The International Dehonian Family Conference: One Dehon, Many Dehonians

Participants of the Dehonian Family ConferenceFrom May 15-20, 2014, at the Generalate of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in Rome, was held an International Dehonian Family Conference. Over 37 lay men and women from around the world along with SCJ priests from different continents and members of General Curia participated in this gathering. The Philippines was represented by two Lay Dehonians: Atty. Grace Escobia and Ms. Marian Cadorna. As Fr. Claudio Weber, SCJ the General Councilor in his homily said: “As a Dehonian Family we want to contribute to the contemporary Church so that it may become a wide-reaching family of brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, ready to proclaim Christ as St. Thomas and St. Paul did, a family where the poor can make their voices heard.” The motto of the gathering was “One Dehon, Many Dehonians”
Fr. Claudio pointed out two main objectives of the gathering: “They are to deepen our personal formation so that we can better share the Dehonian charism with lay people in our communities, and to find ways to coordinate our efforts.” There, Fr. Marcello Matte, SCJ gave the opening presentation on the charism of Fr. Dehon and its relevance for the Church and the world. It simply asks the participants “Does it continue to speak to us today?” Some of the participants were given the chance to speak on how they lived the charism of Fr. Dehon in their lives; how they were introduced to the Dehonian charism and continue to live it in a conscious effort. One participant from Brazil mentioned that it took someone to point it out to her that she is already living the Dehonian charism. Here she stressed the importance of lay formation as it answers the “Why’s” on living the Dehonian charism.
A formation tool called the “Spiritual Path” was established by the working group assigned by General Curia, to help the people know and learn more on Fr. Dehon and his charism. It is proposed as a four-year program based in monthly sessions of sharing, instruction and prayer, with each set of sessions developed by SCJ groups from different geographical areas. There is a theme for each year of the program: “Becoming Acquainted with the Dehonian Life,” “To Encounter Jesus Christ with Fr. Dehon,” “The Faith Journey of Fr. Dehon,” and “For the Life of the World.” It is noted that the formation plan is structured as a curriculum, coming up with themes as a result of questionnaires and other resources. It should be noted however, that the “Spiritual Path” is a work in progress, as what Fr. Adérito Barbosa, SCJ said. Fr. Adérito is a member of the working group tasked to develop this formation tool. Therefore there is as need for constant training and coordination among the groups who will be implementing the program. It is up to the groups to be flexible and adaptable to their individual groups’ needs and changing demands.
As the conference was coming to a conclusion, an organizing committee was chosen among the participants to continue the action and help the lay people who have the desire to create Dehonian groups but are unable to make the initial steps. This organizing committee is composed of consecrated women, lay Dehonians and SCJ priests, with which one of the members is our very own lay Dehonian, Atty. Grace Escobia. This committee will have a three-year term tasked to put a formal coordinating committee with an elected leadership and structure, and basically, to continue what has been started in the conference. “Together we can take small steps to grow organically, gradually deepening the awareness and understanding of the gift Fr. Dehon gave to us,” said Fr. John van den Hengel,SCJ vicar general, during the concluding sessions.

Message of Pope Francis for World Communications Day

Pope FrancisIn his message for the 48th World Communications Day, the Pope stressed the ever vital role of communication to humanity. His focus is summed up in the question “And who is my neighbor?”, as we can look at communication in terms of our being “neighborly”. In these modern times, he particularly focuses on globalization and the developments in travel and communications technology, which seemed to make it easier for people to be neighbors. The Pope also gave credit to the Internet as one of the unprecedented technological advances by mankind, which “offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. “
But although this digital age have contributed significantly in terms of bringing people closer together, there still exists this “ scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor”, as Pope puts it. The speed of the information transmitted relatively exceeds our capacity to reflect and decide, which impedes our proper self-expression. He said that with the digital media, we are exposed to various opinions, but it also enables us to be selective about the information that confirms our own wishes, ideas and interests. He notes that there are still people who lack access to this communication advancement, and therefore run the risk of being left behind.
Pope Francis then challenges us to be reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is not enough for the Samaritan to go near the man he finds half-dead on the side of the road, he also takes responsibility for him. Similarly, in order for us to be a good neighbor, “it is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply “connected”; connections need to grow into true encounters.” We need to be personally engaged, “as this digital highway is teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation and hope.” By means of the internet, the church doors are kept open so that people can enter and the Gospel can reach everyone.
He qualifies an effective Christian witness as someone who does not bombard people with religious messages, but is in encounter with others in an effort to willingly dialogue on their doubts and questions. To dialogue, means to believe the “other” has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective without renouncing our own ideas and traditions.
In conclusion, Pope Francis referred back to the Good Samaritan, where the wounds of the injured man were tended with oil and wine. Our communications will then be “a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts. May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful neighbors to those wounded and left on the side of the road.”
The Holy Father’s message is entitled Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter and is traditionally published coinciding the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers. The 48th World Communications Day also falls on Ascension Sunday, June 1, 2014.

By scjphil Posted in Church