Knowing our own stories helps us to hear others


Lord, as sons of our Founder,
Leo John Dehon,
we are conscious of our unity with all men and women
Throughout the world and through all ages.

We rededicate ourselves to you
And commit ourselves to share with all of them
The love we have from you in Jesus.
We regard it as our personal and communal mission
to minister your love
to all who are frustrated and disappointed
in their hunger and search for love, for you.

Help us to conquer
all selfishness and complacency,
all arrogance and paternalism,
all tolerance and impatience,
all distinction and divisiveness.

At last, may all people experience your love for them,
and know that they are free
to respond to your love in joy and gratitude,
with their whole heart and mind and strength.
May this same love
embrace all men and women as brothers and sisters.


The Sacred Heart Monastery Community, Come and See participants and members of the North American Migration Committee

Frater Henry Nguyen, SCJ, shares the following:

On March 8, the North American Migration Committee visited the Dehonian Formation program at Sacred Heart Monastery to facilitate a conversation about our stories of being migrants or of being children of migrants. This was part of our First Friday Series. We were joined by the greater Sacred Heart Monastery community as well as four Come and See Weekend participants. Fr. Peter McKenna, SCJ (a member of the Migration Committee), said this visit of the committee was with the right people at the right time at the right place as this week was the Come and See Weekend, along with the Sacred Heart Monastery community’s Provincial Visitation that is taking place during Lent so we may respond to the heart.

The prayer above is the SCJs’ Rededication prayer that was used during the closing of the visitation. I thought that it resonated so much to our call to be united with all people. Br. Diego Diaz, SCJ, led us with an opening song, We Are Many Parts, which reminded us of the multicultural community that exists at Sacred Heart Monastery. Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, later spoke on how we were the most diverse community in the province.

Sharing in small groups

The committee has spent time listening to Dehonians throughout Canada and the United States. They said they are listening with and to the hearts of one another. Fr. Richard MacDonald, SCJ, shared about his time in Raymondville, TX, and how he learned to be present to those whom he serves, to really encounter them. “What can I do for you?” is sometimes the wrong question to ask someone, he told us. Instead, we should be present and really listen with them. He told the story of a man from El Salvador who crossed the border. The man asked Fr. Mac, “Can you find someone who can remove the bullet from my body.” In a real way he was present to someone who was suffering. Fr. Dehon wanted just that, for Dehonians to get out of the sacristy and meet the world.

To be Dehonians, we must open our hearts and listen.  We cannot look at individuals as migrants first, but as God’s children. The Dehonian’s emphasis is on the heart; however, often people are caught up in their heads. What drives us is the people we have seen and met.

Mark Peters, US Province director of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation, saw poverty firsthand when he took a trip to the Appalachians that led him to help at St. Vincent de Paul, where he regularly heard  people’s stories. He saw that in the Milwaukee area there was a need for ESL tutors for refugees. Now he note only helps people with English but learned how much is involved in refugee resettlement in order for a migrant to be self-sufficient.

After prayer it was time for birthday celebrations!

Fr. Peter McKenna, SCJ, spoke of his love of Dehonian spirituality, that Fr. Dehon knew the poor and the poor knew him. What more can we do for others so that they do not simply strive to survive? Fr. McKenna is involved in a ministry called “Becoming Neighbours” where priests, brothers and sisters are matched one-on-one with refugees to accompany them and be present. Through his ministry, he is able to be a prophet of love and servant of reconciliation.

We shared in small groups our own stories and what was surfacing within us as we heard the stories of committee members. Novice Hubert made a good point when he said, “Everyone is a refugee one way or another whether it be themselves or their parents.” Before you can help someone, you must first know what their needs are. As I heard this, this reminded me of Jesus and his parents, and their journey of finding refuge. Jesus too was a refugee.

As we ended the conference we were left with two striking questions, “What is most clear for you at this moment?” and “What is the request that God is making of you at this moment?”

We continued the conversation through Mass. Fr. Jan De Jong, SCJ, presided and the Mass was offered for migrants and immigrants. In the homily Fr. Tony Russo, SCJ, shared his story of being a child of migrants. His testimony spoke through to me and to others as to how he felt being a foreigner. We truly need to remember where we come from as it will help open our hearts for us to fully help others.

Our thanks to Candidate Jacob Smith and Fr. Albertus Joni, SCJ, for sharing photos of the evening. 

Fr. Quang with Come and See participants