Weekly News: March 21, 2016


Holy Week and Easter schedule

The Provincial Offices will be closed starting at 2 pm on Holy Thursday (March 24) through Easter Monday (March 28). Offices reopen on Tuesday, March 29.

There will be no Fridge Notes published Easter Week; the next issue will be on Monday, April 4. Please check the province Facebook page for quick news items in-between issues of the Fridge Notes. You do not need to be a member of Facebook to view the page (though you do need to have a Facebook account to interact with it). Click here to go to the province FB page.

Have a news item or photo that you would like to share on the page? Click here.

April birthdays

Those celebrating birthdays in April include: Candidate James Nguyen (27) on April 6, Fr. Jim Walters (66) on April 17, Fr. Jim Schifano (71) on April 19, Br. Duane Lemke (44) on April 26, Fr. Tom Lind (84) on April 27 and Fr. Paul Casper (86) on April 29.

Helping to deepen hope

Fr. Mark Fortner
Fr. Mark Fortner

“In my experience as a pastoral counselor, people seek counseling because they are either ‘stuck’ in some way or ‘out of control’ in some area of their lives,” wrote Fr. Mark Fortner, in the March 18 issue of Dehonian Spirituality in which he reflected on his years as a pastoral counselor. “Regardless of the presenting problem(s), the issue of doubt will inevitably surface.  Doubt has to do with questions about certainty, belief, and trust, and the lack thereof…

“In the end, counseling the doubtful is about helping another person deepen his or her sense of hope. We only have to recall the words, ‘Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope’ [1 Peter 3:15]. As much in life is uncertain and unclear, ultimately, everyone has to learn how to deal patiently with ambiguity and the reality of mystery.”

Click here to read Fr. Mark’s full reflection in last week’s Dehonian Spirituality. Click here to subscribe to the e-publication, which is mailed most Fridays.

Please remember

+Cornelis B.M. Wijfjes, a member of the Dutch-Flemish Confederation, died on March 16. He was born in 1932, professed in 1954 and ordained in 1961.

+Fr. Gerhardus H. Kolmschot,
 of the Dutch-Flemish Confederation, died March 15. He was born in 1937, professed in 1960 and ordained in 1967.

+Sr. Eileen O’Connor, OSB, a former teacher at St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota, died on January 26. She was 74. Sr. Eileen became interested in St. Joseph’s through her parents, who were long-time benefactors to the school. St Joe’s was her first teaching assignment. She later moved into pastoral ministry and vocations.

Keep in prayer

-Fr. Tom Lind was hospitalized briefly last week for swelling in his hands and feet brought on by cellulitis. He is recovering at home.

-Fr. Joe Dean continues to be treated at St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, SD, for a significant leg infection. An infections disease specialist has ordered MRIs to more fully diagnosis the infection.


Fr. Cassidy and students in India with their "club" shirts
Fr. Cassidy and students in India with their “club” shirts

A new “club” in India

Rabies can be a very serious illness so there is little to make light of in regards to it. However, there are times when even the most challenging of situations can be lightened with a bit of humor. A little over a week ago Fr. Tom Cassidy was bitten by a dog when he was on a walk in India. Better safe than sorry so soon after, he began a series of rabies shots. But he isn’t the only one undergoing treatment.

“Last evening we had a group photo of the members of our new “I’ve Had My Rabies Shots How About You? Club,” wrote Fr. Tom, sending the photo above. If you look closely you can see that everyone in it is wearing a shirt with the club slogan (“I’ve had my rabies shots…”). “All are accounted for in this photo except for our rector, Fr. Louis Mariano Fernandes.

“Almost half the bites took place at one of our seminaries (six out of 13) and if we add the three bitten at home it means only five were from stray dogs. In responding to a recent question about the dog bites I wrote to one of our SCJs that: ‘India is a country where cows roam the streets, yes even in the largest cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. Eluru, a city of 250,000-plus, has pigs roaming the streets as well. There are as far as I know no laws requiring one to leash his dog in public. In fact, dogs as pets probably only exist in middle class Indian homes. Mainly, dogs are around to make noise and guard the house. All religious communities have guard dogs, i.e., dogs they tend to leave out at night as all campuses are gated and walled. As for our SCJ communities, the guard dogs are kenneled or chained during the day.’

“Several of the brothers wore their t-shirts to Vljnananilayam Institute of Philosophy and Religion yesterday and were the hit of the campus.”

Click here to read more from Fr. Tom on the province blog.


During its meeting last week the Provincial Council made the following appointments:

Sacred Heart Monastery: Fr. Ed Zemlik was named as treasurer.

Sacred Heart Community at SHML: Fr. Quang Nguyen was named local superior; Dn. David Nagel will be first councilor, Fr. Jim Schroeder second councilor and Br. Ben Humpfer will be treasurer.

Dehon Formation Community: Fr. Bob Tucker and Fr. David Szatkowski will join the formation team as of July 1. Br. Duane Lemke, local superior, will go on sabbatical after nine years on the formation team.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Houston: Fr. Tim Gray will join the pastoral team at OLG as of July 1.

Mississippi: Fr. Thi Pham will be presented to the bishop of Jackson, MS, as moderator of the pastoral team that ministers to the parishes of Christ the King, Holy Spirit, St. Gregory the Great and Good Shepherd in northern Mississippi.

Toronto workshops about and for refugees and migrants

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes Syrian refugees (Washington Post photo)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes Syrian refugees (Washington Post photo)

To celebrate “Founder’s Day” (March 14) the SCJ community in Toronto sponsored a workshop titled “Welcoming and Accompanying Syrian Refugees Within the Context of the Islamic and Christian Faiths.” It was hosted at St. Thomas More Parish.

“Approximately 35 participants received the wisdom of Samira Kanji, director of a Muslim agency with a focus on education about Islam/Muslim societies and promotion of mutually respectful interfaith relationships, and Ghalia Bdiwe, a Syrian journalist living in Toronto,” said Fr. Peter McKenna. “All participants came away better prepared to dispel the myths of ‘Islamophobia’ in order to prepare themselves to accompany refugees.

“Since Canada is not faced with refugees at our borders pressing for entry, the country has been able to develop a peaceful process for welcoming them. Since September 2015 the federal government has streamlined the immigration process to such an extent that Canada has welcomed over 25,000 Syrian refugees.”

Earlier in the month, Becoming Neighbours, a Toronto-based refugee outreach program, sponsored a workshop titled “Tips for Engaging Newcomers in Conversational English.” Forty-five participants from eight different religious congregations attended the event. “When Syrian refugees first arrive, they attend government-sponsored ESL classes,” said Fr. Peter, who is on the staff of Becoming Neighbours. “Unfortunately, enrollment in each class is quite large so there is little opportunity to practice English on a one-to-one basis. Participants from this workshop will each accompany a newcomer in conversational English.”

Dehon Lecture

On Thursday, March 31, Dr. Helen Alvaré, professor of law at George Mason University School of Law, will present the spring 2016 Dehon Lecture hosted by Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. She will discuss the evolution of the legal understanding of marriage in the United States and the effect that this evolution had on the Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalizing same sex marriage in the United States.

The lecture runs from 10 am – noon at the Provincial Conference Center in Franklin, WI. Feedback will take place at the center in the afternoon.

Last call!

Calculator 2The Province Treasurer’s Office reminds budget preparers that budgets are due this Friday, March 25. And since that is Good Friday, you may want to try to have the budget done a few days earlier.

Questions? Contact Kevin Stanke or Dn. David Nagel.

Recent publications

The March issue of the JPR News You Can Use, published by the Province Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Office, was sent by email to SCJs last week. Click here to read it.

Also, the latest SCJ News is available as a PDF; click here to download it. Print copies are in the mail.


A panel discussion about migration and immigration will take place from 9 am – noon, March 30, at the Provincial Conference Center.

Rachel Ida Buff, associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Louise Cainkar, associate professor of sociology at Marquette University, and Ed Fallone, associate professor at Marquette University Law School will engage in a panel discussion followed by audience questions and reactions. Their topic: the root causes of the flood of undocumented immigrants on the southern border of the United States and of refugees from the Middle East, and how people of faith can respond to fear, counter myths and be advocates of compassion in this Year of Mercy.

If you plan to attend please contact Mark Peters, province JPR director, at 414-427-4273.

Provincial’s Time

March 22-23 Fr. Ed Kilianski has a visitation with the communities at St. Francis Residence and Dehon House. March 28 (Easter Monday) Fr. Ed will join the Sacred Heart Monastery Community for prayer, social and a dinner. The Franciscan Friars in Franklin are also invited to take part. March 30 through April 7 Fr. Ed will be in Houston.

The homilies which Fr. Ed gave at the funerals for Fr. PJ McGuire and Fr. Ray Vega are available as PDFs. Click here for the one for Fr. McGuire and click here for the one for Fr. Vega

Closing shot

Local superiors had their annual meeting with provincial leadership March 15 at the Provincial Conference Center. The superiors represent SCJ communities in Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Illinois, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The meeting was a mix of business (reports from province offices, committees and commissions), brainstorming on congregational and province concerns (such as the province’s response to the general administration’s Six Year Plan), updates on local communities and personnel, and shared prayer and reflection. During a break the group posed for a photo in the conference center gathering space.

Group photo