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1AG - June 3: motions, reports and even a show!

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The first item of business at the General Chapter on Wednesday was the four motions.
The first called for a public statement of solidarity to be made by the congregation on behalf of persecuted Christians. “It is estimated that 50 million Christians are persecuted each year, yet this issue rarely gets the attention of the media,” said Fr. Pedro Fernandes Coutinho In presenting the motion.
DSC 0653Capitulars agreed that the concern is significant but that instead of directing attention solely at the media it should be turned toward the governments that allow such persecution to happen, either overtly or by their tacit support through inaction.
The chapter voted to approve the development of a statement to be reviewed before the end of the chapter.
The next motion concerned availability for traditional missions and for the congregation at large. It calls for SCJs at the time of their perpetual vows or priestly ordination to declare their availability. The intent isn’t to mandate that each SCJ serve in a mission but instead to promote the missionary dimension of the congregation and to help the general administration know who might be available for a mission assignment.
DSC 0664“The motion also reflects a change in the missionary capacity of the congregation,” said Fr. John van den Hengel. “Of the 267 SCJs in external missions [this includes those in general administration] 215 are from Europe.”
For many years mission development was the responsibility of a particular entity, or several entities in collaboration. But that model has changed. Now, most new entities fall under the direction of the general administration. How does the general curia ensure that there are personnel for such assignments?

The chapter voted to approve the motion. [Note: the exact wording of all approved motions will be in the final documents from the chapter.]
The third proposal concerned collaboration among entities in regards to formation, as well as student exchanges, to enhance the intercultural aspect of the congregation. The motion suggested that the General Curia should have a coordinating role in this. Capitulars acknowledged that such exchange is already taking place in some areas and easily passed the motion.
The fourth and final motion concerned a study of governmental structures. Options need to be in place when a newly emerging, or a diminishing entity, lacks sufficient personnel for self-leadership. The Flemish and Dutch Provinces were cited as an example of two entities coming together as a federation to allow for shared governance while maintaining unique aspects of their individuality.
The motion was approved.

DSC 0600Fr. David Dagsou updated chapter delegates on the community’s mission in Chad. Dehonians first went to the country in 1935 with two missionaries; they settled in the town of Kélo, a vital crossroads community. However, the effort lasted only six years. In 1941, short on personnel for the many needs of the area, the SCJs entrusted their work to the Capuchins.
The SCJs returned In 2010 at the invitation of the local bishop. The challenges experienced by those first missionaries continue. Dehonians minister to a population of over 100,000; many are Christian, but there are also animists and a small population of Moslems. Superstition and a belief in witchcraft are prevalent. Eighty percent of the population is illiterate. Flooding is a significant concern, and travel is difficult.
One of the primary focuses of the SCJs’ ministry is formation. There are 150 catechists, “but only about 50 are properly skilled,” said Fr. David. Many people are unfamiliar with the structure of the liturgy. Sometimes Fr. David finds himself not just celebrating the Eucharist but teaching those who attend Mass some of the basics on how the liturgy is done.
In 2014, the SCJs took over management of a school. Classes are held in makeshift shelters. The SCJs hope to build a permanent structure and parents have already made bricks for the construction. Yet financial assistance is needed to complete this and other projects.
Dehonian Family
DSC 0581The chapter also heard from representatives of the Dehonian Family Coordinating Committee: Silvia Bertozzi, Roselie Grace Escobia and Fr. Claudio Weber. They began with a brief history of the Dehonian Family initiative.
In May, 2014, approximately 35 members of the Dehonian Family from around the world gathered in Rome to discuss ways in which the Dehonian charism can be lived and shared beyond professed members of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
It was out of that meeting that the coordinating group developed.
Much of the focus of the group is on formation and networking. The “Spiritual Path” or “Iter Formativo” is a four-year instructional guide about the Dehonian charism for laity. It is now in its initial stages of implementation and is being translated into several languages.
The committee developed a Facebook page for the Dehonian Family as a way of sharing information; in the future the committee hopes to create other means of communication among the various components of the Dehonian Family.
An international Dehonian Family assembly is tentatively scheduled for May, 2017.
“Many people collaborate with us, share in our charism,” said Fr. Claudio. “We need to continue to find ways of sharing it, and receive greater understanding of it, through our interactions with others.”

And a show…
After dinner, chapter delegates, as well as the international college community, were treated to an outdoor multi-media performance about Fr. Dehon. 

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Click here to view all to the photos from the General Chapter