Weekly News: March 7, 2016

Fr. Ray meeting Pope John Paul II during an anniversary trip to Rome
Fr. Ray meeting Pope John Paul II during an anniversary trip to Rome

The province says farewell to another

On a snowy day in Wisconsin last week, SCJs said good-bye to Fr. PJ McGuire. He died on February 22; his funeral was on March 1.

This week, we say farewell to Fr. Ray Vega, who died yesterday, March 6, in Pinellas Park, FL. He was 91.

Originally from East Chicago, Ind., Fr. Ray pursued his religious vocation after serving in the US Navy. He was active during both World War II and the Korean Conflict as a hospital corpsman.

Fr. Ray Vega
Fr. Ray Vega

Professed in 1957, he was a brother with the Priests of the Sacred Heart for many years before following the call to ordained ministry. He worked as a registered nurse, serving migrant workers in Indiana, and later in the missions in Indonesia. He also taught Spanish at Divine Heart Seminary.

It was while he was in Indonesia that he began to think about the priesthood. He attended the SCJ scholasticate in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, from 1970-72, and then completed his seminary training at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology before his ordination in 1973.

He returned to Indonesia for three years after ordination. Back in the US Province in 1976, Fr. Ray served at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston, Texas and at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Brownsville. He was also active in hospital chaplaincy in Tennessee and South Dakota, and served as chaplain at the Holy Family Center in Sioux Falls, SD from 1990-92.

In 1993 Fr. Ray retired and joined the Sacred Heart Community in Pinellas Park. He continued to be a member of the community until his death; in recent weeks he was in home hospice care.

Wake and funeral services will be held on Tuesday, March 8, at the Sacred Heart Residence in Pinellas Park, FL beginning at 5:30 pm. Services in Wisconsin will be at Good Shepherd Chapel at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake in Franklin, WI, on Friday, March 11. Reception of the body will be at 9 am and the Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 am. Interment will follow at Sacred Heart Mausoleum.


Fr. Jack Kurps during the 2015 General Chapter where he served as a member of the liturgy committee.
Fr. Jack Kurps during the 2015 General Chapter where he served as a member of the liturgy committee.

We are agents of God’s mercy

“I doubt that we will ever understand the power of prayer or how the promise of prayer itself touches the lives of others,” wrote Fr. Jack Kurps, executive director of Sacred Heart Southern Missions. “It is another way that God uses us as agents of God’s mercy.”

In the March 4 issue of Dehonian Spirituality Fr. Jack reflected on how we are called to be agents of God’s mercy.

“Sacred Heart Southern Missions does some great work in northern Mississippi. The staff of our schools, social service offices, and housing has the advantage of working closely with those who come seeking assistance. They meet the people, they hear the stories, they see the tears, they witness the anguish and frustration. Whether it is providing food, clothing and shelter for the poor, visiting the sick and homebound, constructing ramps for the handicapped, or educating both children and adults, these staff members have first-hand knowledge of how our help touches the lives of others and makes a profound difference.

“I don’t do any of that.

“Like the rest of us who work in the office in Walls, my role is to help provide the resources [staff, finances, and support services] that are needed so that others can be involved in what the Church calls the Corporal Works of Mercy. My work is more directly involved with our benefactors across the country than with families here in Mississippi who seek assistance. And what do our donors ask for in return for their financial help? Prayer.”

Click here to read the rest of Fr. Jack’s reflection, as well as other items in the recent Dehonian Spirituality. Click here to subscribe to the weekly e-publication.


Fr. Ed installs Fraters Joseph and Vu as lectors
Fr. Ed installs Fraters Joseph and Vu as lectors


Last week members of the Dehon Formation Community in Chicago celebrated Fraters Joseph Vu and James Nguyen receiving the ministry of lector.

The root causes of the current migration crisis

On March 30 the Priests of the Sacred Heart, through the efforts of the Province Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Office, will sponsor a presentation on immigration and migration. It will take place at the Provincial Conference Center in Franklin, WI.

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 would like to attend please contact Mark Peters, province JPR director, at 414-427-4273.


Newly ordained SCJs visit with one of the Indian formation communities
Newly ordained SCJs visit with one of the Indian formation communities

On the blog

Fr. Tom Cassidy and Fr. Stephen Huffstetter both shared their journals on the province blog last week.

“Yesterday three of the four newly ordained priests came to Christu Dehon Nivas to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving with our community,” wrote Fr. Tom. “For the last few weeks they have been traveling around the district celebrating in our various communities a Mass of Thanksgiving. Fr. Kishore has worked at our minor seminary in Gorantla and Fr. Ravi at our minor seminary in Kumbalangi and having them come home is always a big moment for the students. It likewise was an honor and a joy to have the three of them come to our community. They are not strangers to our brothers either as their paths have crossed numerous times during their years of formation.”

Click here to read the rest of Fr. Tom’s post about the newly ordained Indian SCJs.

Fr. Leo (provincial superior of Argentina), Fr. Steve and Fr. Heiner
Fr. Leo (provincial superior of Argentina), Fr. Steve and Fr. Heiner

From Argentina, Fr. Steve wrote that “the SCJ parish of Sagrado Corazon serves a large barrio in Buenos Aires. The church and rectory complex is big, with a school attached, and at one time served as a formation house for the province. The parish takes in a huge area of high-rise low-income housing. They reminded me of projects I saw in Chicago, where concentrating the poor in one area without many support services was a recipe for crime and failure. Because of past theft, and ongoing drug violence, the parish has to be barricaded with locks and iron bars across the gates. When you are committed to working with and among the poor, that can be a sad fact of life…

“We drove to the town of Formosa, and crossed the Paraguay River into the town of Alberdi. The SCJs have recently opened a new mission in this part of Paraguay. The river is about a half mile across, and boats constantly shuttle back and forth for work or shopping for bargains at the colorful marketplace at the landing in Alberdi. After we went through customs, we boarded a wooden boat that held about 50. I expected Humphrey Bogart to take the wheel of what reminded me of the African Queen of movie fame. The river was swollen with three months of heavy rains, including another soaking thunderstorm that knocked out the electricity the previous night. On the crossing we saw buildings close to the bank that were flooded, and sand bags keeping the waters at bay.”

Click here to read the rest of Fr. Steve’s post.

Budget reminders

The Province Treasurer’s Office reminds budget preparers that budgets are due to the Provincial Treasurer’s Office by March 25. However, budgets, along with their narratives, are welcome (encouraged!) as soon as possible. Please respect the timelines. Not only do the budgets need to be reviewed by the Treasurer’s Office, but also by the Province Finance Committee before they are considered by the Provincial Council.

Questions? Contact Kevin Stanke, John Kuxhause or Dn. David Nagel.

Provincial’s Time

Fr. Ed Kilianski was originally to have given a retreat in Pinellas Park, FL, this week but that has been cancelled due to the death of Fr. Ray Vega. March 14-15 Fr. Ed will take part in the Local Superiors Meeting in Hales Corners, and March 16 he and the Provincial Council meet. March 22 he has a visitation with the communities at St. Francis Residence and Dehon House. March 30 through April 7 Fr. Ed will be in Houston.