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1AG - Continued work on themes and priorities for the congregation

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Moving into its the third and final week, the chapter continued to develop themes and priorities for the congregation. This work is vital in giving the new administration direction as it sets the course for the congregation’s future.
 
The first small group discussions were on the topic of “Fraternal Life in Community.” As with their discussions on Friday, the capitulars were asked to identify sources of inspiration for the theme but also to list practical steps that can be taken to live it. “We cannot just write pretty texts and live in the theoretical,” said one of the delegates.
 
“Our first mission is community,” stated another capitular. And as
 with any mission, it  takes work.

 
DSC 0453Fraternal dialogue is essential to a true community experience. Members of a community must trust each other enough to engage in healthy, fraternal challenge while at the same time live in a spirit of mercy toward the other.
 
Transparency and sharing of goods are other vital components of healthy community life. “It is not easy to live in the spirit of a common fund, but it is what we are called to do as a religious community, and more importantly, as Dehonians,” said a delegate. “Living an authentic, fraternal community life is a part of who WE are, not just a component of religious life in general.”
 
What are the tasks that Dehonians can do to enhance fraternal life in community? One of the most important, cited many, is to simply make time for it. Dehonians must make time for each other individually, as a local community and as an entity. Communal prayer is fundamental. Lectio Divina is an excellent tool for prayer and sharing. Common projects are helpful ways to build community. Retreats and days of renewal need to be given priority.
 
DSC 0474The building blocks for all of these activities is formation. One cannot be expected to truly live fraternal life in community if he does know what it is. From the earliest moments of formation, the ideals of fraternal living must be taught and continually renewed. The Centro Studi Dehoniani (Dehon Study Center) can be a vital part of this process in the congregation.
 
Formation never ends
In the afternoon the chapter focused on formation. Formation is a process that never ends. Dehonians need formation on the basics of religious life, but also on social doctrines, intercultural and inter-generational awareness, and on how to make the Dehonian charism alive and relevant in the world today.
 
“We need formation on how to read the signs of the times,” said a delegate. “Remember the image of Fr. Dehon with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.”
 
One group suggested that there be a general conference on the social doctrines of the Church.
 
The capitulars called for more collaboration in formation, including expanded use of theological commissions and the Dehon Study Center, as well as increased use of scholarship programs. International gatherings of and information-sharing between school rectors and directors, as well as other educators, must continue. Ratios should be reviewed.
 
The Dehonians are an international and intercultural community.
 Formation must focus on this. International study and formation experiences must be promoted and all SCJs should try to learn a second language.  Collaboration with and formation of laity is important.

 

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An evening with the Sant’Egidio community

In the evening a group of approximately 30 chapter delegates and staff visited with the Sant’Egidio community. A movement of lay people begun in Rome in 1968 it has more than 60,000 members dedicated to evangelization and charity. They are located in over 70 countries, including areas in which the Dehonians minister, such as Mozambique, where they were instrumental in helping to bring forth the peace agreement that ended the country’s civil war. Several of the organization’s members attended the installation of Fr. Claudio Dalla Zuanna (former vicar general) as archbishop of Beira.
 
The Sant’Egidio community invited the SCJs for an evening of prayer at Santa Maria in Trastevere, and a meal.

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