“I love my calling to be a brother”
The quote was from Br. Andy Gancarczyk, SCJ, during his 25th anniversary celebration last week at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston (he is pictured above, on the right). He professed his first vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart on September 24, 1995.
“So, 25 years ago I started my amazing adventure with my religious family,” said Br. Andy, who is local superior of the SCJ community at OLG. “I am so grateful to God for giving me this wonderful opportunity. As Pope Francis has said, our life is a history of passionate love for the Lord and for humanity.
“Twenty-five years ago I dedicated my life to Him and to service to the Church in the charism of Fr. Leo John Dehon. Looking back over my 25 years as a religious brother, I can say that God is never outdone in generosity, and that He gives us so much more than we could ever have imagined.
Sometimes people ask me: ‘Why aren’t you a priest, Br. Andy?’ For me it comes down to the call from the Lord who knows what will make each person happy and where his or her talents can best serve the community and the people of God.
“I love my community, and I love my calling to be a brother. The key is that true happiness is found in following God’s call. He knows us much better than we know ourselves, so we only have to discover His plan for us.”
Get to know our students, part two
Last week we posted the first part of a video Q&A with students in the formation community at Sacred Heart Monastery. This week, we share part two.
“What superpower would you like to have?” “What has surprised you about the community?” “What are you grateful for?” “What would you like to hear God say to you at the gates of heaven?”
Click here to hear the students’ answers to the questions above.
Only five people appear in these first two videos, but the entire formation community deserves thanks and credit for their efforts with the project. Already they have begun to outline topics for future videos, a lighthearted way to share a bit about the community and its students.
You can subscribe to our DehoniansUSA YouTube channel by clicking HERE.
Keep in prayer
Mike Erato, director of maintenance for Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, will undergo surgery on October 1 to repair his intestine. The procedure involves a lengthy recovery; he is expected to be out for most of October.
Fr. Bob Tucker, SCJ, continues to be treated at Loyola Medical Center; he transferred there a little over a week ago due to a high heart rate and fluid in his lungs. Mary Balistreri, province director of healthcare, reports that Fr. Bob’s heart rate has stabilized; however, he continues to struggle with pneumonia, which has been an ongoing concern for him. He is receiving antibiotics for it.
Please continue to keep Mike and Fr. Bob in your prayers.
Two former missionaries respond to the 20 Questions project
Bishop Joseph Potocnack, SCJ, and Fr. Mark Fortner, SCJ, are the most recent participants in the 20 Questions project. Each served much of his religious life as a missionary: Fr. Mark was in Indonesia for 30 years, and Bishop Joe spent 36 years in South Africa, 17 as the bishop of the Diocese of De Aar.
“What would people be surprised to learn about me?” wrote Bishop Joe. “There are several things that I think are worth mentioning, things that people might not know about me. I served four years in the 1950s in the Air Force, 18 months on Kumejima Island in the East China Sea.
“When I became Bishop of De Aar, South Africa, there was the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and I was able to get a nurse, Sr. Cathy, a Sacred Heart Sister, to start hospices in our diocese. They were mostly home-care hospices. From the start in our diocese, approximately 40 towns in other dioceses began hospice programs.
“When Bishop Tutu retired, I attended the celebration of him in Kimberley with all the Anglican bishops, I was the only Catholic bishop there.
“I was stabbed once, and once hit on the head, rendered unconscious, and robbed. Thankfully, I have no lasting health issues from this. I have ordained priests in South Africa, Poland, Ireland, and the United States.
“What makes me happy? Being a priest, interacting with the poor and the sick who have touched my life deeply. I do consider myself a son of Fr. Dehon. His community has given meaning and harmony and joy to me.”
Click here to read Bishop Joe’s full response.
“Religion played an important role in our family,” wrote Fr. Mark, who is originally from St. Louis. “My father was Baptist before converting to Catholicism during my seminary years, and my mother was Roman Catholic. I always felt their deep love for us children. My favorite book is Thomas Merton’s The Seven Story Mountain and my favorite color is a toss-up between blue and red. My least favorite chore is cleaning the bathrooms!
“What initially interested me in the SCJs were four things: first, the idea of living as a priest in a religious community; secondly, the spirituality centered in the Heart of Christ; third, our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon, SCJ, someone passionately committed to social justice issues; fourth, the possibility of becoming a foreign missionary.
“Now, I continue to feel the excitement of how the congregation continues to develop and expand around the world. For me, calling myself a Dehonian makes being a Priest of the Sacred Heart more personal and connects me not only with our founder, but also with the names and faces of all the members of our worldwide Dehonian family.”
Click here to read Fr. Mark’s full response.
Click here to access all the 20 Questions responses posted.
Those celebrating birthdays in October include: Fr. John van den Hengel on Oct. 1, Fr. Ed Zemlik on Oct. 3, Fr. Bob Naglich and Fr. Tony Russo on Oct. 4, Br. Leonard Zaworski on Oct. 8, Fr. Joseph Quang Tran on Oct. 9, Fr. Tom Cassidy on Oct. 13, Br. Dieudonné Tchouteu on Oct. 14, Fr. Maurice Légaré on Oct. 15, Fr. Christianus Hendrik on Oct. 21, Fr. Bob Bossie on Oct. 23, and Fr. Richard Johnston on Oct. 27. Happy birthday!
How to respond?
Yesterday, September 27, was the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. In commemoration of it, but more importantly, as a response to the suffering of migrants throughout the world, the North America Migration Committee produced a brochure titled “Restoring Human Dignity.” It is a way to help people develop a better understanding of migration, and offers suggestions for taking action.
The brochure, and an introductory letter to it, is available in English, French, Indonesian, Spanish, Portuguese and Vietnamese.
Click here to access the brochure in all of the languages.
SCJs and those with whom they partner in ministry are encouraged to share the brochure, or the webpage with the brochure of the text in English, with others through parish bulletins, websites, Facebook pages and other organizational communications.
“As Church we should remember that in tending the wounds of refugees, evacuees and the victims of trafficking, we are putting into practice the commandment of love that Jesus bequeathed to us when he identified with the foreigner, with those who are suffering with all the innocent victims of violence and exploitation,” said Pope Francis.
“As Dehonians we continue to see the pain, isolation, and suffering of our migrant sisters and brothers and their children,” write members of the committee. “Their struggles have been intensified by the COVID 19 pandemic. In the midst of our own challenges at this time, let us not forget those who struggle to find a home.”