We should not be afraid to dream and to into deeper waters

Day dedicated to decisions on economy and mission. Governance is active participation of all.

by  Willyans Prado Rapozo, SCJ

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The eighteenth day of the XXV General Chapter began with the Holy Eucharist on the Solemnity of St. Thomas the Apostle, celebrated in French. Fr. Emile Hathouna, Cameroon delegate, was the main celebrant. In the chapter hall, Fr. Emile gave a short reflection on the Word of God. In the first reading, St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2.19). In fact, we are members of the same family. Strangers do not partake of the same group, neither share the same identity. Those who consider themselves strangers, will also treat others as strangers. We, however, belong to the Dehonian family formed by brothers and sisters joined in the same charismatic spirit. We did not choose each other; rather, community is a gift, and we are called to take care of it. The Gospel states that Jesus is the cornerstone, therefore, our foundation. The apostle Thomas had difficulties to believe in Jesus’ resurrection because he was not with the other apostles when Christ first appeared. As he did to Thomas, Jesus invites us to be together in family, to touch his heart, and to go out to announce his love to the entire world.

The first part of the morning was dedicated to voting on the decisions and recommendations on the themes of economy and mission to help us be faithful to our call to evangelical poverty, in the service of the Church throughout the world. Then, the chapter participants gathered in language groups to reflect on Governance, the last topic proposed by the Preparatory Commission. Back in the chapter hall, they shared the result of their discussion. We recognize the movement taken by our Congregation toward decentralization, and we believe that this model of governance must be promoted, especially by fostering a better participation and consideration of major superiors, continental conferences, in decision-making process. The service of authority should be exercised according to the method of synodality proposed by the Church. Synodality means walking together, listening to the Holy Spirit, to each other, and to the signs of the times, before coming to a resolution. It is a true process of discernment in which constant dialogue is fundamental.

Another issue presented in the hall is the challenge of diminishing number of confreres in some entities. It was suggested that we must open our entities to the collaboration of lay people whenever possible, and that vocation and youth ministries should be revitalized, even with an international coordination. Best initiatives should be made known to the entire Congregation to help us grow in these areas. We should not be afraid to dream and to into deeper waters.

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