How are these first moments of yours as Provincial?
It is a challenge. The call to this mission was a surprise, but at the same time I am always willing to serve. My ordination motto is Behold, I come to do your will, O Father. I am here to serve and to do the will of God in whatever is necessary. I hope to be a good instrument in God’s hands to guide our Province.
Do you believe that the values formed in the parish experience can be integrated into your administration as Provincial Superior?
I see that working with people helps you in every way. Not only in the mission today, as Provincial Superior, but as a religious. During the pandemic period, for example, they did not become cowardly, they did not close themselves up at home; on the contrary, it opened up a new evangelization. The people taught me this: not to be afraid to dare, even now as Provincial Superior. Sometimes, there are certain things they do that I myself, as a parish priest, ask myself: will it work? But it is the laity who take the initiative and do it… and you are just someone who is there supporting them. What did they need? For the priest to support them. I am not the one who makes the life of the Province, but I am there to support, to encourage, and to make our Province develop the work and the mission that has been entrusted to it.
Can you share which priorities you have identified together with the new Provincial Council?
My first step as Provincial Superior is to see the reality of the Province. I have been a Provincial Councilor, I know my Province, but I know that realities change from one moment to the next. Now it is time to see, to get to know this reality better, the religious, and our works. The first step that we took was to value the local superiors. If one is called to be a superior, he should be able to fully carry out his task as superior. The priority is the Three Year Plan of our government. The Assembly will take place on July 7th online. Putting this plan into practice is our mission as a Provincial Government.
This year we will celebrate the centennial of the birth of Fr. Bourgeois, our 6th Superior General, and in 2022, the 40th anniversary of the approval of our Constitutions. Has the Provincial Government already thought of some celebrative proposal for these historic milestones?
As a novice I had already heard about Fr. Bourgeois. We hope that in the second semester we will be able to celebrate this important occasion and, above all, to study better what he, as Superior General, passed on to the religious. Today we are taking a closer look at our Rule of Life. I see that its importance also lies in the historical part. In our province we have the APPAL (Provincial Archive Father Lux) where we work and greatly value the history of the Congregation. I believe that we will make a great contribution when we can offer an archive for those who want to know more about our SCJ history. For example, getting to know the first German missionaries who are at the origin of the BRM and BSP Provinces. We owe a lot to the German Province. We want to know more about the history in order to value it.
A hot topic is internationality: What is your vision about it in the Congregation and in the Province and how will you develop it?
I believe that as a Congregation we have already taken important steps. As a Province we are also taking these steps. But I see that we can go even further. The closeness to our confreres, to our sister provinces, to those both close to us and far away, makes us feel more like a Congregation, and gives a sense of belonging. Our novitiate welcomes those in formation from other provinces. We are sending 3 religious to study in Rome, where we already have 2. Our confreres participate in the missions where we are called.
I would like you to say a word about your vision of the Dehonian Family in the BRM Province.
One of the things that I consider very important is the Dehonian Family. We are inserted in 27 parishes. The major work is there. The people drink from our spirituality, the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus. We have Lay Dehonian groups; in total we are in 4 sectors, with 155 members who are part of the Lay Dehonians in these 4 sectors of the Province. And in the youth missionary dimension – MDJ – we have 125 young people directly involved in the mission. Of course, this is a number that can grow, because we see that there are many young people who want to live this experience. We have the Marian Fraternity, founded by our confrere, the Servant of God Fr. Aloisio, who also draws on our experience and our spirituality. We have communities of life, such as the Ark of the Covenant in Joinville which was founded by lay people, but which has its charism thanks to Fr. Dehon. In short, in our Province there are several branches that we can understand as the Dehonian Family. I see this very positively, and it is a dimension that still needs to be improved, of course, to bring us even closer to cultivating Dehonian spirituality.
We can say that the Dehonian Family is fulfilling what Dehon wanted so much: to bring Christ to the heart of the world and the world to the Heart of Christ. Father, I would like you to leave a message for the whole Dehonian Family.
I would like to appeal to all the confreres to live the Dehonian spirit even more. We have a Rule of Life that we are trying to understand and live better, thus understanding who we are: Dehonians, Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, religious, priests, brothers… to live this experience is very beautiful. When we live, we certainly also evangelize. More than words, the testimony will speak. I wish that each one of us could embrace our charism with much love, because it is a very rich charism. It is known that the laity, our people of God, observe it much more clearly than we do ourselves. We need to embrace our charism and live it within our communities. May Father Dehon, in his words and testimony, increase our desire to serve God even more, to serve the Master Jesus and His Heart. I wish that all of us can strongly live this experience of the Heart of Jesus and that we can, as I always say, feel that we belong to the Dehonian Family: and, secondly, Sint Unum, that we can live unity and communion among ourselves to such an extent that people themselves see “how they love one another” from our witness.