Weekly News: April 16, 2012

During his sabbatical in North America last year Fr. Zénon visited several of our benefactors. Here he and Pam Milczarski of the province development office are with a long-time friend of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.

Familiar face to American donors named to lead Congolese Province

During his sabbatical in North America last year Fr. Zénon Sendeke, an SCJ from the Congolese Province, visited several of our benefactors. He is pictured above on one of those visits with Pam Milczarski of the province development.

In March, Fr. Zénon was named provincial superior of his province; he will be the first Congolese SCJ to hold the position (his term begins on July 1). Congo follows the African provinces of Mozambique and Cameroon who are also being led – for the first time –– by citizens of their own countries.

The Priests of the Sacred Heart are evolving from being a missionary presence in Africa to truly being African.

This is quite a change from the early 1970s when a young Zénon told an SCJ at his parish that he too wanted to be a priest. When Fr. Zénon was accepted as a candidate in 1975 there was no novitiate, no philosophy nor theology program.

“No one knew where to send the young Zeno,” laughed Fr. Zénon, who, after taking part in a novitiate program operated by another religious community in Kinshasa, professed vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart in 1978.

Noting the many changes that the Congolese Province has gone through, Fr. Zénon said that while it is sad to see the number of missionaries decline, there is great pride in the fact that so many Congolese are now taking over parishes and other activities in the province. “It is a blessing, and I trust that our missionaries take great pride in seeing their mission continuing.”

A story about Fr. Zénon and the Congolese Province is now on the province website. Click here to read it.

A new assignment in a new SCJ project

After spending much of his sabbatical in the ESL program at Sacred Heart School of Theology, Fr. Wladyslaw T. Mach is heading back to Europe, and soon, to his new assignment in Berlin, Germany. A Polish member of the Austria-Croatian District, Fr. Wladyslaw will join an international community of SCJs in Berlin who are just beginning a new initiative.

Fr. Wladyslaw Mach, SCJ

“Our international team is going to live at a large parish,” said Fr. Wladyslaw, “and live in the spirit of Fr. Dehon. Our team includes two Brazilians who have already been a part of the German Province for some time, a German, a Pole and myself.”

The team will do traditional parish ministry, and pastoral care at a nearby university and clinic, as well as ministry to Berlin’s Portuguese immigrant community. However, Fr. Wladyslaw said that it isn’t the ministry itself that is unique but instead, the commitment of the team to do ministry as an international religious community, based in Dehonian spirituality. “We are not ministering as individuals, we are ministering together as a religious community. It is an important signal to those discerning a vocation. We are a religious community and they will see us living that.”

The area of Berlin in which the team will be based is “very multicultural,” said Fr. Wladyslaw. “It is also very secular. It is important to be able to offer a Christian response to the questions people have in their daily lives…

“I am very grateful to the U.S. Province for the opportunity to take part in the ESL program,” said Fr. Wladyslaw, who initially asked to study English “as more of a personal fulfillment or hobby,” he said. “But now I realize that I will be able to use it in Berlin since it is such a multicultural area.

“My time at Sacred Heart was a beautiful and useful time for me,” he continued. “I was able to learn English but also meet a diversity of cultures. I will bring these experiences into my new assignment.”

Two of Fr. Johnny's students working in the formation house garden.

Blogging from the Philippines

As we noted previously Fr. Johnny Klingler is in the Philippines teaching English. Yesterday (April 15) he wrote his first blog post from the formation community in Cagayan de Oro.

“On my first day at our seminary and community house in Cagayan de Oro, I was awoken at 4:30 a.m. by a symphony of cock-a-doodle-doos, the barking of dogs, the songs of birds and the tape-recorded call to prayer of our Muslin neighbors,” wrote Fr. Johnny.

“It was Wednesday morning and I went around introducing myself to the librarian, the secretary, two cooks and the lady who does the washing,” he continued. “They are all so lovely. I took my writing pad with me in order to write down their names, which helps me to remember. The class of Vietnamese aspirants that I will teach are all so friendly. They range in age from 21 to 29. They all look much younger. The first question that they ask me is, “How old are you”? It appears it is the way to get the conversation going. I start out with 42 years and work myself up to 76! They ask many questions and want so much to learn English.”

Click here to read the rest of the post

And remember, we encourage SCJs, co-workers and other collaborators to write for our province blog. The text does not need to be long; just a couple of paragraphs about something interesting that happened to you or in your ministry. Click here to submit a blog post, or contact Mary Gorski at the Provincialate Offices at 414-427-4266 to learn more about doing so.

Aging with grace, aging as an SCJ

The major superiors of Europe came together last month to continue and expand a conversation begun at the 2009 General Chapter: how do the Priests of the Sacred Heart ensure quality care for their elder SCJs and how does the congregation respond to the needs of aging and dying provinces?

Fr. Jim Schroeder, SCJ

Previously, we noted that Fr. Jim Schroeder of the U.S. Province is a part of the General Curia’s Working Group on Aging. The group of six SCJs was developed as an advisory body to the general administration; it met for the first time in February, 2011.

The working group helped to organize and facilitate the March 12-16 gathering of European major superiors held at the Dutch retirement community in Asten.

“Asten was wonderful; it showed what can be done in our communities, in places like Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake,” said Fr. Jim. “There are ways that we can help men remain in community longer… There was a strong community spirit in Asten.”

During the conference, each major superior was invited to talk about how his SCJ entity is addressing issues of aging.

“There were several examples of innovative communities,” said Fr. Jim.

In France, SCJs sold one of their buildings to a private corporation that now operates a senior residence for both SCJs and non-SCJs. The North Italian Province operates a mixed senior facility that includes SCJs, diocesan priests and laity.”

Besides discussing the needs of aging individuals, the major superiors also discussed concerns related to aging provinces.

Click here to read the full article on the province website.

Also, the March 12 National Catholic Reporter published an article about the aging of priests in the United States. Click here to read it.

Provincial’s time

Fr. Tom Cassidy is in the Milwaukee area the next two weeks. On April 29 he leaves for Mississippi.

Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at Fr. Tom’s journal from his visit to the Philippines in March. Click here to go directly to it.

Upcoming meetings and events:

May 2-3: North American Councils meeting, Hales Corners
May 15: Mass for the Anointing of the Sick, SHM/SHST (1 p.m.)
May 30-31: Provincial Council Meeting (budgets)
June 15: Feast of the Sacred Heart (11 a.m.)
June 28: Provincial Council Meeting (conference call re: formation)
July 3-4: Provincialate Offices closed for Independence Day.
July 9-12: Province Assembly, Hales Corners
July 16-21: General Conference, Neustadt, Germany
July 23-25: SCJ Major Superiors Meeting, Neustadt, Germany
October 12: Dedication of Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake

April 8-9: Mission Education Conference, St. Joseph’s Indian School
Week of June 3: Province Election Assembly.