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!

Why am I a brother?

Br. Diego (far left) with fellow SCJs preparing a meal

Today, May 1 (the feast of St. Joseph), is the second annual Religious Brothers Day. Br. Diego Diaz, a Dehonian from Argentina currently studying ESL at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, shares the following reflection:

The Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a religious family made up of both priests and religious brothers. Together, we live the gift of the love of Jesus that impels us to be missionaries wherever the Church calls us.

Many ask me why I am a brother and not a priest. On this day dedicated to the vocation of religious brothers, I’d like to share my responses to the question:

I AM A RELIGIOUS BROTHER because the first call of Jesus is to create in the world a universal brotherhood where we are all brothers and sisters in the same God.

I AM A RELIGIOUS BROTHER because I identify with that aspect of Jesus, to be a brother among brothers, serving from my ministry, creating new bonds of brotherhood and friendship wherever it is needed.

I AM A RELIGIOUS BROTHER because our Dehonian mission of oblation and availability makes us intercessors before God, working to make present the Kingdom of God in the realities where we are called to and sent by the community.

The vocation of brother is a call to us all, men and women, because the world has a universal thirst for fraternal and egalitarian relationships.

The heart of Jesus is the open heart of God who wants to become the brother of humanity and embrace it.

The gift of clean water

Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India:

Today we inaugurated the new water treatment facility at Sacred Heart parish in Nambur. It was a gift to the community through the generosity of our North Italian Province.

Fr. McQueen opens the tap

Here in India, fresh water cannot be taken for granted, and with 1.2 billion people and growing, it is and will probably become a bigger issue in the years ahead. Take for example our minor seminary in Gorantla, about a half hour drive from the novitiate and Sacred Heart parish in Nambur. When we opened our seminary it was, well frankly, out in the middle of nowhere, but now all around it apartment buildings are going up and the only source of water is underground. Recently, the seminary had to dig a new well as the old one was fast becoming dry as the water table recedes. I do not know how much, if any planning, goes into the booming construction, but I do hope someone with some clout is on top of just how much population density the water table will support.

For the poor of India and the poor of the world, access to clean and safe drinking water is questionable at best. Nambur is a simple Indian village, typical of many in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The installation of this water plant means a lot to those living near the parish church that it is designed to serve. It is a great service that the parish is now able to provide fresh drinking water to its neighbors: Catholic, Hindu and Muslim. In turn, may it help to improve community relationships; time will tell on that score.

Special thanks goes to the provincial superior of the North Italian Province, Fr. Oliviero Cattani, SCJ, and his council for approving this project, and in particular, the help of Fr. Beppe Pierantoni, SCJ, who proposed it to the council and helped coordinate it from an idea to the reality we celebrated today.

Renewal and remembrance on Palm Sunday in India

Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India:

Today is Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, in which the Church, through its liturgy, reenacts the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and marks the solemn beginning of Holy Week. This year it also was the day chosen for those brothers in temporary vows to make their renewals.

With the renewals taking place at Mass this morning it also marked the end of the vow retreat conducted by Fr. Bala, SJ. I learned the retreat centered on 5 Cs: Compassion, Collaboration, Conversion, Commitment, and Courage. From all that I have heard and seen the brothers found the retreat to be worthwhile and energizing of their own commitment with today’s renewal of vows.

I actually got to celebrate the Palm Sunday liturgy twice, as this morning I had it for the Holy Family Brothers at 7:00 am plus the 10:45 am liturgy and vow renewal out the formation house for our brothers. Fr. McQueen Winston Savio Mascarenhas, SCJ, our district superior, was the main celebrant and received the vow renewal of our 22 brothers in house plus the 5 regents. Fr. Bala preached the homily as a wrap up to his retreat.

Fr. Martin

Fr. McQueen took time to say a few words before Mass, and then just before the vow renewal, expressed his sentiments on the news of the death of Fr. Martin van Ooij, SCJ, who was truly the Founding Father of our SCJ presence here in India. A missionary for many years Fr. Martin was tasked by the general administration in 1994 to begin establishing our presence in
India, first in Kerala. It was not an easy task.

Fr. Martin was born on December 14, 1935, in Deurne Holland. After ordination in 1963, he became a missionary in Indonesia, spending practically all of his time in the diocese of Lampung until asked in 1994 by Bishop Virginio Bressanelli, SCJ, at that time our superior general, to organize our efforts in India. Fr. Martin died on March 24 in Jakarta.