April 12, 2010

Fr. Stephen Huffstetter baptizes a student at St. Joseph's Indian School during a weekend visit home in the middle of cancer treatment at Mayo. Our thanks to Christoph Mosel of St. Joe's for sharing the photo.

A short visit home

Fr. Stephen Huffstetter was able to make a short visit back to St. Joseph’s Indian School this past weekend to celebrate first communions and baptisms.  As he notes in the following update, Fr. Steve is now at the halfway point in his cancer treatment:

“Two eventful happenings today,” he wrote. “First, I passed the halfway point of my radiation, so it’s downhill from here. I expect to be done on April 23. My meeting with the radiologist was very short today because I’m not developing severe side effects like so many others around me. The last two weeks could be different, but I’m not going to complain about these first three.

“Second, the doctors set the date for surgery: Tuesday, May 25. So I’ll be back at St. Joe’s and able to do most of my regular duties for about a month. Unfortunately, I will be in the hospital for the eighth grade graduation, but I will at least be around for many of the other events leading up to it.

“If all goes well I should be home this weekend for baptisms and first communions.”

Evidently, all did go well, for as we can see in the photo above, Fr. Steve made it home for the weekend.

Provincial’s Time

Fr. Tom Cassidy has meetings this week in Milwaukee.   On April 16 he heads to Rome for a visit to the Generalate and then CMSM meetings through April 28.  The next council meeting will be May 10-12.

Proxy votes

Members of the province who need to vote in this year’s election assembly by proxy need to have their written request to Fr. Tom Cassidy by May 1. Your request can be sent by fax, regular mail and/or electronic mail.  If you have questions about this, please contact Br. Frank Presto, provincial secretary.

Remember in prayer

Fr. Michael van der Peet is out of the hospital at back at the Congregational Home.  Fr. Jim Brackin notes that “this recent hospital stay has taken its toll.”  Please keep Fr. Michael in your prayers.

Br. Brian Tompkins of the Canadian Region is pictured (third from left) with fellow members of the final vows program in the Philippines.

Canadian brother preparing for final vows with fellow SCJs in Asia

As a part of their preparation for perpetual profession many SCJs from North America have taken part in one of the congregation’s international final vow programs. La Capelle, France, the founder’s birthplace, has been the host site of several such programs.

This year, Br. Brian Tompkins, a member of the Canadian Region (and a novitiate classmate of Br. Long Nguyen and Br. Clay Diaz of the U.S. Province), is doing his final vow program in the Philippines.  He is pictured above with other participants.

Fr. Vincent Sri Herimanto, director of the program, wrote a bit about it in a recent email:

“This program started 2003 in India,” he began “In 2007, it was held in Indonesia, and in 2009 and now in 2010 it is in the Philippines.”

The goals of the program are to “enable participants to review and to deepen their sense of Dehonian spirituality and charism in the context of religious life, and enrich their religious experience by sharing and reflecting together.”  He adds that another important aspect of the program is to help “strengthen their bonds with the international congregation.”

This year’s course runs from April 5 through May 12.  The first week was led by Fr. Kusmaryadi (district superior of India) and focused on the spirituality of the Sacred Heart.  This week, the second of the program, is led by Fr. Vincent Suparman of Indonesia, who will talk about the Dehonian pastoral mission.

Fr. P.J. McGuire of the U.S. Province will lead a week on Dehonian spirituality and charism; and then the program will end with a retreat directed by Frs. Andrew Sudol and John Karl Cabaluna of the Philippine District.

“We are very happy because one of the participants comes from outside of Asia,” wrote Fr. Vincent.  “Br. Brian comes from the Region of Canada. It means the process of this program will be more enriching.”

This year’s program has 13 participants.  Besides Br. Brian, there are eight SCJs from India and four from the Philippines.

“We are grateful to the U.S. Province for one of the main resources of this program, Fr. P.J. McGuire, who speaks on Dehonian spirituality and charism,” wrote Fr. Vincent.  “Since this program was started in 2003, Fr. McGuire has always been with us. His knowledge and insights are a great help for our young Dehonians in deepening their understanding and reflection about our spirituality.”


Please note that the correct fax number for Fr. Jack Kurps is: 662-342-3390.

Remembering those who built the province

As we have for the past year  we will continue to share a bit of information about deceased members of the province on or near the anniversary of their death. This week we remember three SCJs:

Fr. Leo Friederichs (d. April 16, 1980): Born in 1911, Fr. Leo was a priest who loved tradi­tion. One of his favorite pastimes was the study of church history, which he enjoyed incorporating in­to his homilies.

He made his first profession in 1940, his final vows three years la­ter and was ordained to the priest­hood in 1943. Having come to the community as an “older vocation,” he had done previous college studies and was able to finish his theo­logical work quickly.

One of his greatest joys was cele­brating Mass. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t blessed with the best of voices,” laughed Fr. John Czyzynski.

“He was a bit of a character sometimes too,” added Fr. John. “I remem­ber when he’d celebrate Mass and would hold up the large host it front of his face — you know, the really big hosts. He’d hold it right in front of his eyes and then would slowly peer around the corner, as if to make sure we were all still there.”

To relax, Fr. Leo enjoyed taking care of trees, especially in the apple orchards near Kilroe Seminary in Honesdale. He literally shared the fruits of his labor with SCJs, neighbors and local children. During apple season, he’d often stroll into the nearby school in Honesdale with a bushel full of fruit for the students.

He ministered in many areas of the country, including Our Lady of Fatima Chapel in Pittsburgh, one of his last assignments.

Br. Conrad Thelen (d. April 16, 1998): Just shy of 95, Br. Conrad was the oldest member of the U.S. Province when he died in 1998.

“He had been professed 75 years –– can you imagine?  Seventy-five years!”  said Fr. Michael van der Peet during his homily at Br. Conrad’s funeral.

One of the founding members of the U.S. Province, Br. Conrad was born in Tondorf, Germany, in 1903.  He came to the community as a student in 1919 and professed his first vows in 1922.  While it was still a mission of the German Province, Br. Conrad volunteered to come to the United States in 1929.  A farmer by trade, Br. Conrad felt at home in his new country, clearing land and farming food for the SCJ seminary communities.

For 44 years, he worked at Divine Heart Seminary in Donaldson, Ind.  Opening the high school in 1935, he was responsible for clearing the grounds, placing water pipes, planting the fields and laying the driveway.

When Divine Heart closed, Br. Conrad stayed in the Donaldson area for a few years, working for the Poor Handmaids.  However, in 1979 he decided to retire and moved to Dehon Seminary in Lanesboro, Mass.  Used to hard work, he quickly turned an unkempt piece of land on the property into a fertile vegetable garden, providing much produce for his local community.

When the Villa Maria retirement community was established in Franklin, Wis., Br. Conrad became one of its first members.

“Br. Conrad always reminded me of  St. Joseph, quietly doing what had to be done without a lot of fuss,” said a neighbor of Divine Heart Seminary.  “Throughout the years when he was responsible for the farm at the seminary, putting in really long hours, he was still always the same humble brother doing his best for the Lord.”

Fr. Frank Strafalace (d. April 18, 2003): Just minutes after delivering a meditation on the last words of Jesus on Good Friday at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston, Fr. Frank  collapsed and died of a heart attack.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Penn. Fr. Frank was a chaplain’s assistant in the Navy from 1948-1952.  Following his discharge, he studied art and design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and then worked in the field for several years before pursuing a vocation to religious life.

Fr. Frank professed his first vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart in 1958.  In 1965 he was ordained to the priesthood.  He attended Dehon and Kilroe Seminaries before completing his studies at Sacred Heart School of Theology.

His assignments took him around the country and the world.  From 1967-1971 he was a missionary in South Africa.  In the United States he served in South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, and Texas.

For ten years before his death he had been the associate pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston.

Besides his pastoral ministry, Fr. Frank loved to garden.  While serving in Lower Brule, S.D., Fr. Frank won the “Yard of the Year” award from the Lower Brule Community Club.