Weekly News: November 8, 2021

Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ (chaplain at St. Joseph’s Indian School, he had also served on the SCJs’ pastoral team in northern Mississippi), Bishop Donald E. De Grood of Sioux Falls, and Fr. Thi Pham, SCJ, at a meeting in South Dakota.

A new adventure in South Dakota

“I love living here!”

“Here” is Yankton, SD, and the quote is from Fr. Thi Pham, SCJ. After completing a year-long sabbatical ending in July, Fr. Thi unpacked his bags at St. Benedict’s parish rectory in Yankton to begin a new pastoral assignment.

Fr. Thi’s journey to South Dakota literally took him all over the country. Pursuing his love for the outdoors, much of Fr. Thi’s sabbatical year was spent hiking and camping. His first contact with the bishop of Sioux Falls was on a Zoom call at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. During his call with the bishop, Fr. Thi learned that there was a need for a priest in Yankton. Was he interested?

“Where the hell is Yankton?” was the first thought that popped into Fr. Thi’s head. But soon he was rerouting his trip home from the Grand Canyon to allow for a stop in Yankton to take a look around. His first impression? “Oh Lord, I really liked it,” he said. “I had such a warm welcome; I immediately liked the parishes.”

And so now Fr. Thi is on a new adventure, in a small South Dakota town that until a few months ago he had never heard of.

Click here to read more, including a few words about the man Fr. Thi credits for giving him his love for the outdoors: Fr. Jerry Schaad, SCJ. Now deceased, Fr. Schaad had been province treasurer for many years. He was known for many for his love of long-distance cycling, including a round trip from Sacred Heart Monastery to Alaska.

“Fr. Schaad made a big impact on me,” said Fr. Thi. “We would do puzzles together in the recreation room when I was staying at Sacred Heart Monastery, and he would tell me stories about his cycling trips. That stayed with me. I think it was what first interested me in bicycling, camping and other outdoor activities.”

Election Assembly lodging

All of the guest rooms at Sacred Heart Monastery are now booked for the January 3-7 Province Election Assembly. SCJs who need rooms should contact either Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, for a room at St. Joseph’s (4th Floor) or Fr. Quang Nguyen, SCJ, (Sacred Heart Community) at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. You can also contact Nancy Grzesiak at 414-427-4261 for information about staying at the nearby Hampton Inn.

Please remember

+Fr. Nélio João de Freitas Rodrigues Tomás, a member of the Portuguese Province, died on November 11. He was born in 1972, professed in 1993 and ordained in 2001.

Office visitors

Frs. Darlan Marasca and Josimar Baggio of the South Brazilian Province are pictured above visiting with Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, at the Provincial Offices. Both are students in Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology‘s ECS program. Approximately 25% of the world’s SCJs have studied English at Sacred Heart.

At the printer

The yearly hardcopy edition of the North American Personnel Directory is at the printer and is expected to be in the mail to SCJs within the next week.

Mother Frances Cabrini (image: St. Frances Cabrini Shrine)

Feast day puts focus on immigrants

Saturday, November 13, is the feast day of Mother Cabrini. “She is the  Patron Saint of Immigrants and Refugees,” write members of the North American Migration Committee. “In a new world, another culture, without contacts, not knowing the language, Mother Cabrini began her ministry to the immigrant community in New York City. In 1917, at the time of her death in Chicago, 70 orphanages and hospitals for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick and organized schools and adult education classes for formation to the Catholic Faith had been established in eight countries in Europe and North, South and Central America.”

In 1946, Mother Cabrini became the first person from the United States to be canonized.

The North American Migration Committee shares the following prayer “to celebrate not only the life of this remarkable woman and of her congregation, but also to celebrate our own prayer, presence and solidarity with immigrants and refugees.”

A Prayer for Immigrants and Refugees

Jesus, together with Mary and Joseph, you were forced to flee the persecution of Herod.
You continue to unite yourself with all those forced to flee their homes and live in exile.

Today, we entrust to your loving care all women, children and men
who live as migrants and refugees.
Grant us the grace to welcome them with Dehonian HOSPITALITY,
so that these sisters and brothers of ours
may experience SOLIDARITY and HOPE on their journey.

Teach us to Recognize You
in the migrant who labors to bring food to our tables,
in the refugee fleeing from violent conflict, persecution, and famine,
in the woman and child who are victims of human trafficking,
in the asylum seeker imprisoned for fleeing without documents.

May all those who are far from their place of birth
find in us a home where all are welcomed.
With your grace, may we “involve ourselves without reserve
for a coming of a new humanity in Jesus Christ.” (CsT. #38).
United with Mother Cabrini, we ask this in your name, Jesus. Amen.

Members of the North American Migration Committee: Br. Diego Diaz, Fr. Jan de Jong, Fr. Richard MacDonald, Fr. Peter McKenna, Fra. Henry Nguyen, Lily Ooi, Fr. Tony Russo, and Fr. Ushindi Kambale Sahani

Veterans Day

Besides the feast of Mother Cabrini, we also commemorate Veterans Day on Thursday, November 11. Several members of the US Province have served in the military, including Fr. Frank Wittouck, SCJ. Earlier this year, Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, did a Heart to Heart interview with him. Fr. Frank has many stories from his 20-plus years as a military chaplain, including being on the ground with troops during Desert Storm, and in the air, hanging from a helicopter, during training. But his most important story is that of “presence,” being present to soldiers during his service as a chaplain, and continuing that sense of presence as a parish pastor, educator, volunteer with the homeless, and now to students as a retired member of the Sacred Heart Monastery Community.

Click here to view the interview; near the end (13:53), Fr. Frank takes a few minutes to go through and explain the various items found in a typical military chaplain kit.

In Canada, November 11 is “Remembrance Day.” As in the US, it began as a commemoration of the end of World War I in 1918 but has since become a moment to honor all women and men who have served in the Canadian armed forces.

Closing pic

Sometimes a game of cards can make for a great way to practice a new language. Students in the ECS program at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology practice English over a game of cards with Br. Duane Lemke, SCJ and Fr. Yvon Sheehy, SCJ, at Sacred Heart Monastery.

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