Weekly News: March 27, 2023


Last Tuesday, March 21, SCJ Fraters Michael Wodarczyk, Thuan Nguyen and Truc Tran received the Ministry of Lector and Frater Hung Pham received the Ministry of Acolyte. Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, was the main celebrant at the Mass with the Sacred Heart Community and conferred the ministries. All four are seminarians at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.

Click here to view photos from the ceremony. They are also available on the US Province Facebook page.

Where it all began

Later this year the province will host several celebrations commemorating the centennial of Dehonian ministry in the United States. However, it was a small gathering in Lower Brule, SD, on Saturday, March 25, that honored the Mass that officially marks the beginning of the SCJ commitment to the people of the United States. That first Mass was celebrated at St. Mary’s Church in Lower Brule by Fr. Matthias Fohrman, SCJ, on March 25 – Palm Sunday – in 1923.

Presiding at Saturday’s Mass (the feast of the Annunciation) was Fr. Jean Claude Mbassi, SCJ, a member of the Lower Brule Pastoral Team who is originally from Cameroon. Also on the team is Fr. Christianus Hendrik, SCJ, originally from Indonesia. They now carry on the ministry begun by an SCJ priest from Luxembourg (Fr. Matthias Fohrman) who was originally in the United States on a fundraising mission for the German Province.

A multicultural religious community serving a multicultural community in rural South Dakota.

Among those who joined the parish for the anniversary celebration was Grandma Julia Yellow Rope; she is pictured here with Fr. Jean Claude and others at the gathering. “It was a great blessing and honor for us to welcome her,” said Fr. Jean Claude. “At 105 she is the eldest member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.”

Also among the guests was Mike Tyrell, president of St. Joseph’s Indian School. “In Fr. Jean-Claude’s homily he spoke of how he got to Lower Brule,” said Mike.  “He said that when he was asked to check it out, his response was simply ‘I will go.’  It was not a response to go check it out, it was a commitment that he was going. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of history, noting a parallel to Fr. Mathias’s response 100 years earlier.

“I felt blessed to be there for the Mass, on this special anniversary.  I also could not help wondering, who will be fortunate to be at Mass in Lower Brule in 2123? We are blessed in our South Dakota Ministry!”

“Together we give thanks to God for calling Fr. Matthias Fohrman to Lower Brule,” said Fr. Jean Claude, “carrying on the mission of Fr. Leo John Dehon.”

Safe travels!

Fr.  Louis Mariano Fernandes, SCJ, has completed his ministerial commitment to the US Province and will be returning to India next Tuesday, April 4. “We are grateful for his ministry in the US Province and wish him the best as he transitions back to India,” said Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ.

Also, Fr. Ed Zemlik, SCJ, will take part in a Holy Week pilgrimage to Spain organized by Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology and led by Fr. Raúl Gómez Ruiz, SDS, SHSST rector. The group of 15 will be based in Madrid and Toledo, with visits to Segovia, Aranjuez, Avila and other nearby locations. The trip runs from March 31 through April 10.

“It is a delayed jubilee trip,” said Fr. Ed, who celebrated his 25th anniversary of vows in 2020. The trip was postponed by the pandemic.

Safe travels Fr. Louis and  pilgrimage participants!

Happy birthday!

Those celebrating birthdays in April include: Fr. Jim Walters and Fr. Antonius Suedi Oki Kuncoro on April 17, Fr. Hendrik Ardianto on April 24, Br. Duane Lemke on April 26, Fr. Son Nguyen and Fr. Tom Lind on April 27, and Frater Thuan Nguyen on April 29.

Also, happy birthday to Fr. Jim Schroeder who celebrates his birthday this Thursday, March 30.

Please remember

+ Br. Lorenzo Maffioletti, a member of the North Italian Province, died on March 25. He was born in 1939, professed in 1957 and made his final profession in 1961.

+ Fr. Claudionor José Schmitt, a member of the South Brazil Province, died on March 21. He was born in 1948, professed in 1970 and ordained in 1975.

Keep in prayer

Sr. Mary Carroll, SSSF, a long-time member of the SHSST faculty (and now an emerita professor), is Sr. Mary Carroll is undergoing chemotherapy.

– Sr. Angela Susalla, OP, a retired social service minister at Catholic Social Services in Tunica, MS (Sacred Heart Southern Missions) has been diagnosed with cancer in her lungs and brain. She has chosen to not go through chemo or radiation treatment. In 2021 Sr. Angela celebrated her 70th anniversary of vows with the Adrian Dominican Congregation.

“Go out there and do something!”

“At the end of Mass, instead of saying, ‘Go in Peace,’ we should say, ‘Now get out there and do something! That’s what ‘Go in Peace’ means. It means going out there and changing the world. Go back to where you came from and make it better than yesterday. That is the reign of God.”

The quote is from Sr. Dianne Bergant, CSA, who led an online Lenten Hour of Recollection yesterday (March 23) on the theme: “The Mission of the Baptized Based on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.” Approximately 70 Dehonian employees and collaborators from around the country joined SCJs for the presentation.

“Baptism gives us responsibility and privilege,” said Sr. Dianne. “WE have been called to transform the world, every single one of us!

“Don’t ever minimize what you can do to serve others.”

Click here to read more on the province website. A link to a recording Sr. Dianne’s presentation is available on the website or by clicking on the image above.

Superior General visits Ukraine

From March 8-12, 2023, Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniú, SCJ, superior general, and Fr. Artur Sanecki, SCJ, general councilor, visited the Dehonian community in Ukraine. There are currently eight SCJs serving in Ukraine, divided between Irpin (near Kiev) and Zhytomyr (about 125 miles west of Kiev). Fr. Carlos met with SCJs and expressed his gratitude to them for their generous commitment to be with the people of Ukraine in the midst of war. During the visit, Fr. Carlos Luis also visited with Fr. Piotr Chmielecki, SCJ, of the Polish Province and Fr. Gerd Hemken, SCJ, of Germany who were delivering humanitarian aid. Dehonians have been bringing aid to the people of Ukraine throughout the war.

The Priests of the Sacred Heart have been in Ukraine for approximately 25 years. Click here to read more about the visit on the general website.

Closing shot

Seminarians and staff at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology surprised Fr. Frank Wittouck, SCJ, at lunch last Thursday (March 23) with a school-wide singing of “Happy Birthday” to celebrate his 85th birthday. A member of the Sacred Heart Monastery community, Fr. Frank is an active retiree, assisting with a variety of ministries in the Milwaukee area. Before retirement has was a military chaplain, parish pastor and served for many years in education.

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