Dr. Austen Ivereigh was the featured speaker at the Dehon Lecture at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology on November 13. A journalist and the author of The Great Reformer, a biography of Pope Francis, Ivereigh was the opening presenter at last year’s SHSST symposium “Discovering Pope Francis.” His latest book, Wounded Shepherd: Pope Francis and His Struggle to Convert the Catholic Church, just went on sale.
The book was a starting point for his Dehon Lecture topic: “Wounded Shepherd: the Sacred Heart and the Reform of Pope Francis.”
Dr. Ivereigh talked about Pope Francis’ formation as a Jesuit. There are many parallels in the writings of St. Ignatius and Fr. Leo John Dehon, he said, adding that “Ignatius and Dehon both wanted their followers to focus contemplatively on the mysteries and events of Christ’s life; to allow their woundedness to be drawn into the Sacred Heart.”
And in the Sacred Heart is joy.
“One of the greatest secrets of Pope Francis is joy,” said Dr. Ivereigh. “The word ‘Joy’ is found in so many of his documents. While he sees the poor as the wounds of Christ, he experiences also the joy of Christ’s self-giving. As the ordinary, faithful people flock to him and he to them, he who has lived so contemplatively in the Sacred Heart of Jesus has such a heart for them that their joy has become his joy.”
Afternoon respondents to Dr. Ivereigh’s presentation included Fr. Stefan Tertünte, SCJ (director of the Centro Studi Dehoniani in Rome, speaking on the commonalities of Pope Francis and Fr. Leo John Dehon), Dr. Kurt Martens (Catholic University of America, talking about Pope Francis from the perspective of Canon Law) and Dr. Peter Casarella (University of Notre Dame, focusing on inculturation).
Fr. Stefan, who was also the homilist at the midday liturgy, noted that Fr. Dehon, as Pope Francis, could have been referred to as a “reformer” (the title of Dr. Ivereigh’s first book on Pope Francis). Both had the capability of being sensitive to the changes of society without necessarily opposing them.
Fr. Stefan continued, saying that Fr. Dehon could be considered a reformer, but what moved him to this? For Dehon, said Fr. Stefan, the question was not simply “What must I do?” but “How should I love?”
Love, for Fr. Dehon, was both a point of departure and a point of arrival.
“Reform is the fruit of conversion,” said Fr. Stefan. “Fr. Dehon’s conversion was to a self-giving love that had a particular sensitivity to the wounded of society.”
Just as today, it is in the wounds of society, the wounds of Christ in society, that Pope Francis is found.
Click here to access a recent article on the Vatican News website about Dr. Ivereigh’s latest book (all copies at the Dehon Lecture quickly sold out).
Click here to visit DehonDocs, a website developed and maintained by the Centro Studi Dehoniani to share documents and other information from and about Fr. Leo John Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians).