Dehoniana (6 volumes) and Studia Dehoniana (4 volumes). In addition to that, Portal Dehondocs is a virtual resource which offers digitalized copies of Fr. Dehon’s writings, works authored by confreres throughout the Congregation, and several studies on our Founder. These documents are available in five languages. Fr. Victor also encouraged all entities to send confreres who would like to study and research in the Dehonian Study Centre. They offer a two year-program, with a certificate of Specialization in Dehonian Studies granted by the General Administration. He invited the entities to reflect on how to make use of the knowledge acquired by our confreres who have completed the program. They can certainly contribute with the Congregation in many fields, such as formation and spirituality.

After the presentation, the chapter proceeded with the discussion on the first of six themes proposed by the Preparatory Commission. Gathered in language groups, we reflected on Dehonian Identity, based on the synthesis of the answers previously sent by the entities. Some issues like knowledge on our Rule of Life, our history, the founder’s life, authenticity to our charism, promotion of Dehonian spirituality, growing individualism and relativism, a call to Dehonian conversion, emerged and were brought to the chapter hall. The chapter will now take some time to propose concrete actions in the form of motions to serve as guidelines for the General Administration.

We praise the Holy Spirit for leading us in this synodal process of listening, patience, attention, and openness of mind and heart. As we walk together, a real discernment takes place in terms of method and development of the chapter theme. Sint Unum has been the inspiration of these days. May our Venerable Founder pray for us as we commit to being faithful to our spiritual inheritance.

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