More than just traditions
Fr. Andrzej Sudol, SCJ, is pastor of St. Martin of Tours parish in Franklin, WI. Just before he assumed the role, Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniú, SCJ, came to the US Province in 2022 for the general visitation. Knowing that Fr. Andrzej was about to begin ministry at St. Martin of Tours, the two spoke about ways in which to make a parish more Dehonian. Top of the list: “First Friday Devotions and Adoration,” said Fr. Andrzej, “along with a ‘shrine’ or information area about Fr. Dehon.”
The pastoral team agreed and decided to make First Fridays and Adoration a priority for the parish in 2023.
“We encouraged and explained the idea of Adoration and First Friday in a variety of ways,” said Fr. Andrzej. Slowly, the First Friday gatherings grew from about 20 people in the morning to upwards of 70. This includes several families who take part in Catholic Schoolhouse, a Catholic homeschool program. A smaller gathering in the evening continues to take place.
“What we have done is a start, but we must do more to help people know and understand these traditions in the context of our Dehonian charism,” said Fr. Andrzej.
“We SCJs must also take advantage of this opportunity to share our beautiful Dehonian traditions. It is good for us as Dehonians to be present in prayer with others, it has a greater impact than many of us realize. Busy in ministry, we often struggle to find such moments with the laity in prayer. But it is an important way to share who we are as Dehonians, and it is important for our own prayer lives, regardless if we minister in a parish.
“I welcome my SCJ brothers to join us at St. Martin of Tours for Monday Adoration at 6:00 p.m. and/or First Fridays at 8:30 a.m. or 7:30 p.m. Of course, we welcome anyone to join us in prayer; the invitation is not just for SCJs!” The parish is located at: 7963 S. 116th St., Franklin, WI.
A religious brother, and a priest
“Being a brother has taught me to look for solidarity with God’s people,” said Br. Duane Lemke, SCJ, speaking about his vocation during a “Cocktails and Catholicism” presentation to parishioners in northern Mississippi on January 12.
“We each find holiness in the path we have committed to,” he continued. “No path is deeper or more holy. We can learn how to be holy and how to live the Christian life by witnessing to each other. The vows that I take as a brother don’t separate me from families, from other men and women. It just gives me a different perspective. Your witness enriches my life.”
Br. Duane emphasized that his vocation as a religious brother is fully intertwined with his vocation as a Priest of the Sacred Heart. “I cannot separate my brotherhood from the Priests of the Sacred Heart,” but added that at first glance, it may seem like a contradiction.
“When we say we are priests, we mean baptismal priesthood, the priesthood we all received: priest, prophet, king,” said Br. Duane. “A priest is someone who makes an offering. “Priests of the Sacred Heart offer themselves in a specific way. Our offering is conscious of the love the Sacred Heart. We try to be conscious of God’s love for us. We offer ourselves to people who need to know what that kind of love looks like. That’s who we are.”
Keep in prayer
Br. Bernard Taube, SCJ, has been under the care of family in Minnesota for many years. We recently learned that his health is significantly deteriorating. He is in memory care at The Legacy of Farmington Senior Living (22300 Denmark Ave, Farmington, MN 55024).
Exploring Fr. Dehon through his writings
Representatives from the North American Theological Committee met last week (January 16-17) at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. Those taking part included SCJs Fr. Gustave Lulendo, Francis Vu Tran, Joseph Mukuna (secretary) and John van den Hengel (commission chair). Among the meeting topics: a report on the December meeting of the International Dehonian Theological Commission that took place in Rome, the upcoming General Chapter, the commemoration of the centenary of the Founder’s death in 2025, and the next International Theological Seminar scheduled for 2026.
The international seminars are held every three years, bringing together Dehonian theologians from around the world. The topic for the next gathering: “Dehon and his Texts,” a study of what is often termed as the “implied author,” or a sense of the author that the reader constructs from the text. In response to that, the North American committee is exploring Fr. Dehon as the writer of a seven-piece series of mediations on the Sacred Heart done between 1905 and 1919.
The committee also reviewed personal research done by Fr. John on the topic of “pure love.” “The research on Fr. Dehon’s notion of pure love that has not previously been studied by other commentators on the founder radically shifted my understanding of the Sacred Heart,” said Fr. John. “Fr. Dehon’s sense of the Sacred Heart is deeply mystical; his latter texts on the Sacred Heart are a clear departure from the Sacred Heart of St. Margaret Mary.” Fr John’s work will be published at a later date.
The next planned in-person meeting of the North American committee is in fall.
Congratulations to Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, who recently had two book reviews published:
Nguyen, Vien. Review of Passions of the Christ: The Emotional Life of Jesus in the Gospels by F. Scott Spencer. Homiletics and Pastoral Review (September 2023) https://www.hprweb.com/2023/08/book-reviews-september-2023/
Nguyen, Vien. Review of Beyond Doubt: The Secularization of Society by Isabella Kasselstrand, Phil Zuckerman, and Ryan T. Cragun. Journal of Asian Research Center for Religious and Social Communications, Vol. 21, No. 2 (2023): 459-462
“Written by a thorough, reputable scholar, this engaging and well-written book is a valuable contribution to the study of Jesus’s emotions, ranging from anger and anguish to love and joy,” writes Fr. Vien in his review of Passions of the Christ: The Emotional Life of Jesus in the Gospel. “It is an excellent resource for scholars, biblical students, and readers interested in the emotional life of Jesus, which is often glossed over in biblical studies. In his presentation, Spencer closely contextualizes relevant Gospel texts in their literary and cultural contexts and engages with secondary sources — ancient and modern, philosophical and psychological — to further his explorations and sharpen his interpretations of Jesus’s emotions.”
Workshop on Aging as Religious
On February 7, Sr. Dianne Bergrant will present a workshop titled “Are These Golden Years? Challenges and Opportunities Women and Men Religious Face as We Age.”
Hosted by the Religious Formation Conference (RFC) it will be held via Zoom from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. (Central).
“What are we to make of the ‘golden years’ of our lives?” ask organizers in their workshop description. “Women and male religious have so many more opportunities for enrichment than the average person. If this is the case, then why are there so many of them who question their fundamental value? There is a difference between valuing what we do and who we are. Which side of this question do we stand?”
Following Sr. Dianne’s presentation there will be a Q&A session.