As with all aspects of daily life, not only in the US Province but in the world, many adjustments are being made in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The General Finance Commission was originally scheduled to have its spring meeting in Vietnam, but when travel restrictions were implemented it was moved to Hales Corners. The meeting, scheduled for March 26-27, has now been cancelled by Fr. Luca Zottoli, SCJ, general treasurer.
Classes in Dehonian schools in the province have been suspended. This includes Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston, Sacred Heart in Southaven and Holy Name in Holly Springs, MS, and St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota. As a residential program, St. Joseph’s is in a unique situation. Students are currently home on spring break. Based upon the South Dakota Department of Education’s recommendation, St. Joseph’s will extend spring break for its students until Monday, March 23. All school administrators note the fluidity of the situation, which is constantly being reevaluated.
Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology suspended classes on campus for the upcoming week. Professors will email assignments to their students until they can arrange to do courses online. Staff are encouraged to work from home. It is hoped that with these adjustments, the semester can be completed on May 1 as planned. The graduation ceremony has been cancelled; the building is closed to public access. The seminary has a page on its website devoted to the coronavirus (COVID-19); click here to access it.
At Sacred Heart Southern Missions, anyone who can work at home is being encouraged to do so. The office will be open longer in the evenings so that staff working at home can come to print things and get other on-site work done.
For those departments that need to be on-site only half will work at a time so that there are fewer people in the office. The office will be open on Saturdays so that staff in those departments can work three days a week.
Staff who are sick or at risk will continue to get full pay even if they have used all of their B/P or vacation days. Part-time staff will still get their usual paycheck.
Initially SCJs were continuing to offer Mass at the parishes with some adjustments. However, now many dioceses have suspended the public celebration of Mass for several weeks.
“It is a challenge to find a way to be present to each other without actually being present,” said one Dehonian.
Sacred Heart Southern Missions is encouraging presence through prayer. From 11:45 – 11:50 a.m. (Central Time), from March 16 through April 4, SHSM staff and benefactors have been invited by Fr. Jack Kurps, SCJ, executive director of SHSM, “to join in prayer wherever they are.”
Several upcoming meetings and events in the province have been either postponed or adjusted. The provincial visitation in Houston that was to take place this week was postponed. The meeting of North American administrations that was supposed to take place on April 28 in Hales Corners has been cancelled.
Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, has asked SCJs not to travel out of state for the next 30 days (as of February 13).
The jubilee celebration and provincial assembly, as well as other events after April 31, are still planned as scheduled. However, plans will continually be reviewed and adjusted as needed.