Weekly News: February 6, 2023

“Welcoming the Spirit”

“Welcoming the Spirit, Preparing for Our Future” is the theme of the 2023 US Provincial Chapter, scheduled for July 18-21. Last week (January 31), chapter delegates held their first preparatory meeting (via Zoom) to take care of short business items and surface topics for the Chapter.

“The chapter will be a time for our delegates to gather and discuss where we have come from and who we are,” wrote Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, in his letter convoking the chapter. “It further provides us a unique opportunity to act with imagination and faith as we dream of new possibilities and perspectives for the province’s future.

“The combined experience is truly a blessed moment for the province and our lives. Shrouded in the abundant grace and love of the Sacred Heart, may these experiences provide all of us with fortitude, knowledge, and wisdom as we seek to discern the will of God.”

Members of the Chapter Preparatory Committee include SCJs Fr. Jack Kurps (chairperson), Fr. Henry Nguyen, Fr. Vien Nguyen, Fr. Hendrik Ardianto, Br. Frank Presto, as well as Sr. Cathy Bertrand, SSND. Sr. Cathy is also chapter facilitator. She has facilitated several previous province events, and is active with the US Province Dehonian Associates Committee.

During the January 31 meeting delegates endorsed the following chapter appointments: Sr. Cathy as facilitator, Mary Gorski as recording secretary, Br. Frank as chapter secretary, and the members of the preparatory committee named above. Previous to the January 31 meeting, the following were elected to the Chapter Finance Committee: SCJs Fr. Quang Nguyen, Fr. Duy Nguyen and Br. Duane Lemke.

Ordination, not birthday

Our apologies to Fr. Charles Brown, SCJ, who was mistakenly listed in the February birthdays last week. He was ORDAINED on February 4, 1984. His birthday will be listed next month (March 19).

However, someone who IS celebrating a birthday today is Dn. David Nagel, SCJ. Happy birthday to our province treasurer! We will be celebrating Dn. David’s birthday at lunch at the Provincialate today. When asked if he had any birthday wishes, Dn. David said that one of his wishes is that all of the province budgets are returned to his office on time.

As a reminder, the budgets are due to the Provincial Treasurer’s office on April 10.

Keep in prayer

Fr. Mark Fortner, SCJ, had a heart catheterization last Wednesday, to address some heart concerns. The procedure went well and took place shortly after his return to the United States from Indonesia. He is pictured above (red shirt) in a group photo just before he began his journey home to the United States. Note that there are a few familiar faces in the photo with him (alumni of SHSST’s ECS program), including Fr. Hendrik Ardianto, SCJ (second from right), who is home in Indonesia for a family visit.

Also, Fr. Steve Pujdak, SCJ, was hospitalized last Tuesday; diagnosed with several pockets of pneumonia. He is expected to be discharged later today. Fr. Steve is a member of the Pinellas Park Community. Please keep Fr. Steve and Fr. Mark in your prayers.

Br. Duane and Fr. Jim

Adaptation and Renewal

Br. Duane Lemke, SCJ and Fr. Jim Schroeder, SCJ, wrote the reflections for this month’s issue of As a Rule. The theme for February: Adaptation and Renewal, using Const. No. 104 as a starting point for the reflections.

“Flexibility, or adaptation and renewal as our Rule calls it, is our life,” wrote Br. Duane. If we are to welcome the Spirit and follow God’s will in changing circumstances, our only choice is to adapt and renew ourselves according to those circumstances. How could we not?  We are no doubt familiar with the saying ‘Confirmation is not a graduation.’  Well, for us:  even graduation isn’t a graduation!  Rather, it is a call to adapt and renew ourselves in new circumstances.”

Fr. Jim notes that “The quality of life is based on how I can adapt to changed situations and renew my spirituality and my oblation/consecration as the one constant.  Whatever apostolate I may have also depends on this.  This is the continuing or ongoing formation that never ends.  How we enter formation to a new life each time there is change will determine how we conclude our life as either a failure or a success, as misery or fulfillment as an SCJ.”

If you missed the e-publication last week, click here to access it. There is a link at the bottom of As a Rule to add new subscribers.

Welcome to Montréal!

On February 1, the Dehonian community in Montréal welcomed Fr. Manuel Alberto Carvalho Vicente, SCJ, for a missionary experience in Canada. Originally from Portugal, Fr. Manuel is an alumnus of SHSST’s ECS program. Professed in 1974 and ordained in 1982, Fr. Manuel has served in formation, as a military and hospital chaplain, as a missionary in Madagascar, and in parish ministry. “Initially, he will live for a few weeks in each of our three communities before returning to Portugal for cataract surgery,” wrote Fr. Maurice Légaré, SCJ, of the Canadian Region. “Upon his return, there will be a discussion with the regional superior about his longer-term assignment.”

Fr. Manuel’s contact information has been added to the online North American directory on the province website.

A familiar face in the background

On February 2, the South African Province installed its new provincial administration. Taking part in the ceremony was a familiar face from the United States: Fr. John Strittmatter, SCJ. Originally from Pennsylvania, Fr. John has spent most of his years of religious life in South Africa. “I don’t even think that I have a US passport anymore,” said the SCJ priest when he retired in 2012. For him, South Africa is home. He currently lives in the community house in De Aar, where he continues to celebrate Mass for a local religious sisters’ community. Fr. John is pictured in the upper right of the group in the photo above.

The US and South African provinces share much history; in fact, each celebrates its centennial of Dehonian ministry this year.

Congratulations to the new South African provincial administration: Fr. Piotr Surdel (provincial superior), Fr. Joshua Moorosi Mpiti (first councilor), Fr. Adam Maslowski (second councilor), Fr. Zachaeus Tembo (third councilor) and Fr. Kazimierz Gabryel (fourth councilor).

Lux Center co-director interviewed about Mother Teresa

Jon M. Sweeney, co-director of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology’s Lux Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, was interviewed on the Catholic Faith Network last week about his new book, Teresa of Calcutta: Dark Night, Active Love. During the interview he notes that Mother Teresa was the “first great saint of the television era.” People around the world saw her in the news regularly, heard her speeches. “We felt that we knew her.” His book focuses on some of the aspects of Mother Teresa’s life that often weren’t in the news during her years of ministry, such as the darkness that she felt about herself. Many Dehonians are familiar with her struggles through her years of communication with Fr. Michael van der Peet, SCJ, who had a long-time friendship with the saint. The two got to know each other through a chance meeting at a bus stop in Rome.

Click here or on the image above to view the interview with Jon Sweeney; it runs from approximately 14:45 – 24:00.

International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking

February 8, the Feast of St Josephine Bakhita, is the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. Sr. Josephine, a Sudanese religious sister, was a victim of human trafficking when she was a child.

The Unions of Superiors and Superiors General of Religious Institutes established the day of prayer and awareness to bring greater awareness to the men, women and children who are enslaved, exploited, and abused as victims of trafficking.

Click here to visit the website dedicated to the day.

A prayer from Pope Francis:

Saint Josephine Bakhita, you were sold into slavery as a child
and endured unspeakable hardship and suffering.
Once liberated from your physical enslavement,
you found true redemption in your encounter with Christ and his Church.

O Saint Josephine Bakhita, assist all those who are entrapped in slavery;
Intercede on their behalf with the God of Mercy so that the chains of their captivity will be broken.
May God himself free all those who have been threatened,
wounded or mistreated by the trade and trafficking of human beings. Bring comfort to survivors of this slavery and
teach them to look to Jesus as an example of hope and faith
so that they may find healing from their wounds.

We ask you to pray for us and to intercede on behalf of us all:
that we may not fall into indifference,
that we may open our eyes and
be able to see the misery and wounds of our many brothers and sisters deprived of their dignity and their freedom,
and may we hear their cry for help.


First Friday at Sacred Heart Monastery

Each month during the school year the formation community at Sacred Heart Monastery hosts a presenter to talk about an aspect of religious life. Fr. Rafael Querobin, SCJ, was the February 3 prayer leader and presenter. Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Houston, Fr. Rafael is also a member of the Provincial Council. No novice to administration or formation, in his native Brazil Fr. Rafael served on the provincial council there, and in education.

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