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Meeting of the Patrimony Commission with SSCC theology students (Rome)

From 5 to 8 September, the Spiritual and Historical Patrimony Commission met with the brothers and sisters who are engaging in further religious studies.  The meeting took place at the two General Houses in Rome. On Monday, 5 September, the meeting began with the Eucharist, presided over by Alberto Toutin, in the chapel of Via Rivarone. 

The Superiors General, Patricia Villarroel and Alberto, then welcomed the participants. Patricia recalled how the Commission for Spiritual and Historical Patrimony is continually reflecting on spirituality. It is not easy to find brothers and sisters willing or able to study theology. There is a need for international readings of our past and spirituality. Alberto pointed out the importance of brothers and sisters coming from different areas to engage in studies. They bring different sensitivities and in their own way are engaged in a mission for which we are grateful.

In the morning, the students explained what their studies consisted of, their main areas of research, how the studies are benefitting them, some difficulties they have experienced and what their specialisation work will consist and how it is connected to some element of the charism:

Sudhir Nayak, from the Region of India, is studying for a degree in spirituality at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome. He sees one challenge as transmitting what he has received in the local realities where he will be assigned. He will do his thesis on Father Damien from the perspective of a pastor who is an inspiration in any context.

Ana Lucía González, from the Territory of Colombia, is studying theology at the Jesuit Sèvres Centre in Paris. She has completed studies on the identity of Jesus and the silence of God. This year she will focus on freedom and morality. Her work of specialisation is to read the traces of the history of our spirituality in the present world.

Maxime Menga, from the Province of Africa, is doing his doctorate in fundamental theology at the University of Louvain. His thesis project is the sensus fidei, in the context of the synodal Church with special application to the Church of the D. R. of Congo, focusing on the laity and the dialogue with pastors.

Sagaya Samynathan, from the Indian Territory, is studying for a diploma in spirituality at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome. What she is studying is helping her to deepen her own spirituality. She is interested in mystical figures, which she connects with our Founders and her own spiritual life, as well as with the Indian context.

Nacho Domínguez, from the Iberian Province, is studying for a degree in spirituality at the Pontifical University of Comillas (Madrid). His dissertation focuses on desires and fears in vocational discernment. It includes a section on the charism and the Founders who showed themselves capable of responding to the Lord in the midst of Terror.

Valentinus Sedu Ritan, from the Province of Indonesia, is beginning his licentiate studies in spirituality at the Centre Sèvres (Paris). He would like to work on the history and theology of the spirituality of religious life. He feels blessed to study in the founding places of the Congregation. He will study the four ages of Jesus.

Paulus Halek Bere, from the Indonesian Province, is studying at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. His thesis will focus on the identity of Israel (Is 51,1-8). He wants to make the connection of those who live the Torah from the heart with our spirituality in these verses, where the verb "to listen with the heart" is very important. 

Montserrat Montecino, from the Territory of Chile, is now studying Italian in order to start a degree in spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome). 

After each intervention there was time for questions and clarifications, which led to a rich dialogue between the participants, who also asked for some help from the Heritage Commission and the Commission offered them some guidance.

In the afternoon, Éric Hernout, General Archivist, showed us the archives and the museum of the General House. The archivist is in charge of the cultural assets of the Congregation: old documents, library and museum. In the archive there are three rooms with 650 metres available for this purpose, with documentation of the Congregation (Annals, archives of the present provinces, Father Mateo and photos). There is an air-conditioned room with a library, containing books written by the brothers, the Founders and their context. Another room: letters of the Founders, documents of the first missionaries (for example from French Polynesia), the first Constitutions, correspondence of the Superiors General, the part of the saints, documents of Fr Damien, Fr Eustaquio and the Martyrs of Picpus. The archivist takes care of this patrimony. He is available to assist the sscc brothers and sisters and at time relatives who are looking for information about a religious. He works with the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), with whom projects such as the restoration of the letters of Damien De Veuster have been undertaken. 

Regarding the Museum, Eric informed us that it hosts more than 500 objects, mainly from Oceania. Some are highly recognised ethnographically, including those from Easter Island and Mangareva. We work with the University of Viterbo, with an agreement for the restoration of some pieces, another with the University of Bologna, who work with the Easter Island tablets. Objects are also on loan for exhibitions. We are in dialogue with the Vatican Ethnographic Museum regarding lending them some significant pieces. 

The last part of the day was dedicated to the work of the Postulator General, Andrzej Lukawski, the sscc brothers and sisters. He gave a detailed explanation of the work of the General Postulation, how each of the causes and preparations for the beatification of the sscc brothers martyrs of Picpus are progressing. He indicated the main tasks of the postulator and, finally, drew our attention to some possible new causes.

We concluded the day with an adoration led by Sudhir Nayak.

* Photo gallery: https://bit.ly/3TLTddi

* Video of the beginning of the Eucharist: https://bit.ly/3RlEC6I

* Video visit to the Archives of Via Rivarone: https://bit.ly/3Bp69ip

* Video visit to the Museum of Via Rivarone: https://bit.ly/3qagus3