The third day of the General Conference was dedicated to the presentation of various social projects and the theme of ecological issues. The proposals include the creation of a social network and the establishment of an integral development commission.
There is a page of the Gospel that summarizes what has been seen, shared, and reflected upon today. In Luke’s account of the parable of the Good Samaritan, there are two actions that the Samaritan performs before the man he encounters by chance on his way, he sees him and feels compassion.
Opening Our Eyes
The day began precisely with a look at Dehonians who, like the Samaritan, on life’s journey, stop, see, and move with compassion for the wounded and vulnerable.
Throughout the morning, four experiences were presented as a paradigm. From Brazil and the Congo, two works that serve orphaned minors or victims of social exclusion: the work of the Institute Meninos de São Judas Tadeu and Centre Saint Laurent; in the Philippines, the Kasanag Daughters Foundation, a social center that takes care of the psychological and spiritual regeneration of women victims of sexual abuse. Finally, the social commitment of the Indonesian Province was shown.
Reparation is Compassion
During the work of the assembly, several questions related to the Dehonian “proprium” emerged. Without having to put the Dehonian copyright on social works, there are nevertheless some criteria that correspond to the Dehonian charism. First of all, the spirit of the Beatitudes: those who work in social work have shown joy and brought joy. Secondly, although the works are born from a person’s charism, they must be converted to the community dimension and the community must allow itself to be converted by them, this implies collaboration not only with the laity but among SCJs themselves (lacking in some context, it is not about doing it well, but with love. Social community has been spoken of as a form of reparation. Indeed, social commitment is reparation, that is, bringing healing, regenerating people wounded by life, “I have become a better woman. I feel fearful of God, a confident woman, and I have a positive outlook on life.
In the afternoon, the Combonian Albert Parise presented the web platform dedicated to Laudato Si (www.laudatosiplatform.org), opening the discussion on the relationship between social commitment and integral ecology. In the conference room, it was said that the social question today cannot be separated from the ecological question. Poverty is often a consequence of unhealthy lifestyles, climate change, the destruction of our sister, mother Earth, “the urgent challenge,” writes Pope Francis in Laudato Si, “is to protect our common home in the search for sustainable and integral development (LS 13).
Dehonians are aware that something more concrete needs to be done. For example, it was proposed that a commission on integral human development or a “social network” be formed to promote information, exchange, the raising and monitoring of funds, the sharing of resources, etc. We are aware that much more should be invested in formation, starting from the first years of religious life.
At the end of the day Fr. Carlos, Superior General commented, “We have seen. We are approaching the way Jesus does things, he sees. Jesus managed to become a servant and a friend.”
Many Dehonians, along with many lay people, see like Jesus, act like him, and are close to many wounded and vulnerable people. The entire congregation and the Dehonian family must make this journey from Jerusalem to Jericho.