Following a tradition began in 2007, members of the U.S. Province were invited to a two-day assembly as a sort of “kick-off” for the new provincial administration.
Meetings took place at the Provincial Conference Center on the grounds of Sacred Heart Monastery/School of Theology July 26-27. The new administration was blessed and installed during an evening liturgy on the first day. Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, the youngest member of the out-going council, was the main celebrant and led the installation ceremony.
A significant focus of the July gathering was discussion of a province “program.” The general administration put together a plan for its six-year term. Similarly, provinces, regions and districts have also been asked to develop a plan or program.
Using the general plan as a starting point for a province program, the newly elected provincial administration identified eight areas of focus for the U.S. Province: 1) spirituality, 2) our life in common, 3) vocations, 4) formation –– both initial and on-going, 5) justice, peace and reconciliation, 6) ministries, 7) mission and international collaboration, and 8) communication.
SCJs at the assembly discussed the eight headings. They reflected on each topic in general, and then gave specific suggestions for action.
Much of the talk focused on the sharing of SCJ spirituality. How can SCJ parishes and other ministries become more “Dehonian?” How can SCJ spirituality be shared with others? And, how can SCJs better learn about and discuss their spiritual heritage?
Over and over, SCJs came back to the same conclusion: everything flows out of spirituality. Ministry, life in community, prayer, communication, vocational development –– “everything that is SCJ,” said a member at the assembly, “everything that we do and who we are flows out of our spirituality.”
There was a call to be “more international.” It is hoped that more members of the province can experience the wider congregation, both those in formation and those who have been in vows for many years. Hand in hand with that, there was a call for more members of the province to try to learn a second language.
Vocational development as a province commitment –– not simply the task of a few people in the vocation office – was discussed. How can the membership learn to better welcome others to the community? Can new methods of outreach be utilized? How can the province make the best use of the internet?
Reflecting on past efforts with justice and peace several SCJs suggested that the province focus on one or two areas where it can have impact, such as immigration.
And while present communication structures have served the province well, including province publications and web-based resources, SCJs called for better interpersonal communication. How can local communities discuss province concerns and give feedback to other communities and province administration? How can the internet be better used to share the SCJ message with others?
Fr. Tom Cassidy, SCJ, provincial superior, thanked participants for their input and their collaborative concern for the province. He noted that all the written input developed from the gathering would be collated and be utilized as the provincial council develops a province program.
The council hopes to have that program finalized before the end of the year.
You can view photos from the assembly by clicking here.