Weekly News: September 11, 2023

Anniversary celebrations in Houston

On September 2, Our Lady of Guadalupe Houston celebrated three jubilees: 1) 100 years of the church’s dedication, 2) 100 years of Dehonian ministry in the United States, and 3) 50 years of ministry of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) at OLG. Dehonians from around the country joined the parish community for a weekend of celebrations, which included the blessing of a new image of the Sacred Heart that was installed in the parish.

“We remember how this church was established for immigrants,” said Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, in his homily. “Just as the Jerusalem Temple was the spiritual and national identity for the Jews, this place, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, has become the spiritual home and the place associated with the Hispanic culture and identity for many generations of Hispanics. For many of you, this is where you get married, have your children baptized, celebrate your quinceañera, and say farewell to your loved ones.

“The Priests of the Sacred Heart – or Dehonians – are proud to be a part of this history. In the 1980s, the Vietnamese community also made this place their spiritual home. Vietnamese Mass was celebrated here. And here in this place, I was ordained to the diaconate in 2004. You truly live the spirit of ‘Nuestra case es su casa.’”

Click here to read Fr. Vien’s full text.

Click here to view photos on our province Facebook page, provided by OLG.

Home in Indonesia

After busy weeks (months!) preparing for the Centennial celebrations in South Dakota, Fr. Christianus Hendrik, SCJ, is now on a year-long sabbatical in his home country of Indonesia. “There is no saying ‘good-bye’ here, just ‘see you later’ until next year,” said Fr. Hendrik after a farewell gathering at Immaculate Conception parish in Stephan, SD (he is pictured above with parishioners). “Thank you for the love you have shown. Our people are the reason I will return next year.”

“A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”

In August, Fr. Henry Nguyen, SCJ, our vocation director, accompanied Dehonian youth from the US Province to World Youth Day in Portugal. Once he got home and caught his breath (and did his laundry!) we asked Fr. Henry to write about the experience. In his own words:

“I had the opportunity to accompany our Dehonian youth from Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin to the Dehonian Youth Gathering (DYG) and World Youth Day (WYD) in Portugal. We were five Dehonian confreres, including Fr. Ardi, Br. Diego, Fra. Jacob, and Fra. Jonathan. The theme for this year’s DYG was ‘Move Your Heart.’

“On Thursday, July 27, the 25 of us from the US Province left for Portugal. After more than 26 hours from the time we left our homes, we finally made it to the Luso Frances Colegio in Porto for the Dehonian Youth Gathering. We were tired and jetlagged but upon stepping into the atmosphere of meeting 280+ youth and 65+ SCJ religious from around the world, we quickly regained our energy. Twenty-six countries were represented among our Dehonian youth…

“This trip was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to experience the global Church and get closer to God.”

Click here to read Fr. Henry’s full reflection.

Remembering Br. Leonard Zaworski

Br. Leonard Zaworski, SCJ, died September 6. A member of the Sacred Heart Community at SHML, he was 80 years old. Originally from Baltimore, Br. Lenny professed his first vows in 1968 and his perpetual vows in 1975. Much of his life was devoted to social justice and serving those who were often found on the peripheries of society. For many years he was a community activist in the Rio Grande Valley, helping to give voice to the poor. “We tried to empower people who never felt that they could make a difference,” he said. “We helped them to find the courage to participate in the system, to seek change.”

In Texas he served at St. Lawrence parish in San Antonio, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Raymondville and with Valley Interfaith in McAllen. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees (theology) from Marquette University in Milwaukee. Prior to discerning his religious vocation he served six years in the US Coast Guard.

In January, 1998, Br. Lenny went to India for a sabbatical, during which he studied Indian spirituality. At the time the Dehonian presence in India was just beginning, following his sabbatical he sought permission to remain in India.

He spent 12 years in India before retiring. And in retirement, Br. Lenny sought a new ministry: Braille translation.

“It was very challenging, but I found that I am good at it. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to work and learn alongside people who are blind, who witness to me their courage, patience, and strength of character.”

Click here to read more about Br. Leonard.

Funeral arrangements

All arrangements for Br. Leonard will be at Good Shepherd Chapel at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake in  Franklin, WI on Wednesday, September 13. Reception of Body will be at 9:30 a.m. followed by a wake service. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. followed by interment in the community mausoleum. Click here or on the image above to access the livestream of the Funeral Mass.

Fr. Juancho celebrates his birthday with the community in Ecuador.

Birthdays and calendar notes

With Fridge Notes on hiatus the past two weeks, we missed noting the birthdays of Fr. Aegi Warsito (Sept. 1), Fr. Gustave Lulendo (Sept. 4) and Fr. Juan Carlos Castañeda Rojas (Sept. 10). Belated birthday greetings! Others celebrating birthdays this month include Fr. John Czyzynski on Sept. 14, Fr. Andrzej Sudol and Fr. Greg Speck on Sept. 17, Fra. Jacob Smith on Sept. 21, and Fr. Joseph Thien Dinh on Sept. 24. Happy birthday!

Also, dates that you may want to note during the next few months:

September 12-14: The General Finance Commission will meet in Hales Corners.

September 26-27: Provincial Council meeting, Hales Corners, WI

October 4: Dehon Lecture, SHSST (Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniú, SCJ, superior general, will be the featured speaker)

October 8-9: Mission Education, St. Joseph’s Indian School

October 24: North American Councils meeting, Toronto

November 7: Post-Chapter meeting via Zoom, 10:00 a.m. to noon (Central; the link will be shared with delegates closer to the date)

November 7-8: Provincial Council meeting, Hales Corners, WI

November 30: Advent Hour of Recollection for employees and collaborators, 10:00 a.m. (central) via Zoom.

December 5:   Advent Hour of Recollection for SCJs, 10:00 a.m. (central) via Zoom (both Advent Hours of Recollection will be led by Sr. Barbara Reid, OP, president of Catholic Theological Union; the link for each will be shared closer to the date).

A “rapid fire” get-to-know-you

The new season of St. Joseph’s Indian School’s Hóčhoka podcast series began earlier this month. This week’s episode is the first of a two-part interview with Fr. Vien Nguyen, SCJ, US provincial superior. It begins with a series of “rapid-fire” questions in which Fr. Vien notes that his favorite food is Italian, his favorite music is tango, his “secret indulgence” is TikToc videos, his favorite Old Testament prophet is Amos and his favorite book of the Bible is the Acts of the Apostles.

Fr. Vien also talks about his journey as a 14-year-old refugee, fleeing Vietnam in an overcrowded boat in the midst of what he describes as a “perfect storm.” Once aboard a rescue ship, he and his fellow refugees watched the precarious craft quickly sink.

Click here or on the image above to view the interview.


Tomorrow, September 12, Fr. Hygin Nlandu Ngaka, SCJ, from Congolese Province, will join the Montréal community to share in pastoral ministry. Fr. Hygin, 61, was professed in 1993 and ordained in 2004 (he is pictured above). He has a brother who lives in Ottawa, working at the Congolese embassy.

This won’t be Fr. Hygin’s first trip to Montréal. In 1998, when he was studying in Brazil, he visited Canada during a break. “His return was delayed for several days due to a devastating ice storm that year,” said Fr. Maurice Légaré, SCJ, of the Montréal community. “We hope he will experience better conditions for his travels this time around!”

Powwow weekend

On September 16, St. Joseph Indian School hosts its 47th Annual Wačhípi (Powwow). Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ, school chaplain, is pictured below with this year’s Powwow royalty.

Hundreds of people participate in the activities of Powwow weekend. The Grass Flattening and Powwow Grounds Blessing will take place at 11:30 a.m., followed by the Grand Entry. Be sure to check the St. Joseph’s Indian School Facebook page for updates, including photos and videos, throughout the weekend.

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