Members of the 2017-18 US Province Formation communities
The Dehon Formation Community is an international, intergenerational community of professed SCJs and those discerning religious life with the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). The community not only houses the initial formation programs (candidacy, philosophy and theology) of the province but also welcomes SCJs from around the world on sabbatical or in graduate programs. Attached to the Dehon Formation Community is the Novitiate, located just 15 minutes south of Sacred Heart Monastery in Hales Corners, Wis.
Next year, the entire formation program will be in Wisconsin. Seminarians and undergraduate students will move to Sacred Heart Monastery in Hales Corners for the start of the 2018 academic year. Theology students will attend Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology and undergraduates will go to Milwaukee area universities.
In their own words, members of our formation program introduce themselves:
Frater Juan Carlos Castañeda Rojas, SCJ
Hola! I am Juan Carlos Castañeda Rojas but everybody calls me Juancho (family nickname) I am 35 years old and I am proud to say that I am from the city of everlasting Spring: Medellin, Colombia. I am crazy about horses, love cooking, and am now exploring some painting which I love. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
Since I was a kid I felt that I was called to the religious life and decided that was my vocation. However, I never thought that it was going to be a long distance call and that following my vocation was going to bring me where I am now. Since January, 2006, I responded to God´s call and came to the United States to start my discernment process with the Priests of the Sacred Heart. Such an amazing experience learning not just the language and culture, but also about Fr. Dehon. Happily, I became an official member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in August 2013.
After an amazing pastoral year in Brazil, I am back in Chicago in the house of formation. Currently I am attending Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in my last year of the M.Div. program in Theology. I am very excited for this year because I am doing my final vows program as I continue this journey of my vocation and saying yes to God in this congregation. After my experience in Brazil, where I was able to participate in many ministries and activities, I can say that I understand the importance and the value of getting out of the sacristy and being among those who need us the most. In addition, I have experienced the missionary character of our congregation and the international perspective of our mission. I feel blessed to be part of this great congregation, of this family. I feel blessed because I have been called to become a prophet of love and a servant of reconciliation.
Paul Phong Hoang (novice)
My name is Phong Hoang, but I go by Paul in the community. I am 24 years old and was born in Hà Tiên, Kiên Giang, Việt Nam. My family immigrated to the United States in 2007 and settled in Houston, Texas. I graduated from the University of Houston in 2015 with a B.S. in Biology. I am in my second year of formation and currently in the Novitiate until August, 2018.
My uncle recommended that I reach out to the Priests of the Sacred Heart during my initial discernment. At the Come and See weekends, I was attracted to the SCJs’ simplicity, diversity, and community life.
In spring 2016, I was involved with the ESL program at the Vietnamese Association in Uptown, Chicago. Last year, I was a member of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (TNTT) and also helped with the Vietnamese language program for children at Queenship of Mary parish in Joliet. Last summer, I was very fortunate to work for Sacred Heart Southern Missions (SHSM) in Mississippi as part of my summer ministry. The experience helped strengthen my vocation with the SCJs.
In my spare time, I enjoy playing soccer, billiards, exercising, and watching GOT.
Hubert Senam Kodjovi Liassidji (candidate)
I’m 36 and originally from Togo in West Africa. I studied at the University of Lome where I got my degree in Chemistry. I have been living in the United States since November 10, 2010. Here in the States I studied at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa where I was in the Chemical Engineering program.
I have been a candidate with the Priests of the Sacred Heart since January 3, 2017. I am studying Philosophy and Religious Studies at Saint Xavier University in Chicago.
On August 28, 2017, I became an American citizen, surrounded by members of the SCJ community.
Henry Nguyen (novice)
I’m Henry Nguyen and I am in my third year of formation with the Priests of the Sacred Heart. I was born and raised in Orange County, Calif. For the past two years, I was living at the Dehon Formation House in Chicago and studying at Saint Xavier University (Philosophy and Religious Studies) and Catholic Theological Union (Graduate level Theology).
However, this year is different as I am now a novice and am far away from formal academics for the next year while living at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Raymond, Wis. I hope to discern whether or not I am called to be a religious, a missionary, “a prophet of love and a servant of reconciliation.”
In order to help me discern that, I must recall why I joined the SCJ formation community in the first place. It was because of the joy, laughter, and hospitality that I found there. Time after time, I see the joy, laughter, and hospitality of the SCJs, from Wisconsin to Texas, to Mississippi, and even to Toronto, Canada.
I have a desire to serve others and I was able to do just that at my latest summer ministry, being a part of the ESL residential staff at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. We had over 40 students from all over the world, which included SCJ seminarians and priests, as well as other religious, seminarians, and priests from different religious orders and dioceses. I also got to learn what an impact the SCJ presence has on other communities outside of the United States.
I have been involved in parish ministries for many years. The last ministry I served in was with the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (VEYM) at St. Henry’s Parish and Queenship of Mary in the Chicago area as a Youth Leader and Youth Leader Trainer to assist youth and young adults with their journey of faith, helping them to grow closer to God.
This year, I hope to discover more of myself, discover God’s natural beauty (beautiful Wisconsin), and to enjoy my time during the Novitiate.
Therefore, I have the desire to be Dehonian.
Hung Pham (candidate)
Hello. My name is Hung Pham. I was born in Vietnam. I have been living in Houston since 2008. I graduated in Petroleum Engineering from University of Houston in 2015. Before entering candidacy I worked at the ALS Company as a total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) analyst; I began there in 2015.
I was a member of Dong Hanh group in Houston, also known as the Christian Life Community group (CLC). I also taught Vietnamese and Bible studies at Martyr church in Houston since 2013.
I am excited about joining the SCJs and want to discover more about them. Now that I am living in Chicago as a new candidate I am attending Catholic Theological Union for Philosophy and Theology.
I like playing soccer, biking, gardening, and walking.
Angel Romero (candidate)
My name is Angel Romero, I am originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. I am 33 years old and have studied and worked in law. I went to Estate University of Chihuahua, Mexico. Before entering candidacy I worked with the Latino community in the Bay Area of California. I am currently studying for an M.Div. at CTU.
I have served as a scripture reader in the Catholic Church since I was 12 years old. I have always loved being active. In my pilgrimage in the Catholic faith I have had great opportunities and experiences in my spiritual life, including people who told me about the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
What interests me in this religious community is the powerful charism of our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon: “Preach therefore the love of God, presenting the Heart of Christ as the symbol and center of this divine reality. To the man torn by so many tribulations and so many questions, show him, in Christ crucified and risen, the supreme certainty of the love of God. I am sure that on your part there will always be a renewed commitment of fidelity and vigilance to contribute at all times to the good of souls and to the edification of the Church.”
My studies at CTU have allowed me to know more about the wonderful world of philosophy and theology as well.
My hobbies are walking and listening to music.
Fr. Byron Haaland, SCJ, novice master
I became Roman Catholic in my senior year of high school. It was the mid-1960s and everything had to be radical. So, what could a good Norwegian Lutheran do to be radical? I became a Catholic. A CATHOLIC! Conversion to such a belief left a lot of relatives and friends bewildered. I couldn’t become a hippy. Such a thing was just too unthinkable in my family – it was forbidden.
I’m not sure which vocation came first. I think priesthood came first and the rest were just hurtles to be jumped along the way. The young priest who walked with me during those days was equally bewildered by what I was searching for in my youth. But he was faithful to giving me instruction along the way.
I was so new to the faith that I didn’t know the difference between religious and secular priests. I was told to wait three years by the bishop of San Diego. I was to stay in touch and attend vocation sessions at the seminary. However, one Sunday after Mass I found an SCJ vocation flyer in the back of church. It was sort of like an Uncle Sam poster: “The Sacred Heart Wants You!” I had no idea what it was about but I filled it out and sent it to Trinity College in Redlands, CA. A week later I got an invitation to come and visit. I went along with the young priest from my parish.
My interview took 20 minutes but the priest and Fr. Dick Johnston visited for an hour or so. I entered formation that August. I still had to wait three years but at least I was a candidate and my vocation was on its way.
There’s not much difference between conversion and formation. Both are serious and ongoing. Both turn your heart to God and both involve struggle and determination.
There has been a lot of water under the bridge in the past 47 years. My vocation has been marked by construction, demolition and rebuilding. Fires and floods have also marked my way. It all adds up to literally building the Kingdom.
Earlier this year I was living with construction again at the novitiate. Waiting for completion can be a chore. Living under construction is a lot like formation. I watch. I wait. I get impatient. I get excited and I dream. I imagine how things will be when it’s finished.
It’s never what I expect but I’m always pleased. And it’s a lot of hard work. There is seldom a dull moment. I wake up filled with energy to begin a new day. Like formation I simply welcome the Spirit trying to respond to the love of God while seeking to be united with God and community. And somehow all of this brings about God’s reign. In the end though it doesn’t really matter. What is most important is that I show up and participate in God’s work of redemption.
Fr. Andrzej Sudol, SCJ (formation team)
I am Fr. Andrzej Sudol and have been a priest for 20 years. I was born and ordained in Poland. Just after my ordination I left for our new SCJ mission in India. I worked for three years in Kerala, in the south of India, as a member of the formation team. Then, I had to leave my “first love” (India) because of visa problems. I was asked to join our mission in the Philippines, where I was until 2014. First I worked in a parish in Mindanao. Then I was involved with the Dehonian Youth Program, vocation promotion, and was in-charge of on-going formation of the young priests in the Philippine Region. Above all I served as a formation director of the postulants. Meanwhile, I studied formation and I got an STL in spirituality at Milltown, Dublin, in Ireland.
At present I am staying at the formation house in Chicago and am happy to be a part of this community and life. I am a formation director of our candidates and temporarily professed students. I am also a part-time student at CTU. I continue my D.Min. studies in Spirituality and Inculturation.
I come from a town called Mielec in Poland; my whole family lives there still. My parents are now retired. My father was a technician at the airplane factory in Mielec and my mother was a midwife. I have two sisters. Ewa is a teacher and Gosia is a nurse. They both are settled with their own families. I always spend quality time with them during my vacation.
Since my father was a soccer player I inherited this hobby from him. I like sports. At present I play tennis, jog and bike during my free time. I like geography, different cultures and styles of life. I love to meet new people and friends. I always wanted to be a missionary and I am grateful to God for my vocation as a Dehonian.
Fr. Bob Tucker, SCJ (formation team)
My call to religious life was nourished by the Priests of the Sacred Heart who came to my home parish in the inner city of Detroit. It was then that my love for liturgy began to grow. I often reflect on the Gospel passage proclaimed when I took my first vows with the congregation 1975: “While Jesus was with them at table, he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him… They said to each other, ‘Where not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way opened the scriptures to us?’ ” (Luke 24:31-32)
Throughout my 42 years as a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart I have recalled and reflected on this passage often. I see in this passage what our baptism and our life as SCJs calls us to do; that is to listen and to reflect on God’s Word speaking to our hearts. In order that we may come to know Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread sends us forth to be prophets of love and servants of reconciliation.
As a priest, I have had the pleasure of celebrating the wonder of the love of the heart of Jesus in the celebration of the Mass. I have ministered as a priest in San Antonio, Detroit, Milwaukee, Houston and in northern Mississippi. I am now in my second year as a formation director.
It is a privilege to be with our religious students and candidates in their journey as they discern their calling in life to be a member of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. My hope is that we will discover hearts burning within us as Christ speaks to our hearts and that we will come to know him in the breaking of the bread and to know him in the faces of our brothers and sisters. Because as number 82 in our constitutions challenges us: “the Eucharist has its effects on all that we are and do… and who unceasingly throws us back onto the streets of the world in the service of the Gospel.”
Other SCJs in residence
Fr. Bob Bossie, SCJ
I was born in Boston, Mass., and raised with six siblings. Within two weeks of graduating from high school I joined the U.S. Air Force. During the following four years I maintained nuclear weapons carrying aircraft, among other things.
A few years after the Air Force, while traveling the country as a contract worker in the military industry, I had a life-changing experience of God. At that moment, it became crystal clear to me that I was of God, as were everyone and everything else. Now I knew that everyone and everything was holy and worthy of reverence.
In seeking a lifestyle that would enhance that experience, I joined the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Shortly thereafter, I was amazed to find that my desire to fully give of myself was completely consistent with the spirituality of the Priests of the Sacred Heart –– I come to do your will, O God.
For over 30 years I ministered at the 8th Day Center for Justice, a Catholic, faith-based NGO working for social change. During these years, I let go of many of the presuppositions with which I was raised. Again, I find this to be fully consistent with the spirituality of the Priests of the Sacred Heart: to establish the reign of the Heart of Jesus in souls and societies.
I retired from full-time active ministry in 2012 but continue to be involved to a lesser extent in justice and peace activities. Community life continues to be good.
For all this I give God thanks.
Fr. Louis Mariano Fernandes, SCJ
I am Fr. Louis, 53-years-old, and a member of the District of India. I come from a family of six sons and two daughters. I lost my parents and two of my elder brothers long ago. Other brothers and sisters have married and have their own families now.
I joined the SCJs in 1996. Initially I started formation with the SVDs but left in 1991. For the next six years I worked in different capacities. I worked as a salesman, worked in a five-star hotel for two years, and as a teacher and warden before coming to this congregation.
Most of my ministry has been in formation, even before being ordained a priest. I also taught in the philosophy program during my tenure as the superior of philosophy program in Kerala and then taught at the Theologate administered by the Capuchins during my time as the superior of the Theologate in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh. I finished my licenciate in Pastoral Theology for Catechesis in Rome.
It was my dream to specialize in counseling. I am grateful to our Indian District who has given me this opportunity to study in the United States. Also, a hearty thanks to the US Province for their love and support so that I may realize this dream.
I am now doing studies for a master’s in Psychology for Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University in Chicago. The course is really demanding; I hope to finish the degree in three years. Please whisper a prayer for me.
Fr. Joseph Mukuna, SCJ
I was born and raised in Kananga (Democratic Republic of Congo). My first religious profession was on August 12, 1999, and my priestly ordination on April 14, 2007. I had several assignments: Formation Director, House Superior (Lemba-Kinshasa), Provincial Procurer, Pastor (Saint Clement-Kinshasa), chaplain for street children and prisoners (Maison Saint Laurent& Bakhita-Kisangani), and teacher (Philosophat Edith Stein-Kisangani), to cite only these.
While helping in the Dehon International Formation House in Pietermaritzburg (South Africa), I earned a Master’s degree in New Testament Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. My focus was Contextual Exegesis and Translation of the Bible. The concentration on Contextual Reading of the Bible changed my life completely. With this experience I was able to explore the Bible in varied forms and meet different people.
I had the opportunity to participate in two major projects. First, with the Congolese Bishops Conference as a Bible instructor for the ecclesiastic Province of Kisangani. Second, with the Pauline Sisters (Congo), with whom, alongside with many other African Biblical Scholars, we edited and published the first edition of the French version of the African Bible, LA BIBLE AFRICAINE.
Since Fall, 2015, I have been pursuing Graduate Studies at Loyola University Chicago. Right now, I am getting ready for the biblical languages Comps. I look forward to completing my specialization in New Testament and Early Christianity Studies before going back to Africa. I am grateful to the SCJs in the United States for their care and support to my education. Thank you!
Frater Long Nguyen, SCJ
Hello all, I am Br. Long Nguyen, 38, from Thibodaux, Louisiana. For many years I was a religious brother in the province but returned to Catholic Theological Union and the formation community to discern sacramental ministries.
The academic work I completed and that which remains suggests that I am in the middle of my third year of school. Previous to returning to Chicago, I served in vocation ministry.
I look forward to the coming months of academic work, community and prayer. With a less demanding schedule this semester, I hope to play guitar a bit more and have more time for meditation.
What about you?
Do you feel called to a life of community, ministry and prayer, nourished by the Eucharist and based in the love of the Heart of Christ? Click here for information on a Come and See experience with the Dehon Formation Community, a weekend where you can learn about the Priests of the Sacred Heart and explore your vocation. You can also call our vocation office at 800-609-5559.