Weekly News: December 11, 2023

Congratulations Deacon Paul!

On Saturday, December 9, Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ, was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Donald J. Hying of the diocese of Madison, WI. In a ceremony filled the blend of cultures that reflect Dn. Paul’s life, the music, readings, and prayers were done in a mix of Vietnamese and English. The ordination took place at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, where just a few days earlier he had completed his MDiv.

Dn. Paul, 31, is originally from Vietnam. His family immigrated to the United States in 2007 and settled in Houston. Before pursuing his vocation to religious life, Dn. Paul earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Houston. He professed his first vows in 2018 and in May of this year he made his final profession before heading to Ecuador for a Spanish immersion program.

Dn. Paul will spend the holidays with family in Houston before starting his assignment with the pastoral team in northern Mississippi. “I look forward to learning the basics of priesthood in parish settings, applying the training I received from the seminary, and get experience in how to live my vocation as a Dehonian in active ministry,” said Dn. Paul. “It is important for me to gradually transition into my new role as deacon; that means being more attentive toward the liturgy, preaching, serving at Mass, and most importantly, living authentically to my vocation as a future priest.”

On his way to Mississippi, Dn. Paul will make a quick detour to St. Louis to assist his novitiate classmate, Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, at SEEK24, a gathering of prayer and fellowship in St. Louis for young Catholics from January 1-5.

When Dn. Paul was asked if he has advice for young people considering a vocational call, he said that “despite our unworthiness, if God calls us, he will take care of us. There were many moments in my journey during formation that God either steered me in a certain direction or sent people to assist me in difficult times. Take courage and cooperate with his grace, respond to his invitation.”

Click here to read more.

Click here to view photos from the ceremony.

Click here or on the image below to view a recording of the livestream of the ordination. Our thanks to Br. Andy Gancarczyk, SCJ and Fr. M. Ari Saputra, SCJ, for their work in making the livestream possible.

Please remember

+ Br. Jos. Gerardus Gervasius Braks, a member of the Dutch Region, died on December 12. He was born in 1939 and professed in 1957.

+ Fr. Flávio Morelli, a member of the South Brazilian Province, died on December 7. He was born in 1929, professed in 1952 and ordained in 1957.

Keep in prayer

Ray Sousa, a former SCJ (professed in 1970), is in hospice care. In 2021 he was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer. Please keep him in prayer.

Message to SCJs: “The invitation in Advent is to keep hope alive”

At the end of November, Sr. Barbara Reid, OP, gave an Advent Hour of Recollection for province employees. Last week, she touched on many of the same themes in her presentation to SCJs, but with a focus on their call to accompany others during the season.

“Try to help your congregations enter into awe and mystery,” said Sr. Barbara to the SCJs. “That kind of movement takes time. In Advent we try to sit more quietly to watch and wait, to enter into contemplation. That’s the stance that helps us open ourselves up to wonder and mystery, to let ourselves be drawn to whatever God wants to do with us in that awe and wonder. Help folks to enter into the experience rather than explain what the gospel is saying.”

She concluded, noting that “the predominant invitation in Advent is always in hope, never to give into despair. No matter how difficult it may be to see God bringing light and joy and peace out of very troubled situations, do not dispair. The invitation in Advent is to keep hope alive, not only for ourselves but for all communities of faith and all of the individuals whom we accompany during the Advent journey.”

Click here or on the image above to view a recording of Sr. Barbara’s presentation.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Celebrations for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe have already begun at OLG, Houston. Yesterday, the parish’s Matachines group received a blessing prior to performing at last night’s Mass marking the ninth day of the Novena. Masses for the feast itself begin today at 4:00 p.m. including a 10:00 p.m. and midnight Mass outdoors on the plaza. The Las Mañanitas begin tomorrow’s celebrations in the church at 5:00 a.m. followed by six masses beginning at 6:00 a.m. and continuing until the final Mass at 8:00 p.m. Fr. Vien Nguyen will be among the SCJs in Houston assisting with the celebrations.

Fr. Rafael Querobin, SCJ (OLG pastor), is pictured above with the Matachines following the blessing of the dancers.

“His way is our way…”

Constitution No. 12 was the theme for the December of As A Rule: “In Him, the New Man has been created in the image of God, in justice and holiness of truth (cf Ephesians 4:24). He enables us to believe that despite sin, failures and injustice, redemption is possible, has been offered, and is already present. His way is our way.”

Likening Jesus’ “way” to a old, historic road in Quebec, Fr. Maurice Légaré, SCJ, wrote that “it seems to me that ‘his way’, which we want to be ours, cannot be a highway. Jesus walked on the roads of Israel and Palestine to meet people, appreciate the true faith of some, sympathize with the pain of others, relieve suffering, and bring hope. If we want His way to be truly our way, we must also take the ‘Chemin du Roy’ on which he walked, with our desire for a true encounter, getting to know the other and his experiences, offering compassion and transmission of the hope that is ours.”

Fr. Joe Dean, SCJ, in his reflection, wrote that “as SCJs, we dwell on and participate in the mysteries of Jesus’ life:  his birth, his family life and work in Nazareth, his baptism in the Jordan, his preaching the word, his solidarity with people trapped at the margins of our world, his reparatory offering of himself to God for people, even on the cross.  Day by day, such participation focuses our common life and our apostolic ministry, where it is lived out.  No matter the situation, no matter the cost, ‘[Christ’s] way is our way.’”

Click here to access the December issue of As a Rule. Note that Fr. Maurice’s reflection is first posted in French but that an English translation follows. As a Rule is an electronic publication sent by email, generally once a month. Based on a passage from the Rule of Life, it offers reflections from SCJs, coworkers and collaborators, as well as a prayers and questions for reflection. Click here to add a subscriber.

Click here to access previous issues.

Shop with a cop!

Our closing photo is from Fr. David Szatkowski, SCJ, who has served as a volunteer chaplain with the Southaven, MS, police department since 2019. “It is my way of doing what Fr. Dehon asked of us, to ‘get out of the sacristy,’” he said.

Over the weekend, getting “out of the sacristy” meant going Christmas shopping. Fr. David joined Southaven officers for “Shop with a Cop.”

“This year the department was able to assist 16 families to get gifts for the holidays,” said Fr. Dave.

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