Weekly News: February 24, 2020

Dust and Ashes

“With ashes today, the priest traces on my forehead the sign of penitence and the sign of death.” Wrote Fr. Leo John Dehon in his Ash Wednesday reflection in The Year with the Sacred Heart.  “What are dust and ashes? They are signs of destruction; the stamp that time, fire, and death print on earthly things. What remains of the most famous monuments of antiquity, the most illustrious capitals of ancient Rome, Athens, Thebes, and Babylon?  Dust and ashes. Where are these lavish buildings, these masterpieces of art known as the wonders of the world? Dust and ashes.  Where are the remains of heroes and sages of the past? Dust and ashes…

“Abraham said, ‘Dare I speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes?’ [Genesis 18:27].  However, he spoke to God with humility and trust.  That must be the fruit of this ceremony.  Every day I have to remember my nothingness and my fragility.  The outward sign will fade on my forehead; the thought that it expresses must remain engraved in my memory.

“I am but nothingness; however, I will go to God and I will go with humility.  I will go with the awareness of my weakness, but confident anyway, because God is good, because the Son of God took on a heart to love me, and he broke this heart to let flow on my soul the fragrance of his mercy.”

Click here to read Fr. Dehon’s full text in The Year with the Sacred Heart, titled “February 20: Ash Wednesday.”

Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday on February 26.

Fr. Frank Burshnick dies in Florida

Fr. Frank Burshnick

Fr. Frank Burshnick, SCJ, died last week Friday, February 21. He was 82, professed for 53 years and ordained 49. Originally from Forest City, PA, he initially taught for five years at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary before entering parish ministry. In Texas, he served at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Brownsville, OLG in Raymondville, St. Cecilia in San Antonio, and Prince of Peace in Lyford.

During his years in the Rio Grande Valley he often assisted at a refugee center established by the bishop of Brownsville.

In 1984 he moved to Mississippi, where he ministered at the parishes of Sacred Heart in Walls and Christ the King in Southaven. In 2007 Fr. Frank retired and joined the Sacred Heart Community in Pinellas Park, FL, where he died just after getting ready to leave the house to celebrate Mass. He is survived by his sister Margaret and brothers Gerald and Robert.

In 2015, the North American Migration Committee published a book titled the North American Dehonian Story of Immigration. In it, Dehonians and others shared their personal stories of immigration. Fr. Frank’s story, beginning with his background as a child of Slovenian immigrants, is reprinted on the US Province website following his obituary. Click here to access it.

 Services for Fr. Frank will be on Tuesday, February 25, in Pinellas Park, and on Friday, February 28 at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. On Friday, reception of the body and a wake service will begin at 9:30 a.m. at SHML. The Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. with interment following.

Welcome back!

Today, Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, is back in the office for the first time since his surgery on January 29. He will be in the office on a part-time basis as he continues his healing.

March birthdays

Those celebrating birthdays in March include Fr. Joe Dean and Fr. Ziggy Morawiec on March 3, Fr. Jim Brackin on March 4, Fr. Joseph Mukuna on March 5, Fr. Terry Langley on March 12, Fr. Pat Lloyd on March 17, Fr. Richard MacDonald on March 18, Fr. Charles Brown on March 19, Fr. Frank Wittouck and Fr. Wojciech Adamczyk on March 23, and Fr. Jim Schroeder on March 30. Happy birthday!!

SHSST represented at Rome meeting

Representatives of the major Dehonian theological institutions meeting in Rome

From February 20-22, the superior general, Fr. Carlos Luis Suárez Codorniú, SCJ, invited the directors and academic deans of the major Dehonian theological institutions for a meeting in Rome. Representing Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology were Fr. Raúl Gómez-Ruiz, SDS (president-rector) and Dr. Patrick Russell (chief academic officer; vice president for Intellectual Formation, academic dean). Also taking part were Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, SCJ (vicar general), Fr. Artur Sanecki, SCJ (general councilor) and members of the Centro Studi Dehoniani (Dehon Study Center in Rome).

“It was an opportunity for the General Government to express its conviction that academic teaching and research, the formation of the clergy, are clear expressions of the Dehonian charism and find an inspiring reference in the life of the founder, Fr. Léon Dehon,” wrote Fr. Stefan Tertünte, SCJ, director of the Dehon Study Center. “This was not about presenting a prepared program, but about identifying first possibilities of collaboration to strengthen, at the academic level, the Dehonian configuration of the institutions. The succession of sincere and constructive dialogues during these two days highlighted the hope and conviction of moving forward together. Consequently, it was decided to take a short book of Fr. Dehon and to investigate it from a multidisciplinary and international perspective. This also translates the conviction of all the participants that the path is built by walking.”

Finding comfort in furry friends

In 2017 St. Joseph’s Indian School launched “Houseparents and Pets” (HAPI). Starting with three dogs, the program has expanded to 10 in select homes and classrooms.

Research has shown that dogs support psychological growth, as well as increased social skills and self-esteem in children and adolescents. They provide emotional support, positively impact reading progress, may decrease anxiety and increase overall academic achievement.

“We’ve seen students who have a hard time speaking to adults or other children open up to a dog,” said Maija, the HAPI Homes program coordinator. “Over time, that communication the student has with the dog spills over to others in the home and the classroom. Before you know it, that quiet kid you worried would never open up, is a leader in his or her home and classroom, and it started with a dog.”

Click here to read more about the program on the school blog site.

Stories of conversion

Fr. PJ McGuire

During the season of Lent in 2018, the Dehon Study Center  made available a presentation on “Conversion” that Fr. P.J. McGuire, SCJ (original director of the center), gave to the Formation House community in April 2001.  In it he highlighted the experience of some of his “conversion heroes” — St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and his own mother, who was a convert to Catholicism.

“From Sts. Paul and Augustine, he learned that the ‘conversion moment’ must always be preceded by a long process of discernment or followed by a lengthy time of integration,” wrote David Schimmel, current Dehon Study Center director.  “From St. Ignatius, he learned that a personal experience of God is the destiny of every human being.  Reconsidering his original assertion that he never had a conversion experience, he recounts ‘a defining moment’ in his life at age 13.  His story includes ‘a young Frank Wittouck and a thin Tony Russo.’

“He concludes his presentation by noting, ‘All genuine conversion is a response to the personal demand that we be true to the identity we are called to be as this ideal image of one’s self is disclosed to us in the depths of our conscience.’

Click here to download the presentation

Closing shot

Below, Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ, celebrates a baptism yesterday at Christ the King parish in Southaven, MS.