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The eight-day visit in the province of PAR, well organized and planned, gave ample opportunity for Father General Heinz Kulüke to meet our confreres in their places of work and also spend quality time with our older confreres.

The variety of apostolates and commitments in the province were important platforms for him to meet lay leaders, parishioners, and teachers, among others. He also took time to meet with the Provincial Council and different leadership teams of the province.

Here are some of Father General’s impressions and reflections:
1) The seventy-two priests, six Brothers, seven scholastics and ten Novices of the Common Novitiate Program have shown a spirit of gratitude for their vocations and missions. In my encounters with confreres, their stories and sharing spoke of privileged moments of having been able to touch the lives of others. Touching too was the sharing of ten senior confreres. Some of the remarks, among others, were: “I have a missionary life lived by God’s providence”, “I always wanted to work where it is most difficult, and that is what I got”, “At the age of 85 I still want to be useful”. These unwritten stories are the real picture of the Society in the province.
2) The parish of San Roque in Encarnación mirrors the different parishes under the care of the Society of the Divine Word regarding the organization, planning and particular attention to the characteristic dimensions (Bible, mission animation, communications and JPIC) of the Society. The parish of San Roque brings life and vibrancy among its parishioners using the characteristic dimensions as a vehicle.
3) An important treasure in the province is the presence of enthusiastic and active lay leaders and volunteers in our different parishes, institutions and schools. I have met lay leaders in different settings and I am impressed by their eagerness to give their part for the mission of the Society. On one occasion, I met about a hundred lay leaders having a workshop and the pervading spirit was “Somos todos Verbitas” (We are all SVDs). I commend the openness and dedication of our confreres in allowing this “treasure” to grow and continue to enrich the province of PAR.
4) In several places in the province, we continue to commit ourselves to the educational apostolate. It is a mission commitment with a long tradition and continues to be important for the province. Our confreres working in our schools are doing their best to instill the SVD charism and spirit wherever possible. I am impressed with the work done in our schools “colegios” and agricultural schools.
5) The province embraces its commitment to reach out to the poor, the isolated, and children with few resources. In parishes and educational institutions, there are programs and activities to reach out to those who are last. Our mission with indigenous groups continues to empower the indigenous peoples to affirm their rights and privileges.
6) The province of PAR is one of the best-organized provinces in the Society. Confreres are guided in the “Proyecto Provincial” (Provincial Planning) with special emphasis on lay volunteers and leaders, characteristic dimensions and collaboration in the different apostolates and missions. These good practices should be documented and shared with other provinces. The presence of young confreres and the internationality of its members are all pluses for the Province.

I thank Fr. Stany Lobo, the Provincial, the council members and the confreres for their hospitality and openness.

Published in the newsletter “Arnoldus Nota” – Dic 2015