We are the Priests of the Sacred Heart – Dehonians!
We live in community, are inspired by daily Eucharistic Adoration, and in a fragmented world we believe unity to be possible.
Our ministries are diverse, as are our members. Yet our goal is the same: to work with a common heart in service to God’s people, reflecting the love of Christ as experienced by our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon.
Are you called to a life of prayer and service based in the love of the Sacred Heart? Are you called to religious life as a priest or brother?
Have a question, ready to learn more? Click here to email our vocation director, or call us at 800-609-5559.
Three new novices!
Three men were received into the novitiate August 14: Hubert Senam Kodjovi Liassidji, John Huan Nguyen and Angel Romero.
Originally from Togo, but now a US citizen, Hubert entered the formation program in Chicago in January, 2017, and was a student at St. Xavier University. He is 37.
Reflecting on his vocation, Hubert said that “During my teenage years, I thought a lot about how I wanted to change the world. Growing up, I finally discovered that I could not change the world, but that I can BE the change in the world by the way I live my life. I have a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and so I am attracted to the fact that to be a Priest of the Sacred Heart is to be a ‘Prophet of love and servant of reconciliation.’ This really fits my call, and I think it can help me to BE the change in the world.
“If become SCJ – by the grace of God – I do believe that I can fulfill this goal. By reflecting the love of the Heart of Jesus by the way I live, I would like to stand up for those who feel abandoned, for those who feel that they have no one in their lives. I want to seek justice for the poor, console broken hearts and try to reconcile people.
“I want to show the world a compassionate heart, a heart of a mother.”
Angel, 34, is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. Before entering formation he worked in the legal profession. As a member of the Dehon Formation Community, he studied at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
“I am very happy to be able to enter the Novitiate because it is a moment to pray more intensely so that I may discern the path of my vocation,” said Angel. “I think it is important to study the congregation, its history, the charism and the founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon. This represents not just the Priests of the Sacred Heart, but the Catholic Church itself as one sees how a person can participate in ministry in service to God, living as a vowed religious. I believe that it is important at this stage of formation to be mindful of three elements: study, gaining knowledge, and discernment. All of this is done under the light of the Holy Spirit.”
John Huan Nguyen, 31, is a novice from the Vietnamese District; however, this isn’t his first time in the United States. Last summer he was a student in the ESL program at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. Originally from Hanoi, John became a candidate in Vietnam three years ago and has studied philosophy. After novitiate, John will begin his theological studies at SHSST. Fr. Francis Vu Tran, SCJ, district superior, was present for the ceremony.
Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, provincial superior of the US Province, received the new novices. Almost 70 people packed into the small novitiate chapel to welcome John, Angel and Hubert.
Fr. Byron Haaland, SCJ, is novice master; Fr. Andrzej Sudol, SCJ, is associate novice master.
Congratulations and welcome!
S.K. Okechukwu Landericus Oledibe (Landry) and Kenneth Chidozie Anyanwu have been accepted as candidates for the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). Landry (left) is 33 and has a bachelor’s in Philosophy/Arts and has studied at the Institute of Peace in Washington D.C and John Hopkins University, School of Public Health, in Baltimore Maryland. Originally from Nigeria, he currently lives in Texas. He is an officer with the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree, a member of the American Philosophical Association and the American Heart Association, and is a Professional Licensed Medical Assistant.
Kenneth (right), 45, is also originally from Nigeria but has lived in the United States for three years. He recently completed an MA in Jewish Studies at Seton Hall University and works as an office assistant at the Foundation for Judaeo Christian Students as a part of his Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Both men will enter the formation program in fall and begin studies at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. Welcome!
The blessings of commitment
On February 3, Frater Juan Carlos Castañeda Rojas, SCJ, made his perpetual commitment to be a Dehonian, a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
His path to final vows was a long one that began in Colombia, where he was born and raised. There, he was invited to discern his call to priesthood in the United States. Frater Juancho often jokes that “I didn’t think that my call would be such a long distance call!”
He entered the ESL program at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in 2006. Seven years later, he professed his first vows as a Dehonian.
Comparing his first profession to the decision to make his perpetual vows, Frater Juancho said that he feels much more confident in taking the next step in his vocation. At a time when long-term commitments are challenging for many, we asked him to reflect on his decision:
QUESTION: Compare how you felt when you made your first profession of vows as opposed to your perpetual commitment.
FRATER JUANCHO: I think it was more difficult to make the decision to take my first vows than it is making my perpetual profession. Even though I was sure that I wanted to become an SCJ, a Dehonian, by professing my first vows, I was a bit unsure about it because of the question in my mind of where God really wanted me to be. That became a bigger question after I saw some of my classmates leave the congregation for different reasons. So, I also had to ask myself if this was the place God wanted me to be.
But today I have no doubts about taking perpetual vows. All my experiences with the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart have told my heart that this is the place that I belong; this is where God has truly led me!
QUESTION: What are the challenges of perpetual vows?
FRATER JUANCHO: The challenge for me is to continue to grow in my spirituality and to give all of my energy to the service of God in this congregation. I have heard and begun to understand that formation does not end after finishing theology or initial formation but is instead a continuous and ongoing process during our entire lives. So, the real challenge for me is to continue giving my best for the good and growth of our mission as SCJs.
QUESTION: What are the blessings of such a commitment?
FRATER JUANCHO: The blessing is in giving myself with love and receiving the love and support not just of my brother SCJs around the world but also the support of my family and friends. This reveals to me with certainty that I am not alone in this journey.
Novice reflects on how religion and culture come together in Vietnam
For two weeks in December Novices Henry Nguyen and Paul (Phong) Hoang traveled to the District of Vietnam with Fr. Ed Kilianski. Fr. Ed went to Vietnam to give a retreat and to meet with Fr. Francis Vu Tran (district superior) about collaborative projects for the future. Fr. Ed invited the novices to join him so that they could learn more about the SCJ congregation (Dehonians) outside of the United States.
For Henry, it was the first time that he visited the country of his parents’ birth. While there, he met relatives, including his grandmother, for the first time. During his first week in Vietnam he wrote a reflection that was published on the province website. Click here to read it.
Back home, Henry reflected more fully on his time in Vietnam:
“During our trip to Vietnam I often allowed myself to be ‘moved by the Spirit’ (Constitution #23). Not only was this trip an intercultural experience for me but also an interreligious one as it reminded me of my time in my ‘Religious Experience in Context’ class at Catholic Theological Union.
“As we traveled around Vietnam, I saw how religion and culture intertwined. An experience that I had while at my Bác Yến’s house was praying for our ancestors by lighting incense and praying for them at the family’s altar in the living room. This is where I connected religion and culture as I was a Vietnamese Catholic and this was more Vietnamese with perhaps a Buddhist influence.”
Click here to read his full post: “American, Vietnamese and Catholic.”
Our 2017-18 Formation Communities
The Dehon Formation Community is home to an international, intergenerational community of professed SCJs and those discerning religious life with the congregation. The community not only houses the initial formation programs (candidacy, philosophy and theology) of the province but also welcomes SCJs from around the world on sabbatical or in graduate programs. Attached to the Dehon Formation Community is the Novitiate, located just 15 minutes south of Sacred Heart Monastery in Hales Corners, Wis.
As of the 2018-19 academic year, the entire formation community will be in Wisconsin. Programs now based in Chicago will be moving to Sacred Heart Monastery in Hales Corners this summer. Theology students will attend Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology and undergraduates will go to Milwaukee area universities. The move will allow our students to be more directly involved with the province and worldwide congregation, since Sacred Heart has become an educational hub for students from around the world.
Click here to read the the autobiographies of our 2017-18 formation community.