What a week!
“Interculturality: Together in Christ” was the theme of the June 11-14, 2019, Provincial Assembly. On the surface, it was a reference to the increasing internationality of the SCJ presence in North America. But the theme moved far beyond the idea of SCJs simply living, praying and ministering together as people from different countries.
“Welcome” or “hospitality” was the wider theme that wound its way throughout the week’s activities. It started with the welcome of former SCJs and students who were invited to come together June 10-11 at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology for a reunion. Reunion participants joined SCJs – many of them former classmates – at the Monday evening Jubilee Celebration. They were also present for the first session of the Assembly. Led by former SCJ Tom Tucker, participants from both the Former SCJ Reunion and the Province Assembly reflected on a common theme in their lives: the impact of Fr. Leo John Dehon and his charism.
“The SCJs helped me to see a bigger world, a world with greater needs than I ever realized,” said a former member of the community. “The SCJs helped me to see with my heart, they helped me to see what is really important.”
Seeking to create unity in diversity
Fr. Raúl Gomez Ruiz, SDS, the newly appointed president-rector of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, spoke of his vision of forming students who welcome others, who live the welcoming love of Christ. They are students “who not only have a healthy relationship with Christ but who also are in touch with their humanity in a healthy way, who are capable of understanding and responding to the human condition with compassion, and with the Heart of Christ,” he said.
“I see them as persons who are able to love others because they themselves have been loved,” he continued. “I see them as persons who are able to treat others as they wish to be treated. I see them as persons who are able to create unity in diversity as expressed in the SCJ motto Cor Unum.
Click here to read Fr. Raúl’s full text.
Welcoming each other in community
“It is easy to describe interculturality in 10-15 minutes,” said Fr. Anthony Gittins, CSSp. “But intercultural living, that is a lifetime commitment. And not just one lifetime, but a succession of lifetimes. However, if we don’t attempt intercultural living, there will be no future for international religious communities. If we can’t learn to live together, we will fall apart.”
Fr. Anthony is author of the book Living Mission Interculturally. A social anthropologist, he has taught theology and anthropology for 30 years in London and Chicago and is now emeritus professor of theology and culture at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. He also served for ten years as a missionary in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
For a day-and-a-half, Fr. Anthony spoke to SCJs about intercultural living, “something radically different than living in an international community,” he said. “Intercultural living is not a problem, he emphasized, “but a challenge, an opportunity.” Instead of an “us” and “them” mentality, there is only a “we” for those who take on the challenge of intercultural living.
It begins with hospitality
The assembly concluded Friday morning. In his homily at the Closing Mass, Fr. Andrzej Sudol, SCJ, reminded Dehonians that “Intercultural living begins with hospitality, with a sense of welcome. When we enter someone else’s culture we learn a lot about each other, and a lot about ourselves. Hospitality changes us. As a missionary I was touched and humbled by the hospitality of others. Hospitality is in our charism as SCJs. This US Province has intentionally chosen to be intercultural, multicultural. It has chosen to offer hospitality to others. This assembly has been a banquet of hospitality and I am grateful.”
Br. Duane Lemke, SCJ, was commissioned by the Assembly Planning Committee to create a piece of art for the gathering. It is pictured above. His artist’s statement:
“My commission was to create a piece that represents multiple cultures interacting and creating something new. Artistically, I’ve been drawn toward multimedia. My relationship with the viewer (you) is to use color, media and perhaps symbol to suggest and hint, but deliberatively not to lead you toward particular thoughts or conclusions: you must have room to interpret for yourself.
“I am willing to express the starting point of this piece. I have made use of multiple media elements to suggest difference: wood, glass, stone, metal, paint, paste. Of course, the primary symbol is the Sacred Heart. The circular frame has multiple symbolic possibilities. It is near the Heart of Christ that color becomes more vibrant, the light becomes brighter, and movement more fluid. It is near the Sacred Heart that different media interact and mix.”
Fr. Johnny Klingler Social Action Award
Barbara Graham, Director of Legal Services for Immigrants for Catholic Charities Milwaukee, gave a presentation on human trafficking during the assembly. At Tuesday’s dinner, she was awarded the Johnny Klingler, SCJ, Social Action Award for her work with migrants and refugees. The award was established two years ago to honor a former Provincial Superior and the first Director of Justice and Peace for the US Province.
Graham has a caseload of about 4,000 clients and manages it with only five staff attorneys and two paralegals, many of whom she recruited herself out of Marquette University’s Law School. They defend both legal permanent residents, and those without papers, from deportation. The office represents 700 DACA clients – those who came here as children and know no other country as home. Graham’s team assists with asylum claims, including victims of domestic abuse, and helps reunite separated families. They help new arrivals obtain permanent legal residence and eventual citizenship, help newly-resettled households integrate into the community, and do outreach via social media and YouTube.
CLICK HERE READ MORE about the week’s activities.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTOS from the Assembly week.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW A VIDEO of Fr. John Czyzynski’s presentation at the Former SCJ reunion.
Kevin Stanke writes: “On behalf of my family, Cheryl, my boys and I, I’d like to sincerely thank everyone for their kind words and condolences offered on behalf of the death my mom, Pauline. In this most difficult time, it is nice to know that we are surrounded by people who truly care about others.”
UN World Refugee Day
Thursday, June 20, is United Nations World Refugee Day. The North American Migration Committee writes: “Acutely and painfully aware of what is happening in Venezuela and how our Dehonian brothers are attempting to accompany the people, we offer a ‘Dehonian Prayer of Solidarity with Venezuelans’ which you can use for your personal and/or communal reflections. Also included are resources that offer concrete action steps to create events, engage our faith communities and take action to defend refugee rights.”
Celebrating 460 years of religious life!
Although it might seem like an overused format for an annual story, it is still significant to note the number of years of commitment to religious life – SCJ religious life – that were celebrated by the province at the 2019 Province Jubilee Celebration. With three 70-year jubilarians, two 60-year, three 50-year, one noting 40 years and another 10 years of vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart the province commemorated 460 years of religious life: 460 years of community, prayer and ministry as SCJs, as Dehonians.
The 2019 Jubilee Celebration took place Monday, June 10, at Sacred Heart Monastery / Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. It was the kick-off to the Province Assembly, which runs from June 11-14. The jubilees were also a part of another event: the Former SCJ Reunion, a gathering of former SCJs and seminarians held June 10-11 at SHSST.
This year’s jubilarians represent a wide-range of ministries, including education, vocations, parish ministry, farming, province administration and Hispanic ministry, in areas as diverse as Florida, Mississippi, Texas, South Dakota and Wisconsin, as well as India!
CLICK HERE to read about the jubilarians on the province website.
CLICK HERE to view photos from the Jubilee Celebration.
CLICK HERE to read Fr. John Czyzynski’s homily at the Jubilee Mass.