Today, July 20, four of our Indonesian SCJs ministering in North America celebrate their anniversaries of First Profession of Vows. They are pictured at the top of the page: Fr. Christianus Hendrik (1990), Fr. Yohanes Yuliwan Maslim (1985), Fr. Vincent Suparman (1986), and Fr. Aegidius Warsito (1986).
Fr. Hendrik is a member of the US Provincial Council and serves in South Dakota, where he is local superior. Fr. Yuliwan is a member of the Canadian Regional Council and ministers in Toronto. Fr. Vincent is currently the local superior of the Sacred Heart Community in Pinellas Park, FL, and Fr. Aegi is the local superior of the Toronto community and is a part of the pastoral team serving at St. Thomas More and Our Lady of the Rosary parishes in Toronto.
International Theological Seminar concludes
After over a week of study, reflection, and sharing, the International Dehonian Theological Seminar came to an end over the weekend. Approximately 40 Dehonians met via video conference to discuss the meaning of Sint Unum in the congregation and in today’s world. During the conference, three specific topics emerged: the priority of love in Christ (Agape), fraternal life as a “sacrament”, and the prophetic character of unity.
A final message is being prepared that will soon be shared in several languages.
Due to the pandemic, the in-person conference that was scheduled for Cameroon moved to an online event. Participants missed the informal fraternity that develops outside of the meeting rooms, as well as common prayer, but most agreed that for a first attempt the “virtual seminar” was a success and can be a model for future conferences.
Click here to access reports and videos from the conference. Many items were also posted on the congregational Facebook page, DehoniansWorldwide. Frater Henry Nguyen, SCJ, was responsible for much of the social media communication from the conference. Click here or on the image below to watch his interview with Fr. Charles Brown, SCJ, a member of the North American Theological Commission. Fr. Charles spoke about leadership, not just in the congregation but in society.
“Sint unum happens through leadership, ultimately, in my opinion,” said Fr. Charles. “…Failures of leadership have caused many of the problems that we are experiencing in American society these days. I believe that we as Dehonians can stand up in our own small way in this society and say these things are possible, synodality is possible, listening to one another is possible. The hard work of consensus is possible and we Dehonians are in a prime place in this moment to do this.”
Fr. Jerzy Mordalski is back at Sacred Heart Monastery following Spanish-immersion studies in Ecuador.
Fr. Bernard Taube, SCJ
22300 Denmark Ave.
Farmington, MN 55024
Longtime SHSST employee dies
Deborah Kosut, a longtime employee of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, died July 19. Retired for several years, Debb worked in the Pastoral Formation Department, directed the SHSST volunteer program, ran the visitor center when it was located at the seminary, and volunteered at SHSST in many ways beyond her years of employment.
“I am a different person, a better person, for having been here,” said Debb in a 2018 interview shortly before her retirement.
Debb had battled multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood, for the past four years.
When she began at SHSST she only planned to stay for a year or two. She and her husband Garry, who also worked at the seminary on its support staff, planned to build a house about an hour away in Hartford. After moving, Debb was going to get a job closer to her new home. But soon, she felt that her home was at Sacred Heart. She and Garry bought a house just a short drive from SHSST.
Debb said that her work at SHSST felt like the fulfillment of a mission. After her cancer diagnosis, she felt that it was important that she continue that mission.
“I wanted our students to experience working with someone like me, someone with a terminal illness,” she said. “I wanted them to be able to go back to their dioceses, to their local ministries, and be able to help people like me live life to their fullest even when faced with a major illness.”
Click here to read the full article about Debb, published in 2018.
Fr. Bernardus Verbruggen, a member of the Dutch-Flemish Confederation, died on July 17. He was born in 1926, professed in 1946 and ordained in 1952.
Fr. Julián Sola de Andrés, a member of the Spanish Province, died on July 18. He was born in 1934, professed in 1950 and ordained in 1959.
Continue to keep in prayer
Fr. Bob Tucker, SCJ, who had a lung transplant earlier this month, has had both positive moments and setbacks in recent days. On July 16, he was off the ventilator for six-and-a-half hours (using oxygen). On July 17, he struggled a bit, unable to tolerate independent breathing for more than 20 minutes. The nurse who gave the report indicated that it is very common for people to have many ups and downs following a transplant. Fr. Bob’s blood pressure is stable and his kidney function has returned to almost normal.
Yesterday, Fr. Bob was diagnosed with pneumonia. “Despite this, he has been able to continue working on independent breathing,” wrote Mary Balistreri, province director of healthcare. “The MICU staff monitors him very closely to ensure his oxygen levels maintain a strong level. Medications continue to be adjusted to help with breathing. The challenge here is to not have the medications cause sleepiness (a major side effect). His spirits are good and his ability to communicate via writing improves daily. His nurse was very excited to report that Fr. Bob has been gaining more strength and was able to assist with changes of position in bed and was even able to stand at the bedside for a little bit today. It’s lots of hard work for Fr. Bob, but we know that he is not a stranger to that. As always, I ask the nurse to pass along our love and prayers.”
20 Questions with Fr. Joseph Mukuna, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter
“When I was a kid, my big dream was to become a medical doctor because my auntie, who is a religious in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Charity of Jesus and Mary (Belgium), is a medical doctor,” wrote Fr. Joseph Mukuna, SCJ, in his response to the 20 Questions project. “I was impressed by the work she was doing with the poor and sick people in my region.
Fr. Joseph is a member of the Congolese Province doing post-graduate studies in the United States.
“I joined the SCJs when I was turning 19. When I look back, I can honestly say that I grew up with the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). I was educated (and continue to be) and guided by this family. On August 12, 2020, I will be 21 years in vows with the Dehonians. I always consider the Dehonians as my second family. I have now brothers and friends from all over the world thanks to the Priests of the Sacred. So, I am not ashamed to say that I am a Dehonian; I am proud to be part of this wonderful family to which I am very grateful.
“To be a Dehonian for me is to struggle to live the ‘Dehonian dream’ which is to be a ‘prophet of love and servant of reconciliation’. This is a kind of everyday call and challenge. It is also the sense that I give to my training in New Testament studies, to become more aware of the love of God for humanity made manifest in the open heart of Jesus, and to learn how to talk about this love. Being a Dehonian today is to make relevant the ‘Dehonian dream’ in our world in bringing joy and hope to people, and to work for peace and reconciliation.
Click here to read Fr. Joseph’s full responses.
When asked what he wanted to be when he was a child, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, SCJ, wrote that “I wanted to be a shortstop for the Chicago White Sox or shooting guard for the Boston Celtics (my favorite team before the Chicago Bulls were started). After reality set in, I thought more about being a lawyer, modeling myself after Perry Mason on TV. When I took the standard vocational interest test in high school it told me that I would be best suited to teach elementary school.
“I first met the SCJs through Divine Heart Seminary in Donaldson, IN, which was just 10 miles away from my hometown. They started a day student program for commuters who lived in the area and wanted a good Catholic education. We had no Catholic high school in Walkerton, and three other guys from our parish were driving back and forth every day. Dad asked me to join them and try it for a year to see if I liked it. I did get an incredibly good education. What I liked most about the SCJs was that they were very human and relatable. They were good teachers, but also coached and played sports with us, led us in prayer and on retreats, and rolled up their sleeves and worked alongside us when things needed to be done. They helped a lot of people and as I finished high school and thought about the future, I decided to give the college seminary program in Chicago a try.”
And what does he fear? Mice! “Mice still make me squeamish,” he wrote. “My family job was taking out the garbage, but when there was a mouse in the trap I had to talk my sister, Delia, into emptying the trap for me before I could fulfill my duties.” However, he added that “In a real way, I worry about war. Its destruction is so quick and widespread and the cause of so much displacement and misery for generations to come.” Click here to read Fr. Steve’s full response.
20 QUESTIONS is an informal Q&A in which SCJs and those with whom they minister and collaborate share a bit about themselves through a list of 20 questions. All receive the same questions and are invited to answer as many as they like. Click here to access all the responses posted.