Weekly News: February 12, 2024

Chúc mừng năm mới! [Happy New Year!]

February 10-11 the parish community at St. Martin of Tours celebrated the Lunar New Year (Tết Nguyên Đán), the Year of the Dragon. Festivities began with a special New Year’s Mass on Saturday evening to kick off the celebrations.

“The New Year’s Mass is important for the Vietnamese people because it’s a time where they can offer praise to God and remember their ancestors who have gone before them,” said Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, one of the concelebrants. “At the evening Mass, the faithful came in their traditional áo dài. After the final blessing, they picked their Scriptural passage from the tree, and that is the passage they’ll take with them for the year, to live with God’s words. These traditions are traditions from a homeland that many of them left long ago.”

On Sunday, February 11, the parish hosted a festival for the greater Vietnamese community in the area, welcoming people from  Milwaukee and beyond. Starting at 5:30 a.m., volunteers were at the church hall doing the final food preparations, including phở (beef noodle soup) or a bún bò huế (a spicier version of the soup) and decorating.

At noon the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Group sang the American national anthem; among those present was the mayor of Franklin.

The lion dancers made their appearance and “an uproar of energy was felt through the room;  it was a great way to set the stage for the afternoon,” said Fr. Henry.

In the evening there was a concert featuring well-known singers from the Vietnamese community that regularly perform on the national stage. The night ended with dancing to ring in the new year.

Our thanks to Br. Andy Gancarczyk, SCJ, for providing photos from the New Year’s Mass. Click here to visit the parish Facebook page to view more pictures and a video from Sunday’s events. There is also an album on the province photo site. Click here to access it.

The Priests of the Sacred Heart have ministered to the Vietnamese Catholic community of Milwaukee at St. Martin of Tours since 2007.

Centennial celebrations in Brazil

Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, Fr. Raúl Gomez-Ruiz, SDS (president-rector of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology) and Dr. Paul Monson (SHSST Vice President of Intellectual Formation & Academic Dean) are in Brazil this week for the 100th anniversary celebration of Faculdade Dehoniana, an apostolate of the Dehonians’ Brazil São Paulo Province. Fr. Vien will be one of the presenters, speaking to faculty, staff and students at the school about the challenges and opportunities of international priests and religious ministering in the United States. He will also take part in meetings regarding possibilities for partnership and collaboration between SHSST and the Faculdade Dehoniana.

It was a request from Bishop Dom Epaminondas Nunes D’Avila e Silva to Fr. Leo John Dehon in 1913, asking that the founder to send priests to teach at the seminary in his diocese. Fr. Dehon asked the German Province to consider the request, but World War I delayed the response. In 1919, the first Dehonians arrived in Taubaté to literally lay the groundwork for the school. Today, there are approximately 600 students at Faculdade Dehoniana, which offers undergraduate and graduate courses in Theology, Philosophy, Engineering, Economics and Management, Science, and more.

Save the date!

As stated in last week’s Fridge Notes, plans are underway for a joint conference of the US Province and Canadian Region on the threats of climate change and nuclear weapons. A date and a location has now been set.

The conference will take place October 7-10, 2024, at the Whispering Woods Hotel and Conference Center in Olive Branch, MS. It will begin with dinner Monday evening and conclude with dinner on Thursday, October 10.

Formal invitations with registration and hotel information will be sent later this spring.

Retreat for SCJs in active ministry

Another date recently added to the calendar is the retreat for SCJs in active ministry (and in formation) from May 13-16, 2024. The retreat will start with a social and dinner on Monday evening, May 13, and will end at noon on Thursday, May 16, at the Siena Retreat Center in Racine, Wisconsin. It will be led by Sr. Dianne Bergant, CSA, and will focus on the theme of synodality. SCJs and students were sent an email last week and asked to RSVP to Mary Gorski by April 17. If you have questions, please contact Fr. Rafael Querobin, SCJ, retreat organizer.

Keep in prayer

Samantha Mai Nguyen, the  sister-in-law of Fr. Duy Nguyen, SCJ, is being treated in Houston for significant bleeding on the brain. Please keep her in prayer.

Congratulations DOCTOR Joseph!!

On February 7, Fr. Joseph Mukuna, SCJ, successfully defended his doctoral thesis at Loyola University Chicago. The title of his thesis: “Reading the Prologue of John’s Gospel as a Midrash with a View to Examining a Local Parting of the Ways.”

In layman’s terms, Fr. Joseph explored how John’s gospel may have given insight into what is termed as the “Parting of the Ways,” the gradual development of Christianity as something distinct from the Jewish tradition.

Among those attending the defense in person were Dehonians Fr. Vien Nguyen, Br. Duane Lemke, Fr. Bob Bossie, Fr. John Czyzynski, Fr. Jim Schroeder and Fr. Floribert Bulo Dhelo. Others, including members of the faculty and staff of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, viewed the defense via Zoom.

A member of the Congolese Province, Fr. Joseph has been in the US Province since 2015, pursuing graduate studies at Loyola. Prior to that, he served in formation at the international formation community in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, worked with the Congolese Bishops Conference as a Bible instructor for the ecclesiastic Province of Kisangani, and on an academic team with the Pauline Sisters editing and publishing the first edition of the French version of the African Bible, LA BIBLE AFRICAINE.

Click here to read more.

“The outward sign will fade on my forehead; the thought that it expresses must remain engraved in my memory”

This Wednesday, February 14, is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. The following is an excerpt from Fr. Leo John Dehon’s reflection on Ash Wednesday, written in A Year With the Sacred Heart:

“What am I?  Dust and ashes.  The dust is blown away by the wind.  So too is my poor nature.  I am susceptible to every wind of temptation.  I am as weak in my soul and as I am fragile in my body.  My will is as movable as the dust.  In what, then, can I be proud?  What a lesson in humility!  The sage asks, ‘How can clay and ashes be proud?’ [cf. Sirach 10:9].

“Abraham said, ‘Dare I speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes?’ [Genesis 18:27].  However, he spoke to God with humility and trust.  That must be the fruit of this ceremony.  Every day I have to remember my nothingness and my fragility.  The outward sign will fade on my forehead; the thought that it expresses must remain engraved in my memory.

“I am but nothingness; however, I will go to God and I will go with humility.  I will go with the awareness of my weakness, but confident anyway, because God is good, because the Son of God took on a heart to love me, and he broke this heart to let flow on my soul the fragrance of his mercy.”


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