“Please pray for me that I have the ear to listen attentively to the different voices in the province, the eye to see clearly the direction for the province, and the heart to be pastoral and compassionate to all.”
The words were spoken by Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, on January 5, the day after he was elected as the next provincial superior of the US Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). He thanked SCJs, and briefly outlined his concerns and priorities for the future. He reminded them of the importance of building upon the past, noting the 100th anniversary of the SCJ presence in the United States in 2023. He spoke of the blessings of the present, including the diversity of community life and richness in ministry. Fr. Vien looked toward the future, and spoke of the need to adequately prepare people and ministries for that future.
View Fr. Vien’s first address to the province by clicking on the image above.
The 16th Provincial Superior of the US Province
On Tuesday, January 4, Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, was elected as the 16th provincial superior of the US Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians).
“It is humbling to stand in front of you, to carry on the tradition of the US Province,” said Fr. Vien, after acknowledging and thanking the many SCJs who served as formators to him during his years as a candidate and as a professed SCJ, including Br. Peter Mankins, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, Fr. Rick DiLeo, Fr. John Czyzynski, Fr. Michael Burke, Fr. Guy Blair, Br. Ray Kozuch, and Fr. Jan de Jong.
Fr. Jack Kurps, SCJ, who was elected as first councilor, recruited Fr. Vien when Fr. Jack served as province vocation director.
Fr. Vien, 48, is currently vice rector and assistant professor of Scripture Studies at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, WI. He professed his first vows in 1997 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2004. In 2018 he earned a doctorate from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, CA. He also earned a Th.M, and S.T.L. from Santa Clara University, and an M.Div. from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
The focus of his doctoral work was on people who live on the fringes of society, how people are separated by ethnicity, gender and space. Much of his reflection is based in the Gospel of Luke.
As a refugee from Vietnam, it is a topic with which he has first-hand familiarity. “The journey that led me to the United States was incredible,” he wrote in a reflection. “I spent days on a small, fragile fishing boat crossing the South China Sea, lived in refugee camps in the Philippines awaiting approval for asylum in the United States and, once I made it here, had to adapt to a new culture.
Before pursuing post-graduate studies, Fr. Vien served in parish ministry (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Our Lady of Guadalupe parishes in Houston) and in formation.
He has been on the faculty of SHSST since 2018. He has been published in a wide variety of theological and professional publications, including the Review of Biblical Literature, Journal of Biblical Theology, and The American Journal Of Biblical Theology.
A new Provincial Council!
After the election of the provincial superior, the assembly discerned who could best support Fr. Vien in his ministry, leading the US Province.
As noted above, Fr. Jack Kurps, SCJ, was the first to be elected. He made his first profession in 1972 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1977. Fr. Jack is executive director of Sacred Heart Southern Missions and previously served on the Provincial Council.
Fr. Rafael Querobin was the second SCJ elected. He professed his first vows in 2001 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2007. Originally from Brazil, he now serves on the pastoral team of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston. Fr. Rafael is not new to administration; he also served on the Provincial Council of his home province (Brazil – Sao Paulo).
The third SCJ to be elected was Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ. He professed first vows in 2006, and was ordained in 2010. After 10 years in parish ministry in northern Mississippi, Fr. Greg is now chaplain at St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota.
Br. Duane Lemke, was the fourth SCJ to be elected to the US Provincial Council. A previous member of the council, Br. Duane has served in formation and in parish ministry. He is currently superior of the Sacred Heart Monastery Community, province director of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation, and works with the ECS program (English and Cultural Studies) at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. Originally from South Dakota, Br. Duane literally grew up with the SCJs – he was baptized by an SCJ priest and the SCJs ministered for many years at his home parish.
Dn. David Nagel was the fifth and final SCJ to be elected to the US Provincial Council. He was professed in 1972 and ordained to the diaconate in 2003. Currently provincial treasurer, Dn. David previously served as executive director of St. Joseph’s Indian School and in formation. He has also been active with the Dehonian Associates Committee, has served on the General Finance Commission, and has previously served on the Provincial Council.
The new administration will begin its term on February 2, 2022.