Students, priests and brothers living and praying together in community
The Dehon Formation Community in Chicago is home to an international, intergenerational community of professed SCJs and those discerning religious life with the congregation. 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.
In their own words, members of the Dehon Formation Community introduce themselves:
Luis Alonso Barrantes – candidate
My full name is Luis Alonso Barrantes, age 46. Feeling happy, healthy and holy I have been at the SCJ formation house in Chicago since January 7, 2015. I am now finishing my second year of philosophy at Saint Xavier University and I am blessed to continue to see God’s Will unfold. I was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, and raised in Los Angeles, Calif. I have three brothers and two sisters of whom I love and miss very much. Among my siblings, I am in the middle.
Thus far it has been a very exciting two years with so many changes. There are new faces coming in with excitement, but it is also sad to see some leave. Overall we are blessed to be having this experience in learning and growing in a deeper faith in what a true Dehonian is all about. My first summer ministry was working in Milwaukee with the ESL program, which was very rewarding. My most recent summer (2016) was spent in Nesbit, Miss., working to help serve the less fortunate. I was very captivated to see how hard everyone works in Mississippi and how much the SCJs’ hard work and dedication is needed in the various ministries. I pray that God continues to give them health and strength as they continue to give so much love through pastoral services, religious education, and social services in the volunteer programs, schools and all six parishes. I look forward to experiencing other SCJ ministries.
I am excited about the changes that have taken place in the formation house and I ask for your prayers that I can continue to grow stronger in my faith and develop a deeper love in my spirituality and for Fr. Leo John Dehon, SCJ founder.
Frater Juan Carlos (Juancho) Castañeda Rojas, SCJ
In Fr. Dehon´s own Words: “Our whole vocation, our purpose, our duty, our promises, are found in these words: Ecce Venio, Ecce Ancilla” (Spiritual Directory, I,3). Ecce Venio!
“Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.”
Hola! I am Juan Carlos Castañeda Rojas but everybody calls me Juancho (family nickname). I am 33 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 now am exploring some painting, which I also love. I 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. In 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.
My experience with the Priests of the Sacred Heart has been amazing, I always feel welcome and even though learning a new language was not easy, I always have found support from members of the community. The ESL program at Sacred Heart School of Theology was an amazing experience because I was able to meet SCJs from all over the world. Today I am experiencing a similar situation as I start my pastoral year in the beautiful country of Brazil. Here I have also found the support of all the members of this province and I have seen some of the people that I met when I was part of the ESL program and also in Poland (World Youth Day).
Answering God´s call, and as part of my formation process, I am facing a new challenge in my life as I try to make stronger the Ecce Venio as the pillar of my spirituality as a Dehonian. What I am living today is the missionary character of our congregation and the international perspective of our mission. We are Priests of the Sacred Heart and we are one in each country and place in which we are present as servants of love and prophets of reconciliation. Yes, I will miss my conferees in the U.S Province and especially the formation house in Chicago, but also I am absolutely sure that this is going to be a great experience in my life.
I am sure this year is going to bring many good things that will help me in my formation and growth as an SCJ. Ecce Venio as an answer of complete abandonment in God´s will, I offer this pastoral year as a renewal of my vows and desire to give my life to the service of the poor, the marginalized, and the ones in need.
Today I am living an amazing experience, maybe tomorrow it will be you!!!
Hoàng Lê Phong (Paul) – postulant
Xin chào! My name is Hoàng Lê Phong, but I go by Paul in the community. I am 24 years old. I 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. I am in my first year of formation and currently attend St. Xavier University for philosophy and religious studies.
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 and community life.
Last semester I was involved with the ESL program at the Vietnamese Association in Uptown, Chicago. Presently, I am a member of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (TNTT) as part of my ministry. I also help out with the Vietnamese language program for children at Queenship of Mary parish.
In my spare time, I enjoy playing soccer, billiards, exercising, and watching GOT.
Henry Nguyen – postulant
I’m Henry Nguyen and I am in my second year of formation with the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ). I was born and raised in Orange County, Calif. I received my bachelor’s in psychology at California State University, Monterey Bay. I started my theological studies at Catholic Theological Union and am currently finishing my studies in philosophy at Saint Xavier University.
I am interested in being a Dehonian as they seek to work with the poor and are to be among the people. This past summer I was able to visit and work with the SCJ community in Mississippi at Sacred Heart Southern Missions. This experience deepened my desire to be an SCJ as I had the opportunity to work along and among those who are a part of the SCJ presence. It was a great experience to see SCJs in action.
I have been involved with parish ministries for many years now. I am currently a Youth Leader at St. Henry’s Parish and Queenship of Mary where I assist youth with their journey of faith and to grow closer to God.
Outside of serving in my ministries, I enjoy being outdoors hiking and camping and traveling the world. I also enjoy listening to music and watching movies with friends. This next school year I am making it my goal to explore the city of Chicago a little more as there is so much to see here in the Windy City!
Angel Romero – candidate
My name is Angel Romero, I am originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. I am 32 years old and have studied and worked in law. I went to Estate University of Chihuahua, Mexico and served the Latin community in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. I am currently studying in the ESL program at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.
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 are the ideals of the founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon, in regards to spirituality and social justice. Today, I see this reflected in the defense of human rights and civil rights of people.
My hobbies are exercising, video games, and all kinds of reading.
Frater Joseph Vu, SCJ
I recently completed my graduate theology studies at Catholic Theological Union. Thanks be to God, I graduated in May, 2016, with a Masters of Divinity. I found my time at CTU fruitful and meaningful, and I feel that I can bring what I’ve learned there into the work I do in my ministry.
I continue my work at my ministry sites here in Chicago: St. Henry Parish and the Br. David Darst Center. I really do enjoy spending time with the youth and helping them on their faith journey. The ministries at these places have helped me grow so much as a person. Following graduation I am able and willing to dedicate much more of my time at these sites.
I met the SCJs through my youth group at my home parish. As a temporarily vowed member, my vows continually remind me of my dedication to live my life’s intent on being united with the Heart of Christ and to be in community with my brothers. This past summer has brought a great wind of change through the formation house. With new faces and a new community atmosphere, I am certainly excited to see what the new year brings!
Formation team and others in community
Fr. David Szatkowski, SCJ
My name is Fr. David Szatkowski, SCJ. I grew up in a military family. For that reason, I had the opportunity to grow up in different parts of the world, but I consider Lawton, OK, to be my hometown. After taking part in the Christian Summer Experience in Raymondville, TX, with the SCJ vocation office in 1992, I applied for candidacy with the Priests of the Sacred Heart. I then finished my bachelor’s in psychology (December, 1995) and I made first vows in 1997. I studied theology at Catholic Theological Union (MDiv, 2002) and was ordained June 12, 2002.
I spent three years at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Houston, TX, before returning to school. I studied for my license and doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in the City (the Angelicum) in Rome. I successfully defended my dissertation in 2011. My ministry then took me to northwestern Mississippi. There I was a judge for the Tribunal, and most recently, pastor of the parishes of St. Joseph (Holly Springs) and Queen of Peace (Olive Branch).
In July, I returned to Dehon House of Studies, this time as local superior and director of the college program. I am happy to be working with those who will continue the SCJ charism and ministry into the future! During this year, I am taking part in CTU’s program for new formation directors. In my off time, I enjoy music, movies, and reading.
Fr. Andrzej Sudol, SCJ
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 STL on 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 Dehonian.
Fr. Bob Tucker, SCJ
“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, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?'” (Luke 24:31-32)
This is one of my favorite passages from the Gospels.
Throughout my 41 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. We do this so that we may be disciples of Jesus sharing his love and working for the reign of God’s love in our world.
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.
After 33 years as a parish priest I was asked to do ministry 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 I, with them, will discover a heart burning within as Christ speaks to our hearts and to come to know him in the breaking of the bread and to know him in the faces of our brothers and sisters. As SCJs we are called to remember that “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.”
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 that I was of God, as was 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. Joseph Mukuna, SCJ (Congolese Province)
I was born and raised in Kananga (Democratic Republic of Congo). I started my journey with the SCJs in 1995. My first religious profession was August 12, 1999. My priestly ordination was on April 14, 2007. After ordination I had several assignments: Formation Director, and Superior at Maison du Sacre-Coeur, a study house for SCJ Brothers (Lemba-Kinshasa). Then I became the Provincial Procuror before moving to South Africa for graduate studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal while helping in the Dehon International Formation House in Pietermaritzburg.
I earned a master’s degree in New Testament Studies in 2012 from the UKZN. My focus was Contextual Exegesis and Translation of the Bible. The concentration in the 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, and second, with the Pauline Sisters (Congo) as a translator and commentator of LA BIBLE AFRICAINE alongside with many other African Scholars.
Before coming to the United States for further studies, I was assigned as the pastor of Saint Clement Parish of Makala (Kinshasa). I worked also with street children and prisoners while teaching Scripture. Now I am pursuing graduate studies at Loyola University in Chicago. I am looking forward to completing my education in New Testament Studies and Early Christianity before going back to Africa. I am grateful to the SCJs in the United States, and their benefactors, for their support.
Br. Long Nguyen, SCJ
Hello. I am Br. Long Nguyen, SCJ. Catholic Theological Union granted me a master’s in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) in 2006. My journey led me back to Chicago last January, where I am pursuing an M.Div. for ordination. I enjoyed my first semester back in the Windy City and look forward to the fall. I spent my summer in Texas where I reconnected with my southern roots at a Benedictine monastery. There, I appreciated that the monks kept periods of silence, daily.
Port Arthur, TX, is my birthplace, and Thibodaux, LA, is my hometown. My earliest memory of myself as a child growing up along Bayou Lafourche is of me looking up at the clouds and wondering about the shapes they took. I mention this memory because this meditative nature remains with me. Fr. Laurence Freeman, OSB, has a few YouTube videos on Christian meditation that I have seen and replayed over and over again. My family has faced several deaths within the past year. I am at a loss of words or thoughts of the absolute loss of love, connection and relationships. Death leads one to sit in profound silence, to wonder about life and search for the One beyond silence.
I am involved with The Ministry of Care, a volunteer group out of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church. I remember my days visiting patients with Fr. Frank Clancy, SCJ, at Valley Baptist Hospital in Harlingen, TX. The experience lends itself to this current ministry.
I also remember my early days at the formation community where praying the rosary was the capstone of the evenings. My family frequently prayed the rosary and hinted to me of the possibility of religious life when I was young. My earlier path did not lead in that direction but I found my way to the Priests of the Sacred Heart after seeing their advertisement in a religious magazine. The ad appealed to a life of prayer, service and sacrifice.
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.