Learning TWO new languages

Fr. Juan Carlos (“Juancho”) Castañeda Rojas is just about at the end of his novitiate year. He is scheduled to profess his first vows on August 15. As he prepares to do so, he shares the following reflection:

Juan Carlos Castañeda Rojas during the June Election Assembly, where he served as a teller.

Juan Carlos Castañeda Rojas collecting ballots during the June Election Assembly.

When I came to the United States, the first thing I had to do was study English. That is why I was part of the ESL program (English as a Second Language) at Sacred Heart School of Theology. It was a really good and challenging time for me. Learning a new language and a new culture was not easy, but here I am with my education in philosophy at Xavier University (Chicago) and getting ready to continue with my studies in theology at Catholic Theological Union (also in Chicago).

Well, my novitiate is almost over and I have had many great and powerful experiences. I will keep them always in my heart. It has been an amazing journey exploring the history and constitutions of the congregation, growing in faith, and strengthening my vocation and my desire to become an SCJ. As I told Fr. John Czyzynski, our novice master, after our trip through the different missions and ministries in Mississippi, Houston, South Dakota, Florida, and Milwaukee, I recognize the importance of studying our constitution and history. But I also learned a lot by listening to all the members of the SCJ community in our visits.

Today, because of one of those people who shared his experience as an SCJ, I realized that I was not only learning English but was and am learning another language, one that I now call DLH (Dehonian Language of the Heart). Thank you Fr. Byron [Haaland], you made me realize that in your sharing. ¨I speak Dehonian¨ were the words Fr. Byron spoke that had a huge impact on me. While ESL taught me how to speak English and communicate, DLH taught me to indentify myself as a Dehonian. And I will complement Fr. Byron’s words with Fr. PJ’s [McGuire] message in his homily in which he made reference to one of the sections from Fr. Dehon’s ¨The Retreat with the Sacred Heart.¨ It was  there that I found another new word for my vocabulary, which is “gauge.”  Meditation 34: Generosity is the gauge of love (by the way, thank you Fr. PJ for a wonderful translation) tells the story of a young man who received the gift of a vocation but lost it because of his lack of generosity.

English, as any other language, has many rules; grammar and correct pronunciation make it a hard language to learn. But I learned that the Dehonian Language of the Heart has only one ¨rule,¨ which is called “Generosity.” You may ask, “That’s it?” Well, DLH is taught from one heart to another; it is a language that is translated through actions as well. It is fairly easy and there is always a place for everyone. We are all called to this learning adventure.

In the same way that the young man from the meditation received the gift of his vocation, I have received mine. And I am very happy to realize that I have many teachers who can teach me every day not just new a word in English but also a new word in the language of Fr. Dehon, the Language of the Heart through their experiences and their examples of how they live.

On August 15, with the profession of my first vows, I will be saying yes to God. I will also be saying yes to the legacy of Fr. Dehon, and I will be able to say it in a Dehonian way by the way I conduct myself as an SCJ.


2 responses to “Learning TWO new languages

  1. I really enjoyed this post. It augurs well for Juan Carlos’ future as an SCJ. I am going through the experience of learning two languages as well: 1) Spanish, 2) married life. It makes me think of Pope Francis’ telling us that God is a God of surprises.

  2. Actually I’m learning a third language as well: AGING!!!

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