Ministry of presence is vital
Fr. Mark Mastin, in his first full year as a chaplain with the U.S. Army, recently wrote with an update:
“My last communication described my time in the cold with 40 mph winds in the midst of desert training in the United States. I had real life experiences there including dealing with the death of a soldier, ministering to those with life-threatening injuries, taking part in combat exercises, and flying to various FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) to celebrate Mass, hear confessions and offer counseling.
“A few weeks ago I went to a seminar in San Diego on diversity training for Catholic chaplains. The seminar dealt with how we chaplains understand and deal with trauma, stress, loneliness and celibacy, and their affect of the body. We were all given a book titled, Loneliness, by John T. Caccioppo and William Patrick. This book looks at the human need for social connection and how loneliness or poor coping skills begin to affect the biological aspects of who we are. We physically begin to break down without knowing it.
“The speaker was Fr. Gerard J. McGlone, S.J., Ph.D, who is executive director at the Saint John Vianney Treatment Center in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. He gave us practical ways to manage challenges in our lives, and gave us tips to help us see the signs of burn-out and compassion fatigue.
“Something that has been helpful for me is what our Chief of Chaplains reminded me of in our private one-on-one talk. We cannot become discouraged or think that we are not making a difference. What we do is still a ministry of presence. A few kind words of encouragement and hope go a long way with our young soldiers. It is something to remember no matter what ministry one is doing.
“Overall, I am doing well. I am slowly making friends with families and other chaplains. My health has been good. I still manage to keep my PT scores high still outperform most of the younger guys and gals. My commander cannot believe that I am doing this well at my age!
“I do not mention these things to brag, but to let others know that it is never too late to meet a challenge, even later in life, to serve God. As a means of grace for others, we have to remain humble and remain healthy in mind, body and spirit.”
SCJs’ eldest bishop dies
The day after we published last week’s Fridge Notes, we learned that Bishop Evert Baaij died in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Struggling with heart issues in his last days, the bishop was surrounded in his final hours by many of the religious sisters whom he knew at the Nazareth retirement community.
At 90, Bishop Baaij was the eldest bishop in the congregation. A member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart since 1942 (this year he would have celebrated his 70th anniversary of profession!), Bishop Baaij was born in the Netherlands, became a citizen of Canada, was a member of the U.S. Province but called South Africa his home for the past 55 years.
He was ordained a priest on July 20, 1947. After his ordination, he went to France for language studies in preparation for an assignment in French Canada. He arrived in Canada in 1949. There, he had his first experience with hospital chaplaincy, a ministry that remained close to his heart. He taught in Canada and the United States, and in 1957, left for the missions in South Africa. In 1974, Pope Paul VI named him bishop of Aliwal North, South Africa.
Bishop Baaij served as bishop of Aliwal North until 1981 when health concerns prompted him to resign. In recent years he was a chaplain at Nazareth House.
An article about Bishop Baaij, on the occasion of his 90th birthday, was posted on the province website last year. Click here to read it.
Fr. Tom Cassidy wrote a letter to the South African Province, remembering the bishop. Click here to read the letter.
Fr. Jim Schifano: Fr. Jim called to let us know that the number we published for his room is actually for his cell phone. So to clarify, Fr. Jim can be reached at:
Fr. Terry Langley: as we noted last week, Fr. Terry moved to Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. His room number is 402 and his phone number is 414-525-2443. At the Provincialate you can reach him at 414-427-4263.
Fr. Greg Speck: As of February 1 Fr. Greg began his new assignment with the pastoral team in northern Mississippi. He is a member of the SCJ community in Nesbit and his new phone numbers are:
Work fax: 662-342-7733
Former ESL students renew vows in the Philippines
Fraters Jonathan Schneiders and Sergio Matumoto renewed their religious vows on January 22 in Cagayan de Oro, Phillippines. They are doing their seminary studies in the Philippines in preparation for future ministry in the country. Click here to read a story previously posted on them.
“The ceremony was presided over by Fr. Donald and concelebrated by our dear Fr. Bene our district superior,” wrote Fra. Jonathan, who added that the vows were done in Portuguese, the native language of the students, as well as Fr. Bene, who is also from Brazil.
“The chapel was lovingly decorated by seminarians from Vietnam,” he continued, “there were beautiful songs by our 54 trainees who graced the celebration with their thunderous choruses. Grace, one of our lay Filipino SCJs, was part of the celebration and sang a beautiful song especially for the occasion.”
“Sergio and I are very grateful and happy for the calling of God,” wrote Br. Jonathan. “We have been accepted and well-received in this country and this SCJ community. We give special thanks to our provincial superior and council in Brazil who allowed us to be here to live in the spirit of Sint Unum.”
Four ordinations in Congo
On January 22, four SCJs were ordained to the priesthood for the Congolese Province: Frs. Antoine Twal, Gustave Mania, Aegis Safari, and Jean-Pierre Mokonzi. Present for the ordinations was Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, superior general, who was in the midst of a visitation of the province. Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani was the ordaining bishop.
Fr. Tom Fix: As we noted in January, Fr. Tom Fix is being treated for cancer in Indonesia. The American SCJ is a member of the Indonesian Province and has spent most of his religious life there.
He has been in a Jakarta hospital since January 23 where his condition is reported to be “up and down.” Fr. Andreas Madya, the provincial superior, said that lay people and SCJs have been taking turns spending time with Fr. Tom so that there is always someone at the hospital with him.
Fr. Tom continues to receive chemotherapy.
Fr. Rein van Leeuwen: After several weeks of hospitalization and rehabilitation, Fr. Rein van Leeuwen returned home to the SCJ community in Montréal on February 4.
Keep in prayer
Br. Long Nguyen returned from the Philippines earlier than planned due to illness. He is back home at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake.
Fr. Celestino Llamazares Redondo, a member of the Spanish Province, died February 3. He was born in 1949, professed in 1967 and ordained in 1991.
Also, we recently learned that two former SCJs died during 2011: Tony D’Angelo and Nick Waytowich.
A window into fund raising
The NonProfit Times, an online publication for nonprofit management, did an interview with Kory Christianson, the executive director of development for St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota. In the interview, published February 1, Kory talks about how St. Joseph’s not only tries to raise funds for the ministries of the school but also raise awareness and appreciation for Lakota culture.
Click here to read the interview.
A reminder to SCJs: there is a new password for the Members’ section of the province website. If you have not received it or have misplaced it, please contact Mary Gorski at the Provincialate.
Fr. Tom Cassidy is in Milwaukee this week. Tuesday and Wednesday, February 7-8, he has meetings with the Provincial Council.
Upcoming meetings and events:
February 7-8: Provincial Council Meeting
March 5-6: Local Coordinators/Superiors Meeting (Hales Corners)
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
Looking into the next year, keep in mind that the next province election assembly will be the week of June 3, 2013.
And finally, a special birthday note to our province treasurer, Dn. David Nagel, who turns 61 today (February 6).