“A sign that is especially powerful today of the truth of Christian love is the memory of the martyrs. Their witness must not be forgotten “. (John Paul II, Mysterium, 13)
“The Church has always believed that the apostles and martyrs of Christ, who, by the shedding of their blood, have given the supreme witness of faith and charity, are closely joined with us in Christ, and has always venerated them with special affection…” (LG)
During the XXI General Chapter, at the initiative of the German Province, the following was approved (paragraph 8): “The General Chapter recommends that the General Administration promote knowledge, dissemination and celebration of the SCJ martyrs and significant figures in our history.”
Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, superior general, in a letter to the Congregation dated May 31, 2004, set November 26 as Dehonian Memorial Day: “The General Government … Established DEHONIAN MEMORIAL DAY to be celebrated each year on November 26, the day of the death of Mons. Wittebols SCJ… the celebration of this day becomes an opportunity to know and remember those people who have marked the history of the province / region / district and the Congregation, or a particular work or sector of our mission”.
So our SCJ communities of Rome I and Rome II, under the guidance of the Superior General, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, celebrated this “Dehonian Memorial Day”. It is a day that encourages us to reflect on the testimony of these Dehonians. Our 49 brothers died under different circumstances in the world (Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Indonesia, Cameroon, Congo), and in giving their lives they have witnessed their love for Christ crucified, and the hope in the Resurrection at the end of time.
Fr. Héberlé, a missionary to Cameroon, in a letter written in September, 1959 wrote that “… the situation that I cross requires an unwavering faith, absolute confidence, a charity without blemish. For us priests and Christians, is the time of trial. God tries with fire and blood. Everything will be done (or: His will be done). This leads us to dedicate ourselves entirely to your service and to achieve with our sacrifices His cross “(September 9, 1959).
To learn more about the history of our brothers killed in various places in the world, the International College in Rome prepared an exhibition with photos and documents from the Archives.