Living together as brothers

The chapter’s work dealt with the theme of Economy. Day of joy and gratitude in memory of Fr. Dehon's first profession and founding of the Congregation.

by  Willyans Prado Rapozo, SCJ

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The thirteenth day of the XXV General Chapter began with the Holy Mass in French on the Memorial of St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr. Fr. Stefan Tertünte, provincial superior of Germany, was the main celebrant. He said that, in the liturgy of our heart, we also commemorate the anniversary of Fr. Dehon’s first profession and the birth of our Congregation. Fr. Dehon took his first vows on the Feast of the Sacred Heart in 1878, in front of the beautiful statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, which is now in the Generalate’s main chapel. In the chapter hall, Fr. Stefan reflected on today’s Word of God. He started with a quote from Fr. Dehon regarding his religious profession: “It was my greatest desire (…) It was a simple ceremony at St. John’s Oratory. I gave myself unreservedly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and in my mind my vows were already perpetual. My emotion was very deep. I felt that I was taking the cross on my shoulder by giving myself to Our Lord as a reparative priest and as the founder of a new institute. (…) This date of June 28, 1878 will surely be remembered in the institute as the date of its foundation” (NHV 13/76).

Fr. Dehon teaches us how to have a spirit of gratefulness and acknowledgement of God’s grace. We are not the protagonist of our vocation; we have not called ourselves. Today’s Gospel inspires us with the story of the leper who asked Jesus, “Lord, if you want you can make me clean,” and Jesus responded, “I want it; be healed!” It is an attitude of confidence. In our own vocation story we have also said, “Lord, if you want you can call me”, and Jesus has responded, “I do want. Follow me!” In this sense, the Congregation founded by Father Dehon was not a fruit of his personal will. In fact, it was born of the will of God; the unfathomable and lifegiving will of God.

After the meditation, we proceeded with the sharing of the results of yesterday’s group work on the topic economy. We identified several challenges, such as the lack of internalization of a spirituality of economy and the vow of poverty. It seems that we need to deepen our sense of belonging to a common family where we are responsible for each other. This consciousness must be fostered during the formation process and promoted among all members of the Congregation. We need to continuously educate ourselves for poverty. Fr. Carlos remembered our Constitutions number 95 regarding initial formation; the text speaks of a dynamic process helping us inoculate in our veins the value of fraternity, against the constant temptation of selfishness and egoism.

We ended the day celebrating Fr. Dehon and the Dehonians, particularly those with religious life and priesthood milestones. Another enjoyable evening. Joy is seen in the faces of our chapter participants. “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” (Psalm 133.1).

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