April 26, 2010

Remembering Fr. Michael

Following complications from a stroke, Fr. Michael van der Peet  died April 21.  He was 85.

Fr. Michael van der Peet

Fr. Michael would probably be the first to say that no one person’s life is more important than another’s.  The work of a quiet parish priest, or a brother doing ministry with the elderly, is just as important as a person whose life and work often put him at the center of attention, both within his community and in public media.  However, Fr. Michael certainly made it easy to share the significance of his life with others.

A teacher, spiritual director, musician and retreat leader, Fr. Michael was probably best known in recent years for his friendship with Mother Teresa.

“She once told me, ‘You know and understand our spirituality, that’s why I keep in touch with you,’” said Fr. Michael.  “That meant a lot to me, to know that she felt that we were on the same wavelength.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that I am as holy as she, but she felt that I did understand who she was and what she was about.”

Much has been posted about Fr. Michael on the province website.  To read a feature on him, click HERE.

A reflection on his life, written by Fr. Michael, is available HERE.

Also, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s obituary feature can be accessed HERE.

The wake for Fr. Michael will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27 and the Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 28.  Both are at Sacred Heart Monastery/School of Theology.

Provincial’s Time

During his visit in Rome, Fr. Tom Cassidy was able to attend the diaconate ordination of Pablo Minamres Barbero at the Generalate.

“It is now Sunday morning in Rome and I am preparing to take a bus later this morning to our Generalate to attend the deacon ordination of Pablo Minambres Barbero, SCJ, from Spain,” wrote Fr. Tom Cassidy wrote in his entry posted on the province blog site today.  “Deacon ordinations at our Generalate are a bit rare as most of the students are priests working on advanced degrees. Pedro completed his theological studies in Spain and is working on a doctoral degree from the Gregorian University.

“I am able to attend the ordination and celebration to follow since this is Sunday and all Vatican offices are closed. That is not the case on Saturday as weekends here do not begin until 1:00 PM on Saturday afternoons.”

Click HERE to read the rest of the entry and other posts.

Fr. Tom returns from Rome on April 28.

Share a bit about your day!

As noted above, the province now has a “blog.”  An informal space on the internet, on it will be periodic postings from members of the community, as well as co-workers and other “friends” of the SCJs.  If you would like to post a contribution, please contact Mary Gorski.

You can access the blog at http://www.scjusa.wordpress.com or from the “blog” tab at the bottom of the province website.


Br. Clay Diaz will be one of nine December 2009 St. Xavier University (Chicago) graduates who will be recognized on April 28 by the Student Success Program.  The program is a part of a network of 900 such programs that focus on assisting students of first-generation immigrants to the United States.  Br. Clay’s family is originally from Puerto Rico.

The December graduates will be honored along with 21 spring graduates.

Br. Clay is currently doing his pastoral ministry year in South Dakota.  “I became a candidate for the Priests of the Sacred Heart in August, 2003,” he wrote in his biographical update last fall. “Throughout theses years I have grown to love this community; I have grown both spiritually and personally.”

Following his year in South Dakota, Br. Clay will return to Chicago where he will pursue a degree in religious studies at Catholic Theological Union.

Leaving the Valley

During Masses on the weekend of April 17-18 in Willacy County, Texas, it was announced that the Priests of the Sacred Heart will be withdrawing from ministry in the area in 2011.

Fr. Richard MacDonald, a member of the pastoral team in the Valley, reports that “The letters [from the Raymondville bishop and from Fr. Tom Cassidy] were read at all six of our Masses and believe me, with lots of tears.  Yet I think people understood that this was the reality.  Fortunately, it is the bishop’s disposition that this whole process of leaving and bringing in the new pastor should take some time.  Grieving the change and the loss should help us to go forward with our lives with hope and positive attitudes.

“But the SCJs will be greatly missed.  Some people wanted to come to the microphone during Mass and speak about how they have been affected by the SCJs, others said ‘please mention the different priests who were here,’ etc.  It was an emotional weekend.”

In his letter to parishioners, Fr. Tom Cassidy wrote: “In turning back to the diocese the pastoral duties of your parish I believe every SCJ who has served here has left his mark and while we may be leaving, the heart of our charism, that God loves you with an everlasting love, lives on in each one of you.”

You can download a PDF of Fr. Tom’s letter by clicking HERE, or of Bishop Daniel Flores’ letter to parishioners by clicking HERE.

Dn. Gerald Okoli (SHST student), Archbishop Listecki, Fr. Charlie Bisgrove and Fr. Jan de Jong (president-rector of SHST) at the archbishop’s first Mass with the SHST community.

Milwaukee archbishop visits SHST

On April 21 Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee celebrated Mass with the community at Sacred Heart School of Theology. It was his first visit to the school at which Milwaukee seminarians receive their academic training.

Photos from the visit can be viewed at the province  Facebook site.

Happy birthday

Those celebrating birthdays in May include:  Fr. Charles Yost (78) and Fr. Mark Fortner (70) on May 4, Fr. Byron Haaland (61) on May 6, Fr. Bryan Benoit (48) and Fr. Jack Kurps (59) on May 7, Fr. Guy Blair (59) on May 8, Fr. Anthony Kluckman (63) and Fr Elie Ngoy (43) on May 12, Bishop Joseph Potocnak (77) on May 13, Fr. Thi Pham (35) on May 14, Fr. Jim Casper (72) on May 20, Fr. Bob Tucker (58) on May 21, Fr. Wayne Jenkins (63) on May 25 and Fr. Stephen Huffstetter (51) and Fr. PJ McGuire (68) on May 31.