Weekly News: February 19, 2024

A Dehonian visit in Anaheim

Representatives from St. Joseph’s Indian School attending workshops at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress this week stopped for a visit at the Dehonians’ booth in the conference exhibit hall. Staffing the booth were Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, Br. Andy Gancarczyk, SCJ, Frater Hung Pham, SCJ and Fr. Son Nguyen, SCJ. They are pictured above with the St. Joseph’s visitors.

Bishop Perry leads Ash Wednesday reflections at SHSST

“God gives us Lent not to give up what pleases us, but to give up what displeases God.”

The quote is from Bishop Joseph Perry, retired auxiliary bishop of Chicago, who led a day of recollection on Ash Wednesday for students and staff at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.

Bishop Perry emphasized that Lent is primarily a time for spiritual growth. “Lent can come across as a somber time in which we give up some sort of pleasure for 40 days, like candy, alcohol or junk food only to pick it up again after Holy Saturday. But essentially, what we are to give up is sin, not pleasure. God wants us to tackle the important flaws that keep us from being more loving, more prayerful, more just and more compassionate…

“Lent is a time when God wants us to seriously grapple with what may have become deeply rooted attitudes and patterns in us; attitudes of superiority and pride; of narcissism, competition, impatience.”

Bishop Perry said that it is vital that people come to God in humility and allow God to speak to us in reflection. “Start with five minutes of total abandonment to God in silence,” he said. “Strip away the distractions that come between us and God. Constant busyness cancels out the very thing that we need to revitalize: hearing the voice of God.”

Bishop Perry has a long history with SHSST. He taught canon law at the seminary for many years and continues to be a frequent visitor. In 2021 he was the main presenter at the annual Dehon Lecture with the topic “The Canonization of Fr. Augustus Tolton: Significance for Race Relations and Interculturality.”

In retirement, Bishop Perry serves as chairperson of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.

Click here to view photos from the day.

Lent begins

We share a few photos from the start of Lent, including one of Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ, talking with students at St. Joseph’s Indian School about the ashes used during the Ash Wednesday liturgy, and the symbolism of the tradition. Other photos include Fr. Hendrik (Ardi) Ardianto, SCJ, distributing ashes at Sacred Heart School in Southaven, MS; Fr. Guy Blair, SCJ, doing a hallway service at Holy Family School, where the gymnasium was closed for floor repairs; Fr. Ari Saputra, SCJ, receiving ashes from Fr. Mark Mastin, SCJ, at SHSST; and Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, looking on in Taubaté while Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniú, SCJ, superior general, receives ashes the day before anniversary celebrations at Faculdade Dehoniana (see information about the anniversary below).

Please remember

Bishop Peter M. Muhich of Rapid City died February 17 of esophageal cancer. Bishop Muhich was 62 and had entered hospice care only days before his death.

The Diocese of Rapid City is one of the two dioceses in South Dakota where Dehonians serve. Funeral arrangements are pending; more information will be posted on the diocese’s website.

SCJ remembered for his work in the Fair Trade movement

Fr. Frans van der Hoff, SCJ, died on February 13. A member of the Dutch Region, he was born in 1939, professed in 1962 and ordained in 1968. At the time of his death, he was living in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he had spent much of his life.

Known as “Fr. Francisco,” he was instrumental – in partnership with Dutch economist Nico Roozen – in the creation of the Max Havelaar Fair Trade organization. The effort was in response to the plight of Mexican coffee producers whom he saw taken advantage of by middlemen paying low prices for high-quality coffee beans and then selling them for profits that the farmers would never see. The brand eventually developed into what is now known as “fair trade” products. Staff from Fair Trade International wrote:

“[Fr. Frans] envisioned Fair Trade as a social laboratory of sorts, one that tried radical new ideas, experimented with innovative ways of regulating trade, and found success because people and justice were always first. We will continue to lead by his example and build upon his legacy to create a fairer future for all. His words live on in our mission: ‘Don’t forget how Fairtrade started — because no matter how the world evolves, we still need producers to lead in transparency, on matters that affect their livelihood and sustainability.’”

Fr. Frans received several international awards during his lifetime: he is an honorary citizen of Paris, a knight in the Legion of Honor of France, a Commander of the Throne in Belgium and has been recognized with honorary degrees at three universities. He is pictured above being honored by Victor Suarez Carrera and other leaders of the Oaxacan state in Mexico for his contributions to organic agriculture. [2023 press photo by the state of Oaxaca.]

Representatives from US join in anniversary celebrations in Brazil

Congratulations to the Dehonians’ Brazil – Sao Paulo Province (BSP) which on February 15 celebrated the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Faculdade Dehoniana or Dehonian College of Taubaté. Among those taking part in the anniversary celebrations were 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).

“I am honored to represent the US Province in taking part in this celebration and contributing to a day of lectures on education and theology from the perspective of our Dehonian charism,” wrote Fr. Vien in a letter from Brazil last week. “These will be for SCJs, faculty, staff, and students of the college. Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniú, Fr. Stefan Tertünte, and Fr. Raúl Gómez Ruíz [president-rector of SHSST] are among the guest speakers…

“Faculdade Dehoniana is one of the BSP Province’s apostolates. The first theology class was held there on February 15, 1924, and included SCJ students from Germany. Work for the establishment of the school began with a request from Bishop Dom Epaminondas Nunes D’Avila e Silva, who, in 1913, asked Fr. Dehon to send religious to teach in his seminary. Fr. Dehon asked the German SCJs to consider the bishop’s proposal. They responded positively, but the project was delayed because of World War I. It was resumed in 1919 with the arrival of the first Dehonians in Taubaté to start the building project. Today, the school educates students and forms seminarians from different Brazilian SCJ entities, dioceses, and religious communities. It offers undergraduate and graduate courses in Theology, Philosophy, Economics and Management, and more…

“Let us pray for the continued success of Faculdade Dehoniana through the intercession of Fr. Dehon.”

Carrying on the dreams of Fr. Dehon

Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, did several interviews for Hóčhoka, a podcast produced by the Dehonians’ St. Joseph’s Indian School. In the most recent episode, Fr. Vien talks about the growing internationality of the US Province, as well increasing collaboration with the laity in carrying out the dreams of Fr. Leo John Dehon.

“We have a lot of dedicated men and women in the US Province, our coworkers,” said Fr. Vien. “How do we empower them to carry on the mission of Fr. Dehon, the mission of the Church, the mission of Jesus Christ…

“Regarding our international members, they bring with them the beauties of their culture and of who they are. But there are also challenges; there are different approaches to ministry, different philosophies, different theologies. How do we help each other understand that this is one mission?”

When asked what it means to be a Dehonian, Fr. Vien said that “it is about experiencing the love of Christ on our own and sharing it with people who are experiencing difficult circumstances in life… Fr. Dehon kept reminding his brothers [SCJs] to leave the sacristy, go to the people, to share the love of Christ.”

Speaking of both SCJs and collaborators, he said that “I pray and hope that in your ministry as a Dehonian that you find your mission to be meaningful. When you find it meaningful you recognize your mission, the mission to share the love of the Heart of Christ with the people. Your ministry matters, your ministry has a purpose and meaning. Each of us has a mission and we do this together as a family. A Dehonian family.”

Click here or on the image above to view the full interview.

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