20 Questions with Dehonians
Favorite color? What makes you happy? What are you good at? What is your greatest fear… “Twenty Questions” is a regular feature in which SCJs and those with whom they minister and collaborate share a bit about themselves in an informal Q&A. Participants are given the same list of questions and are invited to answer as many as they would like.
I was born in Boston, in 1937, the fourth of seven children – five boys and two girls. My dad and mom lost three small stores to the crash of 1929. He then went to work for the post office for the next 30-plus years. My mom was a homemaker and the spiritual center of the family. Life itself is my hobby or pastime. Sorry, but that’s my initial response. Years ago when having my life-changing experience of God, I realized that you get out of life what you put into it. I then committed myself to put my whole being into life. My favorite food is mint chocolate chip ice cream. No, maybe spumoni. No, chocolate. Okay, all three! For me, union with God is my everything. This is the call of the SCJ, union with Jesus in his self-offering to God for the good of all and, as we know today, the good of all creation. I take much heart from the opening phrase of #23 in our Rule of Life which is a “welcome to the Spirit.” For me, that means that everything I do to be more like Jesus is because I allow, I welcome, the Spirit into my life. Without that Spirit, I am nothing. READ MORE.
I was born in Berwick, PA, and when I was seven my family moved to Philadelphia; I was raised there. What would people be surprised to learn about me? There are several things that I think are worth mentioning, things that people might not know about me. I served four years in the 1950s in the Air Force, 18 months on Kumejima Island in the East China Sea. I attended the University of Nevada, Reno, on the GI Bill. When I became Bishop of De Aar, South Africa, there was the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and I was able to get a nurse, Sr. Cathy, a Sacred Heart Sister, to start hospices in our diocese. They were mostly home-care hospices. From the start in our diocese, approximately 40 towns in other dioceses began hospice programs. When Bishop Tutu retired, I attended the celebration of him in Kimberley with all the Anglican bishops, I was the only Catholic bishop there. I was stabbed once, and once hit on the head, rendered unconscious, and robbed. Thankfully, I have no lasting health issues from this. I have ordained priests in South Africa, Poland, Ireland, and the United States. What makes me happy? Being a priest, interacting with the poor and the sick who have touched my life deeply. I do consider myself a son of Fr. Dehon. His community has given meaning and harmony and joy to me. READ MORE
I was born in St. Louis, MO. I am the third of five children with one sister, the oldest, and four brothers. Religion played an important role in our family. My father was Baptist before converting to Catholicism during my seminary years, and my mother was Roman Catholic. I always felt their deep love for us children. My favorite book is Thomas Merton’s The Seven Story Mountain and my favorite color is a toss-up between blue and red. My least favorite chore is cleaning the bathrooms! What initially interested me in the SCJs were four things: first, the idea of living as a priest in a religious community; secondly, the spirituality centered in the Heart of Christ; third, our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon, SCJ, someone passionately committed to social justice issues; fourth, the possibility of becoming a foreign missionary. [Fr. Mark served in Indonesia for over 30 years] Now, I continue to feel the excitement of how the congregation continues to develop and expand around the world. For me, calling myself a Dehonian makes being a Priest of the Sacred Heart more personal and connects me not only with our founder, but also with the names and faces of all the members of our worldwide Dehonian family. READ MORE
I was born in Tamil Nadu, one of the states in India. I am the second child among the six; my parents are very simple. My father is a fisherman and my mother is a housewife. “The Life of Pi” is one of my favorite movies because it makes me think and feel that “even in the mist of hopelessness, don’t lose faith on the future.” My favorite book is Man’s Search for Meaning, written by Viktor E. Frankl, because it taught me how to patiently maintain hope with positivity. I believe that I am good at building relationships with everyone; I never want to harm others but rather make others happy. I live my life in simplicity and humbleness with others. I work hard to fulfill my responsibilities; I have a heart that feels as one with others in their sorrows and joys. These are some of the qualities that people have told me that I have so I feel that I have them in me and try to live up to them. I believe that I am a Dehonian because love is the foundation of everything, and my life is rooted in the love of God and love of neighbor. The reparatory love of Jesus in me directs my life in joy, happiness and peace. I live by the Dehonian spirit of availability and charity in establishing social justice in me and in others. READ MORE
I was born in Batanghari, a little town thirty miles East of Teluk Betung, the capital of Lampung Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. We are nine, four boys and five girls. Instead of having siesta after school hours, all the boys in my family would work in the field until 5:00 p.m. The girls would take care of the household jobs. The boys in the family worked at least three hours in the field six days a week. On Sundays I would help my mother in her grocery store (no church; I was not baptized until I was 17). I took a sewing class when I was in high school. I used to make my school uniforms and school bags. My teacher said that I was very good and creative in sewing. When I joined the SCJs in 1986, I passed down the manuals to my cousin because I knew that I would not have the opportunity to exercise my skills in the formation house. When I was a boy, I wanted to become a truck driver to help my father haul the crops from the field to the market. My greatest fear is when I feel like a stranger in the crowd. I consider myself a Dehonian. Since my first assignment in 1989 as a scholastic and then again in 1995 as a newly ordained priest, I accepted assignments in some of the most challenging places, places that are at times forgotten by others. That means to me that God has his own plan for me, and I just make myself available. There is no need to be afraid of an assignment when it fulfills the need of the congregation. READ MORE.
I love the stars. My favorite color is the deep indigo blue of a star-dusted cloudless sky just before it turns black. One of my favorite moments was sharing this to an assembly of children during Catholic Schools week, and hearing them collectively inhale, ooooh, and ahhh. If I did nothing that day but inspire some of them to look up that night in Wonder and Awe at what God creates it was worth it. As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut. I devoured stories of the moon landings and space shuttle, and especially technical articles and manuals about HOW the machines worked and how the astronauts and engineers made them fly. The relationship between the electrical system and the life-support system on the International Space Station is amazing practical and almost poetic in its design and construction. A Priest of the Sacred Heart – Fr. Joe Ford – baptized me as an infant, and they served at my home parish for decades. I was interested in them because their common life and interest in the ordinary lives of people reflected God’s own loving kindness in some way. As I got/get to know them better, I discover their concern that people and social structures reflect the Love of Christ to both smooth my rough edges and challenge me to act each day. READ MORE
When I was a kid I wanted to be a shortstop for the Chicago White Sox or shooting guard for the Boston Celtics (my favorite team before the Chicago Bulls were started). After reality set in, I thought more about being a lawyer, modeling myself after Perry Mason on TV. When I took the standard vocational interest test in high school it told me that I would be best suited to teach elementary school. I first met the SCJs through Divine Heart Seminary in Donaldson, IN, which was just 10 miles away from my hometown. They started a day student program for commuters who lived in the area and wanted a good Catholic education. We had no Catholic high school in Walkerton, and three other guys from our parish were driving back and forth every day. Dad asked me to join them and try it for a year to see if I liked it. I did get an incredibly good education. I got to know students from many different areas of the US, from the Carolinas to California, who were quite culturally and ethnically diverse. What I liked most about the SCJs was that they were very human and relatable. They were good teachers, but also coached and played sports with us, led us in prayer and on retreats, and rolled up their sleeves and worked alongside us when things needed to be done. They helped a lot of people and as I finished high school and thought about the future, I decided to give the college seminary program in Chicago a try. READ MORE.
I joined the SCJs when I was turning 19. When I look back, I can honestly say that I grew up with the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). I was educated (and continue to be) and guided by this family. On August 12, 2020, I will be 21 years in vows with the Dehonians. I always consider the Dehonians as my second family. To be a Dehonian for me is to struggle to live the “Dehonian dream” which is to be a “prophet of love and servant of reconciliation”. This is a kind of everyday call and challenge. It is also the sense that I give to my training in New Testament studies, to become more aware of the love of God for humanity made manifest in the open heart of Jesus, and to learn how to talk about this love. Being a Dehonian today is to make relevant the “Dehonian dream” in our world in bringing joy and hope to people, and to work for peace and reconciliation. When I was a kid, my big dream was to become a medical doctor because my auntie, who is a religious in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Charity of Jesus and Mary (Belgium), is a medical doctor. I was impressed by the work she was doing with the poor and sick people in my region. READ MORE.
I was born in Leamington, a small town of approximately 8,000 people, situated on the shore of Lake Erie, south of the Windsor/Detroit border. I came to know the community in our minor seminary in Delaware, Ontario. Members of the community taught the whole secondary school curriculum – some talented and natural teachers, others not so capable, but all doing their best. I was very much attracted by their approachability, and the camaraderie among them. I grew to love the lifestyle, the way they shared their faith, not only by including us in much of their prayer life, but also by the informal statements which revealed their relationship with God. I think I am a Dehonian. I know that our community has an identity among the parishioners of the parishes in which we minister, but I find it difficult, as they do, to put that into words; whatever it is, I am convinced that I am a part of it. As I age, I have the sense that our Dehonian identity has much to do with an attitude of loving surrender in the encounter with all that life brings us. I think being a Dehonian means accepting the life we are given, with the understanding that it is a gift from a God who, as the founder said with Paul, “… loved me and gave himself for me.” The meaning of being a Dehonian is an ongoing search woven into our lives. READ MORE.
I call the mountains around Colville, WA, my home. It is a small town in the northeast corner of Washington and has always been centered around the logging, farming and ranching industries. I would love to go to Indonesia; I have been in contact with so many people from Indonesia through Facebook and through the SCJs whom I have met through meetings or through their studying here. I would like to go there and get to know each of them, gather them all together and have a wonderful meal together. I love to read and study; I have been an avid reader and collector of books since I was very young. I love to grow plants all year round, always have fun seeing a seed that I have gotten from the dining room grow into a beautiful plant. What would people be surprised to learn about me? Probably that I am a “second career” priest with two grown children and five grandchildren, and that I graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering focusing on production and labor efficacy from Jackson State University. Also, I worked for 15 years in the Electric Transformer industry and 15 years at a nuclear power plant. READ MORE
I was born in Grenville, Québec, on July 19 ,1944. I am the tenth of 16 children, one of whom died after three days. We were six girls and 10 boys. Both my mother, a Catholic, and my father, an Anglican, were born in Grenville. We were raised in a climate of faith and love, and great respect for each other and for all people around us. As far as I can remember, I always wanted to become a priest, influenced that I was by the parish priest we had in Grenville who was a very holy person, very dedicated and especially attentive to the poor people of the area. Our family was among them. I did what we called “messes en blanc” with some of my friends, and, of course, I was the presider.There are many persons whom I admire, but I certainly have a special admiration for someone who has inspired me for years now, that is Mgr. Oscar Romero. He has helped me to understand that the Gospel cannot simply be a book that you read and then put aside, but it has to become a way of life that calls you to deep conversion which leads you to live like Christ did. Mgr. Romero made that choice and lived up to it. Honestly, in my heart, I had “canonized” Mgr. Romero way before he was officially recognized as a saint. READ MORE
I was born on July 15, 1979, in Port Arthur, TX and grew up in Thibodaux, LA. My parents were immigrants from Vietnam. They lived in Florida, Arkansas, Port Arthur and Amelia, LA, before settling down in Thibodaux. I am content with staying local and content with quiet places to simply walk, sit, think or drink coffee. I am good at being grateful and finding joy in small things. I purchased a Xaphoon earlier in the summer which caused me to rediscover a prior skill. I was in the school band in the fifth grade, playing alto saxophone. During this quarantine, I have found joy in playing music. I love meditation which came about naturally, and evolving, over the past several years. It is a tool to cope with challenges. It is finding connections with body, mind, spirit and God. My favorite foods are sloppy joes, Hawaiian pineapple pizza, and picadillo (New York Times’ recipe). As a child, I wanted to be a paramedic. My greatest fear is when folks are too involved in the external world and have no need for depth and meaning. There would be no need for prayer without both. The external world can also take me away from the internal life. READ MORE
I was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised there. My parents were Italian immigrants who came here when they were young; my mother was seven and my father was 16. I had five sisters and four brothers. Myself and two sisters survive today. My favorite movie is Silence of the Lambs and my favorite book is Awareness by Anthony DeMello. If I could travel anywhere I would go to Japan. I’m fascinated by their culture, especially their hospitality and ancestor worship. I would also like to go to Egypt. I used to be very good at racquetball and so-so at tennis. I am good at history trivia and word games. My favorite color is cobalt blue and my favorite food is Pasta e Fagiole (beans and macaroni), an Italian peasant dish. When I was a child I wrote in my grade school graduation book that I wanted to be a radio announcer; that amuses me now. What makes me happy? Listening to really good conversation (not necessarily my own), listening to favorite music, seeing a good movie I have not seen before. The last good movie I saw was Fargo. I like reading a thriller murder mystery. READ MORE.
I was born in Pittsburgh, PA. All of my grandparents emigrated from southern Italy and settled there to raise their families. Victor and Rita were my parents. Tina is my sister. Dad worked for the USPS for 30+ years. When he started after WWII, USPS (it had a different name then) was using trains to deliver long distance mail and he was part of the crew that loaded the postal cars. Mom was a housewife trying to keep us fed, clothed and nurtured. She started a part-time job when I left for high school, cleaning offices in a commercial park near our home. Eventually that effort helped them pay off the mortgage early. I strive to be Dehonian. Some days it is easier than others. For me, being Dehonian is integrating the core values in my life and living accordingly. The Sacred Heart becomes, hopefully, the cornerstone of my being as I interact with others. It’s a hard act to follow sometimes. There is a line in the movie Metropolis that partially sums up the endeavor. I probably will not quote it accurately but one of the key characters says “The Heart is the mediator between the Head and the Hands.” That is the context I use when trying to integrate our charism into my life. READ MORE
I was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. My family is composed of two parents and three children, one girl and two boys. I am the middle child. My family is made up mostly of introverts, except for my mother, who is a flaming extrovert. My favourite book is Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I love Waugh’s use of language. If I could travel anywhere I would travel to either the Orkney Islands or the Faroe Islands in search of some remnant of a natural culture. I play the guitar badly, but I’m getting better. I love to read. I’d like to be able to write prose well. I have many ideas but lack the ability to put them down on paper, to my satisfaction. My favorite food is spaghetti. I most admire Charles de Foucauld. Absolute, total commitment to his vision. What trait do I most dislike in others? Arrogance. As a child I wanted to be a farmer. What makes me happy? Being with family. READ MORE
I was born in Zanesville, raised in Somerset, Ohio. Two brothers and two sisters, all are older than me. My oldest brother and the younger of my sisters are deceased. My favorite movie is whatever I happen to be watching at the moment, usually. I really enjoyed the comedy Victor/Victoria and Mrs. Doubtfire. I like historical/bibliographic movies, but I am not sure that I always believe their facts. I will see any musical. I like all colors. I am especially dispirited by the fact that all the new cars come out in grey, black, white, blue, and sometimes red. It makes for a pretty boring parking lot. I cannot figure out what happened to the other exciting colors for cars! I learned about the Priests of the Sacred Heart from an advertisement in Catholic Boy magazine. What interested me at first was the fact that they were interested in me. I did not know anything about their spirituality or their work until I spent time with them. I enjoyed learning about them through the seminaries and contact with the individuals in the order. READ MORE.