On May 16 and 17, 2022, the II Dehonian Social Pastoral Meeting took place in Alfragide, convened by the Provincial Superior of the Portuguese Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and prepared and coordinated by the Provincial Commission for Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation
On May 16-17, 2022, the II SCJ Social Pastoral Meeting was held at the Seminary of Nossa Senhora de Fátima, in Alfragide, convoked by the Provincial Superior of the Portuguese Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Dehonians – and prepared and coordinated by the Provincial Commission for Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation.
Inspired by the theme “Witnesses of the Love of God: answers and challenges”, more than twenty participants took part, representing various social institutions under the care of the Portuguese Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Obra ABC, Rio Tinto; Social and Parish Center of Nossa Senhora da Boavista, Porto; Social and Parish Center of Santo André, Esgueira; Social and Parish Center of Imaculado Coração de Maria, Alfragide; Social and Parish Center of São Bento, Ribeira Brava; Social and Parish Center São Romão, Carnaxide.
João Nélio Pereira, Provincial Superior, opened the meeting by highlighting the importance of the social dimension of our Dehonian charism, beginning with the final document of the IX General Conference of the Congregation, held last February in Rome.
The work was carried out in accordance with the program that had been planned and from it emerged responses and challenges that will help us improve our service to those in our care, with special attention to the more vulnerable and the frail:
1. Tiago da Eira Pereira presented the Social Doctrine of the Church as the foundation of the Church’s social and charitable action, challenging us to know better the many documents that have enriched Christian social thought since the publication of the Encyclical Rerum Novarum, by Pope Leo XIII, until today.
2. José Agostinho Sousa challenged us to look at Fr. Leo Dehon as an example and model of authentic social commitment. Following the example of the founder of our congregation, may we today be capable of being aware of the greatest challenges that the social situation poses to us at any given time and try to provide the best response, working in network and synergy.
3. The presentation of some of our projects – the Alzheimer’s Unit of the S. Bento Social Center in Ribeira Brava, Obra ABC, the School for Caregivers of the S. Romão Social Center in Carnaxide, and the Center for Support to Victims of Domestic Violence of the Casa do Sagrado Coração in Aveiro – showed us how we seek to respond with courage and innovation to the needs we encounter in society, without losing sight of the need to do more and better.
4. With the help of the leaders of the Diocesan Caritas of Setúbal, the Santa Casa da Misericórdia of Amadora, the Department of Social-Charitable Pastoral Care and the Social Pastoral Sector of the Patriarchate of Lisbon, and SPREAD Portugal, we renewed our conviction that together we are stronger and can reach further if we are able to work in collaboration and solidarity, making our institutions more sustainable and the service we provide to the most vulnerable in our society more effective.
We leave this 2nd Dehonian Social Pastoral Meeting convinced that this time of formation and sharing has enriched us all, filled our hearts, and left us with new and more efficient means to respond to the different challenges we encounter. We want this spirit of collaboration and mutual exchange to continue, through the sharing and strengthening of contacts and experiences. Dehonian Spirituality will always inspire us in the intervention that we want to continue to make in a spirit of generous availability, synodality, and fraternal communion.
We propose that the Third SCJ Meeting on Social Pastoral Care be held on May 15-16, 2023, in the hope that we can count on the participation of a greater number of institutions and Confreres, both those directly involved in our social responses as well as those who do not work directly in this area and those who are in some stage of initial formation.
Alfragide, May 17, 2022
Participants in the 2nd Dehonian Social Pastoral Meeting