Letter for March 14, on the anniversary of the birth of Fr. Leo John Dehon
To the members of the Congregation
To all the members of the Dehonian Family
The events that took place in the SCJ Generalate last February anticipated, in a certain sense, the celebration of the birth of Fr. Léon Dehon. The first of these events was the long-awaited IX General Conference, during which the current situation regarding our social commitment, as an expression of our faith and the charism we share, was examined.
A significant fruit of this meeting is its Final Message. We therefore wish to now take advantage of this anniversary of Fr. Dehon to convey this message to you, so that reflection can take place in your communities, families, groups, and apostolates, helping us to live our commitment, inspired by the charism entrusted to us through our Venerable Founder.
The second event was the Assembly of the Superiors of the Congregation. These were days of listening and dialogue, sharing concerns and hopes. The beginning of the meeting was marked by gratitude to God, the Church, and those who contributed with their dedication to the final approval of the current SCJ Constitutions (1982). In this regard, we recall what Fr. Dehon wrote when the last edition of those he knew of was approved (1924):
«It is not enough, therefore, to read our Constitutions superficially, the precious code of our religious duties, but we must read them over and over again, we must study them carefully, so that we may know all their prescriptions thoroughly so that we may become imbued with their spirit, and so that they may guide our lives».
Our Constitutions, in fact, are meant to express the Dehonian understanding of the Gospel. For this reason, starting from them, we want to continue to configure the daily routine of our fraternal and apostolic life in response to God’s call to serve him in every moment, person, and place.
May the grateful memory of Fr. Dehon’s life and work also be a plea in favor of new vocations to the SCJ religious life and other Dehonian expressions of generous availability at the service of the Gospel, source of all peace and charity. This is how the SCJs and members of the Dehonian Family have understood it, who, in the midst of conflictive situations, such as those experienced today in Ukraine and other places, do not cease to express with their presence the closeness and tenderness of God that flow ceaselessly from the Heart of the Savior:
«The divine Heart of Jesus is only peace and charity. Let us all, people and faithful, draw from this mystical font which Our Lord wants to open wide to our souls, in our very restless and agitated times. “Come to me, says Our Lord, all workers, suffering souls, nations that are tried…” Here we are, Lord, at your feet, humble, trusting and devoted. Bless us as you blessed all who suffered in Palestine, and send from your Heart burning rays of peace, joy and charity».
Fraternally, in Corde Iesu,
 « Il ne suffit donc pas de lire superficiellement nos Constitutions, ce précieux Code de nos obligations religieuses, mais nous devons les lire et relire sans cesse, nous devons les étudier avec soin, afin d’en connaître à fond toutes les prescriptions, de nous pénétrer de leur esprit et d’en faire la direction de notre vie ». (P. Dehon, Promulgation des Constitutions, 10 mai 1924, LCC 66103/2).
 « Le divin Cœur de Jésus n’est que paix et charité. Puisons tous, peuples et fidèles, à cette source mystique que Notre Seigneur veut ouvrir plus largement à nos âmes, à notre époque si inquiète et si agitée. “Venez tous à moi, nous dit Notre Seigneur, les travailleurs, les âmes souffrantes, les nations éprouvées…”. Nous voici, Seigneur, nous voici à vos pieds, humbles, confiants et dévoués. Bénissez-nous comme vous bénissiez tous ceux qui souffraient en Palestine, et faites descendre de votre Cœur de chauds rayons de paix, de joie et de charité ». (P. Dehon, Bénédiction de la première pierre à Rome, 18 mai 1920, DIS 9050117/4).