Weekly News: December 19, 2011

Fr. Jerry Clifford, 1933 - 2011

Former SCJ professor dies

After battling lung cancer for several months, Fr. Jerry Clifford died early this morning (December 19) in St. Louis, MO. He was 78 and had just gone into hospice care during the weekend.

Originally from Hartford, Conn., Fr. Jerry professed first vows with the community in 1955 and was ordained in 1961. Among the degrees he earned was a doctorate in theology. He studied at Catholic University of America, Sacred Heart School of Theology and Marquette University as well as in Toronto. Much of his priesthood was in academics, teaching both undergraduate and graduate level courses. “He was a brilliant teacher, one of the best I ever had,” said one SCJ.

Outside of academics, Fr. Jerry was very active in social justice issues and served on the province Justice and Peace Commission. He was also involved in Sacred Heart Communities in Collaboration, an organization of religious communities of men and women dedicated to the Sacred Heart who share a common spirituality of the Heart.

Fr. Jerry retired in 2005. Based in the St. Louis area he was involved in spiritual direction and retreat work. He also served as a chaplain at two state institutions for the mentally ill and at the Alexian Brothers nursing home, and did weekend ministry in and near St. Louis.

Funeral plans are pending, but it is anticipated that there will be memorials in both St. Louis and Hales Corners.

Also remember…

Fr. Angelo Veneziani, a member of the South Italian Province, died December 13. He was born in 1923, professed in 1942 and ordained in 1962.

Robert Provencher, a graduate of Divine Heart Seminary, died December 12. A classmate of Fr. Charles Bisgrove, he was also 58 when he died in Warren (Detroit), Mich.

Keep in prayer

Victor Presto, the father of Br. Frank Presto, has been hospitalized with fluid in and around his lungs that has made breathing difficult. Br. Frank will be going to Pittsburgh to be with his family later this week.

People flee to the roof of a home to avoid flood waters this weekend in the Phiippines.

Massive flood in the Philippines

“At least 650 people have died and more than 800 are missing after the tropical storm ‘Washi’ or ‘Sendong’ (local name) swept across the southern Philippines,” wrote Fr. Francis Pupkowski of the Philippine District. “A heavy rain that lasted over 10 hours, beginning on the afternoon of Friday, December 16, caused a massive flood that affected many places on the island of Mindanao.

“The two most affected cities are Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. Thousands of houses were literary swept away by the water or were very heavily damaged. Several barangays [Philippine term for a village] in Cagayan de Oro were completely under water. Many of the dead were swept out to sea. Others were buried alive as mud cascaded down mountain slopes. Water levels rose three feet in less than an hour, forcing thousands to climb on to the roofs of their homes where they huddled against wind speeds reaching 55 miles per hour.

Unfortunately, in many cases only concrete houses could face the damaging force of the nature. The highest death toll is among the children, disabled and elderly people. According to the news, up to 100,000 people might be displaced. Many of the victims lost everything they had. In Cagayan de Oro City there are 20 evacuation centers full of people waiting for help. At the moment, the most urgent need is potable water, food and cleaning materials.

The SCJ Formation House in Aluba , located in the upper part of Cagayan de Oro City, was not affected directly by the flood, except for lack of electricity and internet connection. However, the compound of the Kasanag Daughters Foundation, the SCJs’ shelter for abused women and girls, was once again under the water. This time the level of the water went even higher, reaching at least 13 feet. Most of the things inside the buildings were damaged and need to be replaced. The flood left tons of mud behind.  Fortunately, all the girls and the staff, together 35 people, were safely transferred to the SCJ Formation House and given shelter in the Pre-College building. They will stay with the SCJ community until the facilities of Kasanag are ready to accommodate them again.

“This has been one of the strongest tropical storms that ever passed through Mindanao.”

We will share updates on the situation on the province website and Facebook site as they are available.

Click here to read a media account of the flooding on a Manila news site.

St. Joseph’s students compete in Lakota tournament

Fr. Stephen Huffstetter shares the following from St. Joseph’s Indian School (it will also appear on his blog): “Six High School Students made up our St. Joseph’s Knowledge Bowl team, and traveled to Rapid City for the Lakota Nation Invitational tournament. The competition was double elimination, and our team won three games before losing our second in overtime. All but one game was decided by three points or less. Those back and forth games  kept me tense and on the edge of my seat the whole time. I wanted so badly to answer some of the questions myself. What young people often lack is the breadth of knowledge and countries, cultures and history that come from reading, travel and a few more years of life experience. In one game, I was pleased that Erin earned our winning points by completing one of my favorite phrases, ‘It’s better to light a candle than curse the DARKNESS.’ Our students represented the school and themselves well.

“Besides two seasoned seniors, we had a junior, two sophomores and a freshman. The newcomers intend to study harder, hungry to return next year.

“The LNI is a combination basketball tournament, knowledge bowl, art show, wrestling tournament, Lakota language competition and much more. It’s like a huge family reunion for so many of the tribal people in the state. I ran into folks from all three of the reservations I’ve worked on, and several former St. Joseph students. The Rapid City Civic Center was filled to capacity with so many people and activities.

Several students entered pieces in the juried art show. In the category of traditional Native Arts, Merrill, one of our 8th graders, took home first place. Merrill painted and decorated a deer skull, which also included a handmade dream catcher. He earned a coveted ceramic plate trophy from Sioux Pottery.”


As we noted last week, Fr. Donatus Kusmartono graduated from Cardinal Stritch University on Saturday with a master’s in Educational Leadership. Yesterday, he returned to Indonesia.

An article about Fr. Donatus, as well as a thank-you message from him to the U.S. Province, is posted on the province website. Click here to view it.


Fr. Leonard Tadyszak is in Room 1156 at the Congregational Home during his recovery from hip surgery.

Holiday schedule

Please keep in mind that the Provincial Offices are closed December 23, 26 and 30, as well as January 2, for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The last Fridge Notes of the year will be posted on TUESDAY December 27. There will be no Fridge Notes the week of January 2. We will return to the regular schedule on January 9.

If you have information that you would like included in the Fridge Notes, please contact Mary Gorski at the Provicincialate Offices.

Provincial’s Time

Fr. Tom Cassidy is in the Milwaukee area through the end of the year.

Upcoming meetings and events

December 23 and 26: Provincial Offices closed for Christmas
December 30 and January 2: Provincial Offices closed for New Year’s
February 7-8: Provincial Council Meeting
March 27-28: Provincial Council Meeting
April 15: Easter Concert at Sacred Heart Monastery/School of Theology
May 15: Mass for the Anointing of the Sick, SHM/SHST
May 30-31: Provincial Council Meeting (budgets)
June 15: Feast of the Sacred Heart
June 28: Provincial Council Meeting (conference call re: formation)
July 9-12: Province Assembly, Hales Corners
July 16-21: General Conference, Neustadt, Germany
July 23-25: SCJ Major Superiors Meeting, Neustadt, Germany