Fr. David Szatkowski, SCJ
My name is Fr. David Szatkowski, SCJ. I grew up in a military family. For that reason, I had the opportunity to grow up in different parts of the world, but I consider Lawton, OK, to be my hometown. After taking part in the Christian Summer Experience in Raymondville, TX, with the SCJ vocation office in 1992, I applied for candidacy with the Priests of the Sacred Heart. I then finished my bachelor’s in psychology (December, 1995) and I made first vows in 1997. I studied theology at Catholic Theological Union (MDiv, 2002) and was ordained June 12, 2002.
I spent three years at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Houston, TX, before returning to school. I studied for my license and doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in the City (the Angelicum) in Rome. I successfully defended my dissertation in 2011. My ministry then took me to northwestern Mississippi. There I was a judge for the Tribunal, and most recently, pastor of the parishes of St. Joseph (Holly Springs) and Queen of Peace (Olive Branch).
In July, I returned to Dehon House of Studies, this time as local superior and director of the college program. I am happy to be working with those who will continue the SCJ charism and ministry into the future! During this year, I am taking part in CTU’s program for new formation directors. In my off time, I enjoy music, movies, and reading.
Fr. Andrzej Sudol, SCJ
I am Fr. Andrzej Sudol and have been a priest for 20 years. I was born and ordained in Poland. Just after my ordination I left for our new SCJ mission in India. I worked for three years in Kerala, in the south of India, as a member of the formation team. Then, I had to leave my “first love” (India) because of visa problems. I was asked to join our mission in the Philippines, where I was until 2014. First I worked in a parish in Mindanao. Then I was involved with the Dehonian Youth Program, vocation promotion, and was in-charge of on-going formation of the young priests in the Philippine Region. Above all I served as a formation director of the postulants. Meanwhile, I studied formation and I got STL on spirituality at Milltown, Dublin, in Ireland.
At present I am staying at the formation house in Chicago and am happy to be a part of this community and life. I am a formation director of our candidates and temporarily professed students. I am also a part-time student at CTU. I continue my D.Min studies in Spirituality and Inculturation.
I come from a town called Mielec in Poland; my whole family lives there still. My parents are now retired. My father was a technician at the airplane factory in Mielec and my mother was a midwife. I have two sisters. Ewa is a teacher and Gosia is a nurse. They both are settled with their own families. I always spend quality time with them during my vacation.
Since my father was a soccer player I inherited this hobby from him. I like sports. At present I play tennis, jog and bike during my free time. I like geography, different cultures and styles of life. I love to meet new people and friends. I always wanted to be a missionary and I am grateful to God for my vocation as Dehonian.
Fr. Bob Tucker, SCJ
“While Jesus was with them at table, he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him… They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:31-32)
This is one of my favorite passages from the Gospels.
Throughout my 41 years as a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart I have recalled and reflected on this passage often. I see in this passage what our baptism and our life as SCJs calls us to do; that is to listen and to reflect on God’s Word speaking to our hearts in order that we may come to know Jesus in the breaking of the bread. We do this so that we may be disciples of Jesus sharing his love and working for the reign of God’s love in our world.
As a priest, I have had the pleasure of celebrating the wonder of the love of the heart of Jesus in the celebration of the Mass. I have ministered as a priest in San Antonio, Detroit, Milwaukee, Houston and in northern Mississippi.
After 33 years as a parish priest I was asked to do ministry as a formation director. It is a privilege to be with our religious students and candidates in their journey as they discern their calling in life to be a member of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. My hope is that I, with them, will discover a heart burning within as Christ speaks to our hearts and to come to know him in the breaking of the bread and to know him in the faces of our brothers and sisters. As SCJs we are called to remember that “the Eucharist has its effects on all that we are and do… and who unceasingly throws us back onto the streets of the world in the service of the Gospel.”
Fr. Bob Bossie, SCJ
I was born in Boston, Mass., and raised with six siblings. Within two weeks of graduating from high school I joined the U.S. Air Force. During the following four years, I maintained nuclear weapons carrying aircraft, among other things.
A few years after the Air Force, while traveling the country as a contract worker in the military industry, I had a life-changing experience of God. At that moment, it became crystal clear that I was of God, as was everyone and everything else. Now I knew that everyone and everything was holy and worthy of reverence.
In seeking a lifestyle that would enhance that experience, I joined the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Shortly thereafter, I was amazed to find that my desire to fully give of myself was completely consistent with the spirituality of the Priests of the Sacred Heart –– I come to do your will, O God.
For over 30 years I ministered at the 8th Day Center for Justice, a Catholic, faith-based NGO working for social change. During these years, I let go of many of the presuppositions with which I was raised. Again, I find this to be fully consistent with the spirituality of the Priests of the Sacred Heart: to establish the reign of the Heart of Jesus in souls and societies.
I retired from full-time active ministry in 2012 but continue to be involved to a lesser extent in justice and peace activities. Community life continues to be good.
For all this I give God thanks.
Fr. Joseph Mukuna, SCJ (Congolese Province)
I was born and raised in Kananga (Democratic Republic of Congo). I started my journey with the SCJs in 1995. My first religious profession was August 12, 1999. My priestly ordination was on April 14, 2007. After ordination I had several assignments: Formation Director, and Superior at Maison du Sacre-Coeur, a study house for SCJ Brothers (Lemba-Kinshasa). Then I became the Provincial Procuror before moving to South Africa for graduate studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal while helping in the Dehon International Formation House in Pietermaritzburg.
I earned a master’s degree in New Testament Studies in 2012 from the UKZN. My focus was Contextual Exegesis and Translation of the Bible. The concentration in the Contextual Reading of the Bible changed my life completely. With this experience I was able to explore the Bible in varied forms and meet different people. I had the opportunity to participate in two major projects: first, with the Congolese Bishops Conference as a Bible instructor for the ecclesiastic Province of Kisangani, and second, with the Pauline Sisters (Congo) as a translator and commentator of LA BIBLE AFRICAINE alongside with many other African Scholars.
Before coming to the United States for further studies, I was assigned as the pastor of Saint Clement Parish of Makala (Kinshasa). I worked also with street children and prisoners while teaching Scripture. Now I am pursuing graduate studies at Loyola University in Chicago. I am looking forward to completing my education in New Testament Studies and Early Christianity before going back to Africa. I am grateful to the SCJs in the United States, and their benefactors, for their support.
Br. Long Nguyen, SCJ
Hello. I am Br. Long Nguyen, SCJ. Catholic Theological Union granted me a master’s in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) in 2006. My journey led me back to Chicago last January, where I am pursuing an M.Div. for ordination. I enjoyed my first semester back in the Windy City and look forward to the fall. I spent my summer in Texas where I reconnected with my southern roots at a Benedictine monastery. There, I appreciated that the monks kept periods of silence, daily.
Port Arthur, TX, is my birthplace, and Thibodaux, LA, is my hometown. My earliest memory of myself as a child growing up along Bayou Lafourche is of me looking up at the clouds and wondering about the shapes they took. I mention this memory because this meditative nature remains with me. Fr. Laurence Freeman, OSB, has a few YouTube videos on Christian meditation that I have seen and replayed over and over again. My family has faced several deaths within the past year. I am at a loss of words or thoughts of the absolute loss of love, connection and relationships. Death leads one to sit in profound silence, to wonder about life and search for the One beyond silence.
I am involved with The Ministry of Care, a volunteer group out of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church. I remember my days visiting patients with Fr. Frank Clancy, SCJ, at Valley Baptist Hospital in Harlingen, TX. The experience lends itself to this current ministry.
I also remember my early days at the formation community where praying the rosary was the capstone of the evenings. My family frequently prayed the rosary and hinted to me of the possibility of religious life when I was young. My earlier path did not lead in that direction but I found my way to the Priests of the Sacred Heart after seeing their advertisement in a religious magazine. The ad appealed to a life of prayer, service and sacrifice.
Fr. John Czyzynski, SCJ
I was born in Cleveland, Ohio (which we Clevelanders call “the best location in the nation”; others are not as gracious in the epithets they attach to my home town). I had two sisters, one of whom died two years ago. My other sister still lives in Cleveland.I entered our minor seminary in Donaldson, Ind., two weeks before I turned 14, in 1951. I made my first profession of vows in 1956 and was ordained to the priesthood in December of 1963. I went through our whole seminary system and besides that, did studies in the classical languages at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. I also earned a license in theology from Catholic University and a license in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.
As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a priest. When I left home to go to the minor seminary I really did not know the difference between a religious and a diocesan priest. However, when my pastor asked if I wanted to go to the diocesan seminary, I said I wanted to go to Donaldson, because, thanks to our vocation recruiter, Fr. George Pinger, SCJ, I knew guys who were going to Donaldson and didn’t know anyone going to the diocesan place. So although I may have become associated with the SCJs by accident, I have come to a deep appreciation of the charism of Fr. Dehon, which he passed on to the SCJs.
I feel convinced that Fr. Dehon took the core of the gospel and made it the focus of the spirituality of the community he founded. For me to be an SCJ is to unite myself with Jesus in his offering to God, to be at God’s disposition, ready to do or accept what God asks of me so that people may know the tremendous love God has for us. And as SCJs we are asked, called to be present especially to those who have the hardest time believing in the love God has for them because of the circumstances of their lives-as Fr. Dehon put it: “ministry to the lowly and the humble, the workers and the poor.”
I taught sacred scripture at Sacred Heart Monastery/Sacred Heart School of Theology for five years, but eventually became more and more involved in spiritual formation. I asked that I be able to do formation ministry, and so Dr. Richard Lux was hired to take over the scripture classes I taught, freeing me to do formation ministry.
I have been involved in formation ministry since 1973 (except for six years when I served as provincial superior). Most of those years were with students at Sacred Heart School of Theology who belonged to various dioceses throughout the United States. Some of the students were members of other religious communities. More recently (since about 1990), I have been involved in the formation of candidates and young religious for our own community.
I have an interest in sports, and my favorite teams are the Cleveland Indians, the Cleveland Browns and the Notre Dame football team. Hobbies include golfing, doing counted cross stitch and following the adventures of Harry Potter.
This year we have three novices for our community, and it is great to be journeying with them at this very special time in their lives.
Br. Duane Lemke, SCJ
I am biased. The best two views in the world can be found in Lower Brule, SD, and Chicago, Ill. Nothing compares to the Missouri River dominating the Dakota horizon as seen from the bluffs overlooking Lower Brule, nor the skyline of steel, glass and light as seen after dark from Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. Of course, I am biased.
I spent my first ten years of ministry with the Lakota, Dakota and settlement people in and around Lower Brule. As a member of the Catholic Pastoral Team, I ministered to youth and elders, taught religious education to youth and adults, and was a pastoral associate to St. Michael’s Parish in Kennebec. Memories of the people, events and experiences I had there will always be with me, and continue to influence my ministry.
I am now in my third year as a formation director in Chicago. Amid the hustle, bustle and energy of Chicago’s Hyde Park, I help form candidates: men who are seriously discerning a call to become a Priest of the Sacred Heart. Formation ministry is quite different from parish ministry, but I count myself fortunate to be with these young men as they celebrate, struggle and study at school while preparing themselves for novitiate and religious life at home. I also count myself fortunate to be a formation director with Frs. John and Vien. As a team, we — I hope — make the Dehon House of Studies a place of prayer, study, support, challenge and laughter.
I came to the Priests of the Sacred Heart in January 1995, after my collegiate years at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. During my own years in formation, I earned a master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from Catholic Theological Union and, more important, professed vows as a brother in 1997. During my own years of initial formation I began learning how to be a Priest of the Sacred Heart: one who is called to promote God’s love in the heart of people and society. Of course, this latter school is one that never offers a graduation and has a lifelong course of study!
I couldn’t close without mentioning one final view: the water tower of Lantry, SD, silhouetted against a fiery sunset (this tower being the sole line in Lantry’s prairie sky). This view can be seen from the farm where I was raised, and still welcomes me home when I return to see parents and family. My parents, John and Judy, continue to live and work in and near Lantry. My siblings Marta and Brandon (with his wife Phoebe and their five children) live and work in Pierre and Dupree, SD. At this view, my story comes full circle, for it was there that I met the Priests of the Sacred Heart, who married my parents, baptized me, ministered to me in my youth, and first taught me about the love found in Christ’s Heart. Without them, I wouldn’t have seen Lower Brule nor Chicago, nor been introduced to the people who also call these areas home.
Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ
Fr. Greg Schill says that even as a child he had a sense that he was experiencing the world differently than others.
With a laser beam focus of attention he often became obsessed with a single object or concern while not even seeing that which might be right in front of his eyes.
“By the time I completed the second grade I had all of the U.S. presidents memorized in numerical order, alphabetical order, and their place of birth, their date of birth and their date of death,” said Fr. Greg.
Obsessed with geography, when he was in the third grade he could identify any country on the map.
History and geography were within that laser beam of focus, but English?
“I got a ‘D,’” he said. “I had the lowest reading comprehension scores in my class.”
It didn’t make sense to Fr. Greg’s family. Seemingly brilliant in some areas the young Greg was totally non-comprehending in others. It went beyond the typical student who has more aptitude for some subjects than others.
“I would become extraordinarily focused sometimes, so focused that I would only see what was 50 yards ahead as opposed to what was right in front of me – metaphorically and literally,” said Fr. Greg.
History and geography fell within that long-range focus. But English?
“It just wasn’t there,” he said.
Growing up, Fr. Greg continued to sense that he was different than his peers. Often, he felt frustrated and embarrassed because he just didn’t understand things the ways others did. Daydreams became a way of coping with a reality that was often incomprehensible to him, something that distanced him even more from the world around him.
Fr. Greg with a young member of his family’s parish in Texas
“Getting caught up in daydreams meant that I often missed what was close at hand,” said Fr. Greg. “And sometimes, that meant that I hurt people’s feelings, or at least left people feeling confused about my reaction to a situation.”
But even with the challenges that faced him, Fr. Greg went on to serve in the Marine Corps and earn a degree in political science before pursuing his vocation with the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
Throughout formation he received high marks for much of his work and his dedication to ministry. He was named “Volunteer of the Year,” at Chicago Lighthouse, a non-profit organization that assists the visually impaired.
However, his formation directors noticed that as dedicated as Greg was, there was sometimes a significant disconnect in his relations with others.
Familiar with Asperger’s, a condition related to autism, a member of the formation team wondered if Greg might have a form of the syndrome. He was asked to go for a diagnosis.
“I was not happy when I was told about this,” said Fr. Greg. “I resisted it at first but then realized that it would be good for me and the community to get some answers.”
The formation director’s hunch was correct; in 2009 Fr. Greg was indeed diagnosed with Asperger’s.
Still in temporary vows, Fr. Greg worried that the diagnosis would affect his ability to move forward toward final vows and ordination.
“However, that was not the case,” he said. “The formation team was behind me, as was the provincial administration. They were proactive with me throughout the process as I learned what I needed to do to modify certain behaviors to compensate for the Asperger’s
“The advantage of having the diagnosis is that now I know why I have been ‘different,’ and knowing that, I can be a better minister and a better community member.”
As Fr. Greg learned more about Asperger’s he gained an increased acceptance of it. He sometimes refers to himself as an “Auspie,” and notes many famous figures from history who are suspected of having had the syndrome, including Sir Issac Newton, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. Many of the World War II code-breakers were thought to have had Asperger’s as well. Their incredible focus and dedication allowed them to sort through and find connections in massive amounts of data.
It’s an example seeing a difference not as an oddity but as a blessing and tool
Diagnosis, said Fr. Greg, opened a window that gave him an insight into who he is and how he functions. And now that he has that insight he can find ways to refocus the laser beam, or to compensate in areas such as interpersonal communications.
Related to that, Fr. Greg talked about a common misperception that many have regarding Autism and empathy.
“There is a misperception that a person with autism, especially on the Asperger’s scale, has no empathy and is cold when hearing sad news or news that a friend needs emotional support,” said Fr. Greg. “The truth is that often a person with Asperger’s experiences a delay in fully registering what it is that he is hearing so sadness and empathy are often delayed. It is not that the emotions are not there, they just don’t come forward immediately.
“As a priest, I try to work around this hidden disability by asking questions of a person who is experiencing grief,” he said. “I ask how the person is feeling and note the difficulty of the situation so he knows that I am walking with him.”
Fr. Greg said that it in some ways it is like being an actor. “But I am not being disingenuous,” he emphasized. Instead, he is giving appropriate external responses while allowing his mind and emotions to catch up and fully process what was heard.
Since his diagnosis, Fr. Greg has worked hard to develop the tools to both compensate for and utilize the byproducts of Asperger’s. Now, he tries to help others do the same through education and advocacy.
“I attempt to help parents navigate the system to locate the services that are suitable for their child’s needs,” he said. “I also encourage parents to teach their children how to advocate for themselves, something which is vital as the child grows older.”
When heading to college, those with Asperger’s need to let roommates, fellow students, staff and educators know of their syndrome and of some of the “oddities” associated with it. The same is true when the person with Asperger’s enters the workforce.
“Often a person who has Asperger’s gets fired simply because of a miscommunication that can lead to misunderstanding,” said Fr. Greg.
As in any situation, good communication makes things work better. Knowing why someone acts as s/he does goes a long way to dispelling conflict and frustration.
“Being aware of those who are different is a stepping stone for strengthening our relationships with one another,” said Fr. Greg. “Accepting one another for who we are is essential in building the relationships that make the world a better place.
“In the words of Fr. Dehon, our founder, it is the path that leads to reconciliation.”