Weekly News: May 6, 2024

Congratulations grads!

On Friday, May 3, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology held its commencement exercises. It was a time to honor the graduates, but also a moment to say thanks to several members of the SHSST family who are moving on to other positions. Those honored included Dr. Barbara Anne Cusack, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and out-going chairperson of the SHSST board of directors. She received the Heart of Christ Award for her years of service to the school. Dr. Cusack also gave the commencement address.

Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, expressed the thanks of the Priests of the Sacred Heart to Fr. Raúl Gómez Ruiz, SDS, for his nearly 30 years of service to SHSST. He leaves the president-rector’s office to assume a leadership position with his religious community.

Also honored was Fr. Steven Avella, who retires from his many years of teaching Church History.

Among the 25 graduates was our own Dn. Paul Phong Hoang, SCJ, who is currently ministering in Mississippi. He will be ordained to the priesthood on June 1 at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston.

Click here to view photos from the evening.

“The success of SHSST depends on the unwavering commitment and dedication of many people,” wrote Fr. Vien in a letter to SCJs this morning. “As Dehonians, we hold the responsibility of providing our collaborators with the requisite Dehonian spiritual resources and guidance to enable them to partner with us and carry on ministries that we cannot accomplish alone. We must ensure a working environment that recognizes and values their contributions to our Dehonian mission and vision.

“I am grateful to the Dehonians currently ministering at SHSST: Mark Mastin, Francis-Vu Tran, Zbigniew Morawiec, Yvon Sheehy (residential ECS Program coordinator), and James Walters (professor and spiritual director). John Czyzynski and Frank Wittouck serve as spiritual directors. We rely on them to help us infuse our Dehonian identity and values into our faculty, staff, and students. I am also grateful to those SCJs who are not directly involved at SHSST but continue to support it through their prayers and, when possible, presence. Thank you for your continued commitment to our apostolate.”

For SCJs over 65…

If you are an SCJ in the US Province who is over 65, please check your e-mail boxes later today for a message regarding your medical insurance card. The Provincial Treasurer’s Office asks that you update the “primary insurance” that is listed (if you are over 65, your primary insurance should be Medicare).

Please remember

+ Fr. Sérgio Marcos Hemkemeier, a member of the South Brazilian Province, died on May 1. He was born in 1923 (over 100 years old!), professed in 1942 and ordained in 1948.


Fr. John Czyzynski, SCJ, shares an update on his niece, Laura Kaluba, who had brain surgery two weeks ago to remove a tumor. The tumor was determined to be cancerous; however, “the surgeon said he spent an hour longer during the operation and he feels that he got all of the cancer out,” wrote Fr. John. “They removed the PICC line from her arm where she was getting nutrition because she is eating so much better. She asks that I thank everyone for their love and prayerful support.”

“Every Catholic in Brazil knows of these apostolates”

In February, Dr. Paul Monson, VP of Intellection Formation and Academic Dean at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, joined other representatives from the US Province at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Faculdade Dehoniana in Taubaté, Brazil. Last week, during an informal lunch presentation for SHSST staff and students, Dr. Monson talked about the centennial celebrations, but more so, about his experience of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) in Brazil.

His first days were in Saõ Paulo. Among the Dehonians’ ministries there is São Judas Tadeu, which includes both a shrine to St. Jude Thaddeus and a children’s foster and education center. “Every Catholic in Brazil knows of these Dehonian apostolates,” said Dr. Monson.

The shrine is open from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with priests available to hear confessions throughout the day. “In Saõ Paulo, the Dehonians are known as the confessors of the city,” said Dr. Monson. “St. Jude is near a metro line, so it is easy for people to get to. People are constantly coming, people with challenging issues in their lives. They come to pray to St. Jude, the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes and then go to confession.”

The institute for children grew out of an orphanage developed by Dehonians in the mid-1940s, a response to children who were at times “dropped at the doorstep,” said Dr. Monson. Similar to St. Joseph’s Indian School, children now live in family homes under the supervision of foster parents.

Although much of Dr. Monson’s presentation was about the Dehonian presence in Saõ Paulo, he also spoke about the original purpose of his visit: the anniversary of the Faculdade Dehoniana. He, Fr. Raúl Gómez-Ruiz, SDS (SHSST president-rector) and Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, (provincial superior) were at the theology school not only to celebrate its centennial, but also to talk about collaborative possibilities between it and SHSST.

The Faculdade Dehoniana has approximately 160 seminarians, 30 of whom are Dehonians in theology. Another 30 are Dehonian philosophy students, 30 students are from the Carmelite order, and the rest represent five nearby dioceses. Faculdade Dehoniana offers pontifical degrees and civil degrees; most of its faculty are SCJs.

“The Dehonians in Brazil are well-respected, as are their ministries,” said Dr. Monson. “They are seen as a stable, faithful presence to the people of Brazil.”

A new Canadian SCJ, eh?

Congratulations to Fr. Willyans Prado Rapozo, SCJ, who became a Canadian citizen last week. Originally from Brazil, Fr. Willyans has studied and ministered in Canada for many years. He is a member of the General Chapter Preparatory Commission and will represent the Canadian Region as a delegate.


Last week we noted that there are some familiar faces on the Indian District leadership team; however, the team is beginning the second year of its term, not its first. We do have an update: Fr. Praveen Richard Kumar, SCJ, who is on the council, has been named district treasurer and will be a member of the District House Community in Chennai as of June 10.

NORAM Dehon Theological Commission reflects on the challenge of “transformation” 

During their recent meeting, members of the North American Dehonian Theological Commission reflected on the proposal by the General Chapter Preparatory Committee “that ‘transformation’ is the main challenge or aim of the XXV General Chapter.”

“As an aim or challenge, ‘transformation’ is perhaps too strong a word to express the need of the Congregation at this time,” wrote members of the North American committee in a reflection posted today on the general website. “The Oxford dictionary defines transformation as ‘a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.’ Is the transformation proposed by the Preparatory Commission a ‘dramatic’ change in form, or is it perhaps something less dramatic or revolutionary? Transformation sounds too much like a break with our past, our tradition. Reading the questionnaire of the Preparatory Commission, what is being proposed is not so much a transformation as a refiguration. The Congregation is founded on a number of foundational figures such as the Sacred Heart, oblation, pure love, reparation, immolation, social engagement of the ‘Sacred Heart’ in societies. The committee proposes that Sint Unum is one of these figures and that what is required at this time is a refiguration of communion or ‘Sint Unum’.”

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

Celebrating religious brothers

As we noted last week, May 1 was Religious Brothers Day in the Church. Click here or on the image above to hear Br. Duane Lemke, SCJ, superior of our retirement community at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake, and a member of the US Provincial Council, reflect on the vocation of brother and give thanks to the religious brothers who have had an impact on his own vocation.

First communion

Throughout the province young people recently received their First Communion. Pictured below is Fr. David Szatkowski, SCJ, celebrating First Communion at St. Gregory the Great parish in Senatobia, MS.

Click here to subscribe to the weekly news (Fridge Notes) via email