January 4, 2010

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Provincial’s Time
Fr. Tom Cassidy starts the week at St. John’s Cathedral where he will be one of the con-celebrants of the installation Mass of Milwaukee’s new archbishop, Jerome Listecki.  On January 10 Fr. Tom will be in Mississippi for the dedication of Good Shepherd Church in Robinsonville.

Following complications from a stroke, Fr. Richard Zelonis died on January 3.

Fr. Richard Zelonis dies
Following complications from a stroke, Fr. Richard Zelonis died in Milwaukee January 3.

Originally from Niagara Falls, NY, Fr. Richard Zelonis, 81, had been a member of the Priests of the Sacred Heart since 1975.  He was a 1978 graduate of Sacred Heart School of Theology and was ordained in 1979.

Fr. Zelonis was active in parish ministry for much of his priesthood.  His first assignment after ordination was at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Raymondville, Texas.  From 1980-82 he was at Christ the King in Southaven, Miss., and from 1983-86 he served at Infant of Prague in Boonville, Miss.

He left Mississippi for South Dakota in 1987.  For three years he ministered at St. Martin parish in Murdo, SD.  Fr. Zelonis then went east to be closer to his family.  He ministered at Holy Family parish in Buffalo and St. Joseph parish in Niagara Falls.

From 1993-98 he served as chaplain at St. Monica’s Retirement Home in Racine, Wis.   After that, he retired himself, first as a member of the Pinellas Park community in Florida, and then as a member of the Mississippi community.

In recent years he had been a member of the Villa Maria community in Franklin, Wis., with residence at the Congregational Home in Franklin, Wis.

Funeral arrangements will most likely be next week and will be shared when they are finalized.

Also remember in prayer
Two other members of the congregation also died during the holiday season.  Fr. Gérard Wilhelmus Schoonebeek had been a member of the Canadian Region.  He died on January 1.

Fr. Gérard was born in Haarlem, The Netherlands, on September 14, 1923. He made his first profession on September 8, 1948, and was ordained on July 18, 1954. He was a missionary in Finland from 1955 to 1960 before coming to Canada. He served there for 47 years, working in a variety of roles, including as superior of the seminary at Pointe-au-Chêne (1962-1965), director of a youth center in the Diocese of Saint Hyacinthe, and as pastor of various parishes in the Diocese of Saint Jean-Longueuil (St. Thomas de Villeneuve, St. Isaac Jogues and St. Philippe-de-Laprairie). He also served as provincial treasurer and on the provincial council of French-Canada.

Fr. Gérard retired in Montreal in 2001 and in 2007, moved to Nijmegen (The Netherlands) where he died.

Also recently deceased is Fr. Hubert Meyer of the German Province who died January 3.  He was born in 1935, professed in 1960 and ordained in 1966.

Sacred Heart School of Theology lost a member of its community as well. Fr. Michael McLernon died on Christmas day of a rare form of cancer.

Fr. McLernon had been Associate Director of Spiritual and Human Formation at Sacred Heart since 2000. He held a Master of Education degree and a Certified Addiction Specialist certification from Johns Hopkins University. Ordained in 1957, he was a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Penn. He had served as a parish priest in Pennsylvania and as a campus administrator in Virginia, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The wake will be from 3-9 p.m. on Tuesday, January 5, with vespers for the dead at 7 p.m.  The funeral will be on Wednesday, January 6 at 11 a.m. with a brief time for viewing prior to the funeral mass.  Both will take place at Sacred Heart School of Theology.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent to Haitian Ministries or Catholic Relief Services.

Health updates
As we noted in December, Nancy Grseziak, administrative assistant at Vocation Central, had surgery to remove a brain aneurysm.  She recently contacted the office to let people know that she is “doing well and feeling good.”  Also, she extends her thanks to SCJs and co-workers for their support:

“I am truly blessed for all the thoughts and prayers sent to me from all my wonderful friends with the Priests of the Sacred Heart,” said Nancy. “I send my heartfelt thanks to all my dear friends for the beautiful flowers, thoughtful cards, and much appreciated prayers. I never could have gotten through this crisis without all the special angels I had watching out for me. There have been angels in my life. They perform their acts in human guise, borrowing the faces of family and friends. You know them too, when just the right word is needed or an act of kindness makes all the difference. God bless you all.”

Fr. Stephen Huffstetter also shares an update on his health situation.  As noted in the last Fridge Notes, a mass was discovered in his abdomen.  The initial diagnosis is that he has sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer.  He will be at the Mayo Clinic for several days of testing starting January 11.

And Dn. David Nagel has some good news about his health:  “Following radiation treatments the oncologist told me that there are no signs of lymphoma remaining.  The most recent scan was done before Christmas and on Christmas Eve I received the good news from the doctor.”

On January 1 Fr. Frank Wittouck joined the ranks of the retired.  Fr. Richard MacDonald, will be taking over as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Raymondville, Texas, and its missions. Fr. Frank will do a spiritual renewal program at the Oblate School of Theology until May and then return to the Valley to do parish work and continue prison ministry.

Ground broken
The ground-breaking for the new rectory at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Houston took place yesterday, January 3. Retired Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza presided at the ceremony.  Construction will take between seven and nine months. Fr. Ed Kilianski is pastor of OLG.

Days of Celebration and Commemoration
The 2010 edition of “Days of Celebration and Commemoration” (previously known as the birthday calendar) will be mailed to SCJs with the most recent Cor Unum.  However, a PDF of the calendar is available for download at the homepage; or you can click HERE.

Also, as we have for the past several months 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 seven SCJs. Please click HERE to read their biographies