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1AG - The General Chapter officially opens (May 19)

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Although delegates have been taking part in chapter activities since Sunday evening, the XXIII General Chapter really didn’t start until Tuesday, May 19, with the seating of the chapter body (capitulars), its staff and invited guests.
There are 78 capitulars, including de jure members (major superiors and the General Curia) and delegates voted in by their entities. Traditionally, the youngest members of the chapter serve as its tellers (scrutineers). The first vote of the chapter was the one to approve Fr. Diomar Romaniv and Fr. Vimala Thiyagaragarajan Susainathan as the tellers.
DSC 0239The chapter then voted on a number of invited guests; they will be able to participate in chapter sessions but have no vote. The guests include Fr. José Agostinho de Figueiredo Sousa (newly elected provincial superior of Portugal), Fr. David Dagsou (Chad), Fr. Eduardo Emilio Agüero (new mission in Asia), Fr. Arildo José Ferrari (Paraguay), Silvia Bertozzi (Dehonian Family) and Grace Escobia (Dehonian Family).
Fr. José will be with the chapter during the full three weeks; the other guests will take part during the third week of meetings.
Several invited “experts” were also voted on, including the Fr. Giacomo Cesano, José María Gutiérrez and Garrett Stinson for finance, as well as members of the Finance Commission (Fr. Sildo César da Costa, Fr. Francisco Javier Larrea Pascal, Fr. Gerhard Hemken, and Dn. David Nagel.
The moderators approved by the chapter are Fr. Alessandro Capoferri, Fr. Rinaldo Paganelli and Fr. Carlos Luis Suárez Codorníu. The secretariat was confirmed. Assisting Fr. Florentinus Heru Ismadi, secretary general, will be Fr. Donato Mario del Grosso (minutes), Fr. Aimone Gelardi (minutes) and Br. Roberto García Murciego, as well as Fr. Bernard Rosinski (written translations), Maria Ceraolo (secretarial) and Fr. Serge Tagne and Fr. Arogya Hruday Raju Pudhota.
The Liturgical Committee of Fr. Jack Kurps, Fr. Stefan Tertünte and Fr. Ricardo Ribeiro Freire de Oliveira was approved by the delegates. The communication team of Fr. Francesco Giuseppe Mazzotta and Mary Gorski was approved, as were members of the “logistics team:” Fr. Tomasz Flak, Fr. Vagner Donizetti Maciel and Br. Vincenzo Dalijan.
The final votes were for the rules of the chapter. Fr. Marek Stoklosa, canonist, reviewed changes implemented as a result of the last chapter and delegates approved them, allowing the chapter’s work to begin.

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General’s report
In the afternoon Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho shared his report, a ”State of the Congregation” that gave an overview of the congregation as well as the initiatives of the general administration during the past six years.
He spoke of the administrative team, noting the changes that took place since the last chapter. In particular, the vicar general, Fr. Claudio Dalla Zuanna, left the council in 2012 when he was named archbishop of Beira, Mozambique. Fr. John van den Hengel assumed the task for the second half of the term. Both worked to expand the role of vicar, who collaborated with the secretary general and support staff to coordinate the work of the general curia.
The focus on collaboration was an important component of the past term. The general treasurer was present with the council for most of its DSC 0322meetings. “Having Fr. Aquilino present helped us to grasp the connection between management of our properties and the life of our communities,” said Fr. Ornelas. “I personally consider this integration one of the most positive experiences of these past years.”
Fr. Ornelas noted the work of the Centro Studi Dehoniani (Dehon Study Center), in particular, the creation of,  which makes the works of the founder available in a digital format.
He spoke of the move toward greater organization and collaboration on the continental level and the conferences that took place at the end of each continental visitation. Fr. Ornelas noted the emphasis the administration placed on formation, including the two training courses for formators, as well as the course for treasurers. Several Dehonians are receiving preparation for future work in administration with studies in canon law and finance.
There have been many efforts in the area of education, including the 2014 gathering of Dehonian educators in Valencia, Spain. Out of that developed a plan to create a network among the schools. A committee has been established to further these goals.
Looking toward the future, Fr. Ornelas cited the changes the congregation has seen, changes noted at several gatherings in recent years: the aging and diminishment of the birthplace of the congregation (Europe) alongside the growth in membership and entities in the southern hemisphere, including Africa, Asia and South America. This shift presents both challenges and opportunities for the future of the congregation.
On Wednesday, members of the chapter were to meet in small groups to discuss Fr. General’s report and begin to surface priorities as the congregation prepares to meet that future.

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