Impact of the coronavirus
As with all aspects of daily life, not only in the US Province but in the world, many adjustments are being made in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The General Finance Commission was originally scheduled to have its spring meeting in Vietnam, but when travel restrictions were implemented it was moved to Hales Corners. The meeting, scheduled for March 26-27, has now been cancelled by Fr. Luca Zottoli, SCJ, general treasurer.
Classes in Dehonian schools in the province have been suspended. This includes Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston, Sacred Heart in Southaven and Holy Name in Holly Springs, MS, and St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota. As a residential program, St. Joseph’s is in a unique situation. Students are currently home on spring break. Based upon the South Dakota Department of Education’s recommendation, St. Joseph’s will extend spring break for its students until Monday, March 23. All school administrators note the fluidity of the situation, which is constantly being reevaluated.
Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology suspended classes on campus for the upcoming week. Professors will email assignments to their students until they can arrange to do courses online. Staff are encouraged to work from home. It is hoped that with these adjustments, the semester can be completed on May 1 as planned. The graduation ceremony has been cancelled; the building is closed to public access. The seminary has a page on its website devoted to the coronavirus (COVID-19); click here to access it.
At Sacred Heart Southern Missions, anyone who can work at home is being encouraged to do so. The office will be open longer in the evenings so that staff working at home can come to print things and get other on-site work done.
For those departments that need to be on-site only half will work at a time so that there are fewer people in the office. The office will be open on Saturdays so that staff in those departments can work three days a week.
Staff who are sick or at risk will continue to get full pay even if they have used all of their B/P or vacation days. Part-time staff will still get their usual paycheck.
Most parishes at which SCJs minister are continuing to offer Mass with some adjustments. The cup is no longer shared, and people are asked to refrain from making contact, especially during the Sign of Peace. In several dioceses, bishops have given dispensation from Mass attendance during the next several weeks.
“It is a challenge to find a way to be present to each other without actually being present,” said one Dehonian.
Sacred Heart Southern Missions is encouraging presence through prayer. From 11:45 – 11:50 a.m. (Central Time), from March 16 through April 4, SHSM staff and benefactors have been invited by Fr. Jack Kurps, SCJ, executive director of SHSM, “to join in prayer wherever they are.” Click here to access a PDF of suggested prayers.
Several upcoming meetings and events in the province have been either postponed or adjusted. The provincial visitation in Houston that was to take place this week was postponed.
Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, has asked SCJs not to travel outside of the state in which they live for the next 30 days.
The jubilee celebration and provincial assembly, as well as other events after mid-April, are still planned as scheduled. However, plans will continually be reviewed and adjusted as needed.
Together in prayer
Click here to download a list of prayers in regards to the coronavirus.
God speaks to us in ordinary moments
“It is in the ordinary moments of life that God speaks to each one of us and it was in this scenario that I felt my call to religious life and to priesthood,” said Fr. Antonio Maria Resende Pereira, SCJ, in last Friday’s issue of Dehonian Spirituality. “Growing up in a Catholic family, rooted in Gospel values, and listening to the songs of Fr. José Fernandes de Oliveira, SCJ [Padre Zezinho: Dehonian priest, composer, and singer in Brazil], I felt the call of God growing in me.
“When I entered into vocation discernment, being a missionary in the Congregation beckoned me. On the way to becoming a priest, I was working in parishes, with drug addicts, young people, with meetings with the Dehonian Family in Latin America, with retreats, and even with all of that, I never imagined living in another country.
“Shortly before my ordination to the priesthood, I received an invitation from the Provincial Superior of Brazil to become a member of the international Dehonian community in Toronto. Although filled with fear, in my heart the joy of this call exploded, and even without knowing the language, I ventured on this journey. What gave me and still gives me security is the call that God made of me and the certainty that with my Dehonian brothers, I belong to the same Dehonian family which supports me here and wherever I go.”
Click here to read Fr. Antonio’s full reflection, as well as the rest of the March 13th issue.
Adoration in Mississippi
Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ, writes that “Last night, March 15, Fr. Thi [Pham, SCJ] and I held a special Holy Hour of Adoration at Queen of Peace church in Olive Branch. The occasion was related to prayers for the healing of those infected by the coronavirus.
“In light of Founder’s Day, just the day before, as I preached I held a newspaper in one hand and a bible in the other hand just as Fr. Dehon did. I talked about the importance of keeping informed of current events, but not allow those events, regardless of how critical they are, to outweigh our usage of the bible, our prayer life and our relationship with Jesus Christ.” Fr. Thi is pictured at the top of the page; Fr. Greg is at left with the newspaper in one hand, a bible in the other.
Fr. Giosuè Torquati, a member of the North Italian Province, died on March 14. He was born in 1938, professed in 1958 and ordained in 1968.
Fr. Luigi Guccini, a member of the North Italian Province, died on March 15. He was born in 1937, professed in 1955 and ordained in 1965.
Fr. Peter William Maria Adam, a member of the Dutch – Flemish Confederation, died on March 12. He was born in 1929, professed in 1949 and ordained in 1956.
Remembering the founder
“Fr. Leo Dehon, whom we remember in a special way this week, would often refer to his life and ministry as ‘one never-ending Mass,’” said Fr. Jim Walters, SCJ, the main celebrant at last week’s Founder’s Day Mass at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. March 14 is the 177th anniversary of Fr. Leo John Dehon’s birth.
”He understood the Mass he celebrated each day as that moment which united him with the suffering, despair, and hopelessness of those he was called to serve,” continued Fr. Jim. “As he drank from the chalice and shared in the blood of Christ, he believed he was called to embrace the suffering of Christ as he encountered those ignored by society, treated unjustly, misunderstood and unloved. It was only united to the Paschal Mystery that he could find the strength and compassion to accompany them in their darkest moments and offer them the hope of God’s love.”
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