“Most important was the support of my SCJ brothers”
There were many special moments during the weekend celebration of the SCJs’ 42 years of ministry in Willacy and Hidalgo Counties but for Fr. Richard MacDonald “it was the support of my SCJ brothers, my brothers in community, that meant the most to me. That so many of them came to celebrate with us, it meant more to me than what I could ever express in words.”
Joining Fr. Mac, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Frs. Frank Clancy and Tom Westhoven, members of the pastoral team, were SCJs from around the country including Br. Long Nguyen, Fr. Frank Wittouck, Fr. Jack Kurps, Fr. Tony Russo, Fr. Frank Burshnick, Fr Peter Mastrobuono, Fr. Vien Nguyen, Fr. Joseph Dien, Fr. Ed Kilianski, Fr. Tim Gray, Fr. John Czyzynski, Fr. Mike Burke, Fr. Rob Naglich and Fr. Tom Cassidy.
“That made a huge impact on the people,” said Fr. Mac. “Seeing all of those SCJs in the sanctuary was a visible sign of how important the people of the Valley are to the Priests of the Sacred Heart.”
Last year the provincial administration made the difficult decision to return Our Lady of Guadalupe, Raymondville, and the other parishes of Willacy County, to the Diocese of Brownsville for pastoral care. The people of the parishes were informed of the decision in April, 2010. At first there was anger, “but soon, the people decided to celebrate our time together,” said Fr. Mac. “This weekend truly was a celebration, it was not sad. We gave thanks for our journey together.”
Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville was the main celebrant. During the liturgy he recognized people who represented the parishes and missions that had been served by the SCJs. “It was incredible, so many people came,” said Fr. Mac. When asked to estimate how many people were there he said that “we made 750 dinners and they were all gone!”
Not only were SCJs and parishioners at the celebration, but local civic leaders as well. The City of Raymondville proclaimed a “Priests of the Sacred Heart Appreciation Day” and the county judge made a similar proclamation.
Following the liturgy, the bishop blessed a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe that was erected by the people of Willacy County as a tribute to the SCJs. The text on the shrine’s plaque sums up the spirit of the celebration:
“These bronze statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego were placed here by the people to express their appreciation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart who served in the communities of Harlingen, Brownsville, Raymondville, San Perlita, Larsara, Hargill, Lyford, Sebastian and Santa Monica.
“Known as the SCJs, these priests and brothers formed what was called the Willacy County Catholic Communities and trained hundreds of us lay women and men to be leaders and teachers. They were involved in our lives and encouraged us to work for justice and peace. They taught us to know our own dignity and worth as well as the value of peoples of every race and creed, to welcome all immigrants as God’s children.
“They stayed with us all of these years telling us of the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, ‘the heart of a Father, the heart of a Mother, the heart of a Shepherd.’ Words of the founder of the SCJs, Leo John Dehon.”
The diocese assumes ministry in Willacy County on February 2.
The first of several SCJ retreats to be held in different locations around the county will take place November 14-16 in Pinellas Park, Fl. Organized by Fr. Byron Haaland, the theme of the Florida retreat will be “This is how we understand reparation” based on No. 23 of the Rule of Life.
Those interested in joining the Pinellas Park community for the retreat should contact Br. Ben Humpfer. His e-mail: email@example.com
SCJ named primate of Brazil
On January 12 Pope Benedict XVI named Archbishop Murilo Sebastiao Ramos Krieger, SCJ, of Florianopolis, Brazil, as archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. He succeeds Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, who submitted his resignation, as is Church practice, when he turned 75.
In his new position, Archbishop Ramos Krieger will serve as primate of Brazil.
Archbishop Ramos Krieger was born in 1943 in Brusque, in the Archdiocese of Florianópolis, Brazil. He professed first vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart in 1964 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1969. He did his philosophical and theological studies at the SCJs’ seminaries in Brazil and earned a post-graduate degree in spirituality in Rome.
More information about the archbishop is available under the news section of the province website. Click here to view it.
Fr. Frank Wittouck
Houston, TX 77084
Fr. Richard Johnston
535 Aviator Dr.
Fort Worth, TX 76179
He also spends time at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston, but said that the Fort Worth address is the best one at which to reach him.
February 17-18: Provincial Council meeting
March 29-30: Provincial Council meeting
May 9-11: Provincial Council meeting (budgets)
May 23-24: North American councils meeting (Chicago)
Week of July 11: Province Assembly, Hales Corners, Wis.
November 14-16: SCJ Retreat, Pinellas Park
Fr. Cassidy will be back in Milwaukee briefly before heading to Tuscon for the January 23-27 CMSM retreat and conference. On January 27 he goes to Rome to attend Fr. David Szatkowski’s doctoral defense.