Weekly News: December 18, 2023

“The mystery of the Incarnation is a mystery of love.  It is the mystery of a God so loving humanity as to become human himself.  In becoming human, the Son could not cease to be all love, for he would have ceased to be God.”

-Leo John Dehon, SCJ, The Life of Love towards the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 6th Meditation

Holiday hours     

The Provincial Offices will be closed December 25-26 and December 29 – January 1 for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. This will be the last Fridge Notes mailing of 2023.

The next Fridge Notes will be published on Monday, January 8. Please continue to visit our Facebook page for news items during that time. Have news to share? Have a story idea? Click here.

Merry Christmas and many blessings for the start of the New Year!

“May he make us people of peace”

On Saturday the general administration published its Christmas letter for the Dehonian family. An excerpt:

“May these days of Advent and Christmas help us in the task, especially in this time of Chapter, of discovering and taking on together what is truly good in the eyes of God, for you, for your community, for your family: like Mary, who welcomed the Word of the Lord without reserve; like Joseph, who left his past dreams to accept those of God; like the Magi, who knew how to understand creation and walk with it; like the shepherds, who, even in the night, never ceased to encourage one another to go to meet the Lord. May He be the One who keeps us united to know how to recognize, adore and serve Him with more heart, also among the refugees, among the men and women who cry out for their lives and their dignity in so many places in our world – all of them close to us. May he make us people of Peace in this humanity of ours, collaborators of his Love and witnesses of his Kingdom, Good News for all peoples.”

Click here to access a PDF of the full letter.

Fr. Floribert (right) with Frs. Vien and Gustave at last year’s 125th anniversary celebration in DR Congo

On Christmas, we remember our martyrs

It was on Christmas, 1897, that Fr. Gabriel Grison, SCJ, first celebrated Mass at the new Dehonian mission in Stanleyville (now Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of Congo). He and Fr. Gabriel Lux, SCJ, were the start of what has become a 126-year commitment of the Priests of the Sacred Heart to the people of DR Congo.

However, it was a commitment that came with heartache. Twenty-eight SCJs were among the many missionaries martyred during the Simba Rebellion. In 2004, the general administration established Dehonian Memorial Day, choosing November 26 to commemorate it, the anniversary of the date that Bishop Joseph Wittebols, along with six other SCJs, were martyred in Congo in 1964.

A memorial to the martyrs is in the lobby of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. Seeing it, Fr. Floribert Bulo Dhelo, an SCJ from the Congolese Province studying in the ECS program, was reminded that almost 60 years after the Dehonian missionaries were martyred, there is no significant shrine in Congo to memorialize them.

“When I reflect on the difficult pastoral conditions of moving from one place to another in the Congo, I have full respect for our former missionaries because I cannot imagine what it was like over 125 years ago,” said Fr. Floribert. “Their love for the mission is a strong, unforgettable example for us. They could have left and saved their lives in 1964, but they decided to stay with the people, and suffer as they did.”

Fr. Floribert wrote an extensive reflection on the need to commemorate these martyrs in a more significant way. Though he was inspired by the memorial that he saw at SHSST, he shares the reflection as we close in on Christmas, the anniversary of that first Mass, to remember not just the deaths of these SCJs, but the life that they brought to the people of Congo.

“We, as the living, the Priests of the Sacred Heart, have this responsibility,” wrote Fr. Floribert. “Our responsibility is to offer them a good place for devotion, to speak of them, to immortalize them in the Church and in society.”

Click here to access a PDF of Fr. Floribert’s text.

What a feast!

Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, shares his experience of being a part of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at our OLG parish in Houston where prayer and celebration filled the parish grounds and surrounding streets for two days. Fr. Henry writes:

“During my first year in formation I was able to experience a ‘Las Mañanitas’ in Chicago, which is an event that starts at dawn on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was my first taste of a feast day of Our Lady and I loved the energy, the people, the music, and the beautiful clothing.

“Eight years later, I had the opportunity to experience the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a priest, in Houston. I am glad that I arrived Sunday night as I was not prepared for what was to come. I got a sneak peek at the church and saw the beautiful decorations of roses and lights that illuminated the mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Little did I know that the flowers that were in the church were only the beginning…

“It was such a beautiful witness to see thousands of people on our church grounds, to fill up the plaza, and to be, simply in the moment…

“Every experience that I have had so far at OLG has been a great experience; it is the reason why I keep coming back. The staff of the parish and school, the parishioners –– they are so welcoming. They really embody their motto of ‘Nuestra Casa es Su Casa.’”

Click here to read Fr. Henry’s full reflection.

Photos and videos from OLG

Videos of the two days of celebration at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Houston, are available on the parish Facebook page. Click here. The posts include links to local television and newspaper reports, as well as media created by the parish.

Br. Andy Gancarczyk, SCJ, shared photos from OLG that are posted on the province Facebook page. Click here.

Also, Sacred Heart School in Southaven, MS, posted photos and video from their OLG celebration. Click here to view them.

Happy birthday!

Those celebrating birthdays in January include Frater Hung Pham on Jan. 12, Fr. Ushindi Kambale Sahani on Jan. 13, Fr. Guy Bertrand Waboo on Jan. 16, Fr. Ralph Intranuovo on Jan. 20, and Br. Andrew Lewandowski and Fr. Fabio dos Santos on Jan. 26.

Please remember

+ Teresa Nonnenmacher, who had worked for the Priests of the Sacred Heart for many years, first at the community’s Kilroe Seminary, and then at the Provincial Treasurer’s Office, died on December 8. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated in Honesdale, PA (her hometown) at a later date. Click here to view the obituary. 

+ Ray Sousa, a former SCJ (professed in 1970) died December 16. He had gone into hospice care following treatment for cancer. A memorial is to be held in January.

+ Fr. Clemens Otten, a member of the German Province, died on December 12. He was born in 1940, professed in 1962 and ordained in 1968.

A Christmas story

As noted previously, Br. Andy Gancarczyk, SCJ, has created an informal space on YouTube to share stories from SCJs about a wide variety of topics. Today, he published another in a series from Fr. Tony Russo, SCJ. Click here to view it.

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