Weekly News: October 31, 2011

Complete with his Texas hat, Fr. Frank Wittouck poses next to the sign of one of the correctional facilities at which he serves.

“I was in prison and you visited me”

Fr. Frank Wittouck writes that “Fr. Chuck Kelly said this to me (“I was in prison and you visited me”) a few years ago in Raymondville when he was headed to the prison to celebrate Mass; he was so sick at the time.”

“I was in prison and you visited me.” These words from the Gospel of Matthew stayed with Fr. Frank.

“I eventually took this ministry over for Fr. Chuck after he left Raymondville for Milwaukee where he spent his last days,” wrote Fr. Frank. “I am eternally grateful to him for challenging me to think about and eventually get involved in prison ministry.  When I was in college I wanted to do prison ministry and wrote papers in sociology concerning this topic.  While teaching at Divine Heart in Donaldson I took the high school seminarians to see the Indiana State Penitentiary and its electric chair (not a pleasant sight). The boys joked that the prison was just like the seminary at Donaldson. I mentioned to them that the big difference was that they would be walking out as a free person, leaving the prisoners behind.

“Now that I am retired and living in Houston I am strongly committed to prison ministry. There are 51 prisons and jails in the archdiocese. I regularly celebrate Mass at eight of them.  The goal in the diocese is to have Mass once a month in each prison. Various diocesan and religious priests help in the other areas. Fr. Ron Cloutier (former SCJ) is in-charge of prison ministry for the archdiocese and does a wonderful job.

“I have found this ministry so totally fulfilling and meaningful. The offenders (inmates) are so appreciative of whatever we do for them. It really energizes my priesthood to see how well they respond to Mass and confession. Their participation and singing puts some of our parishes to shame.

“I encourage anyone who has some time to give to this ministry to get involved.  It is so important and so personally rewarding.  Give me a holler if you want to chat more about it.”

You can give Fr. Frank “a holler” at fwittouck@gmail.com

Please remember

-Patricia Thoma, the sister of Fr. Richard Johnston, died last week of cancer. Both the wake and funeral service will be Thursday, November 3, at St. Kilian Parish, 428 Forest St.,
 Hartford, WI 53027.  The wake is from 5-7 p.m. and a funeral liturgy will be at 7 p.m.

Br. Pierre Auger of the Franco European Province, died October 24. He was born in 1920 and professed in 1979.

Frs. Bisgrove and DiLeo honored

St. Martin of Tours Parish in Franklin, Wis., will hold its annual Remembrance Service at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 9. Those who have died during the past year are remembered in a special way during the evening.

This year the parish is also honoring two SCJ priests who died in 2011: Frs. Charlie Bisgrove and Rick DiLeo. SCJs are invited to join the parish at the remembrance.

Keep in prayer

Christine Poliszczuk, the niece of Fr. Tom Burns, will undergo an operation on Tuesday (November 1) to donate a kidney to her brother Frank Eick.

Fr. Peter Botman, a member of the Canadian Region, was taken to a Toronto hospital on Tuesday evening and placed in the intensive care unit. He had been in a rehabilitation facility following a September 23 operation in which a large part of his lung was removed due to cancer.

Fr. Bill More’s health is rapidly deteriorating.  A member of the Canadian Region who lives in Ottawa, he has been in nursing care for the past several years. In recent weeks Fr. Bill has lost considerable weight and is having cognitive difficulties.

Madeline “Madi” Drayna, the daughter of SHST public relations director Jonathan Drayna and his wife Kathleen, was in a serious car accident on October 7. Last week Madi was moved out of ICU at Milwaukee’s Children’s Hospital. The Draynas maintain a journal about Madi’s progress at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/madidrayna

In the footsteps of Jesus

From November 3-15 Fr. Jack Kurps and Fr. Bob Tucker will join approximately 50 benefactors of Sacred Heart Southern Missions on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The group meets Thursday in Newark, NJ, from which they will fly to Tel Aviv, Israel.

The pilgrimage will be based in Jerusalem and Tiberias. Some of the stops on the tour: the Tomb of Rachel, Bethlehem, the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock and the Gold Gate, Ein Karem (hometown of Elizabeth and Zechariah), Yad Vashem Memorial and Hall of Remembrance (a commemoration for those killed during the Holocaust, as well as a tribute to those who helped to save innocent lives), the Church of St. Anne and the Pool of Bethesda, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, the Church of Peter in Gallicantu, Massada, the baptismal site of Jesus, Jericho, the Mount of Temptation, the Church of the Transfiguration, Nazareth, Sepphoris, Cana (where married couples will be invited to renew their vows), the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, the Church of St. Peter in Jaffa, Caesarea Maritima (where Peter baptized the first Gentile), and the artisan colony Old Jaffa.

Sacred Heart Southern Missions last lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1999.

One suppressed and one established

On October 25 the General Council voted to suppress the Milwaukee SCJ community known as “37th Street” and canonically erect the new community of “St. Joseph’s at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake.” St. Joseph’s is one of two SCJ communities at SHML; the other is the Sacred Heart retirement community. The community moved from the now demolished Villa Maria site.

Doing better

After several weeks in a rehabilitation facility to recover from pneumonia, Bishop Joe Potocnak is expected to be released this week and move in with the SCJ community in Aliwal North, South Africa. He thanks SCJs for their prayers and support.

Songs of the Heart

Fr. Arthur P. Guevara, SCJ

Fr. Arthur P. Guevara, a member of the Philippine District currently studying in Rome, recently released “Songs of the Heart,” a CD of original music. The project is a fund-raiser for the Kasanag Daughters Foundation, a place of healing for girls and young women who have been sexually abused. The SCJs launched the foundation in 1996.

“As an amateur songwriter-singer it was never in my expectation that my songs would be recorded and reproduced,” said Fr. Arthur. “Indeed it is true that God allows our dreams to come true in His way and time. Thus, this album is here. I thank God for all His blessing and especially for the gift of music in my life. Thanks too to the Philippine District of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to the people I have encountered in our parishes who have contributed a lot to my formation and experiences that were written into songs.”

The songs were recorded with members of the Philippine group “Frontline Creations,” and other local artists.

The Provincialate has a limited number of the CD; contact Mary Gorski to receive a copy. If you would like to make a donation for the Kasanag Daughters Foundation, you can do so through the Provincial Treasurer’s Office. Checks should be written to “Priests of the Sacred Heart” with a notation on the check in reference to Kasanag. The mailing address is P.O. Box 289, Hales Corners, WI 53130-0289 (attention Dn. David Nagel).

Out of communication

Fr. Mark Mastin, SCJ

Fr. Mark Mastin, a chaplain with the U.S. Army, emailed to let people know that he will be out of communication from October 28 through November 26.

He will be involved in a training operation that will simulate the Afghanistan landscape and potential situations that soldiers might encounter there. “The region is mapped out as though one were in a foreign country, e.g. mountains, dirt roads and sandy soil,” he wrote. “So, we will live in extreme hot and cold conditions in winds that howl at about 30 miles per hour. I also get to experience what it is like not to take a shower for the first 16 days that we are there!

“I had to get my head nearly shaved for this event — we won’t have barbers there. I look more like a Marine.

“My role, as a minister, will be to advise the Commander of the Morale of the Soldiers and to perform and provide Mass services, Bible studies, counseling, and assist in interaction with the medics, civilian population, etc.

“As always, please continue to pray for us.”

Provincial’s Time

Fr. Tom Cassidy is back from Europe and in the office until Friday when he leaves for Toronto. He’ll spend the weekend there before traveling with Fr. Jim Casper to Ottawa; the combined North American administrations meeting is November 8-9 in Ottawa. November 11 Fr. Tom flies to Chicago for a weekend visitation, followed by a visitation in Mississippi the week of November 14. He is home the week of Thanksgiving, and then the week after he is in Pinellas Park for a visitation.

Upcoming meetings and events:

November 8-9: Combined Councils Meeting of the U.S. and Canada (Ottawa)
November 14-16: SCJ Retreat, Pinellas Park
December 14-15: Provincial Council Meeting
April 15: Easter Concert at Sacred Heart Monastery/School of Theology
May 15: Mass for the Anointing of the Sick, SHM/SHST
June 15: Feast of the Sacred Heart

Happy Halloween!