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We will accompany the area of formation so that all may grow to maturity, freedom and a personal experience of Christ (see Const. # 4-5) in a personal and international communion for a meaningful religious life open to the needs of today’s world.

We will seek to fulfill this objective by:

1. undertaking the revision of the Ration Formationis Generalis and encouraging the revision of the Provincial, Regional and District Rationes formationis;

2. promote the international and/or continental collaboration in initial and on-going formation;

3. assist in organizing the course for formators (the first course will be in 2010 -2011);

4. assist in organizing on-going formation for formators, parish priests, bursars, superiors, etc.;

5. organizing meetings for those responsible for formation at various levels;

6.enhancing the role of the International College of Rome and other centres of international formation in the Congregation;

 7. continuing the work begun on a reference text on the Dehonian content of the various stages of formation.




Sector: Older members


This sector was established in 2010 in order to reflect on the aspects of religious life that come to the fore when members can no longer undertake regular pastoral duties or activities. It means living religious life for itself, as a value that is not overshadowed by an active engagement. In the Congregation approximately 23% of its members are over 70 years of age. Because in meetings of the Congregation the topics are generally about younger members and their ministries, the needs and desires of older members generally do not receive adequate attention. How do we look after our older members, making sure that they can live well cared for? How do we make sure that we are also spiritually well cared for in old age?   One of the truths of our spiritual well-being: to prepare for old age is to prepare yourself now.  


The objective of the Sector are:

1 - Explore the existence and/or necessity of the spiritual accompaniment of our oldest members;

2 - Provide information to the General Administration on the usefulness of creating a Congregational policy on aging;

3 - Inform the General Administration on the questions of governance and devolution of those entities who are most affected by the general aging of its members.

 In this sector two events stand out:


1. The Working group on Ageing (Gruppo di Lavoro: Invecchiamento)

anziani1A Working Group on Ageing was established by the General Council on November 2, 2010 under the leadership of the General Councilor John van den Hengel. It has five members: Jean Biandaro and Léon Hilger (EUF), Giampietro Brunet (ITS), Rein van Langen (NLV) and James Schroeder (USA).


The Working group on Ageing met for the first time on February 17 – 18, 2011 in Rome. During the meeting it determined that (1) the Working Group must assure that there will be continuity so that the topic does not die with the change of administration; and (2) because of the lack of awareness of the issue, one of the main concerns will be communication.

The main topics of the first meeting were:

a) Spiritual accompaniment: Older members do not need a direct spiritual accompaniment but an attentiveness to spiritual moments. Our Constitutions # 68 speaks about the gift of self or abandonment. Also our understanding of oblation – exemplified in Mary’s Fiat - comes to the fore when we are no longer actively engaged in ministry.

b) Juridical issues: the need of the Congregation to be actively present in those countries where through the ageing of its members, the presence of the Congregation will end.

c) Managerial issues: The need to make our houses friendly to members with disabilities.

d) Communication: the need to keep the issues of ageing in view.


2. Meeting of the European Major Superiors on Ageing

From March 13 – 15, 2012 the Major Superiors of Europe met with the Working Group on Ageing in Asten, the Netherlands, to discuss the question of older members and the effect of the ageing of our communities. One can get a sense of the meeting in reading its final message:


Message to SCJ Confreres


anziani2Dear Confreres,


We are writing you from Asten, the first novitiate of the Netherlands, now a house for our older members. We have come here – thirty major superiors and delegates of Europe - between March 12 and 16 to reflect together about the growth of the median age of our confreres. This is a reality which we must try to understand and work with in a positive manner.


  After the XXII General Chapter we were all invited to become aware and to look at the situation of ageing, especially in the countries of northern Europe, but gradually also in others. An ad hoc Working Group on Ageing, created by the Superior General, was instrumental in bringing together the superiors of Europe.


What has preoccupied us is the rapid increase of the median age - in some provinces it is coming close to 80. It is in these countries that the problem of ageing was mainly felt. In other, still relatively young, provinces, the matter is now more clearly under consideration. Among the experiences we have encountered a few stand out: the Dutch- Flemish Confederation with its two houses for the elderly (Asten and Nijmegen), the Europe francophone province with Mougins, run by a lay organization and the North Italian province Bolognano which is in the process of reorganizing itself through an accord with a lay organization. In other entities, the orientation has been to make use of inter-congregational retirement homes, or to structurally adapt existing large houses. What we have left open, of course, is the search for other options which are often attempts to collaborate with lay groups or other religious.


What was most important was the raising of awareness and a deeper reflection by all especially on the part of the provincial administrations to clarify their policies on the topic of ageing of their members.


Many of our older members teach us about the essentials of our religious life: the zeal, the mission, the contemplation which always sustained their active apostolic work. In the final phase of life the ministry of the older members is expressed in their oblation and in their prayer and adoration instead of in their activity and preaching of the Gospel of their earlier life. We have learned to appreciate, how our older religious, looking back with memories of the past, live serenely this time of fragility and illness of old age as a time of letting-go: letting go from self, from roles and ministry, and of entrusting themselves completely and generously to the love of the Heart of Jesus.