VIDEO: Click here or on the image above to view the video of the 2022 First Professions Ceremony.
PHOTOS: Click here to view an online photo album of the ceremony.
On August 15, three young men – Jonathan Nguyen-Vuong, Jacob Smith and Michael Wodarczyk – professed their First Vows and became members of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. Receiving their vows was Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, who made his own First Profession exactly 25 years ago. Fr. Vien is now provincial superior of the US Province.
Who are our new SCJs? Keep reading!
Frater Jonathan Nguyen-Vuong, SCJ
Born in Riverside, CA, and raised in Broussard, LA, at 21 Jonathan becomes the youngest member of the US Province. Before entering the Novitiate last year, Jonathan was a student at Cardinal Stritch University in suburban Milwaukee.
“I learned about the SCJs through Fr. Quang Nguyen, SCJ, vocation director, who came all the way from Milwaukee, WI, to celebrate Mass with the Vietnamese community in my hometown parish called St. Jules Catholic Church in Lafayette, LA. Fr. Quang is good friends with the pastor of the Vietnamese community there. I had never heard of religious congregations until Fr. Quang told me about the SCJs…
“The SCJ hospitality, charism, and community life in the spirit of Fr. Dehon, and the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus attracted me to the Priests of the Sacred Heart. My call to religious life with the Priests of the Sacred Heart has increased, strengthened and reaffirmed since I entered Novitiate.”
When asked what his favorite part of the Novitiate year was, Jonathan simply said “EVERYTHING!”
“I loved the community life with the other two novices and the two novice directors, the 13-acre land of plants and trees, the house and the location of where it resides in Franksville, WI, the beautiful chapel, the bonfire pit, the labyrinth and walking pathways, Amy our chef, Jarle the Novitiate dog, the garden, and the chickens and other animals that wander by the Novitiate house every day.
“Most important was the fun, happiness, and humor that was a part of the Novitiate year.”
Jonathan looks forward to his future with the Priests of the Sacred Heart. “We SCJs are able to spread the love from our hearts to the people we see in the world and make an impact on their lives each day so that they can continue the cycle of passing love to others too, love without judgment, bias, harassment, harm, violence, injustice or prejudice, but instead with peace, care, kindness, generosity, joy, happiness, equality, justice, unity, and friendship.”
Jonathan returns to his studies at Cardinal Stritch this fall. He and his classmates also return to the formation community at Sacred Heart Monastery.
Click on the image below to hear Frater Jonathan talk about his vocation.
Frater Jacob Smith, SCJ
Originally from Houston, Jacob, 22, is a convert to Catholicism. He felt called to both the Catholic faith and to a priestly vocation. Soon that call led to the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
Jacob said that he “was attracted to the SCJ community initially because of the many opportunities to work overseas, as well as the vibrant ECS community I met during my Come and See vocation weekend. [“ECS” is the English and Cultural Studies program at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.] This attraction has deepened as a result of the many Dehonians I’ve met who have had significant positive impacts on my life and who have shown me what the Sacred Heart looks like and can look like in how I live my life. I want to make that joy my own.”
He credits SCJs such as Fr. Bob Tucker, Fr. John Czyzynski and Fr. Ed Killianski as being significant influences not only on his vocation, but on his life.
The meetings with the Intercommunity Novitiate Program were among Jacob’s favorite part of the Novitiate year. “It was so refreshing to meet other novices my age and to discuss with them the important commitments we were all working toward,” he said. “It’s good to be able to have camaraderie and a larger support network and I think ICN not only gave us that, but also taught us instrumental lessons for future ministry through its lectures and retreats.”
One of the most challenging parts of the year for Jacob was being so far from family. During the Novitiate year Jacob’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer that has since metastasized. “I often wish I could be there with her,” said Jacob, “but I know she’s proud of what I’m doing, and I look forward to seeing her here for the Professions.”
Click on the image below to hear Frater Jacob talk about his conversion to Catholicism and his call to religious life.
Frater Michael Wodarczyk, SCJ
Frater Michael, 34, grew up just a few miles from Sacred Heart Monastery, in Brookfield, WI (suburban Milwaukee). Before entering the SCJ formation program he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in accounting. Michael worked for Asenzya in Oak Creek, WI, as an inventory control clerk and was active in his home parish, serving as a lector and as a Eucharistic minister, as well as with RCIA.
“I came to know about the Priests of the Sacred Heart when I did preliminary research on religious orders in Milwaukee,” said Frater Michael. “I found the SCJs on a website for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I was drawn to the community because of its members’ daily Eucharistic Adoration and parish ministry.”
What drew him to the community is what continues to fuel his vocation.
“I want to profess vows with the SCJs because of community life, daily Eucharistic Adoration and prayer,” said Michael. “I have grown in my faith, and it is the structure of religious life that has made that growth possible.”
His favorite parts of Novitiate included community moments in prayer and meals. As did Jacob, he also enjoyed the Intercommunity Novitiate Program.
Click on the image below to hear Michael talk about his vocational call.