Indian District begins its first mission

Screenshot 2019-07-14 16.06.03

Br. Manish (left) with a friend in Odisha

Fr. Tom Cassidy continues to keep a daily journal during his time with our Dehonian community in India. Recently, he wrote about the district’s efforts in developing its first mission:

Br. Manish Nayak, SCJ, will shortly head to Odisha to help set up our first SCJ mission in his home state. In so many ways it reminds me of the early mission days of our German SCJs in the United States when travel was difficult and roads (at least paved roads) were few and far between. Manish leaves this weekend with our district treasurer as the advance party to begin to get things organized for the arrival next week of Frs. Michael Benedict, SCJ, and Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy Yeruva, SCJ, who are the first two assigned to our Bisaguda Mission.

To say the least, this is a remote area.

The diocese covers approximately 15,000 square miles. Out of a population of 5,407,895, there are 50,542 Catholics; less than 1% of the population. The majority, including those whom we will be serving, are classified as “tribals.” This is a special status in India that bears similarity to the status of Native Americans in the United States.

The diocese was established in April, 2016. According to Wikipedia, it has 23 parishes and 35 diocesan priests. To use my South Dakota analogy, the problem is distance and ease of travel more than the number of priests. This is a world Manish knows well as he is an Odisha native and will help for about the next six months in establishing our presence in this remote part of Odisha.

It is with this background that our superior, Fr. Michael Augustine, SCJ, asked Manish to give the talk at July’s recollection day. Fr. Michael asked Manish to speak on the topic of mission. Last Saturday at our American Breakfast in his honor I quipped: “Manish is our first missionary, and where is he going? Back home to Odisha!”

Holy Week at OLG, Houston

Fr. Duy, pastor of OLG, baptizes a parishioner at the Easter Vigil

Frater Henry Nguyen, an SCJ seminarian, spent Holy Week with the community at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston. He reflects on the experience below:

I had the opportunity to spend Holy Week this year with our community at Our Lady of Guadalupe (OLG) parish in Houston, TX. The first activity that I was able to attend with the SCJs was the Chrism Mass on Wednesday at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. It was a beautiful celebration as the Cathedral was filled with clergy, religious, and laity. We witnessed there the recommitment of those called to the priesthood.

Henry

Thursday morning, I saw the students of Our Lady of Guadalupe School participate in the Washing of the Feet activity where students washed each other’s feet to illustrate what Jesus had done for His disciples. I saw  genuine humbleness from each student as he or she remembered Jesus’ Last Supper. What I remembered was that in order to love a little, I must learn to give generously. At night during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the presider and concelebrants all partook in the washing of the feet. What was unique was that the entire congregation was invited to have their feet cleaned by the SCJ priests. In turn, several parishioners washed the feet of our SCJ priests. This experience spoke out to me as Dehon’s faith experience in the openness of love.

Members of the parish community gathered on Friday for the Good Friday Fish Fry where volunteers came out and cooked for the fundraising event. During this event, I was able to connect with many of our parishioners to learn that many are 2nd and 3rd generations of their family attending OLG. They see the impact that the SCJs bring to their community. I had the opportunity to listen to their stories and what they know of the SCJs. As the fish fry was coming to an end, there was a live reenactment of the Stations of the Cross that took everyone to the streets. Many had gathered for this reflection that led into the service.

As I entered the church on Easter Vigil, the church was covered in darkness as we remembered the story of creation and how before light there was darkness. Not only was the church covered in darkness but it was filled with people. Many more were outside as we prepared to light the Easter candle. It was so beautiful to see the staggering effect as one candle lighted the other and pretty soon the entire parish was illuminated by candlelight. I was able to witness those in RCIA get baptized, confirmed, and receive communion for the first time and several others who were received into the Church.

On Sunday the parish was just as packed as the night before. People rejoiced that Jesus, who had died for us had come back to be with us. From what I experienced, OLG is a busy community. From BBQs to festivals, etc, there is always something going on. The community at OLG is a lively community and I will miss them them for sure.

Fr. Wojciech washes the feet of a parishioner at OLG

“I was at home from the start!”

“When individuals in the movement ask why I joined the SCJs out of all of the religious orders out there, I tell them, it’s simple – I felt like I was at home from the start and it is because of VEYM that I am an SCJ.”

-Frater Henry Nguyen, SCJ

 

Frater Henry Nguyen, SCJ, one of our seminarians at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, shares the following reflection:

While Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology was on its spring break two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (VEYM)’s Annual Servant Leader Retreat – 2019 in Rosemead, CS, at the St. Joseph Salesian Youth Retreat Center. It was directed by Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ.

Henry

The retreat was called Hành Trình Hy Vọng: The Heart of Faith, (English translation of Hành Trình Hy Vọng is “The Journey of Hope”). When individuals in the movement ask why I joined the SCJs out of all of the religious orders out there, I tell them, it’s simple – I felt like I was at home from the start and it is because of VEYM that I am an SCJ.

Being in VEYM continues to reinforce my vocation of Ecce Venio. Recently, I read a post by the president of VEYM in the United States and it dawned on me that the SCJ charism was nurtured in me way before I knew what that meant. The VEYM is the youth branch of the Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM). The spirituality of VEYM and the SCJs is not that far apart as members in VEYM are taught to Live the Eucharistic Day which is comprised of three parts: Morning Offering, Mass and Holy Communion, and lastly, Night Offering. These aspects of Living the Eucharistic Day remind me of Oblation, Reparation, and Adoration. As the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian faith, in VEYM, we have Mass and Adoration daily.

During this retreat, we were first asked “How is your soul” in order to reflect on our journey of faith and how we got to where we are today. As I discern this question and my journey of faith, I am loved by God and I want to share that love with the world. It then got personal, I was asked, “Who is Jesus to me” and I thought of my personal relationship with Jesus, as my Shoshben, as someone whom I can talk to on any level. I took notice that I had to reprioritize my life and see what is important to me and how to make God more present in my life. The past, present, and future: I understood that how I got here leads me to immerse myself in the present moment, to discern where I go from here.

I know I was meant to be on this Journey of Hope: Heart of Faith as it was the same weekend as St. Polycarp’s 25th Year Anniversary as a VEYM chapter (I had joined VEYM at the age of eight at St. Polycarp, Stanton, CA). The weekend renewed my spirit, my Dehonian spirit. I was reminded to let go and let God. I pray that I am able to accompany and walk with others on their own journeys and really be available to them.

As I came home to Sacred Heart Monastery, I stumbled upon a painting in the stairway that was hung up after I had left for the retreat. The painting was of Jesus washing the feet of one his disciples. At the retreat, we reflected on the reading of Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples and this same image was used. Although I was tired from traveling, I couldn’t help but be in awe. Jesus is the true message of servant leadership.

Currently, my involvement in VEYM is both at a local chapter and the national level. I was elected as the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Dong Hanh chapter in Franklin, WI (at St. Martin of Tours) and recently appointed as the Sub-Committee Lead of Vocations of the National Executive Committee.

Do you feel called to religious life? Contact our vocation office for more information about the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). Click here to email the director; or call 800-609-5559.

We must listen to youth

Br. Diego Diaz

Br. Diego Diaz, SCJ, writes about his recent experience at a La RED meeting. La RED (the National Catholic Network de Pastoral Juvenil Hispana) is a network of Catholic organizations and pastoral ministers committed to the evangelization, holistic development, and ongoing support and formation of Hispanic teens and young adults in the United States. La RED promotes the concerns of youth at national and regional levels, and fosters the creation of diocesan networks. Br. Diego writes:

The recent Synod on Youth convened by Pope Francis urged the Church to listen to young people and create spaces for them to express their ideas, feelings and hopes. It was with this in mind that I attended the La RED meeting in Chicago, November 8-11.

Approximately 100 of us from around the country took part in the meeting. We were joined by the auxiliary bishop of Chicago, Bishop Alberto Rojas. It was significant for us to have a young bishop among us, one who has been active in youth ministry and who endorsed our mission to accompany and encourage Hispanic youth in the United States.

In my home country of Argentina I spent many years working in youth ministry. The La RED meeting helped me to understand the reality of young Hispanics here in the United States: their concerns, their needs.

At the Chicago meeting we heard young people speak about being disciples and missionaries with other young people; we heard about the situations in which they live. In small table discussions we thoughtfully listened to each other. We concluded the first day with Eucharistic Adoration; it was touching to see how the young people prayed, taking time in silence to process everything shared during the day.

The next day we had discussion tables for particular interests such as teenage ministry, new technologies, and the National Dialogue Project. The National Dialogue is a collaborative effort of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, the USCCB National Advisory Team on Young Adult Ministry, the Catholic Campus Ministry Association, and La RED.

In order to serve youth, we must hear their voices. They ask us –– the Church –– to accompany them in their growth, but that accompaniment cannot be one-sided.

I hope to continue to bring our Dehonian spirituality to young people and those who minister to them.

RECENTLY PUBLISHED: As Br. Diego writes, he has been active in youth ministry for many years. In March, he published a book about the Argentine Province’s summer youth ministry program, a 40-year effort based in the spirituality of Fr. Leo John Dehon. “Accompaniment is a ministry within the Church that is often neglected,” wrote Br. Diego in the introduction to El Acompañamiento de los Jóvenes, una Experiencia de Misión. “My own experience of being accompanied in my first steps of discernment guided me in my decision to seek in the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus a way of living, and a way of accompanying others.” Br. Diego is currently working on an English translation of the original Spanish text.

 

Each of us has a vocation

Fr. Tomasz

“When we all work together, we become a beautiful example of the Church’s community in its diversity and unity”

-Fr. Tomasz Flak, SCJ

Fr. Tomasz Flak, SCJ, was the main celebrant and homilest at the October 3 multicultural Mass at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. It was a liturgy that highlighted the many cultures and languages represented in the seminary’s ESL program. In his homily, Fr. Tomasz spoke about the call we all have to develop our vocation, whatever it might be, and to share and learn about each other. His homily text follows:

Today we heard about vocations. About how to follow Christ, even if there are many difficulties. We have used the idea that a vocation is a way to the priesthood or religious life; but it is not true. After all, each of us was endowed with a vocation, either as a wife, husband, priest or religious. We are all gifted with the same gift in various forms. And each of us was called to develop this gift and make it beautiful and abundant in fruit.

Today, more and more often, we speak about other types of vocations. Maybe sometimes we can call it as a passion to do something. In various professions, how often can we meet people who do their job just because they have to?  On the other hand, we can see the other people who do their work with dedication and determination. They are called people with a vocation to do this job. For example, a doctor who takes care of his patients, dedicates his time to them, and not just treats them as another client in his office. Or a teacher who allows his students to become enthusiastic to learn about the world. To discover the beauty of art, literature; wonder of biology, technology; ability to use other languages.

Today, we are here, together, as one school, which consists of many elements. Administration, staff, professors, teachers, students of philosophy and theology and of the ESL program. It is a very rich reality! Each of us, in his own position, is developing his skills and abilities to become better and better in his own task. We develop our life vocation, but also we develop our professional or student vocation to create a better community. When we all work together, we become a beautiful example of the Church’s community in its diversity and unity.

We are here from many countries and continents. Our tasks are different, but we share a common goal – developing of our vocation. Each of us becomes a teacher when we talk about ourselves, our family, our culture and customs. Each of us becomes a student when we are open to meeting another person, who perhaps speaks a little in our common language – English, to know about him, his family, his culture and customs.

Today’s Mass with many languages becomes an example of our common opening to the beauty of other cultures; to the beauty of diversity, which, when synchronized, creates harmony and order. This mass invites us to open ourselves to become a teacher who shows the new world and also to be open to being a student who wants to learn about this new world.

We are called to develop our calling to follow Christ more and more in daily life. In our Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, we have special conditions for our vocation to develop it in an intercultural way.

 

Come and See!

Lambert Nguyen (California), Cristian Ramos (Florida) and Michael Wodarczyk (Wisconsin) took part in the September 6-9 Come and See visit. Our vocation office hosts several Come and See weekends throughout the year to give young men an opportunity to learn about religious life as a Dehonian brother or priest. Are you discerning a vocation? Contact our vocation office to learn about our Come and See weekends. Call 800-609-5559 or email us at vocationcentral@wi.twcbc.com

Frater Henry Nguyen, one of our SCJ seminarians, writes about the September 6-9 Come and See Weekend hosted by the province vocation office and formation community. It is an opportunity for those discerning a vocation to religious life to literally “come and see” the Priests of the Sacred Heart and learn more about what it means to be a Dehonian. Henry writes:

Three Come and See participants visited our formation program from Thursday to Sunday. It was a packed itinerary. Participants joined the Sacred Heart Monastery community for Holy Hour. This month’s Holy Hour was prepared by Fr. Bob Tucker, SCJ, who focused on two topics: the Word of the Lord and the Eucharist. Participants experienced Dehonian spirituality through the words that were proclaimed, either from the Gospel or from the SCJ Rule of Life.

The focus on Friday was the Dehonian formation program. Participants met with staff from either Marquette University or SHSST depending on each person’s educational background and needs. Of course, since the formation community is now in Wisconsin, a visit to Kopps’s Frozen Custard was also on the itinerary.

A recurring event in the Dehonian formation program is the First Friday program. The Sacred Heart Novitiate hosted the first gathering for the 2018-2019 academic year. Fr. Ziggy Morawiec, SCJ, Vice-Rector of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, was our speaker. He spoke on the Contemporary Word and Dehonian Spirituality.

Br. Diego and Jacob lead music during prayer

I saw a continuing theme in the Word as we heard the Word of God proclaimed the day before during Holy Hour. We were reminded that the Word was made by God and that the reality of the Contemporary Word is the language of poetry. To help us understand Dehonian Spirituality on an intimate level, Fr. Ziggy shared a personal story of his life and how love inspired him into action. It was from his experience of the love of the Lord that he professed final vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart. He has hope for all of us to experience that love in formation and for the rest of our lives. Dehonian spirituality is rooted in the love of the Heart of Jesus. After the presentation, we headed back to Sacred Heart Monastery where Fr. Yvon Sheehy, SCJ, and the community hosted a social with appetizers and games.

Saturday, Jacob and I took our guests on a city tour, (I have to say that this was my first time really getting out to explore the city too). We visited McKinley Marina and the lakefront, as well as the Milwaukee Public Market and the Historic Third Ward neighborhood. It was truly a nice day for the city tour.

Saturday night, we took part in the province jubilee celebration at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake.

Before they left I asked each of the visitors about their visit and told them that I hoped to see them again. They were all very appreciative of the hospitality that they received from the SCJ community.

 

Celebrating Feast of the Sacred Heart in Vietnam

Fr. Tom Cassidy, SCJ, writes from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) where he is visiting with the formation community:

The study hall was turned into a chapel because our regular chapel was not large enough to welcome everyone for the feast-day Mass. Of course, this will all be rectified by next year’s celebration as work continues on the new chapel that will be done sometime before the end of the year. It certainly should have enough room for the entire district.

Our Mass for the feast was scheduled for 9:30 a.m., so it came as a bit of a surprise to me that our day still began with morning prayer (and Adoration) at 5:30 a.m. Apparently high days are no different from regular days — and I was looking forward to a little more sleep time!

Fr. Francis Vu Tran, SCJ, as the district superior, was our main celebrant. Though I didn’t count them I think there were about a dozen SCJ priests concelebrating. Though most days our Mass has been in English today it was in Vietnamese. To my foreign ear Vietnamese can be a beautiful language to listen to as, for example, when the congregation says the confiteor together it comes off almost as a song.

As part of our Mass we also had the renewal of vows of those in temporary vows, and two of the brothers were installed as Eucharistic Ministers. There were five brothers who renewed their vows in addition to the five who made their first profession last Thursday.

With photo opts taken care of it was time to dine! For today (as was also done for First Vows) a catering service was hired to provide the meal and service. We started with a beef dish, went from there to shrimp, to fish and vegetables cooked at the table and ended with some very delicious mango.

After the dinner everyone scattered to their rooms for a rest followed by a soccer match between Dehon I and Dehon II. For all it was a pleasant day and even Mother Nature held off her rains until the night time hours.

Happy Feast Day!