Weekly News: March 13, 2023

180 years ago…

Fr. Leo John Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) was born on March 14, 1843. Tomorrow is the 180th anniversary of his birth. In the Centennial Year of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in the United States, it seems fitting to share a passage from the founder’s journal written during his 1910 visit to North America. The primary reason for the journey was the Eucharistic Congress in Montréal, but Fr. Dehon made good use of his voyage across the ocean seeing much of both Canada and the United States. An excerpt from the diary gives some of his impressions of the United States:

“In every city you will find restaurants for busy people where they can eat a ‘quick lunch,’ a pre-prepared meal. They eat standing up on high stools at a counter. They gulp down ‘today’s special’ and then go back to work. The popular refreshment is ‘soda,’ carbonated water on ice cream or with fruit syrup. ‘Whisky’ is also popular…

“Like the Old World, America has its aristocracy. Europe has marquis, counts and dukes; America has kings. Vanderbilt is the king of railroads; Clark is the king of leather; Carnegie is the king of steel; and there are hundreds of others. We have our millionaires, America has its billionaires [remember, this is 1910!]. America intends to surpass us in everything; little Europe grows old and America is full of youthful vigor.”

He went on to write about his experience of Catholicism in Canada and the United States: “Catholicism has made tremendous progress in North America. In noting this fact, it should be recognized that Catholicism has not been hurt by science and progress, neither of which is in short supply in the United States.”

Fr. Dehon was in North America from August 19 to October 6, 1910; Dehonian ministry officially began in the United States on Palm Sunday, 1923.

“A sincere seeker”

“His legacy is not of someone self-referential and lost in himself, but that of a sincere seeker who generously invested his talents in the demanding service of the Gospel, in fidelity to the Church and in concrete contributions to society,” wrote Fr. Carlos Luis Suárez Codorniú, SCJ, superior general, in his letter commemorating the founder’s birth. “Indeed, we can say that he learned to listen to and live the Gospel, accepted being a disciple in the Church and a committed citizen in a world that was increasingly in need of love and reparation. On this occasion, the challenge that we want to share with you is not only to read and learn about the Founder’s writings, but to make his way our way of discerning and responding to God’s call; his way of understanding the Church and the world; his way of relating to politics, with workers and businessmen; with children and youth; with ecclesiastics and religious life. What motivated him? What did he intend to do? How does his behavior enlighten us today so that we do not remain indifferent, superficial, or abstracted from what is happening around us? The work and ways of Fr. Dehon still have much to say to us.”

Click here to read the full letter on the general website.

Keep in prayer

Dn. Steve Kraemer (pictured above), Director of Homiletics and Director of Recruitment at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, underwent heart bypass surgery on Thursday, March 9. He was diagnosed with two blockages. The surgery was said to have gone well; however, he may be away from SHSST for the rest of the spring semester for recuperation. SHSST is making arrangements for his classes and other duties. Please keep him in your prayers.

Centennial resources

A page has been created on the US Province website for the province Centennial. Initially, it includes a brief explanation of what is being celebrated, and various versions of the Centennial logo available for download. More items, such as historical photos and facts, and information about Centennial celebrations, will be posted in the weeks ahead.

Click here to go to the page. On the website, it is found under the “NEWS & RESOURCES” tab at the top of the page.

SCJs are invited but need to RSVP

On Tuesday, March 21, SCJ Fraters Michael Wodarczyk, Thuan Nguyen and Truc Tran will receive the Ministry of Lector and Frater Hung Pham, SCJ, will receive the Ministry of Acolyte during 5:00 p.m. Mass in St. Joseph Chapel at Sacred Heart Monastery. All SCJs are welcome to join the SHM community at the Mass; a social and dinner will follow. If you plan to attend, click here to RSVP to Fr. Joseph Thien Dinh, SCJ. The community needs to have a head count to ensure that there is enough space and enough food for all visitors.


Frater Jacob Smith, SCJ (pictured above), is one of this year’s nominees for Marquette University’s Contemplative in Action Student Leadership Award for the categories Faith that Does Justice” and “Service for and with Others”. In its submission the MU Campus Ministry department staff wrote that “Jacob is a wonderfully kind, considerate, prayerful, reverent, and devout student whose personality and personal witness of faith inspires and encourages his colleagues and others in the Marquette community.  He often serves as a liturgical minister across campus, even willing to jump in and help last-minute when needed.  And he is a regular fixture in the campus ministry office throughout the week, engaging others in conversation and community.” The award will be presented on Friday, April 14, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. at the Marquette Contemplatives in Action Student Leadership Awards, Student Organization Awards, and Sorority and Fraternity Life Awards Program.

Congratulations Jacob!

Lenten Hour of Recollection for employees and other collaborators

A reminder that there will be a Lenten Hour of Recollection via Zoom on Thursday, March 23, at 10:00 a.m. (Central). Click here for the Zoom link. This session is for province employees and other collaborators with the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians).

Sr. Dianne Bergant will lead the session. A Sister of St. Agnes of Fond du Lac, WI, she served on the faculty of Catholic Theological Union from 1978 to 2014, where she had many SCJs as students. Her curriculum vitae is lengthy, including service as President of the Catholic Biblical Association of America (2000-2001) and as the Rev. Robert J. Randall Distinguished Professor of Christian Culture, Providence College, Providence, RI (2009-2010).

Sr. Diane is pictured above during this morning’s Hour of Recollection with SCJs. More about her time with SCJs will be posted later this week on the province website.

Bishop Joe Potocnak blesses the coffin

Funeral Mass for Br. Peter Mankins

“Pete loves life, and Pete loves people, pure and simple,” said Fr. Jim Brackin, SCJ, during his homily at the Mass of Christian Burial for Br. Peter Mankins, SCJ, on Saturday. Fr. Jim first got to know Br. Peter during their time serving the undergraduate formation program in San Antonio.

“Pete doesn’t just love a few people,” continued Fr. Jim.  “Pete loves ALL people in the depths of his heart.  And his heart, in some mystical way, communicates that love to the hearts of all others.  Just as Pete loves us, we in turn have come to love him… In short, Pete genuinely believes in his heart that each of us is created in the image and likeness of God, and Pete trusts we will act accordingly.  For Pete, there is no question, we are created good, so be good.  For Pete, it’s so natural to be good.  To be good, for most of us is a struggle and at times we fail.  Even when we fail, Pete still loves us without reservation.”

Click here to access Fr. Jim’s full homily from the funeral. Click here to read his text from the Wake Service the night before.

Click here to view a recording of the livestream of the Mass of Christian Burial. Many thanks to SCJ Fraters Paul Phong Hoang and Truc Tran for their video work.

Click here to view photos from the Wake and Funeral courtesy of Br. Frank Presto, SCJ.

Happy birthday!

The Sacred Heart Monastery Community celebrated Frater Michael Wodarczyk’s birthday last Friday before the spring break at SHSST. His actual birthday is today. Happy birthday Michael!

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