Dehonians' Founder to Be Beatified in April

Father Leon Dehon (1843-1925)

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2005 ( Father Leon Gustave Dehon, founder of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, will be beatified April 24, say officials of the Dehonian religious family.

Last April 19 the Holy See published the decree recognizing a miracle through the intercession of Father Dehon, whose baptismal name was Jean du Sacré-Coeur.

Born in 1843 in La Chapelle, France, Dehon obtained a law degree from the Sorbonne University of Paris before entering St. Clare’s Seminary in Rome.

After being ordained a priest, in 1868, he returned to his diocese and worked in his parish of St. Quentin, which was composed primarily of low-paid laborers.

Supported by his bishop, in 1877 he founded the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Dehonians.

He became a main promoter of the Christian Social Movement in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Beginning in 1891, he worked as the apostle of “Rerum Novarum,” Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical on Church social doctrine.

Father Dehon once told priests: “Workers see priests almost as accomplices of their oppressors, and many, in fact, are such by their silence.”

He added: “When the wolf comes, the shepherd must not hide. Priests, come out of the sacristies!”

The missions were another great objective of Father Dehon’s life. He sent many of his religious to evangelize in far-off places. In 1964, 29 Dehonians were martyred in Kisangani, in present-day Congo.

Father Dehon died in 1925. The Dehonians are present in 38 nations and have close to 2,300 religious brothers and priests.

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