General treasurer addresses global shift in congregation

Fr. Aquilino with Fr. Dominic Peluse during the general treasurer's visit to Sacred Heart Monastery last summer.

Fr. Aquilio Mielgo, SCJ, had the floor for much of the fourth day of the SCJs’ Major Superiors Meeting in Rome.  It was a time for the general treasurer of the congregation –– in his second, six-year term — to both present the financial picture of the congregation and to share his plans for the future.

During the summer Fr. Aquilino was a student at Sacred Heart School of Theology’s ESL (English as a Second Language) program.  Before returning to Rome, he talked about the presentation that he planned to give to the Major Superiors.

“We are in a special moment now,” he said, referring to the global shift in the congregation.  “We are becoming older in the north, younger in south.  This means many things for us.  Before, the northern hemisphere [Europe and North America] provided much of the support –– personnel and financial resources – for the developing entities in the south.”

But now, vocations are flourishing in Africa, Asia and South America.  As the missionary presence diminishes, indigenous SCJs are being prepared to assume leadership of their provinces, regions and districts.  “Taking care of the finances of a province – this is a ministry, an important ministry” said Fr. Aquilino.   “We need to train people in Congo, Cameroon, Mozambique, India, the Philippines and other developing areas to do a ministry that in the past was done by missionaries.  This is as important as training an SCJ for any other ministry in our community.

“For me, this is one of my most important tasks.”

At the Major Superiors meeting Fr. Aquilino outlined an extensive financial course that his office will offer in Rome from January through May, 2012.  Aimed at SCJs new to financial ministry it will include over 400 hours of class work.  “We will have professionals in finance and related areas teaching accounting, how to manage material resources and how to manage employees,” he said.

The program will also focus on financial management from the perspective of a religious congregation, and in particular, the Priests of the Sacred Heart.

“We must have a congregational mentality,” said Fr. Aquilino during his summer visit at Sacred Heart Monastery.  “It is not enough to just think of our local concerns.  We are a worldwide congregation.  The needs of the whole congregation are the concerns of the whole congregation.  In leadership everywhere we must have this mentality.”

That global focus means not only a concern for the congregation as a whole, but an awareness of how the current trends in its population shift affect developing provinces, regions and districts.

“As the SCJ presence changes in the north it is vital for those in the south to develop the means to better support themselves and their ministries,” he said.  “While it is not always possible, we hope for more self-autonomy in the future.”

The Major Superiors meeting continues through October 27.  Photos, as well as reports from the meeting (in Italian) are available on the congregational website.