Building Sacred Bridges
“Sacred Bridges” was the theme of the October 13-14 Mission Education conference hosted by St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, SD.
“We are surrounded by Sacred Bridges but we have to look for them so that we can see them,” said Clare Willrodt, introducing the theme. Clare is director of public relations and outreach at St. Joseph’s.
A “sacred bridge” is a link between cultures, between people, between religions. Located near a bridge across the Missouri River that literally links western and eastern South Dakota, St. Joseph’s itself is a sacred bridge that links Lakota culture and spirituality with many other cultures found in North America and beyond.
Mission Education opened with a Sunday liturgy that was immersed in Lakota spirituality. Participants smudged themselves with sage smoke as they walked into Our Lady of the Sioux chapel. A drum group played as student dancers dressed in traditional outfits made their way to the altar. Symbols of the Lakota people surrounded the fully packed chapel. Symbols were found on the walls, the windows and the altar. The building itself is a sacred bridge between cultures.
Throughout the two days, participants learned about the Dehonians’ ministries in South Dakota as well as Native American history and traditions. The conference ended with conversations in Talking Circles where a “talking stick” was passed between people, allowing participants to share their impressions of the two days in an ancient, Native American style.
“Being here, I realized how we are all a part of the same mission,” said a member of Sacred Heart Southern Missions’ staff. “We are in different places, we are doing different tasks, but in the end, our mission is the same: to continue the mission that Fr. Dehon started.”
“This was like a family reunion,” said another. “I got to meet cousins who I never knew before.”
In his closing comments, Mike Tyrell, president of St. Joseph’s, reminded participants to continue to be “bridge builders,” to continue the Dehonian mission of building sacred bridges between people and cultures.
Click here to read more about the conference on the province website.
Renewing the commitment to follow Jesus
Earlier this month (Canadian Thanksgiving weekend) Fr. Albertus Joni, SCJ, was invited to speak at a retreat for Indonesian young people in Vancouver, Canada.
“About 70 students took part in this retreat,” he wrote on the province blog. “I am very thankful for the many blessings poured out by the Heart of Jesus to these fine young men and women. Some of them gave testimony on how God led them to understand the meaning of suffering in their lives. One shared the grace of healing from seizures due to traumatic experiences in the past. There were stories of people hearing God speak personally in their hearts, helping them to turn away from superficial lives that were without meaning.”
Click here to read more.
Change in general administration
Last week Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniú, SCJ, general superior, announced the resignation of Fr. Alexander Sapta, SCJ, from the General Council.
“Though he served just one year on the Council, he actively visited and supported our Asian entities and brought their important perspectives to our decisions,” said Fr. Carlos. “On behalf of the whole Congregation and the General Administration, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to him for his service. We know that he will continue to serve the Congregation and the people of God.”
Fr. Vincentius Sri Herimanto, SCJ, of the the Indonesian Province, has been named to fill the fifth position on the General Council. He is 53 years old, was professed in 1987 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1994. Until his appointment to the General Council, Fr. Vincent was rector of the SCJ Scholasticate in Yogyakarta. He has also served in the Philippines and in Vietnam; Fr. Vincent was a member of each entity’s council.
Fr. Stanisław Stańczyk, SCJ, a member of the Polish Province, died October 19. He was born in 1937, professed in 1954 and ordained in 1962.
Jack Cominoli, an alumnus of the SCJs’ seminary in Bellfontaine, MA, died October 14 of Leukemia. Fr. Guy Blair, SCJ, concelebrated the Funeral Mass at Our Lady of Peace Church in Turners Falls, MA. Jack is survived by his wife of 42 years, Barbara, and his daughter, Maggie, and son, Jay, as well as grandchildren, siblings and mother. After leaving the Chicago House of Studies, Jack began a career with the US Navy. Click here to read his obituary.
Keep in prayer
Mary Psaris, the only sister of Fr. Mark Fortner, SCJ, is suffering from an aggressive cancer. Please keep her and her family in prayer.
The husband of SHSST Information Systems Coordinator Mary Grieger has been hospitalized for the past month. Mike was diagnosed with peritonitis during a trip to Mexico several weeks ago. He was brought back to Milwaukee by air ambulance. He has a number of other health concerns that have complicated his treatment. Yesterday, he took a turn for the worse and is in cardiac ICU. Please keep him and Mary in prayer.
Called to mission
“The first time I said YES to God’s call was in 1985, and I joined the minor seminary in my hometown — Palembang, Indonesia – when I was 14 years old,” wrote Fr. Christianus Hendrik, SCJ, in a reflection for World Mission Sunday (Oct. 20) in the e-publication Dehonian Spirituality. “Twenty-five years later, when I came to South Dakota on mission, I heard from people in Reliance (one of the six parishes we serve) that in that same year, 1985, they argued and had a big dispute about whether or not they would agree to build a new church. They were not sure if there would be a priest willing to continue the ministry for their church. The church was built. Now, the fact that I’m ministering to them, including the other five parishes, is it a coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidences; rather I believe that God has plans for his people…
“Ministering to people around the reservations in South Dakota always challenges me to take a leap of faith in God’s plan of salvation. It is proved through my experiences that every time I say ‘Ecce Venio – Here I am Lord, I come to do your will,’ then something great happens to my life. The openness of heart leads me to a bigger love, readiness, and sacrifice to God’s calling, and it always brings me joy and happiness as a missionary wherever God wants me to go.”
Click here to read Fr. Hendrik’s full reflection in last Friday’s Dehonian Spirituality.
When the four Malagasy SCJ students returned to their region after summer studies in the ECS program (English and Culture Studies at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, formerly ESL) they took with them a donation of books, including an English lectionary and prayer books.
“Thank you very much,” wrote Fr. Paulus Sugino, SCJ, superior of the SCJs’ scholasticate in Madagascar. A former General Councilor, Fr. Sugino has been in Madagascar since February assisting with the formation program.
“With these books we hope to stimulate the appetite of our scholastics to love and learn English,” he continued. “Starting next week, Thursdays will be our ‘English day.’ These books gifted from the US Province will be very useful. God bless you and the US Province.”
Catholic – Jewish Book Dialogue
Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology’s Lux Center for Catholic – Jewish Studies is hosting a Catholic – Jewish Book Dialogue about the book On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family and the Church in the 21st Century (a dialogue with Pope Francis and Rabbi Abraham Skorka). The dialogue is billed as “An Antidote to Misunderstanding and Bias.”
The discussion will take place on November 3 at 2:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 812 N. Jackson St., Milwaukee. Discussion leaders will be Rabbi Steve Adams and Fr. Stephen Lampe.
The program is made possible in part through a grant by the Priests of the Sacred Heart. The next book dialogue will be April 26 at Congregation Sinai (8323 N. Port Washington Road, Milwaukee). Discussion leaders will be Rabbi David Cohen, Bishop Richard Sklba and Dr. Patrick Russell.
Also, on November 17 at 3:00 p.m., SHSST will host “Reflections on the Holocaust: Franklin Roosevelt, Immigration and the Jews.” Nearly 75 years after World War II, a contentious debate lingers over whether FDR turned his back on the Jews of Hitler’s Europe or saved millions of potential victims by defeating Nazi Germany. The presentation will be given by Dr. Tim Crain, former director of the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education and Assistant Professor of History at Seton Hill University. Again, admission is free, but participants are asked to RSVP by November 13 at shsst.edu/2019HolocaustSeminar
A promise made
“I met this group of kids at the Gunadhala Matha Shrine,” wrote Fr. Tom Cassidy, SCJ, from India. The shrine is just outside of Vijawada, about an hour from the SCJs’ theologate. “It didn’t take long for them to figure out that I am a priest and they asked for a blessing (very popular in India to do so). After the blessing, I asked if we could take a picture so I could show off the shaved head of a boy named Hersha. As common as asking for a blessing at shrines, you’ll find people with shaved heads. It means they have made a promise and are looking for favor with God. At some popular shrines, such as Our Lady of Health (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Vailankanni), there are rows of barbershops ready to shorn the heads of those making such a promise/vow.”