The Regional Council will rotate their meetings among the communities. The February 1 meeting was held in Toronto. Part of the meeting was held with the Toronto Community. Since the meeting was on Monday, there was an opportunity to have a time for exchanging information and planning in the afternoon because the community meets at High Park each Monday.
Programmatic Letter of the General Administration
On January 6 the new general administration published its programmatic letter of the next six years, entitled Mercy – In the Footsteps of God. The programmatic letter not only set the action program of the General Administration but also involved the activities of the Provinces, Regions and Districts. Within the letter there was a request of the General Administration to indicate how the entities could begin to put into practice some of the three areas indicated in the letter: (1) Marks of mercy in formation; (2) Marks of mercy with the poor; and (3) Marks of mercy in evangelization.
With regard to the marks of mercy in formation, although we are not directly involved in formation we have given much effort to formation in internationality and interculturality by inviting students (if not scholastics) to come to Canada. We have also contributed to the study of Dehonian topics in collaboration with the Centro Studi in Rome.
With regard to the marks of mercy with the poor, the council members pointed out our desire to set up not a three-year plan but a ten-year plan. Up to this point we have given a lot of attention to immigration and the care of the refugees. With the US province we have set up an immigration commission and all our communities have committed their members to participate in a refugee project. At St. Thomas More parish in Toronto a meeting has been organized to inform people about Islam in order to allow them to overcome their prejudices. Also the parish is interested in sponsoring a refugee family, as is the Ottawa community and the Montreal community. The Region will need to reflect on this project and to integrate it in their community project for social apostolate. The Region has also sought to achieve – not always with equal success – to arrive at financial transparency.
At the level of mercy in evangelization we have participated in mutual assistance to other entities who have greater financial needs. On this point we have asked the Finance Committee to look into our participation in the General Aid Fund and in the 1% project of the Congregation. It was suggested that we create a pamphlet for our benefactors regarding our pump action in Cameroon and other aid projects. We will also be looking into the development of Dehonian spirituality with lay people. Also here St. Thomas More parish is interested in establishing a lay dehonian group, seeking the help of David Schimmel from the United States. At the continental level there will be offered a Dehonian retreat for the US Province and the Canadian Region in 2017. A committee consisting of Byron Haaland and James Schoeder of the US province and John van den Hengel will be working on such a retreat this year. The small committee, perhaps with David Schimmel and Charles Brown, will be meeting in Hales Corners in the beginning of May to prepare such a retreat.
At the Assembly in August it was decided to discuss a ten-year plan for the Region. Although the congregation asks for a three-year plan, a ten-year plan will allow us to do a more long-term assessment of the needs of the Region. A long-term plan allows us to determine much more efficiently what the Region will need to do in the next years especially in face of the aging of the Canadian confreres. The reflection ought to entail:
- Composition of the community : membership, age,
- Ministry: current ministries; if the current ministries are to be maintained, what must the region do? What projects do we wish to retain at all costs? What should we let go?
- Collaboration among the three communities in the Region? How can we interact, work together better? What would be required on our part to realize this?
- Spiritual life: setting the mission project of the Region; should we seek to find others to deal with the pastoral issues of the community when we can’t any more?
- Houses : what should we plan regarding the community houses? Which houses would you maintain : Ottawa or Toronto? What about Montréal? What about the English and French confreres?
- Participation in housing projects with other religious communities: The Basilian project in Toronto or others?
- The role of members of other provinces: What sort of policy would you adopt? The current ministry at St. Thomas More and the projected ministry in a possible Montréal parish? The Indonesian community? The invitation of foreign students?
- Finances : the need for a good actuarial study of the finances of the Region.
- Lay help : Do we need lay people to accompany us?
The Montreal community
After the last meeting in Montréal, there have been a number of developments in the community. Here are some of the details:
- Walter van As is having greater difficulties with his eyes. He is no longer able to read. Up to now the community with the help of Samuel Vernelus has been able to handle the situation and keep him within the community. It was suggested to increase the hours of assistance of M. Vernelus
- Louis-Marie Butari after his return to RDC wrote to tell us of the additional requirements for his re-entry into Canada. Most of the required documents have been sent. It is now in the hands of the embassy staff.
- There have been no further discussions with the Archdiocese of Montréal about the Visitation parish. However, Fr. Robert Lapoine, the present pastor, is ill and wishes to retire. A meeting with the archdiocese has now become more urgent.
- Le Séminaire du Sacré-Cœur : In the past two months there have been two developments at the Séminaire. First of all, the Board of Directors has been increased to seven members (including two members of the Region). This increase is provisional until a new Statute has been created and a formal vote will have taken place. Secondly, a commission has been formed including Mme Michelle Cyr (a former teacher and principal), Mme Carole Crevier (principal of the school), M. Mario Gendron and P. Maurice Légaré. This commission is in the process of revising the statutes of the Council of Administration. A draft of the statutes is to be presented to the Board at the end of March. It will be presented to a lawyer to assure the legal aspects. It is also foreseen that the role of the pastoral agent at the school will become part of the Statutes. This pastoral agent does not necessarily have to be a priest. It would assure a continuation of the school within the tradition that established the school. It is hoped that the school will remain part of our community, if not through a direct physical presence of one of our members then at least through the network of Dehonian schools.
- The August assembly (8th to 11th) this year will again take place at l’Ermigage in Montréal. The reservations have been made after the Toronto venue was not available. We will again seek the assistance of simultaneous translation and the assistance of Sr. Marjory Gallaher. Fr. Stephen Huffstetter will be present to give us an update on the six-year plan of the General Administration. He will also visit the three communities either before or after the assembly. Also at the assembly we foresee the presentation of an actuarial study of the finances of the community. Maurice Légaré has someone in mind who is able to undertake such a study. Again this year we will hold the jubilees of the Region during the assembly at 2830 Boulevard Gouin.
The Toronto Community
Since the meeting of February 1 was held in Toronto, it included a meeting from 4 p.m. to 5:30 with the local community. The whole community, except for Fr. Yuliwan, was present. Here are some of the topics discussed:
- Indonesian community: Aegi Warsito reviewed the work of the Indonesian community with its 500 families, currently under the care of Fr. Yuliwan. Sunday Eucharist is celebrated the first and third Sundays of each month at St. Anselm. There are five marriage encounter groups. Retreats are organized regularly for the youth with an attendance of about 50.
- Dehonian youth: It is hoped that after completing his canon law studies at Saint Paul in Ottawa in June, Fr. Anthony Purwono will be able to come to Toronto to undertake the work with Dehonian youth among the Indonesians. He could during this time also work with the Toronto Archdiocese Tribunal on a part-time basis. During this time he can also head the vocational ministry. The current Indonesian province is in agreement but it will be necessary to connect with the next Indonesian administration to determine the future of the ministry with the Indonesian community in Toronto. It is hoped that Fr. Yuliwan will be able to work with the new parish in Montréal in the near future and take up the ministry with the Indonesian community there.
- The Toronto community as an international community: It has been around eight years that the Toronto community has become more and more international. “It has been a real learning experience,” Jim Casper said. Its priority has been to identify the needs of the church of Toronto and to find ways of responding to them. It began with the Indonesian community and it was expanded with the “Becoming Neighbours” ministry of Peter McKenna. It now needs to expand also in our vocation ministry. One of the strengths of the community has been the effort to maintain weekly meetings of the community.
- Where does the community go from here? The community members mentioned a number of issues: the need for a more cohesive plan for the Region, the need for greater unity and solidarity in the Region, our work on Dehonian youth, better representation in the commissions and input into the work of the Region, searching for a new administrative structure in North America, further development of the work of the Immigration Committee, Work with the refugees, a better process for inviting members of the other provinces and regions to Canada.
- Willyans Raposso mentioned the need to have at least two full-time persons in the parish of St. Thomas More. He also advised that when Fr. Giovanni Pontes arrives he will need to live with the community first and learn the English language. He mentioned that the work at the parish at the present moment is too strongly on a sacramental and not sufficiently on the pastoral level. That is why he would welcome other confreres to help in the parish. The parish has welcomed our presence, even though at first the presence of non-Canadian priests required some time of adaptation for the more than 40 ethnic groups in the parish.
- The Basilian Project: Up to this point there are four religious communities who support the project of building a lodging for religious in Toronto. Thes communities have invested different sums of money in its development. No construction has yet taken place. The question is whether we wish to invest in this project and ultimately participate in it. It is an investment with a long-term re-imbursement. The question is whether we wish to participate in it.
- Gustave Lulendo hopes to complete his studies for a licentiate in theology at Saint Paul University at the end of the current semester. It is expected that he will return to the Congo during the summer.
- Anthony Purwono will also complete his studies in Canon Law. He will go to Rome with his classmates during the summer to visit the different offices in Rome with which canon lawyers tend to deal because of their work. This visit is part of the program of Canon Law at Saint Paul University. After his completion he will go to Toronto to work with our community there. He will also work part-time in the chancery office with the Marriage Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Toronto.
- With the departure some time this year of Gustave Lulendo, the Region has indicated to the Congolese Province that the Region is willing to sponsor another student for a period of three years at St. Paul University in the department of Conflict Studies. Fr. Zenon has asked Fr. Makiala Paulin, an assistant in the parish of Saint-Clement to register for the course next year. The process for inviting him to come to Canada will start immediately.
- The Feast of the Sacred Heart: The Feast of the Sacred Heart will be celebrated, as has become customary, at our community house in Ottawa. However, because it is difficult to have the celebration of this feast as a community in Ottawa and at the same time to celebrate it in the parishes (and in Pointe-au-Chêne) it was suggested that we celebrate the feast a day earlier. For this reason, the evening prayer and adoration will take place on Wednesday, June 1 and the solemnity itself on Thursday June 2. Don’t forget to put this into your calendars.
- Finance Committee: The financial committee met briefly on the day of the Toronto meeting but has already met subsequently. On that occasion the committee met with our accountant and the investment advisor. It was decided that all projects pass through the Financial Committee so that a clear link will exist between the committee and the council. Council discussed at length about the mandate of the Financial Committee, the frequency of its meetings and timing of the financial statements both to the Region and to the General Government. It is hoped that the Council can discuss and approve the 2015 financial statement at its June 3 meeting.
- A request has been received from the Congolese Province for financial aid for formation. At the meeting in Montréal, it was decided to help the Congolese students who are currently studying in Ngoya, Cameroon (thereby keeping intact our commitment to Cameroon). Maurice Légaré has learned that a student costs € 5,120, that is, $ 7.800. The Finance Committee is asked to study the request and to make recommendations to the Council.
- The Finance Committee will also undertake a study of the funds for education, support and maintenance, and Missionary Reserve, and advise the council on how to support our students and the congregation as a whole with our funds. What sort of surplus does the Region have that can be shared with others?
- Lay Financial Councilor: The council also discussed the desirability of having a lay person join the Financial Committee and possibly become more involved in the office of the Regional Bursar. Maurice has some suggestions regarding the person who might fulfill such a service.
- Actuarial study: At our assembly in August, if possible, we would like to discuss the financial situation of the Region. To do that Maurice was asked to begin the process of creating an actuarial study of our finances in the context of the future of the Region. Maurice will contact M. Michel Gignac to see whether he is available for such a study. Even if the study is not yet complete by August, it should be possible to give the parameters of our financial situation.
Announcement of future meetings:
- Meeting of Major Superiors: It is customary that the Major Superiors of the Congregation meet in the fall of the year after the General Chapter. This time the meeting will take place in Rome from November 28 to December 2. The topics will be the evaluation of the Programmatic Letter, the general Conference of 2018, and Financial matters of the Congregation.
- Meeting of the secretaries: the last two days of the meeting of the Major Superiors will be dedicated to dealing with matters that they share with the secretaries of the entities (juridical issues). The secretaries will meet in Rome from December 1 – 7.
The next meeting of Council will be in Ottawa on March 30.