Reflections: Frater Henry Nguyen, SCJ

Frater Henry on a jog around SHSST

We invite Dehonians, co-workers and other collaborators in SCJ ministry to share their personal reflections regarding the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in their lives and their communities. The following is from Frater Henry Nguyen, SCJ, a seminarian at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well and is staying in good health during this crisis of COVID-19. I am writing this on the fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare. In Mass today, Fr. Ed Zemlik, SCJ, reminded us that it’s a day of celebration and rejoicing; however, with what is going on in the world that would be difficult to do.

Little did I know that after spring break from Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, things would not go back to “normal”. Little by little, I saw changes to my life. First, my first half marathon, the Milwaukee Marathon (slated for April 11) was canceled, which was bittersweet as I was excited but at the same time my training hasn’t been progressing as much as I would have liked. Second, classes, for the time being, have been moved online. Third, my trip to the Holy Land in May, the Holy Land Expedition with SHSST, was canceled.

About two weeks ago, we began to experience #anewnormal with a #quarantine and shortly after a #shelterinplace. During this period, SHSST and Cardinal Stritch University transitioned into completing the remainder of the semester online (how much can change in a matter of weeks!); Marquette University will evaluate whether in-person classes will start up again after April 10.

Recently my aunt shared with me that Mass is no longer available in person for the Diocese of Orange, California, and pretty much around the world as people would now need to #livestream the Mass online. Here at Sacred Heart Monastery, we still have the opportunity to participate in the Holy Mass daily with one another.

We are constantly distracted, wondering how many new cases of coronavirus have been identified globally, in the United States, in Wisconsin, and closer to home in Milwaukee. Are we making progress or are we far from it? How are my family and friends, young and old, near and far? Should I keep the focus on my studies and finish this virtual semester online?

One thing is constant, prayer. Prayer is especially important as we unite with everyone.

Self-care is also important as I deal with this new normal. This past weekend was beautiful and I took advantage of it. I went outside and ran the perimeter of SHSST several times. I am training for the virtual half-marathon mid-April and hopefully an in-person half-marathon in June.

Tonight, several members of the formation community, including Fr. Zemlik, cooked dinner for the formation program as we anticipate our new normal. It was a nice chance to not think about what’s been happening but to truly spend a good time with one another.

On Monday, our online classes will start in one fashion or another, our new classroom is at our desks in our rooms and the discussion will be either verbal or written.

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