The 26th MSC General Chapter will assemble at Centro Ad Gentes in Nemi, Italy, about 60 km from our General House at Via Asmara in Rome.
The venue is beautifully positioned high on the rim of an ancient volcanic lake, Lago Nemi, famous for once floating the Nemi ships, built under the reign of the Roman Emperor Caligula in the 1st century CE, and recovered from the lakebed in 1929. Unfortunately, the ships were destroyed by fire in 1944 during World War II.
The entire area around the lake is popular for its strawberry farms, nature walks, and many sites of historical and ecclesial importance such as Castel Gandolfo and Rocca di Papa. There is also a notable historical connection for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, one that has significant missionary impetus.
In 2014 SEDOS came together to Remember; Celebrate and Renew their founding vision. (SEDOS is a forum open to Institutes of Consecrated life which commit themselves to deepening their understanding of global mission). They highlighted the close relationship that exists between the Conciliar Decree Ad Gentes and the Nine Founders of SEDOS who were among the architects who successfully carried out the mission entrusted to the Commission to conceive and elaborate the Missionary Activity of the Church: Ad Gentes. Their debates took place at the Centro Ad Gentes, Nemi. They launched a forum to support the vision which began in Nemi. The Founders gradually brought this idea into realization and, on their own initiative, finally founded an lntercongregational Union committed to ongoing dialogue and reflection on the global mission of the Church. Thus, SEDOS was born. The MSC maintain membership on the SEDOS Executive to this day.
One of the nine founding fathers of SEDOS was Fr. Joseph Van Kerckhoven, MSC (1909-1974), Superior General of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart from 1958—1969. Fr. Van Kerckhoven’s first years of ministry were dedicated to formation in the Belgian Province and to lecturing in philosophy. From 1950 to 1953, he was Superior of the Congregation’s mission in the Congo and, from 1953-1958, he served as Provincial Superior of the Belgian Province. He was elected Superior General in 1858, a post he held until the conclusion of the Special Chapter of renewal in 1969. He participated in all four sessions of Vatican ll and was the spokesperson for the Commission of Religious. He also collaborated in the preparation of the decree Perfectae Caritatis. His intervention on the relationship between religious life and apostolic life became part of that decree and is the substance of Canon 675 of the new code of Canon Law.
We also note that in the main corridor of Centro Ad Gentes is a memorial to the Commission De Missionibus that elaborated the final text of the decree Ad Gentes. Among the signatures we see that one is of Fr. Josef Glazik, MSC. A member of the North German Province, he was professor for missiology at the University of Würzburg and from 1961 at the University of Münster. He died in 1997. Another MSC on that Commission and Council Father in all four sessions of Vatican II, was the Italian, Bishop Alfonso Maria Ungarelli, MSC (1897-1988), Prelate of Pinheiro, Maranhão, Brazil. His contribution to the work of the Commission is extensive.
As we approach the 26th General Chapter of the Congregation we celebrate the connections we have, and the missionary energy we bring through our living the Spirituality of the Heart in the world today. Centro Ad Gentes will support us as we walk with Jesus on the road during this Chapter, and as we notice how our hearts burn within us as we listen to him speaking to us.
Check out the Centro Ad Gentes Website by clicking here