Rediscovering the basis of communion

On the 11th day of the general chapter, there was a report on the international college in Rome and a reflection on the theme of communion.

by  Willyans Prado Rapozo, SCJ

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The eleventh day of the XXV General Chapter began with the Holy Mass of the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated in Portuguese. We offered the Eucharist in thanksgiving for the chapter jubilarians, Fr. Julién Braun (60 years of religious life), Fr. Luca Zottoli and Fr. Sildo César da Costa (25 years of priesthood). Fr. Sildo presided over the Eucharist and in the chapter hall reflected on today’s liturgy. In the first reading, King Josiah is conducting the reform of the temple, which represents the establishment of monotheism: one God, one people, one worship, one temple. The Book of the Law was found, and the people of Israel became conscious of their unfaithfulness. They choose to return to God’s law and adhere to his commandments. If God’s temple is our heart, we must find what has been lost in this inner temple. In the Gospel, Jesus affirms that a tree is known by it fruits. He is urging us to be coherent, uniting word to action. Today we will dedicate time on the topic of communion, considering our diversity, but also our common values, visions and goals. We need to have a common comprehension of communion and how it is concretely lived.

Fr. Gilbert Kamta Tatsi, superior of the International College in Rome, gave a report on the life of the community of Rome. It is a place of communion, life and studies offered to the entire congregation. It shelters the members of the General Administration, collaborators of the Generalate, and confreres who study in Rome. Our house was founded 70 years ago, and blessed by Bishop Giovanni Battista Montini who would later become Pope Paul VI. The current community motto is “Living the spirit of communion as a testimony of the life of Christ in a changing world (Sint Unum).” Community life is shared in meetings, common prayer, meals, retreats, outings, and celebrations. Members are also involved in pastoral activities helping out parishes, retreats, etc. whenever possible. Hospitality is one of the characteristics of Dehonian ontology, therefore we open our house to visiting confreres, family and friends, and even to welcome refugees who are in search of a stable life in Italy.

Following this report, we met in language groups to reflect on the theme of communion. Many ideas have surfaced, such as promoting the reading, reflecting and sharing of our Rule of Life, particularly in terms of communion; encouraging local communities to elaborate an annual Community Life Plan to enhance communion among member, considering elements such as community schedule, spiritual life and prayer, recreation, apostolate, care of the sick and elderly, community responsibilities, etc.; to reinforce the importance of the local superior. The Chapter also spent a long time discussing the issue of internationality and the right process of forming international communities. This seems to be a very important topic which will demand further reflection and concrete decisions of the Chapter. We will return to it on the coming days.

Fr. Carlos closed the session referring to today’s first reading. It is so beautiful to see that the liturgy is inspiring us, and God is giving us the right word at the right time. Today, King Josiah torn his clothes after realizing that the People of Israel have forgotten the Book of the Law. He decided to summon to whole kingdom to read the book and to heed to it. We also have our Rule of Life and we might discover that we have forgotten it as well. So let us read it together, reflect, share and strive to live out its content. This will surely help us grow in communion in the spirit of Sint Unum.

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