Weekly News: February 22, 2016

Fr. John van den Hengel speaks to SHSM personnel
Fr. John van den Hengel speaks to SHSM personnel

Sharing stories of mercy in Mississippi

Staff from all of the ministries of Sacred Heart Southern Missions in Mississippi, including schools, social service centers, the development office and parishes, came together for an in-service day on February 15. The focus was “Mercy,” in commemoration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Fr. John van den Hengel, former vicar general and now regional superior of Canada, led the group in a reflection on “Mercy and Fr. Dehon.”

Fr. John acknowledged the wide variety of faiths present in the conference room. Although the Catholic Church is focused in a special way on mercy during this jubilee year, mercy is something essential to all faiths.

“Compassion and mercy belong to the Kingdom of God,” he said. “You can’t speak of mercy and compassion without God… What ties us together is God’s mercy.”

Lois Harrison and Sherry Rayford. Sherry is a teacher at Holy Family School in Holly Springs; her home was one of those badly damaged during the December tornados. Lois is SHSM volunteer coordinator and has been helping Sherry's family and others like her in rebuilding after the storm.
Lois Harrison and Sherry Rayford. Sherry is a teacher at Holy Family School in Holly Springs; her home was one of those badly damaged during the December tornados. Lois is SHSM volunteer coordinator and has been helping Sherry’s family and others like her in rebuilding after the storm.

In small groups participants talked about their own experiences of mercy. Stories were told of the joy of holding one’s child for the first time, of feeling God’s compassion in the midst of hardship and challenge, of the gift of a loving spouse, the call to be an instrument of God’s love along with the strength to follow-through, the gift of being listened to and heard.

One woman reflected on the devastating storms that ripped through Holly Springs just before Christmas. “A tornado was destroying my friend’s home, her daughter’s house as well, but there she was in my living room while it was happening. She was safe with me.” She said that it was a miracle. But it was also the spark for extraordinary acts of mercy and kindness that continue today as the people of Holly Springs rebuild their homes and their lives. People give mercy, people receive mercy, all based in the infinite compassion and love of God.”

Click here to read more on the province website.

Click here to view photos from the day.

Devotional booklet available

The Way of the Cross with Fr. Leo John Dehon is a new, 48-page booklet that combines the traditional 14 Stations with an approved set of Stations more closely aligned with biblical accounts. A short meditation by Fr. Dehon accompanies each Station. And because for Fr. Dehon, “The Passion is indeed the masterpiece of the love of the Sacred Heart,” this booklet includes images of the Heart of Jesus from SCJ sources around the world and selected invocations from three different Litanies of the Heart of Jesus.

The booklet was developed by the Dehonian Associates Office, directed by David Schimmel. If you would like to receive a copy, contact Nancy Gray at 414-425-6910 or email her at provadm@usprovince.org.

Necrology error

Earlier this month SCJs received a necrology card with the dates of death of SCJs from the US and Canada. Please note that Fr. John van Rut is accidently listed twice. His correct date of death was June 29, 2012, not June 12, 2012. Apologies for the error.

Please remember

+Fr. Hubertus Hanssen, a member of the Dutch-Flemish Confederation, died February 20. He was born in 1920, professed in 1944 and ordained in 1950.

+Fr. Ken Ciano, a 1995 graduate of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, died on February 13. He was from the Diocese of Indianapolis.

Schools in Collaboration meet

Kathleen Whitebird speaking at the international education conference in Valencia
Kathleen Whitebird speaking at the international education conference in Valencia

“Schools in Collaboration” began as a way for SCJ schools in the US Province to share and collaborate, as well as seek ways of infusing the Dehonian charism into education. The group now includes the SCJs’ Gymnasium Leonium in Germany and San Jeronimo in Spain.

On February 18, representatives from the schools met by conference call. Among the topics discussed: 1) the June Summer Institute (representatives of the German and Spanish schools will take part by Skype), 2) the development of a Schools in Collaboration website, 3) fundraising activities during Catholic Schools Week that benefited a children’s refugee program in the Rio Grande Valley, and 4) this year’s book challenge.

Gymnasium Leonium has had a partnership with St. Joseph’s Indian School for many years. San Jeronimo joined the Schools in Collaboration project following connections made at the 2014 International Dehonian Educators Conference in Valencia, Spain.

Province JPR director joins in Madison protest

Protestors in the Wisconsin state capital
Protestors in the Wisconsin state capital

“When I agreed to go to Madison at the invitation of a staffer from Voces de la Frontera last week, I only knew that this Milwaukee community organization was sending some folks to oppose two anti-immigrant bills under consideration by Wisconsin’s state legislature,” wrote Mark Peters, US Province director of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation. “ Assembly Bill 723/Senate Bill 533 would prohibit counties and towns from issuing photo identification cards and restrict the uses of photo IDs issued by cities or villages.   SB 369/AB 450, which is aimed at so called ‘sanctuary cities,’ prohibits municipalities from passing laws that prevent local police from inquiring about the immigration status of people they contact and punishes those that do with funding cuts. The Wisconsin Catholic Conference had submitted written testimony against both bills. Similar laws passed in Arizona have had a negative impact on undocumented immigrants there, and advocates didn’t want to see Wisconsin go the same route.”

Representatives from the Wisconsin Catholic Conference state the proposed laws restrict the ability of people in poverty, or who are otherwise marginalized, to obtain valid identification. “In particular, the current system for obtaining a Wisconsin driver’s license or a Wisconsin ID card leaves too many people unable to access them,” said Mark.

Click here to read Mark’s full reflection on the province JPR website. Scroll down on the main page to “Headlines.” His reflection appears after the photos and videos.

Provincial’s Time

Fr. Ed Kilianski will be in Mississippi for meetings February 24-27; the week of February 29 he will be with the Dehon Formation Community for a visitation.

March 6-11 Fr. Ed will be in Pinellas Park, FL, to lead a three-day retreat (the retreat is March 8-10). March 14-15 he takes part in the Local Superiors Meeting in Hales Corners, and March 16 is the Provincial Council meeting. At the end of March he returns to Houston; he will be there March 30 – April 7.

Continued follow-up

Fr. Jim Walters
Fr. Jim Walters

Members of each local SCJ community in North America have made a commitment to do concrete follow-up to their discussions on immigration. Fr. Jim Walters, local superior of the Sacred Heart Monastery Community, writes about the SHM follow-up:

“We will continue to welcome international SCJs to come and live with us .We presently have two living in our community while they are studying English and taking time for sabbatical rest.

“We will work to coordinate relationships between the international members of our community and local SCJs, particularly those residing at SHML. We will continue to help to prepare international SCJs for future ministry in the congregation through our ESL and Missiology programs.

“We will continue to educate ourselves by participating in presentations sponsored by the Justice and Peace and Interreligious/Interfaith committees at SHSST.

“We will continue to pray in our community celebrations of Eucharist and Adoration for the concerns of refugees, and we will remain supportive of petitions concerning the rights of refugees as they are communicated through the US Province JPR webpage.”

Learning from the past

Fr. Tom Cassidy shares an article that appeared in the Huffington Post on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The writer reflects on the rhetoric heard regarding today’s refugee crisis and how it at times echoes the past.

“On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am very concerned when I see presidential candidates fanning the flames of animosity,” wrote Gene Klein. “In the ’30s in Germany, Jews were the target, but the dangerous rhetoric of today is focused on Muslims and particularly Syrian refugees. Like the anti-Semitic tirades of decades ago, many of the same ingredients are present in the speeches of candidates who hold surprisingly high levels of support from the American people…

“On this Holocaust Memorial Day, I ask you to make the necessary human connection to today’s refugees, see yourself in them and them in you, because that connection is the antidote to the hateful ranting of politicians. Empathy can be painful — by definition it means feeling what another feels. But empathy is so much more courageous than hate. Hate killed my father, empathy saved me, not only when I was helped in the camps, but when America opened its doors to me in 1947 and gave me a new home and a new start.”

Click here to read the full article.

Father follows two sons into the priesthood

Fr. Henry Wertin, who entered Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology at age 61 as a seminarian for the Diocese of Pueblo, was ordained to the priesthood on February 5. Fr. Wertin’s sons, Frs. Carl and Matthew Wertin, who are both priests in the diocese, participated in the ordination Mass.

One more from India

Fr. Stephen Huffstetter shares his final journal entry from India; it is posted on the province blog.

“One aspect of their [the Indian District] formation program which impressed me was the involvement of families,” wrote Fr. Steve. “Some of the seminarians are beginning after completing 10th standard (grade) so may be as young as 16. Twice a year the families sit with the young men and their formation directors for feedback and evaluation. With this awareness of how their sons are doing, the families can be part of their discernment about a call to religious life. Those who choose not to continue in seminary are at least better educated, and closer to discovering the kind of vocation to which God is calling them.

“I also appreciate the way the Indian district integrates India culture into the style of prayer and rhythm of life. We Dehonians value Sint Unum, that all might be one. Yet that begins with respect for the unique gifts of each culture we find ourselves living and working among.”

Click here to read the full text on the province blog.

Below we have a photo of Frs. Steve and Heiner taken last week in South America.

Frs. Heiner and Steve in South America
Frs. Heiner and Steve in South America