Weekly News: June 29, 2020

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

– The Declaration of Independence of the 13 colonies of the United States of America, July 4, 1776.

Happy Independence Day!

On July 4 we celebrate the ideals of the Continental Congress, whose members, on that day, finalized the draft of the Declaration of Independence. Nearly 250 years later, in the midst of marches and protests, people continue to struggle with the challenge of what it means to live in a country that is founded on the idea that “all Men are created equal.”

God, source of all freedom,
this day is bright with the memory
of those who declared that life and liberty
are your gift to every human being.
Help us to continue a good work begun long ago.
Make our vision clear and our will strong:
that only in human solidarity will we find liberty,
and justice only in the honor that belongs
to every life on earth.
Turn our hearts toward the family of nations:
to understand the ways of others,
to offer friendship,
and to ­find safety only in the common good of all.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Prayer taken from the Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, Revised Edition, copyright © 2007, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved.

NOTE: The Provincial Offices will be closed Friday, July 3, in celebration of Independence Day.

Busy in Houston

Two of our students, Michael Wodarczyk and Frater Paul Hoang, SCJ, are based at Our Lady of Guadalupe Houston for their summer ministry assignment. There, they have assisted with pastoral ministries such as funerals and baptisms, as well as daily and weekend liturgies. Both have also been asked to lend a little elbow grease, helping with renovations in the parish office. Michael and Frater Paul are pictured above in front of Martha’s Kitchen, a soup kitchen near OLG. The students regularly volunteer at the ministry. Frater Paul noted that many of their original ministry plans have been adapted due to COVID-19.

July birthdays

Those celebrating birthdays in July include: Fr. Edgard Biankeu and the United States of America (July 4), Fr. Bill Marrevee (July 5), Fr. Yuliwan Maslim and Frater Long Nguyen (July 15), Fr Richard Woodbury and Fr. Willyans Prado Rapozo (July 19), Fr. Petrus Murwanto (July 21), Fr. Dominic Peluse (July 22), Fr. Vien Nguyen (July 27), and Fr. Peter McKenna (July 29). Happy birthday!

Feast-day celebration in Rome

The Generalate community in Rome welcomed Cardinal Secretary of State, Monsignor Pietro Parolin for the celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart. Also joining the Generalate community was Sr. Francesca Balocco of the Dorotee Sisters of Santa Paola Frassinetti, who spoke the many possibilities for compassion found in the Sacred Heart, a force that pushes from within to go towards the other, to let oneself be touched by suffering, and to search for the good in others. Pictured above: the community posed for a “socially distant group photo” with the cardinal. The community also made a video of the celebration which includes text in English. Click here or on the image below to view it.


Fr. Duy Nguyen, SCJ, has a new email address: dnguyenscj@gmail.com


Fr. Louis Mariano Fernandes, SCJ, reports that he has successfully completed his program at Loyola University of Chicago and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling. Graduation ceremonies have been delayed due to COVID-19. He is now doing his internship in the Chicago area. Congratulations Fr. Louis!

20 Questions

Several years ago we had a series on the US Province website titled “20 Questions.” Questions ran the gamut from “What’s your favorite color?” to “ What makes you happy?” “What are you good at?” and “What is your greatest fear?” We’ve resurrected the format and recently asked several SCJs and co-workers to take part. Participants are given the same list of questions and are invited to answer as many as they would like.

Br. Frank Presto, SCJ, provincial secretary, is our first feature. When asked about his hobbies he wrote that “Hobbies and pastimes have changed over the years. Currently, I enjoy photography, especially flowers and scenery.  There is so much beauty and complexity in a picture of a blooming flower. I first developed a taste for photography when I was in Victorville with an old parallel lens camera that I wish I had kept.  Now I am using digital because it’s too difficult to find film and/or processing.

“I am a train enthusiast (HO scale).  My paternal grandfather worked for the Penn Central Railroad.  The stories of his experience, and my dad’s, fascinated me as a child.  I started amassing track, locomotives, rail cars and accessories about 25 years ago.  My current diorama is my other universe and I’m represented throughout it. I enjoy reading.  I can lose all sense of time playing certain computer games – especially the Civilization series.  Sorry, I only play against the computer and not in multiplayer mode.  A recent addition to my hobbies is model building.  It started with the train set and has expanded to other forms now that I have run out of room for the diorama.  I used to enjoy cooking and baking but losing my senses of smell and taste robbed me of that pleasure.”

One of the final questions is “Do you consider yourself to be a Dehonian? Br. Frank wrote: “I strive to be Dehonian.  Some days it is easier than others.  For me, being Dehonian is integrating the core values in my life and living accordingly.  The Sacred Heart becomes, hopefully, the cornerstone of my being as I interact with others.  It’s a hard act to follow sometimes.  There is a line in the movie Metropolis that partially sums up the endeavor.  I probably will not quote it accurately but one of the key characters says ‘The Heart is the mediator between the Head and the Hands.’  That is the context I use when trying to integrate our charism into my life.”

Click here to read the rest of Br. Frank’s answers.

Fr. Johnny Klingler award

The JPR Commission recently announced that its 2020 Johnny Klingler, SCJ, Social Action Award will be shared by two recipients this year.

Fr. Frank Wittouck, SCJ, will be honored for his many years of service as an SCJ, as well as his extensive volunteer work with the homeless, migrants and prisoners in Houston since his retirement. He was nominated by former SCJ David Jackson.

On behalf of Sacred Heart Parish in Canton, Mississippi, Fr. Mike O’Brien will be the co-recipient of the award for the parish’s response to the arrest of hundreds of undocumented workers, many of them members of Sacred Heart, at a plant raid by ICE last year. The parish was nominated by Br. Diego Diaz, SCJ. More information about the recipients and the award will be shared by the JPR Commission later this year.

Election guidelines

As the presidential election season heats up, Mark Peters of the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Office reminds Dehonians that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has extensive information on its website about the “Do’s and Don’ts” for parishes and faith leaders regarding elections. Among the activities that are encouraged: 1) share the principles of Catholic social teaching (click here to read about the seven key themes of Catholic social teaching), 2) encourage voter participation, 3) give information and guidance regarding ballot measures, and 4) engage in non-partisan voter education.

Activities to be avoided: 1) endorsing or opposing specific candidates and/or political parties, 2) providing the use of church facilities or assets for partisan political activities, 3) distributing partisan materials, and 4) permitting only selected candidates to address your congregation or membership.

Click here to access the “Faithful Citizenship” section of the USCCB website.

Click here to read the USCCB’s “Do’s and Don’ts”

Click here to read the USCCB’s guidelines for political activity and lobbying.

Fr. Thi with Dehonian students in Mississippi

Best wishes Fr. Thi!

On June 28 well-wishers gathered at Christ the King parish in Southaven, MS, to say good-bye and wish Fr. Thi Pham, SCJ, well as he leaves to begin a sabbatical. Fr. Thi had been the moderator of the parish team that serves six parishes in northwest Mississippi. Click here to view photos in a Facebook album.

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