Weekly News: June 21, 2021

Summer ministry begins

Writing from Houston, Postulants Jacob Smith and Jonathan Nguyen-Vuong shared photos from the first week of their summer ministry assignment at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Houston.

“It has been a great start,” wrote Jonathan. The community members are all very welcoming, supportive and relaxed. It is wonderful to see how each community member ministers, even in the midst of the hot Houston sun. It is great to get to know the community and to see their joys, enthusiasm, and simply human nature as they minister to the people from Sunday to Sunday.”

Jacob echoed Jonathan, writing that “It has been such a joyful and fulfilling experience so far. Working directly in the parish and getting to see the smiles of the people is a reminder of the joy our charism brings. Getting to work with the school, the confirmation program, and even doing yard work have all been a life-giving experience. Serving at Mass is so fulfilling. I especially love to be an extraordinary minister, sharing Our Lord with others.” Jacob has served as a music minister, and both he and Jonathan have assisted at baptisms and funerals.

We also received a few photos from students on assignment in South Dakota. Those based in Lower Brule include Frater Hubert Liassidji, Frater Thuan Nguyen and Postulant Michael Wodarczyk. Joining the ministerial team of Frater Long Nguyen, Fr. Christianus Hendrik and Fr. Jean-Claude Mbassi, the group is truly an example of multiculturalism on the South Dakota prairie (among them, five countries are represented!).

Along with photos from Houston in the photo montage above are pictures from South Dakota including gravesite blessings on the feast of Corpus Christi, and smiles with cyclists during the Ride Across South Dakota (students staffed one of the aid stations along the route).

Kelly Kornacki (right) and Fr. Raúl Gomez Ruiz welcome ECS students at the start of a pre-pandemic summer session.

ECS gets underway at SHSST

Today, June 21, is the first day of the summer ECS program (English and Cultural Studies, formerly “ESL”) at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. Pre-pandemic, this would mean dozens of students from around the world gathered in the SHSST lobby doing ice-breakers and preparing for placement testing.

Unfortunately, with international borders just beginning to open, travel still isn’t possible for most students. This first summer session will have only a fraction of its usual number; among them, priests and religious from Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, initial estimates show that the second session student enrollment may be double that of the first. “The second session will represent a more diverse number of countries,” said Kelly Kornacki, VP of Intercultural Preparation for Ministry at SHSST. “Things are looking better for the program as we move forward.”

Things are already looking better. COVID-19 cancelled last summer’s ECS program. Today, with the start of the first session, the program is taking one of its first steps back on the path to a new “normal.”

Please remember

+Fr. Józef Kusek, a member of the Polish Province, died June 19. He was born in 1947, professed first vows in 1963 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1973.

Fr. Mac, Fr. Tony and Fr. Frank

The class of 1957 reunites!

SCJ Fathers Richard MacDonald, Tony Russo and Frank Wittouck professed their first vows together on September 8, 1957. Soon after, religious life took them in a variety of directions: Fr. Mac served for many years in the Rio Grande Valley and as provincial superior of the US Province; Fr. Tony also ministered in Texas (Our Lady of Guadalupe Houston) and in Wisconsin as pastor of St. Martin Tours in Franklin, as well as in provincial administration and education; and Fr. Frank traveled the world as a military chaplain, and also served in education and parish ministry. The three, pictured here, are now back together in retirement. Fr. Mac and Fr. Tony are at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake (Fr. Mac just moved from Texas a few weeks ago), and Fr. Frank is across the street at Sacred Heart Monastery. They are pictured above on feast of the Sacred Heart.


Yesterday, SCJs in Montréal held a farewell BBQ for Fr. Greg Murray, SCJ, who leaves the community today for Ottawa in preparation for new ministry in the archdiocese of Gatineau. This summer, Fr. Greg and Fr. Élie Munzungu Kasongo Ngoy, SCJ, will assume ministry for a parish near Buckingham.

Provincial’s Time

When the provincial superior traveled frequently, we often posted his calendar in a brief “Provincial’s Time” notice in the Fridge Notes. But with the pandemic keeping all of us closer to home, most of those travels – including provincial visitations – were done via Zoom.

However, with vaccinations allowing travel once again, Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, is happy to report that he will be on vacation June 19-27. He and a couple of friends will be in Colorado for sightseeing and, he said, “hopefully, go whitewater rafting!”

After a few days back home in Wisconsin he will drive to Buffalo to visit family July 1-6. Fr. Ed said that it will be the first time in three years that he will be able to go home to visit family.

St. Joseph’s students and staff pose for a group pic before this year’s cultural trip

Cultural Trip back on the curriculum

Although there were still a few adaptations due to the pandemic, seventh graders at St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota were able to do their annual Cultural Trip this spring; it is an annual right of passage for the students.

Smoke from the burning sage used in prayer hung in the air as students boarded the buses that took them to the sacred sites of their Native American Heritage. Over five days, they visited the Little Bighorn Battlefield, Greasy Grass, Matȟó Thípila (Devil’s Tower), Bear Butte, PeŠlá in the heart of the Black Hills, Black Elk Peak and the Badlands. Challenging weather kept them from Wind Cave and Crazy Horse.

Their spring coursework in Native American Studies class prepared students to understand the spiritual, cultural and historical significance of each site they visited. When possible,  they heard from experts who spoke about the locations. A part of the trip is sharing it with others. When they returned to St. Joseph’s the seventh graders prepared presentations to share with younger students.

Click here to read more on St. Joseph’s blog.

Fr. Greg leads prayer

Farewell and safe travels!

On June 13, parishioners and staff of the six parishes in northwest Mississippi that are served by the SCJ pastoral team gathered at Holy Spirit parish in Hernando to say farewell to Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ, and wish him well in his new assignment as spiritual director at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Fr. Greg begins his new assignment at St. Joseph’s on July 1.

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