What is a Dehonian parish?

What does it mean to be a Dehonian parish? Is it simply a church that has an SCJ as its pastor, or is there something more, something tangibly “Dehonian?” That was one of the questions discussed during the Dehonian Parish Ministers meeting held via Zoom on October 17.

“Our homilies are a vehicle to share our Dehonian spirituality,” said one participant. “Our values regarding social justice and reconciliation can be found in our religious education,” said another. “We share our spirituality in how we treat people,” said a third.

This was the second gathering of SCJ parish ministers in the US Province, an opportunity for informal dialogue among the ministers and members of the Provincial Council. “We want to better learn about the challenges that our SCJ brothers experience in parish ministry, and talk about ways in which we can support each other,” said Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, provincial superior.

Discussion topics included youth outreach (in particular, how to use this year’s World Youth Day as a stepping stone toward the development of Dehonian youth groups in the US), the expansion of the Dehonian Associates program for adults, vocation promotion (SCJs were reminded by Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, vocation director, that the best vocation tool isn’t social media or other marketing campaigns, it is SCJs themselves), the preparation and welcoming of international SCJs and other religious for ministry in the US Provincer, Dehonian “branding” (obvious visual images, such as the SCJ logo, displayed at parishes to indicate that it is served by Dehonians), and opportunities for spiritual growth for both the SCJs and those with and to whom they minister.

“I was very proud to be present at Mission Education in South Dakota last week as collaborators learned about the history of the early SCJs who overcame significant obstacles to begin ministry in the United States,” said Fr. Vien. “I hope that we can find inspiration from their example, and continue to share that sense of pride and history with others.”