Dehonians in Community and Mission
The 15th Provincial Chapter of the U.S. Province held its final vote on an issue that was on the minds of many (not just in the meeting room, but throughout the country): the rapidly growing number of child migrants on the U.S. – Mexican border.
“We ask that the Provincial Superior and Council issue a scripture-based statement in the name of the chapter regarding the migration of children,” was the text of the final proposal.
Not only did the proposal come out of concerns that have captured headlines in recent weeks, but also out of one of the key issues identified at the North American Continental Conference last September. It was there that SCJs from the U.S. and Canada surfaced immigration as an “urgent reality” that needs to be addressed by the congregation in North America.
Revisiting and seeking next steps in regards to the top three urgent realities identified at the September conference (immigration, economic injustice, and youth) were among the final tasks of the Provincial Chapter.
A chapter is…
What is a chapter? Basically, it is a legislative body. In religious congregations, a general chapter is the highest authority in the order. Delegates of the general chapter determine legislation for the congregation, elect the superior general and his council, and help to set the direction for the community in the future.
Leadership of the U.S. Province is elected outside of chapters, but otherwise, the task of the province chapter is similar to that at the general level – to review the life of the province and establish priorities for it.
“Dehonians in community and mission,” was the theme of the 2014 Provincial Chapter.
State of the Province
Much of the work of this chapter centered on Fr. Stephen Huffstetter’s “State of the Province” report. In table discussions chapter delegates reviewed topics such as community life and mission, vocations, youth, “living simply” in the context of SCJ religious life, the Dehonian charism and how it can be shared more widely, internationality, and life and needs of senior members.
Reporting back to the larger group, delegates reiterated the fact that vocational development is the responsibility of all SCJs and individual communities. Creative ideas were shared in regards to vocations, but also for youth ministry in general, especially from those in formation. National Dehonian youth gatherings, youth mission trips and campus ministry were among the suggestions voiced.
Those in temporary vows might not have vote at the chapter but they certainly have voice! Grouped together at a discussion table those in temporary vows often came up with the widest variety of ideas for group reflection, with a strong focus on issues with special relevance to contemporary society. The use of social media and other innovate efforts were cited by the group as a way to share SCJ spirituality reach out to a wider public.
Representing the province in Rome
One of the tasks of the Provincial Chapter is to elect delegates to the next General Chapter, which will next take place May 17 – June 6 at the Generalate in Rome.
Fr. Ed Kilianski and Fr. Duy Nguyen were elected as delegates and Fr. Charles Brown and Fr. Greg Schill were elected as alternates.
Fr. Stephen Huffstetter automatically serves as a delegate in his role as provincial superior.
“I am grateful for your trust in me,” said Fr. Ed during his homily at Thursday’s Mass. “I look forward to representing the province and to being part of such an international gathering of SCJs.”
The chapter concluded midday on Friday, July 11. Sr. Cathy Bertrand, SSND, facilitator of the chapter, as well last year’s North American Continental Conference, was honored in a special way for her work with the SCJs. Fr. Steve and Fr. Joe Dean (chairperson of the chapter) –– both with strong connections to South Dakota –– gave her a star quilt. Such a gift is a strong symbol of honor and appreciation in the Native American culture.
Photo albums from the chapter can be found on the province Facebook page. Click here to go directly to it.