“Every Catholic in Brazil knows of these apostolates”

In February, Dr. Paul Monson, VP of Intellection Formation and Academic Dean at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, joined other representatives from the US Province at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Faculdade Dehoniana in Taubaté, Brazil. Yesterday, during an informal lunch presentation for SHSST staff and students, Dr. Monson talked about the centennial celebrations, but more so, about his experience of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) in Brazil.

His first days were spent in Saõ Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. Among the Dehonians’ ministries there is São Judas Tadeu, which includes both a shrine to St. Jude Thaddeus and a children’s foster and education center (Instituto Meninos di São Judas Tadeu). “Every Catholic in Brazil knows of these Dehonian apostolates,” said Dr. Monson.

The shrine is open from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with priests available to hear confessions throughout the day. “In Saõ Paulo, the Dehonians are known as the confessors of the city,” said Dr. Monson. “St. Jude is near a metro line, so it is easy for people to get to. People are constantly coming, people with challenging issues in their lives. They come to pray to St. Jude, the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes, and then go to confession.”

On the feast day of St. Jude it is estimated that over 270,000 come to the shrine.

The institute for children grew out of an orphanage developed by the Dehonians in the mid-1940s, a response to children who were at times “dropped at the doorstep,” said Dr. Monson. Similar to St. Joseph’s Indian School, children now live in family homes under the supervision of foster parents.

Although much of Dr. Monson’s presentation was about the Dehonian presence in Saõ Paulo, he also spoke about the original purpose of his visit: the Faculdade Dehoniana. He, Fr. Raúl Gómez-Ruiz (SHSST president-rector) and Fr. Vien Nguyen (provincial superior) were at the Faculdade Dehoniana not only to celebrate its centennial, but also to talk about collaborative possibilities between SHSST and the Faculdade Dehoniana.

The Brazilian institute has approximately 160 seminarians, 30 of whom are Dehonians in theology, another 30 are Dehonian philosophy students, 30 students are from the Carmelite order, and the rest represent five nearby dioceses. Faculdade Dehoniana offers pontifical degrees as well as civil degrees; most of its faculty are SCJs.

“The Dehonians in Brazil are well-respected, as are their ministries,” said Dr. Monson. “They are seen as a stable, faithful presence to the people of Brazil.”