Interview with Fr. Carlos Luis Suárez Codorniú, on the occasion of his fraternal visit to the Dehonian Province of Southern Italy (ITM), from May 3 to 25, 2021.
The confreres of the southern Italian province were very happy to have welcomed you as a confrere. They recognized in you the sign of the unity of the Congregation. What does this mean to you?
Visiting an entity is always a joy because you get to know the confreres, their mission, and the sense of our communion grows. In addition, the confreres showed a strong sense of belonging to the Congregation. The visit was also an opportunity to catch up on current events.
For years the ITM province has been engaged in downsizing based on these criteria: fidelity to the Dehonian charism, revitalization of community life, presence with the youth, openness to the mission ad gentes, and presence in more impoverished communities. Given the substantial decrease in numbers and aging, what do you think are the priorities for the future?
I believe that continuing discernment is a common priority that cuts across all criteria. Listening to each other and to the realities in which we are engaged is important for us. I have noticed that the fraternal dimension is also taken very seriously. There are some essential options: relating to university students, the use of media, the offering of spirituality centers. On the whole, I have noticed a province that is very lively in its service and commitment.
In a recent interview, Fr. Ciro, Provincial Superior, requested the Congregation for help in supporting the mission in Albania. Have you discussed this? Can you tell us about it?
The first visit I made at the beginning of my service with Fr. Artur Saneki was to Albania. We wanted to start from the margins, to understand the reality that our confreres live. Albania is a human periphery, of Europe, of history. Our confreres are performing a magnificent service. Young people have also been involved in volunteer work (My Mission). However, it is necessary to strengthen the presence of our confreres since it is a work of the ITM province and the Congregation. There is now a brother who is preparing, and I hope there will be others available. The challenge that Albania poses is also a cultural challenge.
Teledehon became a national network a few days ago. This is a significant achievement in the field of evangelization and knowledge of the Dehonian charism. What value does this particular form of apostolate of the ITM province have for the entire Congregation?
This sort of program is something Father Dehon would be proud of. He used the means of communication (e.g., the magazine, The Kingdom of the Sacred Heart in Souls and Society) to communicate the gospel he had within him. The Dehonians of Italy have always had great sensitivity to this area. This is a commitment that requires preparation and collaboration. And it is a challenge that the confreres carry out with joy and passion. Teledehon grows more and more and enters into communication with dioceses and Catholic groups. It helps to bring forward a common idea.
In a few days, the provincial assembly of the Dehonians of the North begins. Don’t you think that resources and projects should be unified between the two Italian provinces? On what aspects, in your opinion, should the two Italian provinces walk more together?
There has never been a total division between the two entities. There are religious in the North and in the South where the desire to get closer and share is alive. I am thinking, for example, of the common work in the world of youth. We can certainly do more, but everything stems from the mutual interest in getting to know and understand each other. Dehonians can make a significant contribution in serving Italy, which is rich in heritage. There is the desire, the will, and the possibility. It is a question of putting concrete steps on the agenda.