Today, on June 6, 2015, the XXIII General Chapter officially closed and the new superior general, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, was installed. The witnesses to Fr. Heiner’s oath were the out-going superior general, Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, and Fr. Antonio Panteghini, who served as superior general from 1979 – 1991.
On June 5 the chapter members began the day with Eucharist, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. John van den Hengel.
Then it was time for the group photo before walking to the corner to catch a bus to the Vatican to have an audience with the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
The Holy Father set aside the talk he had prepared earlier, saying that the speeches are boring. At first, he recalled the story of his long time friend, Fr. Virginio Bressanelli, one of the General Superiors and now bishop in Argentina. Also, the Pope Francis expressed his hope that the beatification process of Fr. Leo Dehon will end soon. He was very happy with the theme of the XXIII General Chapter “Merciful, in community, with the poor” and asked all the members of the congregation to be carriers and servants of mercy, also in the confessionals. In the end, the Holy Father reminded all about the importance of the Eucharist, adoration and prayer asking to pray for him also.
At lunch the chapter continued to celebrate Fr. John’s anniversary before heading back to the meeting hall to review and approve the synthesis document.
After the approval of the final document of the Chapter, the outgoing General Superior, Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, thanked all for the opportunity to serve the congregation for the past 12 years. The assembly awarded Fr. Ornelas with a long applause. Prior to this, one of the former general superiors, Fr. Antonio Panteghini, now a missionary in Cameroon, expressed his joy of seeing the Congregation growing, especially in Africa and Asia.
At the very end, the general superior elect, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, expressed his thanks to all, who contributed to the success of the XXIII General Chapter.
“Be simple… be original.” These were the simple yet so profound words of Fr. Aloisio Back who presided the Mass during the admission of 10 new postulants, for this year’s formation program, on June 1, 2015, at the Sacred Heart Formation House in Cagayan de Oro City. These words of encouragement and challenge were also added with a reminder to use the Bible given them to learn more about God and themselves who are created in His image and likeness. We ask everyone to pray for these young men who offer themselves to further their understanding of their vocations.
By: Fr. Arthur Guevara
On May 29 the General Chapter held a Mass of Remembrance to honor those SCJs who have died since the last General Chapter in 2009. The Mass began in the meeting hall to allow for translation assistance and ended in the main chapel of the “Collegio Internationale.”
“It has become part of our General Chapters to remember those who have gone before us, who, through death, were joined with Christ,” said Fr. John van den Hengel, the main celebrant and homilist. “We remember the dead of the last six years, we join with them and ask the Lord of mercy and of love to embrace them and be their joy…
“These members have all been part of our life line, our story. Their lives built up part of our identity. They were and are part of our story. We tell our current story by retelling theirs, what they did, their dying in the midst of life, their sacrifices, their foibles and faults.”
Speaking of the slide show that would follow, Fr. John said that “You will probably, as I will, have these moments of recognition: ‘ah, yes, it is so good to be reminded of you again,’ ‘thank you for what you did,’ ‘sorry that I did not always recognize you for the gift you gave to the community,’ ‘thank you for the joy you brought,’ ‘you were a great grace to the church and to the community.’
“Allow our minds and our hearts to tell the story again, to feel it in our hearts, to shed a tear at the sadness of their loss … but always with the awareness and the faith of the power of their life in Christ.”
After the election of the General Superior on May 25, 2015, members of the General Chapter have elected five (5) members of the Council. On the same day in the afternoon, Fr. Leopold Mfouakouet, the Provincial Superior of Cameroon, was voted as the first member of the council representing the continent of Africa.
On Tueasday, May 26, the second to be elected or rather re-elected, for the next six years as general councilor, was Fr. Paulus Sugino, representing the geographical zone of Asia.
The third councilor became Fr. Artur Sanecki, the Provincial Superior of Poland, representing Europe.
The fourth councilor, representing the South America, is the Regional Superior of Venezuela, Fr. Carlos Enrique Caamaño Martin. Fr. Carlos, 48, is the youngest member of the council.
Finally, Fr. Steve Huffstetter, the U.S. Provincial Superior became the fitfth general councilor, representing the North America.
Congratulations to all!
The election of the members of the General Administration was conducted in a very smooth and fraternal way. They seem to be a good and strong team.
The official start of the New Administration is the end of the General Chapter on June 6, 2015.
Today, May 25, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, SCJ, was elected as the 10th superior general of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). He succeeds Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, who completes his second, six-year term.
Originally from Germany, Fr. Wilmer, 54, has been the provincial superior of the Dehonians’ German Province since 2007. He was ordained in 1987, and professed his first vows with the congregation in 1982.
Prior to his service as provincial superior Fr. Wilmer held a number of positions in education. From 1998 – 2007 he was headmaster of Gymnasium Leoninum in Handrup, Germany. Before that, he spent a year teaching German and history at the Jesuit’s Fordham Preparatory School in New York (USA).
From 1995 – 1997 he served at Liebfrauenschulem, a school in Vechta, northern Germany, as a teacher of religion, history and politics, as well as a school chaplain.
Fr. Wilmer has also taken part in several social initiatives with the poor and disenfranchised. In 2006 he spent three months in Caracas, Venezuela, doing catechesis among the city’s barrios. From 1996 – 1997 he worked to develop a training initiative for women at a penitentiary in Vechta (Germany).
During his year teaching in New York he served in the Jesuits’ soup kitchen. And in 1993 he spent four months in Toronto, Canada, serving as a chaplain at “L’Arche Daybreak,” a residential home for people with disabilities.
His studies have included French Philosophy at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and Fundamental Theology at the University of Freiburg, where he earned his doctorate. The title of his thesis: “Mystik zwischen Tun und Denken. Zum Ort der Mystik in der Philosophie Maurice Blondels” [Mysticism between doing and thinking. The place of mysticism in the philosophy of Maurice Blondel]
Fr. Wilmer is also an author with several published works.
His election took place during the General Chapter of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in Rome. The event brings together Dehonian priests and brothers representing 40 countries on five continents. In the next few days the chapter delegates will complete the election of the five-member General Council.
The chapter concludes on Saturday, June 6.
Dehonian Youth Missionaries Summer Mission 2015
This is the theme that stimulates the Dehonian Youth Missionaries annual summer mission this year. In solidarity with the Year of the Poor and inspired by Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, fundamentally rooted in Jesus’ commissioning to his disciples, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News” (Mk 16, 15), 40 young missionaries joyfully took the challenge to announce to the people of Dansolihon Chaplaincy, Cagayan de Oro City the joy of the Gospel they themselves experienced.
They started their mission with a formation seminar on May 13-16, 2105 at the Sacred Heart Formation House before they were sent forth to the mission areas of Dansolihon and Mambuaya on May 16-22, 2015.
The missionaries visited and blessed the Christian families in the areas. During house visitation, they prayed together with the family, shared about their Christian life, and bless the household. They also conducted activities in the main chapels like Taizé prayer with confession, Eucharistic celebration, animation and the popular Flores de Mayo for children. One of their aims was to organize the youth and children of the chaplaincy. In the afternoon, while the others resumed the house visitation and blessing, some members worked with children, youth, and adults by giving seminars and catechism. They facilitated themes on Christian leadership, community building and recollection.
The Lay Dehonians also participated by having an afternoon of feeding program for the children in Dansolihon. All had their share and enjoyed the food very much.
The participation of the communities made the missionaries even more enthusiastic to mingle with them. Besides, the community life being experienced by each group strengthened their bond. Amidst differences and several preferences, they became missionaries as well to each another. Their way of life, even for just a short time, became a proclamation of the Good News.
This mission activity was not merely an enhancement for the people of Dansolihon Chaplaincy but significantly for the moral and faith development of the Dehonian Youth. With the inspiration they learned from Fr. Dehon, they live out in their lives the Ecce Venio and Ecce Ancilla. The spirit of availability for God becomes even more enriched and actualized.
Being available to the invitation of God, striving to be prophets of love and servants of reconciliation in their own youthful way, our Dehonian youth missionaries eagerly endure to “go forth and proclaim the joy of the Gospel!”
By: Fr. Patrick L. Gutib, SCJ
Sunday, May 17, 2015 marks the start of the XXIII General Chapter of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is the highest legislative body of the congregation held every six years. It started with the prayer and common supper during which the chapter participants shared the food and beverages from their respective countries. It was also the time of introduction of all the participants. All together, there are 78 participants: 8 members representing the General Curia, 20 Provincial Superiors, 4 Regional Superiors and 46 elected delegates. The SCJ Philippine Region is being represented by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, the regional superior and Fr. Donald Longno.
On May 18, the first full day of the chapter, participants had a day of reflection led by Fr. Carlos Luis Suárez Codorníu of Venezuela. The day ended with an opening: the opening mass celebrated by Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho.
Tuesday, May 19, was the first day of “business” for the General Chapter. The delegates, staff and invited guests were seated and the superior general, Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, gave his “State of the Congregation” report. The report, which was the summary of the last six years of activities of the General Administration and the whole Congregation, was accepted with applause.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015, began in small group discussions, reflecting on the general superior’s report.
In the afternoon, it was time for finance. The general treasurer, Fr. Aquilino Mielgo, gave his report; he was followed by the commission of financial experts who had done an external audit of the congregational finances.