11 December 2023
11 Dec 2023

Provincial Chapter of the SCJ in Portugal

The SCJ Portuguese Province held its XV Provincial Chapter from November 22 to 30, 2023, in Alfragide (Lisbon).

by  Zeferino Policarpo, scj

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The Provincial Chapter was attended by 27 delegates and 4 guests: the General Councilor who accompanies the Portuguese Province, Fr. Levi dos Anjos Ferreira; Fr. Juan José Arnáiz Ecker (Provincial Superior) and Fr. Ángel Alindado Hernández, representing the Province of Spain and Brother José Manuel Braz, representing the District of Angola.

After appreciating and evaluating the reports of the Provincial Superior and the Provincial Treasurer, the chapter delegates dedicated themselves to preparing for the next General Chapter, studying and deepening the answers to the questionnaire given to the communities of the Province. After approving the final text to be sent to the General Curia, they proceeded to elect the delegates who will accompany the Provincial Superior to the XXV General Chapter of the Congregation. Ricardo Freire, Provincial Secretary, and Fr. José Domigos, Master of Novices.

The second part of the Provincial Chapter was dedicated to the study of the theme that brought together the Chapter’s reflection of the Province. Taking as a starting point the phrase from the Gospel and the text of SCJ Const.147, the chapter delegates focused their reflection on the communities’ responses to the questionnaire in preparation for the Provincial Chapter and to discern some areas of action for the coming years:

– Valuing the charism and spirituality of Father Dehon. As Dehonians, we are called to maintain a living and constant contact with the works of the Founder and to re-read and deepen our knowledge of the Rule of Life so that the vigor of our consecration is not extinguished and community life is a concrete and prophetic expression of our option for Christ.

– Renewing our commitment to the mission. The concrete way in which we welcome “God today” requires involvement in the apostolic mission in a dynamic of ongoing conversion based on reading the signs of the times. To do this, we have to rely on the “strength” we have to work for the Lord’s harvest. The Province has an average age of 58.6 years; 30 confreres are over 70, 33 are between 50 and 70 and another 33 are under 50. Vocations are also in short supply. This reality calls for a different way of looking at the mission, giving priority to the following aspects:

1º – Valuing teamwork, especially in the almost 30 parishes entrusted to the Province by the various dioceses in Portugal;

2 – Awareness that everyone should feel like a vocation promoter in the very place where they carry out their apostolate;

3º – Reimagining the structures and mission fields;

4º – Care for elderly and sick confreres;

5 – Availability for international collaboration in the field of formation and mission;

6 – Sharing the charism with the laity, energizing the Dehonian Family, and greater involvement of competent lay people in the Commissions and management services of the Province;

7 – Attention to the world of youth, university ministry, the weakest in society and our benefactors.

These days of fraternity and intense work ended with the Eucharist presided over by Father Levi dos Anjos Ferreira. The chapter delegates returned to their communities carrying with them seeds of hope so that, rooted in Christ’s love, we can renew our commitment to the mission and welcome God’s today with open hearts. The celebration of the centenary of Father Dehon’s death (2025) and the 150th anniversary of the Congregation (2028) are extraordinary opportunities to deepen and spread Dehonian spirituality.

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