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Formation community welcomes a visitor from Rome

The formation community with Fr. Stefan

Frater Henry Nguyen, SCJ, writes about Fr. Stefan Tertünte’s visit with the formation community at Sacred Heart Monastery. Fr. Stefan, director of the Centro Studi Dehoniani in Rome, was in Hales Corners as a responder at the November 13 Dehon Lecture at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. Henry writes:

Fr. Stefan Tertünte, SCJ, met with the formation community on November 15. Fr. Ed Zemlik and Br. Duane Lemke joined us. During his visit with us, Fr. Stefan shared with us some key points of the recently released Programmatic Letter called His Way Is Our Way that the General Administration sent to all entities as they began their 2018-2024 term.

Before diving into details of the letter, Fr. Stefan shared with us how he came to know the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ): he was at a national Catholic gathering and discovered the SCJs in a magazine. No limits to the types of apostolate is what attracted him to the SCJs. He had come to learn that regardless of where we are, we remain faithful to this type of spirituality, that our charism calls us to be Christ-centered. This is rooted in Fr. Stefan’s favorite constitution citing: “As disciples of Father Dehon, we want to make union with Christ in His love for the Father and for all the principle and center of our life” (Cst 17).

We, as SCJs, are called to minister according to the signs of the time and what helps us to do that are two things identified in the programmatic letter: synodality and Sint Unum. Though synodality literally means walking together, it is not enough to describe it just as that; we as Dehonians continue to live side by side with each other and with Christ. There is this need and sense of accompaniment, living in community with one another. Part of Constitution #59 reminds us how to live as a community, “Within the Church, we are called to follow Christ and in the world to be witnesses and servants of the communion of people in a fraternal community.” As Dehonians living together under one roof in a multicultural community, “Community life requires that each one accepts others as they are with their personalities, their duties, their initiatives, and their limits, and that each one allows himself to be called in question by his brothers” in a way to be loving and accepting of one another whose cultural and upbringing is unlike our own (Cst #66). This how we also come to participate in the life of the other (confrere) in a fraternal way. We are called to accept the diversity around us as we come to work together.

This call of ours, this call of mine (ownership) can be summed up: “In Fr. Dehon’s view, the Ecce Venio defines the fundamental attitude of our life. It turns our obedience into an act of oblation; it patterns our life on Christ’s own, for the redemption of the world, to the glory of the Father” (Cst 59).

This is the spirit of the Congregation, “Our way as SCJs is to see him, with an open heart as we see Jesus’ pierced side, not only to ponder at God but to mission,” said Fr. Stefan.

Renewing the commitment to follow Jesus

During the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving (October 12-14), Fr. Albertus Joni, SCJ,  assisted with the Indonesian Youth Retreat in Vancouver. He shares a bit about it below:

Vancouver has been mentioned so many times by magazines and newspapers as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I truly enjoyed the interior of her modern airport with all the displays of various totems and indigenous sculptures. Out of the terminal building, the scenery is even more outstanding: lines of hills and mountains surround the skyscrapers, the sparkling clean rivers and the vast ocean embrace the concrete structures. Nothing can beat the beautiful stacks of houses built on cliffs along the sea. Autumn has changed the color of trees, and they add more beauty to this natural canvas of Vancouver. It feels surreal. It is so beautiful.

Vancouver, with all its beauty, is a city that is very liveable compared to some other big cities in Europe or the United States. Maybe this is the reason why it attracts so many international students. Vancouver has more than 300 Catholic Indonesian students who are admitted to the University of British Columbia (UCB) and Simon Fraser University (SFU).

I was invited as a guest speaker for a three-day retreat with the Indonesian students of Vancouver (Mudika).

About 70 students took part in this retreat. I am very thankful for the many blessings poured out by the Heart of Jesus to these fine young men and women. Some of them gave testimony on how God led them to understand the meaning of suffering in their lives. One shared the grace of healing from seizures due to traumatic experiences in the past. There were stories of people hearing God speak personally in their hearts, helping them to turn away from superficial lives that were without meaning.

As I witnessed so many touching testimonies, I was reminded of Matthew 19:16-22, where Jesus was asked by one young man: “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus ended the conversation by asking the young man to follow Him.

I believe that every retreat is a process of questioning and finding the answer about this “eternal life.” The retreat called on youth to continue to live the commitment to follow Jesus more closely in joy and contemplation.

New jobs, but at what price?

Fr. Mac talks with a woman affected by DACA

Fr. Richard MacDonald, SCJ, a member of the North American Migration Committee, shares the following reflection on a recent source of job creation in the Rio Grande Valley:

I think this is all about “restoring human dignity” but it seems like a “win-lose” situation.  Let me share the facts:

Today the local media announced there would be a “job fair” with 200 jobs available. The jobs are tied to a migrant children’s shelter that is opening by December of this year. So far, 300 jobs have been filled, meaning that it will bring a total of 500 jobs for the area. The federal government will have a payroll budget of between $20 and $24 million dollars to run the facility.  The location will be an abandoned Walmart on the edge of Raymondville. Note that the reason Walmart closed this store is because it only brought in a profit of approximately $400,000.00 a year.

The newspaper article expresses joy at the creation of 500 jobs. I personally know many of the families who now have jobs and are giving thanks to God that that  life will be a bit easier.  The wages start at about $12 to $14 an hour; more than Walmart paid and the benefits are better!

This migrant children’s shelter in Raymondville will house another 500 minors, held in captivity, without any contact with parents or family.  It is one of many we are aware of in cities such as Harlingen, Brownsville and Weslaco. The number of people wanting to live in the United States grows regularly. We are well aware of the huge ministry done by Sr. Norma in McAllen. It is no surprise that many children suffer from post-traumatic disorder.

In the parish Masses that I celebrate, I find a way to “remember the children.”  We must never forget them. But something is terribly wrong about the reality I describe.  Human dignity should be a reality for us all.

It is difficult to know what to think about all of this. We need wisdom. I am happy for those who have jobs. But what is the real price to society?


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.


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

Celebrating 70 years of Mission, Love, and Reparation


Frater Juan Carlos Castañeda Rojas, a seminarian from the US Province doing his ministry year in Brazil, writes:

As my pastoral experience in Brazil continues, I have the privilege now of being at the Instituto Meninos de São Judas Tadeu (The Institute Saint Jude Thaddeus) in São Paulo, which is one of many Priests of the Sacred Heart ministries in this province. The institute was founded in November 16, 1946 by Father João Büscher, SCJ, who was pastor of the parish of Saint Judas Thaddeus. It was administrated by the Little Missionary Sisters of Immaculate Mary untill1949. It was in 1950 that Father Gregorio Westrupp, SCJ, took over administration of the orphanage, which in 1954 took the name it is known by today, Instituto Meninos de São Judas Tadeu. After his death in 1983 and as I have myself experienced, Father Gregorio has become an example of dedication, hard work, and reparation. Many people display a beautiful devotion to him and pray to him for his intercession for many different needs. As I have learned more about Father Gregorio, I have found that he truly lived our Dehonian charism of reparation by living among those who are at risk and vulnerable.

Frater Juancho

Frater Juancho

Since its creation, the institute has experienced many changes and many challenges. It began as an orphanage but in 2006 the institute had to change its work as a response to the law in Brazil and also as response to new needs of the people.  However, something that never has changed is its ideal of bringing to all people a restorative love by embracing, protecting, and educating babies, children, teenagers, and young adults.

During all those years of service, the institute has helped millions of children who found a safe place to grow. The institute did that not only by providing food and shelter but education and caring and love.

Thus, I had the privilege to be present for the celebration of 70 years of service of an institution that was inspired by God in the heart of a man who, just as Father Dehon, was not indifferent to the needs and situations of his times and decided to be an instrument of reparation for the little ones.

In the words of one of the teachers during the ceremony: “Love and reparation were and are the principal values of the institute. And by the help of many priests and religious of the congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart it has been possible to keep this institution and its mission. There are many hands that come together in the construction of this mission, those are hands that have experienced in their lives the love of God and with concrete actions desire to return that love.”

But it would not be possible to continue this amazing mission if we as Dehonians did not have the support and dedication of our 320 workers and many other volunteers who give their time, dedication, and helping hand to the work of this mission. I am amazed and happy to see how each person who is part of this mission fully lives out the Dehonian charism of love and reparation.



And of course and just like any other of our Dehonian missions and ministries, it is because of the support and giving hearts of our benefactors who believe in us and our work that we are able to continue with them.

This mission exists because we as Dehonians, as well as everyone who works with us, believe in a great love that can heal and repair broken hearts. This is how each one of the kids and young adults that we help are experiencing the greater love of God through us. They are the fruits of those seeds of hope and love that the institute plants and helps to grow. Today the Institute serves 2,165 babies, children, and young adults and in over the 70 years of service it has helped millions of children.

It is always nice to talk with people who come to the institute for mass, bring a donation, or ask for a blessing. Many of them speak very well of the mission of the Institute and they speak nicely about Father Gregorio and his legacy. I have to say that everyone really puts their hearts into this mission and always are super-welcoming. It has been a real pleasure to share my time here with them.

Today I feel blessed to be part of this mission, sharing, and learning every day about the acts of love and reparation given through the institute. This experience really gives me joy to see in the faces of all those children the joy of our mission, the legacy of Father Gregorio, and the love of God.  Happy anniversary to the Institute Saint Jude Thaddeus and congratulations not just to all the SCJs here but to our workers, volunteers, and benefactors who, with an open heart, work in our mission of love and reparation.





Feast day in the Philippines

Cassidy Philippines feast day

Fr. Tom (red shirt) with the new class of postulants

Fr. Tom Cassidy writes about celebrating the Feast of the Sacred Heart in the Philippines, where he is currently assisting with the English program:

Our principal celebrant for the Mass was Fr. Ronald Basco, SCJ, who was ordained on May 19The homilist was Fr. Donald Longo, SCJ, the out-going superior who will leave on Monday for Manila for further studies.

One of the highlights of the Mass was the reception of the new postulants; this was done by Fr. Frank Pupkowski, SCJ, in his role as regional superior, and was assisted by Fr. Patrick Gutib, SCJ, the new postulant director. There are 12 in this postulant class equally divided between Filipinos and Vietnamese.

Fr. Donald is not the only one leaving the local community. Fr. Arthur Guevara, SCJ, will leave in a couple of weeks to take up his duties as the pastor of our new parish on Leyte. He is also the regional treasurer and will continue in that capacity. That will require him from time to time to return to Cagayan de Oro. The Philippines being an island nation means either he flies or drives and takes a ferry boat between Leyte and Mindanao. Finally, Fr. Richie C. Gier, SCJ, who was the orientation year formator will also be going to Manila for his new assignment.

Following the Mass those present were given the opportunity to receive a blessing from the newly ordained priest. A custom here is to kiss the hands of the priest before he imparts his blessing. Naturally, with a large crowd of local community members, plus the guests, this took awhile and gave the caterers time to finish their set up.

Filipinos love a good party (fiesta). And no major fiesta would be complete without a roasted pig! These tend to be much smaller then pigs we would find in the States.

Pork was not the only meat served. We also had beef and salmon on a bed of pasta — a fish I enjoy. And, of course, what meal in this part of the world would be complete if it did not start off with rice!