Weekly news: August 29, 2022

Full house at SHSST

Today, August 29, is the first day of classes for students at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. With nine new seminarians, returning seminarians and students in the English and Cultural Studies program, the residential section of the seminary is at capacity. On-campus students will be joined today by seminarians from St. Francis de Sales (archdiocese of Milwaukee) for their intellection formation.

The new seminarians come from the Dioceses of Jackson, Gaylord, Lexington, Pensacola-Tallahassee, Davenport, Hamilton (Ontario), and from the Order of St. Camillus. They range in age from 26 to 65, some from business and legal backgrounds to a permanent deacon discerning priesthood.

The total number of students this year is approximately 125 seminarians and 30 lay students.  Approximately 30 bishops and religious superiors entrust their seminarians to Sacred Heart.  There are also programs for the public, including a Master of Arts – Theology, lectures, and interfaith dialogue through the Lux Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies.

Pictured above are SHSST faculty and staff at the end of last Monday’s Rector’s Day activities.

Dehonian students at Sacred Heart Monastery

The formation community at Sacred Heart Monastery looks a bit different than last year. The former novices (Jonathan Nguyen-Vuong, Jacob Smith and Michael Wodarczyk) have moved back following their professions, as has Fr. Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ, after his pastoral year in South Dakota. Also, Dn. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, moved across the road to SHML following his graduation from SHSST and assignment to St. Martin of Tours parish. This year’s formation community includes:

Frater Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ (SHSST)
Frater Jonathan Nguyen-Vuong (Cardinal Stritch University)
Frater Thuan Nguyen, SCJ (SHSST)
Frater Hung Pham, SCJ (SHSST)
Alfonso Pizano, Jr. (SCJ candidate, SHSST)
Frater Jacob Smith, SCJ (Marquette University)
Frater Truc Tran, SCJ (SHSST)
Frater Michael Wodarczyk, SCJ (SHSST)

We will share more about the students in the annual formation biographies in early fall.

We remember Fr. Jim Schifano

Fr. Jim Schifano, SCJ, died today, September 29. It was only two weeks ago that he celebrated his 50th anniversary of vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart.

Originally from Colorado Springs, CO, Fr. Jim is 77, and was ordained in 1975. Before pursuing his vocation, Fr. Jim served in the US Army; he was at the rank of sergeant when he was discharged in 1967.

Fr. Jim did his theological studies at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology and later served at the seminary from 1978-1990. However, his first assignment as a priest was at Divine Heart Seminary in Donaldson, IN.

Besides his many years serving at the seminaries and in the monastery community, Fr. Jim also did pastoral ministry, first at St. Matthew parish in Houston (1977-78). After over 20 years at SHSST, Fr. Jim returned to Houston, where he briefly served at Christ the Redeemer parish (1990-91) and then back at St. Matthew’s for five years.

In 1997, Fr. Jim joined the SCJ community in Mississippi, where he ministered for three years at St. Gregory parish in Senatobia and Sacred Heart parish in Walls. From 2004-07 he served at St. Joseph’s parish in Holly Springs.

Fr. Jim’s final assignment before retirement was with the Sacred Heart Community in Pinellas Park, FL. At the time of his death he was a member of the Sacred Heart Community at SHML.

Arrangements are pending. Please keep Fr. Jim, his family and local community in your prayers.

On the Camino!

Br. Andy Gancarczyk, SCJ, shares a photo from his trek of the Camino de Santiago. “The first leg was from San Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles. Each day is a big challenge, but I am glad that one of my dreams is coming true. It is a good time for deep reflection, prayer, being with myself and with God.

“Every day I see how God is intervening in our lives. Yesterday, while crossing the Pyrenees, I left the forest with the last of my strength, thirsty for a glass of water, and there I met an Italian family from Bologna at a campsite by the road. They invited me for lunch, fed me, gave me a drink — they even made a decent Italian coffee for me! They fell from heaven at the most unexpected moment. This is our Lord God. I couldn’t believe it, thank you!

“I am going to Santiago with a prayer intention for peace in the world as well as many, many other prayers. For the next month I will walk every day, so please keep me in your prayers as well.”

Br. Andy is on sabbatical until December.

September birthdays

Those celebrating birthdays in September include: Fr. Aegi Warsito on Sept. 1, Fr. Gustave Lulendo N’dotony on Sept. 4, Fr. Juan Carlos Castañeda Rojas on Sept. 10, Fr. John Czyzynski on Sept. 14, Fr. Andrzej Sudol and Fr. Greg Speck on Sept. 17, Fra. Jacob Smith on Sept. 21, and Fr. Joseph Thien Dinh on Sept. 24. Happy birthday!!

Professions, jubilees, and reflecting on Fr. Anthony

“The Mercy of God” was the theme of the August 16, 2022 US Province Assembly. In light of the July 21st disappearance of Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ, the original three-day gathering was adjusted to one, as was its focus from social justice issues to instead, the concept of mercy.

“How do we understand God’s love, God’s mercy in a situation like this,” said Sr. Dianne Bergant, CSA (pictured above), referring to the disappearance of Fr. Anthony. “If God is really merciful, how did he ‘allow’ this to happen?”

But mercy, said Sr. Dianne, is not just forgiveness. “Sometimes mercy also means challenge and suffering.”

Sr. Dianne, a Sister of St. Agnes of Fond du Lac, WI, served on the faculty of Catholic Theological Union from 1978 to 2014, where she had many SCJs as students. Her curriculum vitae is lengthy, including service as President of the Catholic Biblical Association of America (2000-2001) and as the Rev. Robert J. Randall Distinguished Professor of Christian Culture, Providence College, Providence, RI (2009-2010).

“What is the mercy of God calling the community to do in this moment?” she said. “How does this experience call on faith in the mercy of God?”

Sr. Dianne reminded SCJs to look at how they witness God’s mercy in each other, especially in the face of vulnerabilities seen and unseen. “Sometimes others know our vulnerabilities better than we do,” she said. “How do you reverence each other; how do we respect those to whom we claim to be united?”

In the afternoon, SCJs were invited to take part in a “spiritual walk” in honor of Fr. Anthony. For some SCJs, this involved an actual walk; divided into small groups SCJs searched areas near Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake for clues regarding Fr. Anthony’s disappearance. The areas were chosen in collaboration with the Franklin Police Department. While the walk took place, other SCJs held an Adoration service.

The assembly opened Monday evening with the First Professions ceremony and closed Tuesday with the Jubilee celebrations.

First professions

On August 15, Jonathan Nguyen-Vuong, Jacob Smith and Michael Wodarczyk professed their First Vows and became members of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. Receiving their vows was Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, who made his own First Profession exactly 25 years earlier.

Born in Riverside, CA, and raised in Broussard, LA, at 21 Jonathan becomes the youngest member of the US Province. Before entering the Novitiate last year, Jonathan was a student at Cardinal Stritch University in suburban Milwaukee, where he returns this fall.

Originally from Houston, Jacob, 22, is a convert to Catholicism. He felt called to both the Catholic faith and to a priestly vocation. Soon that call led to the Priests of the Sacred Heart. Jacob said that he “was attracted to the SCJ community initially because of the many opportunities to work overseas, as well as the vibrant ECS community I met during my Come and See vocation weekend.” Jacob returns to undergraduate studies at Marquette University.

Michael, 34, grew up just a few miles from Sacred Heart Monastery, in Brookfield, WI (suburban Milwaukee). Before entering the SCJ formation program he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in accounting. Michael returns to his studies at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.

Click here to read more on the province website, as well as access a video of the First Professions ceremony and an online photo album.

14 SCJs celebrate jubilees

On August 16, the US Province commemorated the 70, 60, 50, 40 and 25-year anniversaries of First Professions of 14 SCJs. They included Fr. Bernie Rosinski (70 years); Fr. Thomas Cassidy, Fr. Mark Fortner, Fr. Patrick Lloyd and Fr. Steve Pujdak (60 years); Fr. James Brackin, Fr. Jack Kurps, Dn. David Nagel and Fr. James Schifano (50 years); Fr. Stephen Huffstetter (40 years); and Br. Duane Lemke, Fr. Vien Nguyen, Fr. David Szatkowski and Fr. Chuck Wonch (25 years).

“I am happy to be an SCJ because I am surrounded by saints,” said Fr. Bernie, our eldest jubilarian who notes 70 years in vows. “There are so many of them, both deceased and still living. I find that by being with them I discover their saintliness, often hidden, but discoverable through attentiveness and observation. It’s not that my SCJ brothers don’t have faults. It’s that they seek to find them out, work on them, weed them out, and face any fault or weakness that prevents the LOVE and SERVICE to others that Fr. Dehon called for. That takes courage and guts. That SCJ tradition is bonding.”

Fr. Jack, a 50-year jubilarian, said that “I try hard to be a faithful son of Fr. Dehon. When I look to see where we minister – not just here in the US but also in some of the most difficult places in the world – and what God has accomplished through us, I am proud and happy to be part of this.”

What makes Fr. Steve, a 40-year jubilarian, happy to be an SCJ? “Our focus on God’s crazy and unconditional love for each of us!” he quickly answered. “I am sustained and encouraged by others to grow spiritually and have the chance to be invited into the lives of people in deeply personal ways. I’m grateful for the care and example shown to me by so many SCJs over the years. I’m also privileged for the opportunity to see our charism carried out in different countries and cultures… I believe our charism is a gift to the church that is well worth being a part of.”

Click here to read more about the jubilarians, as well as access links to the livestream of the celebration, photos, and the text of Dn. David Nagel’s homily.

Mark your calendars

Items of note during the next few weeks include the September 7th meeting of SCJs in parish ministry with members of the Provincial Council (10:00 am – noon; participants should have received information from Fr. Vien Nguyen), the September 12-14th  meeting of fundraisers (the General Treasurer’s Office will host an international meeting of the congregation’s fundraisers in Hales Corners; a meeting of the General Finance Commission will take place in conjunction with the fundraisers’ meeting), the September 20-21st meeting of Local Superiors with the Provincial Council (again, participants should have received information about the meeting from Fr. Vien), and finally, the Provincial Council will meet in Hales Corners September 27-28th.

Labor Day

Next Monday, September 5, the Provincial Offices will be closed for Labor Day; the next Fridge Notes will be published on Monday, September 12.

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