Migration continues to be priority for SCJs in North America
Twice a year representatives of the administrations of the US Province and Canadian Region meet to discuss common concerns, areas of collaboration, and update each other on the people and ministries of each entity. The autumn meeting took place October 16-17 in Montréal.
A continuing priority for SCJs in North America is migration. The councils affirmed the work of the North American Migration Commission, noting the presentations that the commission facilitated at both the US and Canadian Assemblies. At the US assembly Sr. Norma Pimentel, MJ, executive director of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley spoke of her work with refugees at the Mexican-American border, and Barbara Graham, director of Legal Services for Immigrants for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, presented the many challenges that immigrants face in pursuing legal residence in the United States. A video of Sr. Norma’s talk at the US assembly was shared at the Canadian gathering. Also in Canada, SCJs heard about Canadian immigration and refugee policies from Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice.
Members of the Ottawa community spoke about their past year with a Syrian family sponsored by the community. In the Canadian Region SCJs have made a commitment to sponsor refugees.
“It is important that this work [addressing migration and immigration] isn’t just a task that we give to a committee,” said a councilor. “Migration is a priority issue for Dehonians in North America. It should be a part of our ministry, the focus of our pastoral work. How do we, as entities in North America and in local communities concretely address this issue?”
Seeking ways to have a Dehonian response to migration and immigration concerns will continue to be a priority for SCJs in North America.
Other topics addressed at the North American meeting included vocations, the North American retreats, the Dehonian Family, the international theological seminar in Indonesia, communications, and the 2018 General Conference. The next meeting of the two administrations will be in April 9 in Hales Corners
Fr. Quang Tran, a member of the Vietnamese District, recently joined the St. Joseph’s Community (4th floor) at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. He will serve at St. Martin of Tours parish, where the province ministers to the Vietnamese Catholic community in Milwaukee.
For the past two-and-a-half years Fr. Quang has been in Rome where he earned a License in Spiritual Theology with specialization in formation from the Gregorian Pontifical University of Rome. “During my years in Rome I learned much about religious life,” he said in Il Nostro Frutto, a yearly publication of the Dehonian’s International College. “These experiences, which gave me great happiness, helped me to feel that I was living in an authentic SCJ community, a real Dehonian home… Wherever we are, we remain united in prayer.”
Fr. Quang is 39, was professed in 2005 and ordained in 2011. He is also an alumnus of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology’s ESL program.
Fr. Martin Alphonsus Josef Könings, a member of the Dutch-Flemish Confederation, died October 19. He was born in 1930, professed in 1951 and ordained in 1956. Fr. Martin served in the Congolese Province for over 42 years before retiring to his native Holland in 2013 due to health issues at the age of 83.
Thanks to the generous donations of Mary Ann Steckan and Mary Worley, residents at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake in Franklin, WI, renovations on the chapel at the Christu Dehon Nivas formation community in India were completed this month. Fr. Tom Cassidy was the main celebrant at the Mass in which the dedication plaque was blessed; Fr. Tom was also honored by the community for his service to the district. An Indian benefactor, Godfrey Sebastian Gonsalves, was honored as well for his generosity in completing the project.
SHSM staff learn about DACA
The October 9 in-service for staff of Sacred Heart Southern Missions featured a panel discussion led by Gina John, advocacy coordinator for Latino Memphis. She was joined by three Mid-South students who offered firsthand insight into immigration and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
DACA is a federal program created in 2012 under President Barack Obama to allow people brought to the US illegally as children the temporary right to live, study and work in the country. President Donald Trump ended DACA on September 5, although he allowed DACA holders with eligibility expiring on or before March 5, 2018, 30 days to renew their status, intending to give Congress six months to pass a bill protecting the “Dreamers.”
Panelists spoke of the challenges that Dreamers face. Chantel, a freshman at Christian Brothers University, said that she would not be able to get citizenship because her family came on a travel visa, which they overstayed. For her, there would be a 10-year penalty stay in Mexico before she could even apply for citizenship.
There is a large emotional toll on undocumented immigrants. Latino Memphis’ Gina John said that many parents who are afraid of being deported sign a power-of-attorney form, giving friends, church members, sometimes people they do not even know, custody of their minor children in case of an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raid. All three of the young women gave accounts of family members and friends who were deported.
Gina said that often young people do not know that they have illegal status until they apply for college. “Gina John’s message to our group was to get the facts about DACA,” said Laura Grisham, SHSM communications director. “We should make ourselves aware of the importance of this legislation and how it directly affects people in our community with whom we live, work and worship.”
Fr. Ed Kilianski is filling in as novice master for a few days while Fr. Byron Haaland takes part in the meeting of the congregation’s novice masters in Rome. On Wednesday, Fr. Ed leaves for Buffalo, where he will spend time with family through the end of the month. November 2-6 he will be in Mississippi, where he has meetings with the SHSM board and will assist with Spanish Masses on the weekend. Council meetings are November 7-8 and on November 10 he flies to Rome for the Major Superiors Colloquium. Fr. Ed returns to Milwaukee November 27.
HAPPY 90th! St. Joseph’s Indian School staff and students gather for a photo to commemorate the school’s 90 years of ministry.