Weekly News: September 25, 2023

Meet our 2023-24 formation community!

As we do each year, we asked our students in formation to introduce themselves, sharing their background, what it is that called them to discern their vocation with the Priests of the Sacred Heart, their year in formation, and their favorite scripture passage.

Just about all of the students attend SHSST, though two are currently in pastoral assignments: Frater Hung Pham, SCJ, is at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston, and Frater Jonathan Tu Nguyen-Vuong, SCJ, is serving in Mississippi.

New to the community is Michael Ugochukwu Iwuchukwu. Originally from Nigeria, he has been in the United States for several years as a student, recently earning a master’s degree from Drew University in New Jersey.

“My journey with the Priests of the Sacred Heart began in the summer of 2022, during one of my personal retreats in North Dakota,” wrote Michael. “It was during this retreat that I encountered the inspiring life of the founder of the congregation, Venerable Leo John Dehon, a life that resonated deeply with my own personal experiences. Additionally, I was captivated by the congregation’s mission, which centers around spreading God’s boundless love to wherever it may be found, with the aim of ushering in the reign of God’s kingdom on earth…

“What particularly resonates with me about Dehonian spirituality is the congregation’s vision, which beckons us to approach life with open hearts and minds. This vision encapsulates the essence of bearing witness to the transformative power of God’s love in the world.”

Click here to read more about Michael and the rest of our students.

Below are recent photos from the formation community. On top is the 2023-34 formation community at Sacred Heart Monastery.  Lower left is Michael Iwuchukwu being received into candidacy by Fr. Frank Wittouck, SCJ, and lower right is from yesterday’s birthday celebration for Frater Jacob Smith, SCJ.


Speaking of birthdays…

Those celebrating birthdays in October include Fr. John van den Hengel on Oct. 1, Fr. Ed Zemlik on Oct. 3, Fr. Bob Naglich and Fr. Tony Russo on Oct. 4, Fr. Tom Cassidy on Oct. 13, Fr. Dieudonné Tchouteu on Oct. 14, Fr. Maurice Légaré on Oct. 15, Fr. Christianus Hendrik on Oct. 21, Fr. Bob Bossie on Oct. 23, and Fr. Richard Johnston on Oct. 27. Happy birthday!!

Welcome to Wisconsin!

Fr. Joe Dean, SCJ, is now a member of the Sacred Heart Community at SHML. His new address:

7330 S. Lovers Lane Rd.
Franklin, WI 53132

Please remember

Sr. Charles Palm, OSB, died on September 23 after suffering a burst aortic aneurysm. Retired in 2021, Sr. Charles served alongside the Lower Brule Pastoral Team for 38 years at St. Joseph’s Parish in Fort Thompson, SD.

“She is like the icon, the grandmother of the parish,” said Fr. Christianus Hendrik, SCJ, during the retirement celebration held for her in Fort Thompson in 2021. “She knows everyone here and everyone knows her. She is very well loved by the people.”

Sr. Charles made her first profession with the Benedictines in 1954, and in retirement, was a member of the Mother of God Monastery in Watertown, SD. She is pictured above just weeks ago at the July Centennial Celebration in Lower Brule, SD, where she played the organ as she did for many of her 38 years at St. Joseph’s.

Also, please remember Sr. Ann Catherine Veierstahler, a longtime volunteer with the ECS program at SHSST. We just learned that she died on September 21. “She was much beloved by those she tutored in the ECS program and by ECS staff,” said Ryan Stubbs, Director of English and Culture Studies. “She will be sincerely missed. I visited her just about 10 days ago and she looked radiant despite her terminal illness.”

Keep in prayer

Prayers are requested for Fr. Ed Griesemer, SCJ, who was hospitalized on Friday following a fall at home. He was expected to be released early this week.

Fr. Guy Blair, SCJ, had heart surgery on Friday. He is said to be doing well and is also expected to go home early this week.

Continuing the reflection on “An Economy for All”

It has been almost four months since the Dehonians’ international theological seminar “Towards an Economy for All; Inclusive, Sustainable, Just” took place in Madrid, Spain. Representing the North American Theological Commission in Madrid were Fr. John van den Hengel, SCJ and Fr. Gustave Lulendo, SCJ, from Canada and Fr. Ziggy Morawiec, SCJ and Fr. Francis Vu Tran, SCJ from the US Province (they are pictured above during small group discussions in Madrid).

Often when such a gathering comes to an end there is a feeling of “What next?” Will anything come of the presentations, and the conversations that followed them? Is it possible to create an “Economy for All?”

In an effort to keep the conversation going, members of the North American Theological Commission are preparing various reflections on the conference topics. The first is from Fr. John van den Hengel, the chairperson of the North American commission.

Like many another writer in the latter part of that century, Dehon was deeply aware of the impact of the industrial revolution upon the poorer segment of French society but also upon the Church,” wrote Fr. John. “As he wrote in Les directions pontificales : ‘Our century is above all a time of political and social agitation.’ His social concern had begun when he was a law student in Paris. During his studies, Leon Dehon had become a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. It connected him with the plight of the new working class.

“After starting the Congregation, he attended all their conventions and quite often spoke at them, much to the chagrin of the members of his home community in Saint Quentin. At some point Dehon came to see that the Third Order approach was too caritatively oriented to social issues. He saw the need for a more structural reform. Here the influence of Pope Leo XIII can be felt. Dehon was enthusiastic by the lead given by Pope Leo XIII and his social encyclicals, particularly Rerum Novarum (1891). Dehon’s world, so Francophile, also revolved around Rome and its leadership role in the world. Underneath it all, Dehon’s perspective in the social and economic sphere was primarily ecclesial and only secondarily social. That is evidenced in his conflict with the Freemasons and the Jews. They were perceived as a counterforce.

“He became more and more convinced that the church required alongside the more doctrinal teachings a new approach to the world through a social teaching.”

Click here to read the full reflection.

A “Saint by Chance”

Last Friday, September 22, was the feast day of Blessed Juan María de la Cruz, SCJ. As noted previously, Pope John Paul II declared him blessed in 2001, along with other 233 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

An electronic book by Fr. Evaristo Martinez de Alegria, SCJ, who was the postulator of the cause for beatification of Fr. Juan Maria, is available. The book was produced by the Spanish Province; click here to access the English translation.

Celebrating the start of fall

Yesterday, the first full day of autumn, St. Gregory the Great Parish in Senatobia, MS, gathered for its annual fall parish picnic. The celebration began with Mass, celebrated by Fr. David Szatkowski, SCJ, followed by a meal. A few photos from the celebration are posted above.

Closing shot

Fr. Jean Claude Mbassi, SCJ, shares the photo below of himself, Sr. Clary Joy, Sr. Eulogia (Yollie) Nobabos and Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ, taken soon after the arrival of the sisters in South Dakota. “It was an immense joy, our meeting together,” said Fr. JC. “Things are shaping up nicely and very positively. They are an answer to our prayers!”

As noted last week, the two Theresian Missionaries of Mary (TMM) will be taking up residence on the campus of St. Joseph’s Indian School as they prepare for future ministry with the Lower Brule Pastoral Team. The sisters are originally from the Philippines.

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