Weekly News: January 8, 2024

Dehonians at SEEK

Novitiate classmates Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, and Dn. Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ, teamed up last week, along with SCJ Fraters Truc Tran and Jonathan Nguyen at SEEK24, a gathering of prayer and fellowship for college-age Catholics that took place in St. Louis, January 1-5. “It was such a fruitful event,” said Fr. Henry. Fra. Truc, Fr. Henry and Fr. Jonathan are pictured above at the Dehonians’ booth in the expo hall.

Province vocation director, Fr. Henry returned to Hales Corners just in time to host a day-long meeting of the Province Vocation Committee today (January 8).

Integrating images in preaching

Fr. Charles Brown, SCJ, was a featured speaker at the Annual Preaching Conference at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology held January 2-3. The theme of this year’s gathering was “Ideas to Engage the Assembly: Integrating Illustrations, Images and Icons.” Fr. Charlie is an accomplished icon artist whose work includes “Our Lady of Compassion” in the SHSST chapel, which was blessed by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, during a visit to the seminary in 2019. Fr. Charlie also created the image of the crucifix hung behind the altar of the Sacred Heart Monastery Community chapel; it is pictured behind him in the image above.

Reflecting on the Word

Vickie Stirek, Youth Coordinator for the six parishes in northwest Mississippi ministered to by the Priests of the Sacred Heart (and a member of the province Vocation Committee), and Frater Hung Pham, SCJ, a seminarian in the midst of his pastoral year in Houston, were the writers for this month’s As A Rule. Their topic? The Word of God.

“By reading and reflecting on Scripture, we can deepen our understanding of Christ’s love and sacrifice and allow it to transform our hearts and lives,” writes Vickie. “By contemplating the presence of God in all things we are led to a state of metanoia, a conversion of the heart leading us to die to self and live as Christ shows us in the power of God’s Word…

“I am reminded that words are powerful and that we should use them wisely. Don’t speak to be heard but speak for people to listen. Speak to spread God’s Word.”

Frater Hung writes that “by hearing, contemplating, attaching, and uniting, we are able to receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation in order to discover and truly know Christ the Lord and understand the hope His call opens for us (Eph 1:17-18). The spirit of wisdom helps us understand and believe in the Word in the way we have seen and heard. To know, love, and live with Christ is the ultimate goal of our lives because, without Him, we are nothing. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17); therefore, we are called to bring His hope to people throughout the world.”

Read more by clicking here to access a PDF of the January As a Rule.

Fall highlights from SHSST

Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology recently released its Highlights publication for Fall, 2023. Among the items noted was the impact of a visit by Dr. Paul Monson, VP of Intellection Formation and Academic Dean, to St. Joseph’s Indian School in compiling an article for the US Catholic Historian. He said that he found St. Joseph’s “commitment to the Lakota tiospaye [extended family] a model for family life, learning and healing.”

Other features in the semiannual publication include the visit of Fr. Carlos Luis Suárez Codorniú, SCJ, superior general, as the featured presenter at the October Dehon Lecture, staff and student participation at Mission Education in South Dakota, presentations by SCJ Fathers Yvon Sheeny and Jim Walters for Native American Heritage Month, various ECS activities, and the newly initiated Propaedeutic program.

“We at Sacred Heart are blessed,” writes Fr. Raúl Gómez-Ruiz SDS, president-rector. This year we are serving 169 students and 29 sponsors, and many international students in our English and Culture Studies Program (ECS). We look forward to welcoming 3–5 new residential seminarians and 2 additional sponsors in January. In our third consecutive year of growth, we added additional faculty and staff across all four dimensions of formation. We are grateful that when sponsors visit, they thank us for knowing their students and for being a seminary they can trust…

“So much goodness is on the horizon. We look forward to being able to offer pontifical degrees as we continue discussions with the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. We are blessed by the priests and religious brothers and sisters who come here to study in our ECS Program. We are grateful for the charism and continued support of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, of whom we are an apostolate.”

Click here to download a PDF of the Highlights.

Please remember

+ Fr. Antonio Cristiano, a member of the South Italian Province, died January 4. He was born in 1945, professed in 1963 and ordained in 1974.

JPR survey results

Several months ago, the Province Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission sent a brief survey to SCJs in the US Province to identify JPR priorities of the membership. “I wanted to narrow the issues down to a manageable one for the short term even though SCJs have multiple social justice interests,” said Fr. Duy Nguyen, SCJ, JPR director. “More surveys may be conducted in the future to further obtain a sense of where SCJs in the U.S. Province stand.”

He invites SCJs to review the results of the survey, now posted on the province JPR site. Click here to access it.

Fr. Duy added that the “U.S. Province and Canadian region are combining efforts to raise the urgent issues of climate change and proliferation of nuclear weapons to a global stage, hoping that actions may develop during the 2024 General Chapter in Rome.”

If you have questions or comments about JPR issues, Fr. Duy invites you to contact him at the JPR office, or click here to email him.

Busy week of meetings

Besides the day-long Vocation Committee meeting on Monday, the Provincial Council meets Tuesday and Wednesday at the Provincial Offices this week.

MLK holiday next week

The Provincial Offices will be closed next week Monday, January 15, for observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. However, the Fridge Notes will be mailed that morning. If you have a news item for next week, or at anytime during the year, click here.

Painted ponies

Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ, shared a few photos taken just before Christmas of painted horses from the Equine Therapy Program at St. Joseph’s Indian School. One of them appears below.

“There may be times during our sessions when students may not feel comfortable opening up with words to share what is bothering them,” said Robyn Knecht, program director.  “When students paint on the horses they express their emotions in non-verbal ways.  They are not only physically connecting with the horse, but also spiritually connecting with the horse’s spirit.  As the horse stands patiently and offers its body as a canvas, the students are able to feel the trust which allows them to open up to what they are feeling.”

Horse-painting sessions take place several times during the year, depending on the needs of students and the events taking place around them.

“The paint that is used is a non-toxic, washable paint that is used in art therapy and is safe for the horses,” said Robyn. “The horses are also washed as soon as possible after the session so that there is no concern for irritation.”

Click here to learn more about St. Joseph’s Equine Therapy Program.

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