Weekly News: February 7, 2011

A car at the Dehon Formation Community is barely visible after last week's snow storm.

Snow, snow and more snow

You had to work pretty hard not to know that that last week the Midwest was hit by one of the most powerful storms seen in decades.  Many compared it to the great Chicago storm of 1967. “With two feet of snow, public schools were cancelled in Chicago for the first time in 12 years,” wrote Br. Duane Lemke, director of the Dehon Formation Community.  Almost 1,000 cars were stranded on the city’s famed Lake Shore Drive, which the city finally closed –– the first time it has done so.

Br. Duane Lemke wades through the snow in Chicago
Br. Duane Lemke wades through the snow in Chicago

At the formation house, Br. Duane said that the “porch is buried between two and five feet of snow.”  Directors and students helped to uncover cars that were “covered over the top of the back wheels and in some cases over the hoods.  We enjoyed snowball fights and leaps off of the porch into the snow drifts.  It reminded me of my memories of South Dakota blizzards.”

Snow closed down the Provincialate and Development offices, as well as classes at Sacred Heart School of Theology.  However, even if there weren’t classes, students and members of the Sacred Heart Monastery community needed to eat.  Thankfully, Barb Haag, food services director, lives near SHST.  While most employees at the seminary were home watching the snow build up outside their windows, Barb bundled up and walked to SHST to make sure that meals still made their way to the tables.

Boot camp grad

Fr. Mark Mastin completed the first step in the process to becoming a chaplain with the U.S. Army.  Last week he graduated from boot camp (basic training).  “I received my beret in a military ceremony,” he wrote.

Reflecting on the past month, he added that “It has been a good experience for me, especially at my age.  I have been in at least the top 15 percent in my physical training and academic studies.  There are just under 100 students in my class.  I also have a leadership role in my platoon, in charge of all training and scheduling for a platoon.  It is a very humbling process that one goes through with the Chaplaincy Officer Program.  This whole process is a four-year officer’s school program compressed into four months.  You can imagine the hard work that we go through morning and night. I am up at 4:30 a.m. and get to bed at 11:00 pm.   And the next phases is supposed to be harder!

“The SGLs –– our officer chaplain trainers –– along with the non-commissioned officers, are great men and women who teach us and PUSH us.  We have been trained in the same way that the enlisted are except that we do not carry or fire weapons.  Chaplains are classified as non-combatants.

“My classmates have been great too.  I have participated in many forms of ecumenical gatherings but this has been the most concentrated experience I have had.  I am only one of four Catholic priests at the school.”

You can contact Fr. Mark via email at mark.mastin2@us.army.mil.  Keep in mind that his schedule might not allow him to respond to you in a timely manner right now, but notes from fellow SCJs and friends are always a welcome gift.

Challenges met with “ecce venio”

Recently Fr. Bernie Rosinski, who worked with Bishop Virginio Bressanelli when the bishop was superior general, wrote to him about his new diocese, Neuquén, which he was appointed to last year.  The bishop writes:

“Presently, I am located in the Diocese of Neuquén. It is very large [approximately 58,500 miles] but with only 550,000 inhabitants. I have few priests; I have 19 parishes without a priest. And it is my greatest cross to see that the poorest places are also the most forsaken from a pastoral point of view.

“There are many social challenges. In our diocese we have about 60,000 native Mapuche Indians. There are many concerns which are an incredible challenge to a bishop here.

“It was hard for me to leave Comodoro Rivadavia but I am content to once again responded with my Ecce Venio. [Behold, I come] I am at peace and filled with confidence in doing God’s work. He is able to perform miracles, even with me.  The priests and the titular bishop have accepted me rather well. I hope I don’t let them, nor God, down, in doing what is good for the kingdom of God.”

Bishop Bressanelli served as superior general from 1991 – 2003.  Fr. Tom Cassidy was on his council for both of the bishop’s six-year terms.

Please remember

Fr. Jozef Stoszko, a member of the European Francophone Province, died February 2.  He was born in 1925, professed in 1946 and ordained in 1953.

Fr. Hendricus Maria Merks, a member of the Dutch Province, died on January 30.  He was born in 1924, professed in 1947 and ordained in 1953.

Mouse slayer

Kevin Stanke continues his duties both as province accountant and as Provincialate mouse-slayer.  Last week he caught another wayward rodent in the Provincialate Offices.  Evidently he and administrative assistant Kassandra Huerta work as a team.  Kassandra is charged with finding the mice and then alerting Kevin via a scream.  The Fridge Notes staff assumes that she screams not out of fear but because Kevin is hearing impaired.  Once alerted, Kevin uses the tools of his trade (a trash can) and hunts down the rodent.  So far, he is two for two.

Dehoniana available online

The most recent issue of Dehoniana, a multi-language publication by and for the congregation, is available on-line.  Most of the recent issue, which focuses on the 2009-2010 Year of the Priest, is written in languages other than English.  However, there is an English language reflection on the vocation of religious life and priesthood by Fr. Delio Ruiz.

“Prayer as the language of the community is like our original tongue,” writes Fr Delio in his article. “Just as children learn to speak from their parents, brothers, sisters, and friends but still develop their own unique ways of expressing themselves, so also our individual prayer life develops by the care of the praying community. Sometimes it is hard to point to any specific organizational structure which we can call ‘our community.’ Our community is often a very intangible reality made up of people, living as well as dead, present as well as absent, close as well as distant, old as well as young. But without some form of community, individual prayer cannot be born or developed. Communal and individual prayer belong together as two folded hands. Without community, individual prayer easily degenerates into egocentric and eccentric behavior, but without individual prayer, the prayer of the community quickly becomes a meaningless routine. Individual and community prayer cannot be separated without harm.”

Click here to read the full article.

Click here to go to the full issue.

Calendar updates

February 17-18: Provincial Council meeting
March 1-2: Local superiors (coordinators) meeting
March 21: Deadline for SCJ feedback on proposed Mexico project
March 29-30:  Provincial Council meeting
May 9-11: Provincial Council meeting (budgets)
May 23-24: North American councils meeting (Chicago)
Week of July 11: Province Assembly, Hales Corners, Wis.
November 14-16: SCJ Retreat, Pinellas Park

Provincial’s time

A happy Green Bay Packer fan (congratulations on the Superbowl win are coming in from around the world, including a note from British-Irish Provincial Superior Fr. Hugh Hanley), Fr. Tom Cassidy is in Milwaukee for a couple of weeks.  February 17-18 he has council meetings.