Weekly News: May 18, 2020

“In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward.”

-Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home)

Laudato Si’ Week

This week, May 16-24, is “Laudato Si’ Week,” which honors the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si'” (On Care for Our Common Home). The theme of the week is “everything is connected.”

“This week launches a year-long journey of transformation, as we grow through the crisis of the current moment by praying, reflecting, and preparing together for a better world to come tomorrow,” write organizers on the Laudato Si’ website. “Laudato Si’ teaches us that ‘everything is connected.’ During this extraordinary moment, Catholics everywhere are uniting to reflect, pray, and prepare for a better future together.”

At noon (local time) Catholics are asked to come together in prayer on May 24. Click here or on the image below to download the suggested prayer.

Click here to access the Laudato Si’ Week website for more ways to commemorate the week.

Summer assignments

During the next week, students in formation will be heading to their summer assignments. For Frater Henry Nguyen, SCJ, it was to be the start of his pastoral year in a Spanish immersion program. However, instead of going to Chile as planned, “I will take a detour to Mississippi to join the St. Michael Community and minister at Sacred Heart Southern Missions as well as our six parishes,” he wrote. Travel limitations in the wake of the pandemic forced Frater Henry to adjust his plans.

“As I sit here in the SCJ dining room at SHSST, I am reflecting on the last few months and what we have gone through and endured due to COVID-19,” he continued. “During this time of uncertainty, my time spent in prayer and discernment brought me closer to God.

“It is with great joy to say that classes have ended, papers and exams have been submitted; the academic year has officially finished. I am now excited to see where this pastoral year of mine will take me as I step away from academia and focus on God’s people firsthand.”

The SCJ formation community at Sacred Heart Monastery concluded the academic year with a week-long retreat. Besides Mississippi, students will also go to South Dakota and Texas for ministry assignments.


Helping families in India

Dehonians in Vempadu, India, have begun distributing bags of vegetables to families to help during the pandemic crisis. Fr. Ravindra wrote that so far, the SCJ community has distributed enough vegetables to feed 520 families for a week. Vempadu is the same area in which the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) established a sewing center. Due to current shipping restrictions, the center cannot distribute its purses for sale. The seamstresses are now working from home, sewing face masks.


Ermin Humpal, an Honorary SCJ, has an updated address:

9339 W. Howard Ave., Apt. 130
Greenfield, WI 53228-1666


Fr. Tim Gray and Fr. Richard Johnston at yesterday’s Mass at OLG

Slowly reopening

Throughout the province people are grappling with how and when to reopen ministries and offices that had been closed to the public due to COVID-19. In Texas, most restrictions were eased at the beginning of May. The staff at Our Lady of Guadalupe began opening Masses to the public soon after.

“This past Sunday was already a busy day for us,” said Br. Andy Gancarczyk, SCJ, local superior in Houston. “Almost 300 people attended Masses this weekend.” The parish plans to continue to livestream the 9:00 a.m. English Mass and 10:30 a.m. Spanish Mass for the rest of the month and then will reassess the need. Graduation and end-of-the-semester Masses will be held later this week.

May 16-17, churches in South Dakota opened their doors for the first time since the shut-down . Masses were held in Reliance, Kennebec and Lower Brule; each had approximately a dozen participants. As with OLG, the livestreaming of Mass continues.

In Mississippi, Bishop Joseph Kopacz is looking at the possibility of opening parishes for Pentecost, and in Wisconsin, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will allow in-person Masses to resume at 25% capacity beginning May 31.

The Provincial Development Office and Provincialate Offices will return to regular hours starting May 26. Click here to share how your community and/or ministry is making adaptations to reopen.

Different times, similar concerns

The May 15 issue of Dehonian Spirituality reflected on Fr. Leo John Dehon’s experiences at the start of World War I when German forces occupied the city of San Quentin for 31 months.

“We have been trapped here as one would be in a city under siege,” wrote Fr. Dehon.

Passages from the founder’s diary sound eerily descriptive of life today in the time of COVID-19.

“There is general panic,” he continued in his journal. “All the field hospitals are filling up. This is an agonizing time for me. Fears for my family, for my homeland, for my Congregation. Resources will be lacking. Benefactors are holding back. The weather is splendid, but everyone’s spirits are troubled and sad. I must have blind faith in divine Providence…

“They are no longer allowing open access even to go to the neighboring towns. We are cut off from all our houses. Divine Providence is having me make a long retreat. I am reading only Sacred Scripture, the lives of saints, and ascetical books. With a large number of people in the house since the start of the war, we have brought back the practice of daily Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. It is a great consolation amid this chaos…

“What light is being shed on the vanity of the things of this world.  I have been separated from the world, without traveling, without newspapers, without correspondence.  It took a stroke of divine Providence like this war to teach me these lessons. No doubt, it has been the same for many other people. God is always good!”

Click here to read the full text in the May 15 issue. David Schimmel, director of Dehonian Associates, is editor.

Please remember

+ Fr. Pietro Fochesato, a member of the North Italian Province, died May 14. He was born in 1934, professed in 1951 and ordained in 1961.

Keep in prayer

Ron Wright, the maintenance person at St. Mary’s parish in Lower Brule, SD, and a friend to many SCJs who have ministered in South Dakota, suffered a heart attack last week. He is said to be in stable condition at this time.

After several days of testing at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, IL, Fr. Bob Tucker, SCJ, is back home at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. Fr. Bob has been living with a significant respiratory impairment; the testing was a part of the process to determine whether he should be placed on a lung transplant list.

Please keep both men in your prayers.


End of the school year in Southaven

Families and staff at Sacred Heart School in Southaven, MS, celebrated the end of the school year and honored students with a parade last week. Click here or on the image below to view a video of the parade. Fr. David Szatkowski, SCJ, Br. Diego Diaz, SCJ and Frater Long Nguyen, SCJ,  are pictured above with a lighthearted demonstration of social distancing guidelines for the parade.

SCJ cited in study guide

An article written by Br. Diego Diaz, SCJ, was cited in a study guide titled “Christus Vivit: The Pathway to Accompaniment” which was prepared by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) in collaboration with the USCCB National Advisory Team on Young Adult Ministry.

The article, titled “Youth Ministry in Light of the Youth Synod” (La pastoral Juvenil a la luz del Sinodo de Jovenes. Instituto Fe y Vida) is a reflection on the topics that the guide addresses. “The most interesting challenges are in the topics of how to return to work with youth and young adults in an experience of formation and mission,” wrote Br. Diego. The commitment to young migrants is addressed in the article.

Br. Diego’s text is written in Spanish; it can be accessed from the listing on page 25 of the guide. Click here to access a PDF of the full 86-page booklet, which is in English.

Happy Memorial Day!

The Provincial Offices will be closed next Monday, May 25, for the Memorial Day holiday. There will be no Fridge Notes next week; the next issue will be published on June 1. Also, happy Victoria Day to our neighbors in Canada!

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