Unexpected topic added to North American councils meeting

Twice a year the administrations of the US Province and Canadian Region meet to discuss collaborative efforts and shared concerns. Topics related to immigration and internationality have been the primary focus of recent meetings. Both were listed on the agenda of the April 9 gathering held at the US Provincialate in Hales Corners, WI.

Councilors and members of the novitiate community

However, another topic quickly moved to the forefront of the administrations’ shared concerns: just days earlier, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, superior general, was named the next bishop of  Hildesheim.

The councils spoke of the impact of the April 6th announcement. Within the next six months a General Chapter will need to be held to elect not just a new superior general, but a whole new administration. And before that is done, each entity will need to have its own chapter so that delegates to the General Chapter can be selected.

This may (or may not!)  impact the timing of provincial and regional events in North America, as well as international gatherings, such as the General Conference in the Philippines.

Members of the North American councils discussed a variety of “what ifs” but in the end realized that all they can do for now is wait for further details from the general administration.


Although Fr. Heiner’s appointment had a significant impact on the North American councils’ discussions, there was again a focus on internationality and immigration. Both entities continue to welcome international Dehonians for ministry and as students. A Brazilian and an Indian SCJ recently joined the Toronto community and two Vietnamese students are studying ESL in Ottawa. In the US Province, an Argentine brother is studying ESL in preparation for future ministry, two Indonesian SCJs are soon to come for long-term ministry, and two Vietnamese are to take part in the 2018-19 novitiate. These men are in addition to the many other international SCJs already a part of community life and ministry in North America.

The two administrations spoke of the need to collaboratively seek ways to not only welcome international SCJs to the US and Canada, but to also encourage local communities to be impacted by them. Some communities, such as Toronto, have chosen to live as an intentional international community. Can other communities benefit from such a mindset? How does the community not just welcome but be changed by new members?

Fr. Jan talks about the North American Migration Committee

The councils also heard a report from Fr. Jan de Jong and Fr. Tony Russo of the North American Migration Committee. In particular, they noted the educational component of their efforts. The committee has scheduled speakers on a number of migration issues, such as Cendi Trujillo Teña, an immigrant with DACA status, who spoke to SCJs at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake in November.

Other topics at the North American councils’ meeting included the Dehonian Family, the Dehon Study Center, vocations and the North American Theological Commission.

In the evening, the two councils gathered with the Novitiate Community for Adoration and dinner.