08 March 2016
08 Mar 2016

Women in the Dehonian Family

by  Silvia Bertozzi

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As history shows, Dehonian spirituality, a specific way of living the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, derives its inspiration from a congregation of sisters in France and was defined according to the specific charism granted to Fr Dehon by the Holy Spirit, incarnated in history to support the needs and the mission of the Church.

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There is a space

For a long time it was just the Priests of the Sacred Heart who lived the charism. Thanks to the seeds sown by the Second Vatican Council we see the birth of new form of consecrated life, such as Secular Institutes of women, which reinterpreted the charism and defined it according to their specific sensitivity.

Recently we have seen efforts by the Priests of the Sacred Heart to bring together groups of people who in different ways, and according to different states of life, live the charism. We have acknowledged that under the umbrella of the Dehonian Family there is the foundational congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, as well as women in various forms of consecrated life, and lay people.

As for myself, I am a consecrated woman in the Order of Consecrated Virgins (OV) living in the world, and by grace, embraced to live my consecration in the flow of the charism of Fr Dehon. I am posted in Finland, a mission land for Fr. Dehon, and nowadays, a land for re-evangelization.

In love in spite of drama

I have been living in Finland for the past 22 years. When I arrived here for work I discovered the Dehonians here before really getting to know about them and their charism in Bologna few years later.

Due to a series of events in my life, I fell in love with Jesus, with His love, His tenderness, His open Heart. I would say that my encounter with Jesus in a particularly dramatic circumstance in my life took that specific form in order to communicate to me.

Meeting with the Sacred Heart of Jesus meant for me a conversion of heart and the capacity to respond to His call with my life. So I am a consecrated woman (OV) living according to the charism.

Work to live to live for others

In Finland I work for living, and I dedicate all my free time to serve the needs of the local Church.

I am responsible on the national level for the formation of groups of lay people living the Dehonian spirituality, making sure that they have formation materials provided by the Spiritual Path Committee. I organize the monthly meetings for the group in Helsinki and in agreement with the local Dehonian Fathers, organize a three-day retreat once a year.

My weekends are dedicated to catechism, specifically to prepare youth and adults for First Holy Communion and Confirmation. The transmission of the faith is tinted with the colour of the Sacred Heart. I am compelled to stress with my words and in what I do that He is the source of who I am and He is the treasure from whom I draw upon for all that I need to be a good witness of His love.


Double “ecce”

At work or in my service to the Church I find myself trying to apply the Ecce Venio, Ecce Ancilla, Fiat, reparation and all the other relevant traits of the Dehonian spirituality. Life puts me to the test and compels me to find creative ways to live according to the charism.

“Ecce Venio” is my answer when I see someone in need, reaching out to find meaningful answers for a specific, often dramatic situation in life. And it is also my answer to His call, when in the middle of a thousand daily tasks I find myself attracted to the Mass, Adoration or prayer.

“Ecce Ancilla” is my motto when teaching catechesis to the young or adults.

“Fiat” is reserved for when life takes an unexpected turn and I am invited to find His will there also. It is quite challenging, but profoundly rewarding.

The reparation I live by embracing with prayers all the people who are afar, unable to join the table of the Lord, sometimes even crying for them, asking relief and help.

Charism face to face

I did not learn about the charism by reading the life of Fr. Dehon, or by reading his Spiritual Works. I never had the opportunity for systematic training (formation) as the religious do. However, later on I did read much of the founder’s material that had been translated into Italian. At first though, I learned about the Dehonian charism by being guided and cared for by a Dehonian father who has been my spiritual director ever since. I have a valuable treasure in my heart and I pray that I can help others to find that same treasure in the Heart of Jesus.

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