Weekly News: July 10, 2023

Hello from Ecuador!

“Instead of getting down from our pedestals, we have to go up to encounter the people of God,” said Frater Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ, reflecting on bringing communion to people in the mountains of Ecuador. Fra. Paul, a seminarian at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, is with our Dehonian community in Ecuador this summer studying Spanish and assisting with ministry. He recently wrote with an update and shared a few photos.

“I am currently living in the formation community in Miraflore, Quito, Ecuador, and have daily Spanish class with four other Dehonian students (two from Vietnam and two from Cameroon),” he wrote. “On July 10 [today], I will begin my class at the nearby university: PUCE (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador). It is a 30-minute walk from the community house, and the class will be three hours a day…

“On Saturday, if I am not in La Argelia, I accompany Fra. Ho Si Thanh, SCJ, aka José Thanh (from Vietnam), and Fra. Jean Somena, SCJ (from Cameroon) to bring communion to the elderly on the mountain. Because it is very high and sometimes steep, people up there rarely come down to attend Mass. So instead of getting down from our pedestals, we have to go up to encounter the people of God. They live very simply up there, mostly by farming and raising domestic animals such as cows, pigs, and chickens. It is good exercise for me. You can feel the lower oxygen level in the air.”

CLICK HERE to read more.


Michael Iwuchukwu was accepted by the US Province Admissions Board as a candidate for the formation program at Sacred Heart Monastery. He is 31, originally from Nigeria, and is currently studying for a master’s degree at Drew University in New Jersey. Welcome!

Centennial and Chapter schedules

PROVINCE CHAPTER – The Provincial Chapter begins at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 18. All delegates are asked to be in the Provincial Conference Center a few minutes prior to the start. Although the chapter itself may adapt its schedule, most days will go until approximately 4:30 p.m. at the Conference Center (with a midday break for lunch). Mass will be at 5:00 p.m. at Good Shepherd Chapel at SHML, followed by a social and dinner. The chapter is scheduled to conclude by noon on Friday, July 21. All chapter delegates are responsible for making their own travel and lodging arrangements.

CENTENNIAL – The three province celebrations are as follows:

Sunday, July 16 – Benefactors and SCJ alumni are invited to this celebration. It will take place at Sacred Heart Monastery / Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology beginning with Mass of 10:30 a.m. followed by appetizers and lunch. A Commemoration Service will be held at the mausoleum at 2:00 p.m. Cookies, coffee and soft drinks will be available in the SHSST dining room after. The mausoleum service is expected to be about 15 minutes.

CLICK HERE for the livestream link of the July 16 Mass.

Monday, July 17 – This is considered the “Family Celebration.” Joining SCJs will be employees, major superiors of other religious communities in the area, and friends of the community. Mass on July 17 will be at Sacred Heart Monastery / Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology at 4:30 p.m. This will be followed by a social and dinner.

July 30, Lower Brule – The South Dakota community will host a Centennial Celebration at the birthplace of Dehonian ministry in the United States. The day (Sunday, July 30) will begin with a smudging ceremony at 10:00 a.m., followed by a procession to Mass. Bishop Peter Muhich of Rapid City will be the main celebrant and Fr. Stefan Tertünte, SCJ, provincial superior of the German Province, will be the homilist.

Attendees are responsible for making their own travel and lodging arrangements. If you have any questions regarding the celebration in South Dakota, please contact Fr. Christianus Hendrik, SCJ.

Dehonian Presentation Series

Periodically, the province will host virtual presentations related to Dehonian themes. Some may be standard historical reflections, while others offer an opportunity for interpretation and reflection.

On Wednesday, August 9, 2023, from 10:00-11:00 am (central time) Dr. Paul Monson, SHSST Vice President of Intellectual Formation and Academic Dean, as well as an Associate Professor of Church History, will give a presentation titled “Benedictine Dehonians: A Window into SCJ History in South Dakota.” Dr. Monson is pictured above speaking at the Dehon Lecture.

Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, shared a synopsis of Dr. Monson’s presentation: “As we celebrate the centenary of the U.S. Province, we have heard about Fr. Fohrman and St Mary’s in Lower Brule. But do we know the backstory to this mission that he inherited? Dr. Monson explores the Benedictine history behind the Dehonian missions in South Dakota with a provocative insight. He will argue that in the past hundred years, the SCJs have lived the Benedictines’ original vision in a Dehonian commitment to stability and family, long after monks and nuns have left the prairie. This Dehonian commitment to stability and family is deeply rooted in the spirituality of availability. The presentation will draw upon Dr. Monson’s unpublished research and recent visit to the South Dakota apostolates.”

The August 9 presentation is a part of the commemoration of Fr. Leo John Dehon’s anniversary of death on August 12.

This presentation is both for SCJs and staff. CLICK HERE for the Zoom link.

Please remember

+ Fr. Henricus Baart, a member of the Dutch Region, died on July 7. He was born in 1934, professed in 1955 and ordained in 1963.

Remembering Fr. Tom

On Friday, July 7, the US Province celebrated the life of Fr. Tom Westhoven, SCJ, with a Wake and Mass of Christian Burial at Good Shepherd Chapel at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, provincial superior, was the main celebrant.

“Tom was committed to the Native Americans in South Dakota,” said Fr. Vien. “He served there for more than 20 years. He was a very generous man. As a cook, he always made sure to share his delicious creations with everyone around him. Sometimes he did his own version of Robin Hood, taking food from the community dining room and giving it to others. He supplied us with popcorn; those who have been guests in the community mention that in their memories of Tom. And of course, some of us can’t forget the time he accidently set off the smoke alarm when making yet another batch of his famous popcorn.

“We remember his infectious smile and generous spirit. Tom, you lived your religious life with the assurance of God’s mercy and the promise of eternal life. We all share this belief with you, my brother. May you go in peace as you journey home to the Lord.”

Click here to read the full homily.

Click here to access photos from the funeral.

Click here to view a recording of the livestream.

Fr. Tom died on June 28; he was 82.

Closing photos

We end with a couple of photos taken during Independence Day celebrations. The first is students and their teacher (Vicki Johnson) trying on their 4th of July best, and the second of SCJs Fr. Fabio dos Santos, Frater Hung Pham and Fr. Richard Johnston was sent by the Houston community.

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