New beginnings found in Vietnam
Novices Henry Nguyen and Paul (Phong) Hoang are traveling in Vietnam with Fr. Ed Kilanski during the first two weeks of December. Fr. Ed invited the novices to join him so that they could learn more about the SCJ congregation (Dehonians) outside of the United States.
Henry shared his reflection on the first week of their travels:
“We just entered into a new liturgical year as we started Advent last Sunday. At the same time, I had a new beginning as I stepped into a cross-cultural experience, my first trip to Việt Nam. It is a country that I only knew through stories by word of mouth and the limited pictures that my family had. My parents left it over 30 years ago.
“I considered this a cross-cultural experience because I grew up in the United States. At home in California I ate the food and spoke the language of Vietnam, but it was not my culture. Life here is so different from back home.
“Dehon House in Việt Nam has been nothing but a gift, one that resembles many other communities that I have been to in the US Province with hospitality and a sense of welcome. I reunited with students that were a part of the Summer 2017 ESL program at SHSST in Hales Corners, WI.
“The District of Việt Nam held a day of recollection that fell on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. A question that arose out of the recollection for me was “How do I make myself available to the Spirit with what I have and what I can do?” As I discern this availability, it will allow me to truly embrace ‘Ecce Venio.’ This is a call to love, to open my eyes to see, to open my heart to love, so I can open my hands to do.
“The formation communities of Việt Nam are very vibrant and alive. Although filled with a packed schedule between school and ministry, they are in the midst of preparing a Christmas gathering filled with an agenda of songs and dances for this weekend. I am truly moved by the dedication of the students here. I pray for them and their Open Hearts.
“While here, I also had an unforgettable moment when I went to Vũng Tàu, the area that my father grew up in. As I was meet by my cousin, I had no nervousness or insecurities about meeting my dad’s side of the family for the first time. We headed towards the parish of Phước Lâm and picked up my bà nội (paternal grandmother). It was the first time that our eyes have met, and they were filled with tears of joy. Although my bà nội and I didn’t share many words, it was truly the presence which touched my heart, our hearts. Definitely a priceless opportunity.
“This journey has helped me to commit to Openning my Heart to do whatever it is that I am called to do.”
The Provincial Offices will be closed starting at noon on Friday, December 22 through Tuesday, December 26 for Christmas, and January 1-2 for the celebration of the new year. The offices will be open December 27-29 but please note that several staff take vacation days at this time.
The Fridge Notes will publish its last issue of 2017 next Monday, December 18. There will be no Fridge Notes on December 25 or January 1. The first issue of the new year will be sent on January 8. However, news items will continue to be posted on the Province Facebook page (you do not need to be a member of Facebook to view the page) throughout the holiday season.
There will be no publication of Dehonian Spirituality on December 22 but there will be an issue on December 29.
Keep in prayer
Several SCJs are being treated for significant medical concerns at this time. In particular, please continue to keep Br. Ben Humpfer, Fr. Paul Kelly and Fr. Paul Casper in your prayers.
A week ago at SHSST
Dr. Andrea Bartoli, dean of the Seton Hall University School of Diplomacy and International Relations, visited Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology last Monday to speak on “The Science of Forgiveness.”
Invoking the story of Cain and Abel, he said that a key obstacle to peace is that the person on the other side of a conflict becomes an embodiment of the hurt they have caused. Christ’s message, conversely, is that people should not be defined by their sins because we are all capable of redemption at any time.
An internationally known expert on international conflict resolution, Dr. Bartoli has served as the Permanent Representative of the Community of Sant’Egidio to the United Nations and the United States since 1992. He has been involved in many successful diplomatic peacemaking activities in places such as Mozambique, Guatemala, Algeria, Kosovo, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Senegal.
Provincial Conference reminder
All members of the US Province in active ministry are reminded that the Provincial Conference – “Our Future: together in community and ministry” – is scheduled for January 30 through February 1. It will take place at the Provincial Conference Center in Hales Corners. Those from outside of the area are asked to make their own travel and room arrangements; please plan on being present for all three days in full.
Fr. Ed Kilianski will send individual invitations when he returns from Vietnam, the week of December 18.
Share the journey
The United Nations designated December 18 (next Monday) as “International Migrants Day.” It is a moment in which people of all cultures and faith communities are urged to seek ways in which they can respond to the many people who have fled their homes amid the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis throughout the world.
In conjunction with International Migrants Day, the North American Migration Commission asks SCJs to consider following the request of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to “Heed our Holy Father’s call and ask your members of Congress to support migrant families here in the United States and around the world.”
Click here to access a web page with information about how you can contact Congress.
Fr. Ed Kilianski will be in Vietnam through the end of the week. December 19-20 he has meetings with the Provincial Council. His first visitation of the year will start on January 2 with the St. Joseph’s Community (4th Floor) and St. Francis (Woods Road). The next visitation will be January 21-26 at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake, including the Dehon House Community.
Please continue to join us in prayer and reflection during Advent. Posted on the US Province website are daily reflections for Advent written by SCJs in the annual Advent booklet published by the Province Vocation Office. Br. Long Nguyen writes the reflection for today, Dec. 11:
“In a few more days God will break into our world through the Baby Jesus and call believers to come away to Jesus’ side and wonder of this gift of Salvation, if we can. This reflection emphasizes ‘if we can’ because not all are prepared to receive him. Isaiah 35:8 contains ‘the Way to Holiness.’ The entire passage does well in explaining this ‘way,’ a highway for those who are redeemed by God. Being redeemed by God requires obedience to God’s commandment and to the journey. A commentary points out that God will remove all obstacles for God’s chosen people. Thus, they will receive the blessings of the Kingdom. Be patient.
“Our prayer: We ask God to help us come away from the busyness of this world and the trappings of sin so that we can receive these blessings. Thus, as those who are thinking of a vocation to religious life, may God grant us the inspiration to help others find their way through ‘the Way to Holiness.’ Amen.”
Click here to access the rest of the reflections for this week.
On December 8 Fr. Greg Schill celebrated Mass with students at Sacred Heart School in Southaven, MS, for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Two days earlier, Fr. Greg joined Fr. Thi Pham at the school for an Advent Reconciliation and Penance Service. During his homily Fr. Thi used a blindfold exercise to help the students understand theme of the season. Below are photos from the two events.