Weekly News: May 13, 2024

And now it is official!

On February 7, Fr. Joseph Mukuna, SCJ (pictured above), successfully defended his doctoral thesis at Loyola University Chicago. Last week, he took part in commencement exercises and received his diploma. CONGRATULATIONS DOCTOR JOSEPH!!

The title of his thesis: “Reading the Prologue of John’s Gospel as a Midrash with a View to Examining a Local Parting of the Ways.” Click here to read about his defense. 

On retreat

Approximately 25 SCJs will be at the Siena Retreat Center in Racine, WI, this week on a retreat for those in active ministry. The photo above of taken at the center, which sits on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Led by Sr. Dianne Bergant, CSA, the retreat will focus on the theme of synodality. Please keep the participants in your prayers.

Speaking of retreats…

The day after the retreat at the Siena Retreat Center concludes (and the Provincial Council reviews the yearly budgets), Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, will repack his bag and head to South Africa, where – at the request of provincial superior of South Africa – Fr. Vien will lead a five-day retreat for the RSA Province. Fr. Vien returns to the States on May 25.

Fr. Vien

Author, author!

And speaking of Fr. Vien, he recently had two book reviews published:

Nguyen, Vien. Review of Ecclesiastes and the Meaning of Life in the Ancient World by Arthur Jan Keefer. Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 86, no. 2 (April 2024): 379-381.

Nguyen, Vien. Review of The Apostle Paul and His Letters: An Introduction by James B. Prothro. Homiletics and Pastoral Review (April 2024). https://www.hprweb.com/2024/03/book-reviews-april-2024/

“In The Apostle Paul and His Letters: An Introduction, James B. Prothro provides readers with a concise introduction to the letters of Paul,” writes Fr. Vien in Homiletics and Pastoral Review.  “Given the breadth of possibilities and diverse perspectives in Pauline studies, Prothro focuses on the essentials, including historical and religious contexts and Paul’s theological perspectives, to give readers the foundation upon which to study and appreciate Paul’s life and letters and to understand and reason with Paul through them…

“Readers will appreciate Prothro’s balanced perspective. For example, in his discussion on authorship, Prothro notes the consensus views on Pauline authorship and authenticity but gives a nuanced reading on the authorship-authenticity debate. For him, Paul’s distinctive theological insights, writing style, and vocabulary in the disputed letter do not necessarily mean that the letters are not historically Pauline. He points readers to the influence of Paul’s coauthors and the role of scribes in ancient letter writing and different audiences, resulting in theological and stylistic differences across Pauline letters. Moreover, Prothro notes that it is possible for Paul to undergo changes over time due to his experiences: ‘Paul’s core convictions and ways of thinking can develop over time as he preaches, teaches, prays, and has new religious experiences of Christ (2 Cor 12:1–10)’. Prothro gives much attention to authorship, particularly in the first part of the book. However, regardless of who wrote the Pauline letters, they are still regarded as inspired Scripture.”

Join us via livestream!

As many of you already know, Dn. Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ, will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, June 1, at 10:00 a.m. The ceremony will take place at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Houston; Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson, MS, will be the ordaining bishop.

We welcome you to join us for the livestream. Click here to bookmark the link.

Please keep Dn. Paul in your prayers in these final weeks leading up to his ordination.

Memorial cards available

We still have a few memorial cards left from Fr. Tom Lind’s funeral. Please click here to receive one (or more).

Faithful to the breaking of the bread…

The focus of the May issue of As a Rule was the Eucharist. “Celebrating the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord is for us the privileged moment of our faith and of our vocation as Priests of the Sacred Heart,” states Constitution No. 80. Corrie Christiaansen (Marketing and Office Manager in the Province Vocation Office) and Fr. M. Ari Saputra, SCJ, wrote this month’s reflections. Fr. Ari focused on his experience of the Eucharist while serving a mission church in Indonesia.

“At Easter last year (2023), I was still in Indonesia and presided over Holy Week services at Maria Bintang Laut Parish, Kokonao, Papua, Indonesia,” he began. “This is one of the SCJ mission locations in Indonesia which is in the interior of Papua, a place that is still difficult to reach. No electricity. No internet. There are no roads, not even motorways…

“I was assigned to celebrate Mass in the village of Unito. It is one of the furthest mission churches from the center of Kokonao Parish. To get to that place, I had to leave at 2:00 a.m. and float along the river for approximately five hours from the basecamp. After arriving at the headwaters, I continued the journey on foot… Finally, after seven-and-a-half hours of walking, I arrived at Unito village at 2:30 P.M.”

But he arrived to a deserted church. Exhausted, he sat at the church door and fell asleep. Fr. Ari woke to the sound of villagers telling him that they didn’t know that he was coming but added, “Pater, our souls hunger for the Eucharist. We’re happy that you came. This is a gift for us. We really long for Mass.” said a woman from the village.

“Immediately my heart was moved and great joy filled my soul when I heard those words,” wrote Fr. Ari. “My tiredness instantly disappeared. So, I celebrated Mass with the people that evening. ‘For this I was ordained.’ I said to myself.”

Click here to read Fr. Ari’s full reflection, as well as Corrie’s in the May issue of As a Rule.


Michael Iwuchukwu has withdrawn as a candidate from the US Province formation program. “We wish him well as he continues to discern his vocation,” said Fr. Vien Nguyen.

Please keep Michael in your prayers.

Celebrating Native American culture through fashion.

On Saturday, April 20, students at St. Joseph’s Indian School put on the Thiyóšpaye (extended family) Fashion Show. They were joined by professionals in the Native fashion Industry and dozens of staff members. Through the event, students gained valuable insights into Native fashion trends and the profound life lessons to be found in the contemporary Native fashion world.

The event is the brainchild of houseparent Kirstie Mattos, Mrs. USA Ambassador South Dakota, who has first-hand involvement in the fashion industry and knows the positive benefits it can bring the students. She brought together models, designers, and photographers from across the country and generous staff from all over campus to make the Thiyóšpaye Fashion Show that lifted up some 50 participating students.

“Dream big. Take up as much space as you can.” This advice was directed by visiting model mentor Christopher Piña to a roomful of attentive St. Joe’s students. They took the message to heart throughout the day, filled with laughter, learning, good food, and fun.

Click here to read more.

PHOTO ABOVE: (Left to Right): Mykah Goings watches Iris Huezo of Native Hope film, while Lawrence West of Sioux Fall’s Watecha Bowl is interviewed by Randi Johnson. The Watecha Bowl provided lunch for the event.

JPR newsletter available

Click here to download the May issue of the JPR newsletter (Reign of the Sacred Heart). The focus this month is “War and Peace.”

“Working for peace is never separated from announcing the Gospel,” writes Dn. Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ, in the newsletter. “Christ is our peace, the  Prince of Peace. Jesus promises us peace (Jn  14:27) and calls the peacemakers blessed (Mt  5:9). He warned that those  ‘who draw the sword will die by the sword’  (Mt 26:52). The Church  is the sacrament and instrument of peace in the  world. Peace is the fruit of justice and love. As  Catholics, we are called to wage peace through  prayer, dialogue, reconciliation, solidarity, promotion of justice, and non-violent resistance.”

First communion at SMOT

Last week we shared a photo from First Communion at St. Gregory the Great parish in Senatobia, MS. This week, we share a pic from the First Communion class at St. Martin of Tours (Dn. Chuck Schneider and Fr. Andrzej Sudol, SCJ, are pictured in the top row). Click here to view an online album (Br. Andy Gancarczyk).

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