Over the weekend SCJs at Our Lady of Guadalupe Houston offered drive-thru blessings and outdoor confessions. Fr. Tim Gray, SCJ, is pictured above blessing a vehicle (note his OLG face mask!). Click here to view more photos on the OLG Facebook page.
Recalling another time of fear
“Around this time 45 years ago, the news informed Americans that their involvement in Vietnam was officially coming to a close,” wrote Fr. Quang Nguyen, SCJ. A refugee from Vietnam, he compares the challenges that we face today in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to those his family had to confront at the end of the American involvement in Vietnam.
“For us – the approximately 20 million people of South Vietnam – it was not simply ‘the news.’ It was our lives, lives that were negatively changed forever. Would there be a massacre? How would we be treated by the victors? What would our lives look like in the coming days?
“I could see terrifying fear and fright in the eyes of my parents and neighbors. In short, my parents seemed to have lost all control over their lives and the lives of those entrusted to them. This uncertain future paralyzed the strong will of many. There was a choice that we had to make: move forward in faith, directly confronting whatever challenges or hardships that might come our way, or allow fear to stop us from living. We chose to live.
“Our lives definitely changed. Vietnam is no longer our home. One thing that did not change – even in the most horrific moments – was our faith in God. Perhaps faith was the only motivation that propelled us forward. We trusted that all things would be well, and we surrendered our ‘control’ to God because amidst so many evils, there were good people, events, and circumstances that allowed us to see with the eyes of faith the goodness and mercy of God in our lives. We could experience God’s presence at every turn.
“Today, in the midst of the pandemic, I see the same terrifying fear and anxiety in the eyes of so many people. The unseen virus forces us to contemplate unanswerable questions just as my family did 45 years ago in Vietnam. What will our lives look like in the future? How will it be different? What will the ‘new normal’ look like? How can we avoid being infected by this deadly virus?
“As Christians, and specifically, as members of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, we are called to go forth and bring the good news of God to others. Perhaps this is a perfect moment for each of us to demonstrate that we are people of faith and we are witnesses God’s love and mercy through the way we live our lives.”
Click here to access all of the reflections written by SCJs and co-workers regarding the pandemic.
Students share their experiences
Two of our students, Frater Kodjovi Hubert Liassidji, SCJ, and Postulant Celsus Robert recently wrote about their experiences of completing an academic semester much different than what they anticipated. “After my spring break, everything was turned upside down,” wrote Frater Hubert. “Adjustments were made due the pandemic of COVID-19. In-person classes moved to online learning. It was a learning method that I was not used to and was often hard for me.
“At first, I didn’t have any motivation for online learning. But with the encouragement, the help and the support of my brothers, I have come to understand that I need a positive attitude and a sense of determination to overcome these challenges. I am grateful that the lockdown affects neither my prayer life nor my community life.”
“The transition to online classes went fine for me, although the caseload became heavier with more online posting and discussions,” wrote Celsus. “I was able to utilize Zoom for most of my classes, and with this, I was still able to interact with my fellow classmates. I’ve had more free time to do things which I have been putting on hold. I tended to my little nursery in my room and out in the hallway, I spend more time praying and reading, and most of all I spend more time catching up on calls and emails which I had for too long not returned.
“Overall, this Stay-at-Home order and transition to online education has been a productive time for me. I am able to spend more time with my fellow brothers in community. I spend more time using the indoor fitness center as well as playing indoor soccer with members of the community. Some of us even started cooking more often and inviting others to partake. Therefore, there have been benefits to this time, including a closer bond with God and with others around me.”
We missed a week!
Apologies to Frs. Jim Casper, SCJ, and Bob Tucker, SCJ, whose birthdays we missed in last week’s Fridge Notes. Fr. Jim celebrates his on May 20 and Fr. Bob’s birthday is on May 21. The birthdays of SCJs and students are listed in the online North American Google Calendar which is found at the end of the email version of Fridge Notes as well as on the bottom of each page on the US Province website. Note that we have begun to add the dates of profession and ordination to the calendar; this should be completed next week.
Multicultural liturgy closes semester
At the end of each semester, students in the ECS program (English and Cultural Studies) host a multicultural liturgy at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. Usually, it is a time for the entire seminary community, as well as local Dehonians, to come together in prayer, sharing in each other’s cultures. But due to social distancing, only those who are sheltering in place at Sacred Heart took part on-site. However, many joined them via livestreaming.
“The gift of a new tongue is not just the ability to speak, but it is the ability to communicate with others, leaving our selfishness and going in communion,” said Fr. Jhon Edison Marquez Torres in his homily. He is a student from the Archdiocese of Manizales, Colombia. “To speak another language means letting go of the temptation to make a name for ourselves and instead bring in the other person like an equal, like a human being, like a brother or sister…
“To speak a new language requires humbleness, discipline, constancy, and a lot patience from us, the students, and from the people who embraced us in this house of formation, especially teachers who step by step explain to us the English language in different ways, and the SCJ community who opened their doors and made us feel like a part of them. Thank you all of you guys, fathers, deacons, seminarians, employees. It was a challenge for all of us, but at the same time it’s a victory too, because it helps us to learn English as a service to the Universal Church, and it is a great apostleship. Thank you because all of you help us to speak the language of love.”
View a video of the Mass on the Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology Facebook page.
Due to the pandemic, the seven-week ECS Summer Session 1 cannot be held on campus this year. The seminary hopes to offer Summer Session 2 which is scheduled to run from August 31 to October 13. But as with all plans these days, they are tentative.
+ Fr. Cornelius Adrianus Maria van Gorp, a member of the Dutch – Flemish Confederation, died on April 30. He was born in 1939, professed in 1960 and ordained in 1967.
+ Fr. Antonius Gerardus Santegoeds, also a member of the Dutch – Flemish Confederation, died on April 30. He was born in 1929, professed in 1952 and ordained in 1957. He became a member of the French-Canadian Province when it was erected in 1962 and remained in Canada until 1985. He was a teacher at the Séminaire du Sacré-Cœur, served as superior of the Montreal community and as pastor of the parish in Pointe-au-Chêne. Click here to read more about him on the Canadian blog (English text appears after the French).
Social media graphics
We have begun to collect a variety of graphics with quotes from Fr. Leo John Dehon, prayers and other Dehonian material. They can be found under the “Resources” tab in the Members section of the US Province website. Click here to access it directly. You are welcome to download the images for personal use. To do so, click on the desired image and it will open in a new window. In the new window, right-click on the graphic (Windows) or two-finger click (Mac) and choose “Save image as” to indicate where the image will be downloaded on your computer. Check in the weeks ahead for more images. Click here to suggest a quote or prayer for a graphic.
31 SHSST grads
After moving online for the final weeks of the semester, 31 students were able to complete their studies and earn their degrees from Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. The graduates include 12 MA / Cor Unum students, five MA / Lumen Cordus students, four MA / MDIV students, and 10 MDIV students. The traditional graduation ceremony was to have taken place last Friday but as with many events these days, COVID-19 got in the way of Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, handing out the degrees in person.
“Our plans, our trajectory through the semester, and we along with them, were all thrown to the ground,” wrote Fr. Raúl Gómez-Ruiz, SDS, SHSST president-rector. “In some ways we are still waiting for God’s emissary to come to us and heal us. But even in our darkness, God is sending that emissary. A sign of this is that we have come to the end of the semester quite well. I am very proud and grateful to faculty, staff, administrators, sponsors, benefactors, volunteers, board of directors, SCJs, students, and seminarians for your steadfastness and commitment that have brought us successfully to the end of the semester. And we are moving forward: we are already actively planning courses and events for the fall semester. Faculty are assigned, events are scheduled, recruitment is advancing for the day when we will be praying, working, and studying together once again. Surely: ‘The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.’”
The Province Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Office published its most recent electronic newsletter on May 2. Click here to access it. Included is a link to a new blog written by Fr. Bob Bossie, SCJ. It is a place “where he can continue to offer his analyses of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the least among us, who we’re quickly learning are often the ‘essential workers’ we depend on to feed and clothe us and serve our basic needs,” writes Mark Peters, JPR director.
The newsletter also offers several at-home actions that people can do to support JPR efforts, as well as links to articles of interest on topics such as immigration, a universal minimum wage, and the global food system.
Novices with the Good Shepherd
Our Novitiate Community is pictured below on Good Shepherd Sunday.