We are a nation (and a congregation) of immigrants
“It has been 25 years since I first set foot on American soil,” wrote Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, in the North American Story of Immigration. “The journey that led me to the United States is incredible. I spent days on a small, fragile fishing boat crossing the South China Sea, lived in refugee camps in the Philippines awaiting approval for asylum in the U.S., and once I made it here, had to adapt to the new culture.
“This country was founded and built by foreign-born immigrants from every corner of the globe. They helped lay the railroads, built cities, and pioneered cutting-edge technologies and companies. I, and other immigrants, want to help build and strengthen our nation just as this older generation of immigrants did. A prosperous, successful, and peaceful future for ourselves and our children.
“And just as the Catholic Church in the U.S. grew through waves of immigration from Europe, I and other immigrants want to take part in the evangelization and revitalization of the U.S. Catholic Church as well. As indicated in surveys compiled by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate [CARA], as of 2013, 33% of all U.S. Catholic adults were Hispanic/Latino. There are an increasing number of foreign-born students in various levels of religious and priestly formation. New immigrants have helped offset the decline in vocations to religious life and priesthood and religious affiliation among the U.S. born population. I am proud to be part of that group!
“I am Asian. I am Vietnamese. I am an immigrant. And I am proud of it!” Fr. Vien is pictured at the top of the page.
National Migration Week
Fr. Vien’s story was reprinted in the January 4th edition of Dehonian Spirituality. The focus of the issue is National Migration Week, commemorated by the Catholic Church in the United States from January 6-12. Click here to access the issue.
Click here to access resources about the week on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website, “Justice for Immigrants.”
Click here to access the “Share the Journey” site, a collaborative effort of the USCCB, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services with information about migrants and immigration.
In December, we shared with you the immigration story of Fr. Willyans Prado Rapozo, SCJ. Originally from the Brazil – Sao Paulo Province, Fr. Will arrived in Canada in October, 2012, and was granted a Religious Workers Visa. He served as associate pastor of St. Thomas More and Our Lady of the Rosary parishes in suburban Toronto. For the past several months he has been in the process of applying for a visa that would allow him to pursue studies for a master’s degree in theology at St. Regis College.
On January 2, Fr. Will received approval for permanent resident status in Canada.
A conference, and a conference
This week there will be two conferences taking place in Hales Corners. This first is “Our Future Together in Community and Ministry, Part II.” It will be a continuation of the 2018 Provincial Conference. It begins at 9:00 a.m. on January 8 at the Provincial Conference Center, and ends with lunch on Thursday, January 10, at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. All SCJs in the US Province 70 and under will take part; Sr. Cathy Bertrand, SSND, will once again serve as facilitator.
For those who are not participating in the Provincial Conference, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology is sponsoring its second annual Preaching Conference, January 7-8. This year’s theme: “Preaching Profound Possibilities in the Lukan Gospels.” The keynote speaker is Fr. John Rausch. Fr. John, a Catholic priest with the Glenmary Home Missioners, coordinates a Ministry of Appalachian Justice Education.
The Preaching Conference begins with evening prayer in the main chapel at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology at 5:15 p.m. today. Following dinner there will be an evening session at 7:00 p.m. titled “The Exegetical Interpretation of the Lucan Parables and How They Might Inform Preaching.” All sessions will take place at SHSST.
The keynote presentation is at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday; Fr. Mark Mastin, SCJ, will speak from 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. on “Preaching the Parables to Military Families.”
All SCJs are welcome to attend tonight’s session; SCJs who are not taking part in the Provincial Conference are also invited to any or all of the Tuesday sessions of the Preaching Conference. If you have not pre-registered, simply check-in at the registration desk and let the staff know that you are an SCJ. Click here for more information about the conference.
New SHSST president-rector
Fr. Raúl Gómez-Ruiz, SDS, has been named the next president-rector of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. He will succeed Fr. Thomas Knoebel as of July 1, 2019. His appointment is for five years.
Fr. Gómez, 65, recently completed a six-year term as vicar general and general secretary of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians) in Rome. Prior to his appointment in Rome, he served for nearly 25 years in a variety of capacities at Sacred Heart. From 1988-2004 he was director of the Hispanic Studies Program, one of the first seminary programs in the country to specifically address the pastoral concerns of the growing Hispanic population of the Catholic Church in the United States.
From 2002-2005 he was SHSST Vice-Rector, and from 2005-2012 he was Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of Intellectual Formation at SHSST.
“I am grateful for the service of Fr. Tom Knoebel to our seminary,” said Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, provincial superior. “Fr. Knoebel came out of retirement to serve as SHSST president-rector during a transitional period. He has a passion for seminary education, just as our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon, did, and was instrumental in implementing several exciting initiatives, including this year’s Pope Francis Symposium.
“In that same spirit, I am very grateful that Fr. Gómez has accepted the position of president-rector. Fr. Gómez has demonstrated that same passion for Sacred Heart, and for seminary education in general. It is significant that he is a member of the Society of the Divine Savior, a religious community which has had a long partnership with our seminary.
“In many ways, I feel that I am welcoming him home.”
Click here to read more.
Keep in prayer
Fr. Jim Casper, SCJ, of the Canadian Region shares the following: “A former member of our community, Fr. John Van Damme, now a member of the diocese of London, is in hospice care in London. He is able to walk with the proper support, can carry a conversation but is very weak. His mailing address is: St. Joseph’s Hospice, 485 Windermere Ave., London, Ontario. He can be reached by phone at 519-438-2102 ext.310.”
Fr. Jim added that Fr. John would very much enjoy hearing from members of the US Province, especially those with whom he studied. Fr. John has bone cancer.
Please keep him in prayer.
Visiting artist at St. Joseph’s Indian School
St. Joseph’s Indian School recently partnered with the South Dakota Arts Council to bring a visiting artist to work with students at the school for a week. “We look for visiting artist opportunities that can demonstrate diversity and collaboration for our students,” said Dave Meyer, an art teacher at St. Joe’s. “Being from Peru, English is not Hector’s first language. This obvious difference immediately started building the bridge for sharing. He was gracious enough to teach our students some Spanish. In return, students shared some Lakota with him.” Click here to read more on the school blog.
Where can I find…
Birthdays of SCJs, students and novices in North America are listed the last Fridge Notes of each month, but can also be found on the province Google Calendar. A link to the calendar is at the bottom the e-blast version of the Fridge Notes and at the bottom of every page on the US Province website.
Anniversaries of death can be found in the North American Necrology in the Members’ section of the website (the link can be found under the banner image). No password is needed.
Photo of Fr. General
If you need to update your community house or office photo of Fr. General, click here to download a picture of Fr. Carlos Luis Suárez Codorniú, SCJ.
Click here to access a variety of photos of Fr. Carlos Luis.
Dn. Juan Carlos Castañeda Rojas, SCJ, will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, February 16, at the Cathedral of St. Nicolas el Magno in Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia. Bishop Fidel Leon Cadavid Marín, bishop of the diocese of Sonsón-Rionegro, will be the ordaining bishop. Invitations will soon be in the mail. Dn. Juancho, originally from Colombia, currently serves at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston.