100 Years of Dehonian Ministry in the United States!

Fr. Mathias Fohrman, first SCJ to minister in the US

On Palm Sunday, 1923, Fr. Mathias Fohrman, SCJ, celebrated Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Lower Brule, SD. This marked the start of what is now 100 years of ministry by the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) in the United States. In 2023 that ministry extends from South Dakota to Wisconsin, Mississippi, Texas and Florida, reaching across ethnic, social, and economic lines.

In Houston, the Priests of the Sacred Heart are in the central city parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the oldest Hispanic parishes in Texas.

In Mississippi, Dehonians are responsible for the Church’s ministry in the five northwestern counties of the state. Through Sacred Heart Southern Missions, Dehonians offer social services and emergency aid, advocacy, housing, education, job training and counseling. The Sacred Heart Auto League, which promotes safe, prayerful driving, is also a part of SHSM’s ministry.

Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis., prepares men from around the country – and the world – for ordained ministry. It also offers master’s programs for lay students, and an internationally regarded ECS (English and Cultural Studies) program specifically designed for those in or preparing for ministry in the Church.

The Priests of the Sacred Heart minister at St. Martin of Tours parish in Franklin, Wis., where they also serve the Vietnamese Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Just a few miles away, Dehonians operate Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake, a senior apartment community with several units reserved for those who are economically challenged.

One of our oldest ministries in the United States is St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, SD. Since it first opened its doors in 1927, the school has expanded its outreach well beyond the classroom with family counseling, healthcare, social programs, and education in Lakota traditions. Dehonians also continue to minister in reservation parishes on the Lower Brule and Crow Creek Reservations.

And just as the Dehonian presence in the United States was begun by missionary outreach, the US Province is committed to building the Church by supporting missions throughout the world including Vietnam, India, the Philippines, South Africa, DR Congo and Indonesia.

Dehonians, Priests of the Sacred Heart, SCJs – several names for a religious community of priests and brothers with a single mission: bringing the love of the Sacred Heart to those in the greatest of need.

The Priests of the Sacred Heart is an international religious community of priests and brothers located in over 40 countries on five continents. Founded in France by Fr. Leo John Dehon, the order is now based in Rome.

During this Centennial Year let us continue to keep each other in prayer.

Click here to access the historical write-up about the Centennial in various lengths that can be used in parish bulletins, newsletters, website and other ministerial materials.

Centennial Celebrations

  1. Sunday, July 16–– Benefactors and SCJ alumni are invited to this celebration. It will take place at Sacred Heart Monastery / Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology beginning with Mass of 10:30 a.m. followed by appetizers and lunch. A Commemoration Service will be held at the mausoleum at 2:00 p.m. Cookies, coffee and soft drinks will be available in the SHSST dining room after. The mausoleum service is expected to be about 15 minutes.
  2. Monday, July 17–– This is considered the “Family Celebration.” Joining SCJs will be employees, major superiors of other religious communities in the area, and friends of the community. PLEASE NOTE that SCJs are welcome to invite friends and family. However, we need to know how much food to plan for. If you are inviting guests, please let Mary Gorski know how many by Monday, June 26. You can respond to this email or call 414-427-4266. Mass on July 17 will be at Sacred Heart Monastery / Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology at 4:30 p.m. This will be followed by a social and dinner.
  3. Hotels–– There are two blocks of hotel rooms at the nearby Hampton Inn for both the Centennial and the Provincial Chapter. Click one the following links for reservation information:
    SCJ Centennial (hilton.com)
    SCJ Chapter (hilton.com)
  4. Pictures–– The Centennial Planning Committee would like to set up displays of “family” photos during the celebrations. If you have photos that you would like to share –– including photos from seminary days, ministries, celebrations, and general community life –– please send them to Mary Gorski at the Provincial Offices (PO Box 289, Hales Corners, WI 53130-0289) or via email by June 26. If you would like the photos returned, please put your name on the back of each one.
  5. July 30, Lower Brule–– The South Dakota community will host a Centennial Celebration at the birthplace of Dehonian ministry in the United States. The day (Sunday, July 30) will begin with a smudging ceremony at 10:00 a.m., followed by a procession to Mass. Bishop Peter Muhich of Rapid City will be the main celebrant and Fr. Stefan Tertünte, SCJ, provincial superior of the German Province, will be the homilist. All SCJs are invited to attend the Lower Brule celebration. HOWEVER, if you plan to do so you are asked to RSVP to Nancy Grzesiak at the Provincial Offices (provadm@usprovince.org) or 414-427-4261. Attendees are responsible for making their own travel and lodging arrangements. Options in South Dakota include the Golden Buffalo in Lower Brule (ask for the Centennial discount), as well as several major hotels in the Chamberlain-Oacoma area including Arrowhead Resort at Cedar ShoreBaymont Inn and Suites OacomaQuality Inn, and Americaninn. Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ, notes that there are also several rooms available for SCJs in one of the student homes. These rooms have shared bathrooms. If you would like to reserve one, contact Fr. Greg. If you have any questions regarding the celebration in South Dakota, please contact Fr. Christianus Hendrik, SCJ.
  6. Cookout, July 29, Chamberlain–– The South Dakota community is hosting a cookout for SCJs in South Dakota for the July 30 celebration. The BBQ will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 29 at the community house in Chamberlain. If you plan to attend, please contact Fr. Greg Schill.

Centennial Prayer of Thanksgiving

Blessed are you, Lord our God,
Creator of heaven and earth
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We praise you for the gift of your
Sacred Heart and thank you for your goodness to us.

We praise you for the ministries
that the Priests of the Sacred Heart do in your name
for the Church and its people.

We praise you for your generous gifts
and for bringing fruitful results to our labors.

For 100 years of service to the Church
we thank you and we pray to be
especially mindful of those in need.

Open our hearts to them, and teach us
to be generous to others as your Sacred Heart is to us.
Send more laborers into our ministries.

Gracious and bounteous God, help us all
to follow your call and so to bear
eternal fruit for you.

We pray this trusting in you
and your kindness.

[Prayer written by Dn. David Nagel, SCJ]

Click here to access a Word doc of the prayer.

Centennial logos

The Centennial logo is available for download in a variety of formats: