Weekly News: January 30, 2023

Researching the history of the Church on the Cheyenne River Reservation

Last week the US Provincial Archives hosted a visitor from Eagle Butte, SD: Fr. John Paul Trask, pastor of All Saints parish in Eagle Butte, SD. Fr. John Paul is doing research on the history of the Catholic Church on the Cheyenne River Reservation, where All Saints is located. Much of that history is found in the US Province Archives.

Dehonian ministry in the United States began 100 years ago in South Dakota. For many years, the congregation served on the Cheyenne River Reservation, just a few hours north of the Dehonians’ first ministry in the United States in Lower Brule. The Priests of the Sacred Heart no longer serve at All Saints, but the community continues to fund the Sacred Heart Center in Eagle Butte. The center operates a shelter for abused women and children and a thrift store, and offers child services and community outreach. Fr. John Paul serves on the center’s board of directors.

A priest of the diocese of Rapid City, Fr. John Paul was born and raised in South Dakota and has been pastor at All Saints for four years. His research is rooted in personal curiosity about the Church in his home state, but also as a part of an effort to identify ownership of various properties on the Cheyenne River Reservation that have been in the hands of parishes and missions, cemeteries, and other church-related activities. The goal is to preserve such properties, as well as their histories.

To ensure that Fr. John Paul felt at home, Milwaukee provided one of its few measurable snowfalls of the season. He is pictured here checking a few historical facts on his phone.

Fr. John Paul was assisted in his research by Fr. Wayne Jenkins, SCJ, province archivist, and Fr. Ed Zemlik, SCJ, assistant archivist.

Reflections on religious life

Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, was one of the presenters at last week’s Winter Leadership Conference organized by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM).

“He gave us three Spiritual Reflections from the Sacred Scriptures,” wrote Fr. Rafael Querobin, SCJ, about Fr. Vien’s presentations. “His Reflections were given after case studies of religious life. The First Reflection was about Distress (inspired by Lk 2:41-52 – The boy Jesus at the Temple). The Second Reflection was about Partnerships (inspired by The Letter to the Romans 16:3-16). The third and last Reflection was about Disunity (inspired by the First Letter to the Corinthians 1:10-17). The presentations were very well-received.

“Participating in this conference was a privilege; in many ways it felt like a retreat. Fr. Vien’s spiritual reflections helped to create that atmosphere.”

The conference took place at Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center in Houston.


Speaking of Fr. Vien Nguyen, congratulations to him on the recent publication of his review of Ezekiel’s Message of Hope and Restoration: Redaction-Critical Study of Ezekiel 1-7 by Hei Yin Yip in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 85.1 (January 2023 ): 150-152.

“This well-researched, highly technical, and carefully argued book is intended for a limited readership—Ezekiel specialists or biblical scholars,” writes Fr. Vien. “As Y. [the author] correctly points out in the introduction, there are not many works uncovering the theological and ideological purpose of the motif of hope and restoration in the first twenty-four chapters of Ezekiel (p. 1). Thus, the book makes a valuable contribution to studies of the development and appropriation of Ezekiel 1–7. Y. demonstrates convincingly that the programmatic additions were inserted to reinstate a religious institution—the Zadokite priesthood.”

Click here to read the full review.

February birthdays

Those celebrating birthdays in February include Fr. Charles Brown on Feb. 4, Dn. David Nagel on Feb. 6, Br. Diego Diaz on Feb. 10, Fr. Duy Nguyen on Feb. 17, Fr. Quang Nguyen and Fr. Henry Nguyen on Feb. 18, Fr. Greg Murray on Feb. 19, Fr. Mark Mastin on Feb. 21 and Fr. Peter Sanders on Feb. 28. Happy birthday!

Please remember

+ Mary Nguyen, the grandmother of Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, died on January 27 in Vietnam. Fr. Henry will travel with his family to Vietnam this week to attend the funeral.

+ Robert Schenk, an alumnus of Divine Heart Seminary (class of ’74) died on January 26. He was 67, and lived in Sun Prairie, WI. He is survived by his wife Elaine, son Matthew (Alyssa), daughter Jennifer (Trevor) and four grandchildren. Click here to read the obituary.

“Painting is a passion”

A few months ago, parishioners at St. Joseph’s church in Fort Thompson, SD, had a rummage sale to raise funds to update the church hall. “We made enough money to buy new curtains and paint, but not enough to pay someone to actually do the painting,” said Fr. Christianus Hendrik, SCJ, a member of the Lower Brule Pastoral Team. Fr. Hendrik teamed up with several parishioners to do the painting themselves. “It is a big hall, and the work is going a bit slowly since we can only get to it as we have time, but it is almost done.”

Fr. Hendrik said that he is putting in most of the last hours on his own, but for him “painting is a passion,” he said. “You park your brain, sink your mind into a deep calmness, and find a pattern in the way you move your hands, taking joy in seeing the ugly, old, faded colors turn into the beauty of the new paint.”

The finished section of the hall is pictured above.

A new podcast season begins

On January 23, St. Joseph’s Indian School launched Season 3 of “Hóčhoka,” a video podcast that showcases the people and ideas behind the school’s approach to Native American education.

In the first episode, school President Mike Tyrell (right) introduces his newly published book Detour Home. The novel is a series of fictional stories loosely based on his experience as a young man moving with his wife to St. Joseph’s Indian School to become a houseparent.

Future episodes include two podcasts hosted by high school senior Basil Eagle Star who interviews experts on residential life: Sean Milner of Baptist Children’s Village and Mark Freado, author of Kid Whispering – Reaching the Inside Kid.

During the season, host Scott Woster (pictured left) “talks thiyóšpaye” (extended family) with a former staff person and former student to learn what St. Joseph’s was like nearly a half decade ago. Scott also interviews two donors to hear why they give to St. Joe’s thiyóšpaye.

Dr. Paul Monson, associate professor of Church History and academic dean at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, gives a fresh perspective on Catholicism through an indigenous lens as he tells us about the conversations between Bishop Martin Marty and Sitting Bull.

Click here to access the Hóčhoka podcasts.

Chapter preparations

Tomorrow, delegates for the July 18-21 US Provincial Chapter will meet via Zoom from 9:00 a.m. – noon (central). During the meeting, delegates will appoint the officers of the Chapter, members of the Chapter Preparatory Committee and Finance Committee, and discuss various topics and organizational issues of the Chapter.

Members of the initial organizing committee: Fr. Jack Kurps, SCJ, Br. Frank Presto, SCJ,  Fr. Hendrik Ardianto, SCJ, Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, and Sr. Cathy Bertrand, SSND.

God is calling me

In recognition of Catholic Schools Week (January 29 – February 4) Sacred Heart School in Southaven published a video on its Facebook page titled “God is Calling Me,” with short reflections from students talking about how God is calling them. Br. Andy Gancarzyk, SCJ, produced the video. Click here or on the image below to view it.

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