Living the call of presence
May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, is International Religious Brothers Day. To commemorate it, we profiled one of our own Dehonian brothers, Br. Brian Tompkins, SCJ, on the province website. Originally from the Canadian Region, Br. Brian, 62, has been a member of the US Province for several years. He lives and ministers at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake in Franklin, WI.
When asked to describe his vocational call, Br. Brian reflected on the words of Mother Teresa: “Do small things with great love.”
“That’s what I feel that I am called to do, who I am called to be,” he said.
Br. Brian initially thought that he would pursue that call as a priest. “Basically, it was what I knew.” After professing his first vows in 2007 he went to St. Augustine Seminary in Toronto, where he earned his master’s degree in theology. But during that time, he realized that what he was truly called to was religious life, not necessarily ordained ministry.
What remain unchanged in his call was a desire to be present to others, especially the elderly. He thrived in CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) and in volunteer work at a large senior residence in suburban Toronto. In many ways, his ministry was similar to what he had been doing in a nearly 20-year career at a hair salon: simply being present to others.
In 2011 he professed his final vows as a Dehonian religious brother.
Click here to read more about Br. Brian.
Holy Week at OLG
Frater Henry Nguyen, SCJ, spent Holy Week with the community at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston. He wrote about his experience on the province blog.
“Thursday morning, I saw the students of Our Lady of Guadalupe School participate in the Washing of the Feet, where students washed each other’s feet to illustrate what Jesus had done for His disciples,” wrote Fra. Henry. “I saw genuine humbleness from each student as he or she remembered Jesus’ Last Supper.
“What I remembered was that in order to love a little, I must learn to give generously. At night during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the presider and concelebrants all partook in the washing of the feet. What was unique was that the entire congregation was invited to have their feet cleaned by the SCJ priests. In turn, several parishioners then washed the feet of the SCJ priests. This experience spoke out to me as Dehon’s faith experience in the openness of love.”
Click here to read the full reflection on the province blog.
Click here to go to the OLG Facebook page to view photos from Holy Week and Easter.
Former Congolese provincial dies
Fr. Zénon Sendeke, SCJ, died April 28; he suffered a severe stroke several days earlier. The first Congolese Dehonian to serve as provincial superior of the Congolese Province, he was 64. Many in both Canada and the United States knew Fr. Zénon. In the US Province, he traveled with members of the Province Development Office, sharing with benefactors stories of the SCJs’ ministry in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Fr. Zénon practically grew up with the Priests of the Sacred Heart. When he was seven, his family moved to Kinshasa (then known as “Leopoldville”), the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. There, his family attended St. Clement parish, which was staffed by the SCJs.
Always active in the parish, Fr. Zénon said that even as a young boy he thought about a vocation to the priesthood. “Then I did not know the difference between a religious priest and a diocesan, I just wanted to be a priest,” he said.
“But slowly I discovered the spirituality of the Priests of the Sacred Heart,” he continued. In particular, it was the example of one of the SCJ priests at his parish, Fr. Franciszek Sleczka, that motivated him. “I was struck by his attention to youth, the sick and the poor. He lived what Fr. Dehon asked of his priests: to get out of the sacristies and go to the people. The area of the city where St. Clement is located was in very bad shape, but the challenges did not stop him. I saw how much he loved people and how good he was.
“I thought, ‘Why not be like him? Why not become a Priest of the Sacred Heart and live this spirituality?’”
Click here to read more from an interview with Fr. Zénon which was done in 2012.
Rita Presto, the mother of Br. Frank Presto, SCJ, died April 28. She was 91. Arrangements are in Pittsburgh. A viewing and wake service will be at Slater’s Funeral Home on Tuesday, April 30, from 2-4 pm, and again from 6-8 pm. Interment is scheduled for Wednesday morning in the chapel at Jefferson Memorial Park at 11 am.
Keep in prayer
Earlier this month, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter’s 89-year-old father was hospitalized following a fall. He hurt his back and developed life-threatening complications with his heart. Fr. Steve said that his father is now at a nursing home where he will do occupational therapy in hopes that he can regain his strength and return home.
Congratulations to Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, who recently had a book review published in the Review of Biblical Literature, which is published by the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). SBL is the largest, and considered by many to be the most prestigious, professional association for biblical scholarship. The bibliographical information is: Vien V. Nguyen, review of Vaitusi Nofoaiga, A Samoan Reading of Discipleship in Matthew, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2019).
Fr. Vien is as assistant professor of Scripture Studies at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology
Those celebrating birthdays in May include: Fr. Mark Fortner (79) on May 4, Fr. Byron Haaland (70) on May 6, Fr. Bryan Benoit (57) and Fr. Jack Kurps (68) on May 7, Fr. Guy Blair (68) on May 8, Frater Paul Phong Hoang (27) on May 9, Fr. Anthony Kluckman (72) and Fr. Élie Ngoy (52) on May 12, Bishop Joseph Potocnak (86) on May 13, Fr. Thi Pham (44) on May 14, Fr. Jim Casper (80) on May 20, Fr. Bob Tucker (66) on May 21, Br. Andy Gancarczyk (44) on May 24, Fr. Wayne Jenkins (72) on May 25, and Fr. Stephen Huffstetter (60) on May 31.