Welcome, Fr. Antonius

Last week Fr. Antonius Suedi Oki Kuncero, SCJ, arrived in Toronto from the Indonesian Province. He will spend a few days in Toronto. He will then head to Montréal to join our community there. He will begin by learning French. He will be ministering to the Indonesian Catholic community of the Montréal area.

Fr. Oki is 40, professed first vows in 2002 and was ordained in 2010.

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SCJs in Ukraine

Nine Sacred Heart priests serve six parishes in Ukraine and work in a student dormitory. One of the parishes, the Sacred Heart Parish of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus in Irpień near Kiev, is close to Kiev airport, which is particularly heavily contested.

Persevering in the war zone

Father Piotr Chmielecki SCJ, deputy mission procurator in Poland, has been in contact with Father Andrzej Olejnik SCJ, parish priest at Sacred Heart Parish in Irpień near Kiev.
“Pray for us, pray, pray …”. This is what Fr. Olejnik answered when asked how he and the confreres were doing. “The Charity Center and the Church (under construction) of the Sacred Heart priests are located exactly nine kilometers from Hostomel Airport, currently a location of fierce fighting, and 26 kilometers from the Maidan of Independence, the very center of the capital of Ukraine.

We can hear the artillery shelling of Hostomel Airport all the time. I never expected to experience a war as an adult … I had already survived the 1992 war in Moldova-Transnistria as a child, but at that time I did not understand what happened. What I know and hear now is terrible for me.”

Of the nine Sacred Heart priests in Ukraine, only one is from the country itself, two are from Moldova, and six are from Poland. The foreign confreres could have left Ukraine unhindered, but they remain at their mission posts.
Father Tadeusz Wołos SCJ, deputy provincial, says: “We do not want to leave our parishioners without pastoral assistance. We will stay with them until the end. We remain ready to welcome people by providing them with places to sleep, necessary food, some financial help, etc.” The confreres also celebrate Holy Masses and broadcast them online.
“People are scared, but well organized. Many prefer to stay in their homes rather than flee. For now, they still have food and all the necessary means to survive. Everyone is waiting for the war to end as soon as possible,” Father Wołos continued.

Help for refugees
Still, of course, many people are fleeing. The Sacred Heart priests in Poland are taking care of the refugees who have already arrived and expect many more to arrive. They have taken some of them in or are organizing shelters, providing all the necessities of life, and giving pastoral assistance.
In addition, the priests of the Sacred Heart are urgently looking for housing for the refugees. Donations help to pay the rents and to provide the refugees with the basic necessities – clothing, food and hygiene articles in the first place.
As of Sunday (Feb. 27, 2022), some 368,000 people were already fleeing, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR; according to the Polish Border Guard, more than 200,000 refugees arrived in Poland alone.

In Transnistria, which is in a delicate situation politically, the soup kitchens, first aid supplies and other aid projects of the Sacred Heart priests are also open to refugees. There are not very many yet – mostly relatives or friends of Transnistrian residents. But the communities are ready to receive more refugees. They also need help to feed them and provide them with enough clothes.

Meanwhile, Bishop Dr. Heiner Wilmer SCJ, who is also chairman of Justitia-et-Pax, has called for unity and solidarity in Europe – especially with regard to the war refugees. He calls Russia’s attack “a serious crime” and an attack on the European project.

(A report from the German Province)

 

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A new council begins its work

The new regional council began its work by a first presential meeting at our community house in Montréal. The new team consists of Fr. Gustave Lulendo, Maurice Légaré, Greg Murray and Willyans Raposo.

 

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Fr. Stephen Huffstetter visits the Region

After a hiatus of two years, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, the General Vicar, was finally able to visit the communities of the Region. He arrived in Montréal on September 11, Ottawa on September 13 and Toronto on September 15. In the picture he is shown with the Ottawa community.

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Fr. Greg Murray’s new address

Fr. Greg Murray will begin his new ministry on July 3rd, 2021, in the Archdiocese of Gatineau (St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Columban, St. Malachy and Our Lady of Victory). He will be residing at St. Aloysius Gonzaga: 

300 de l’Abbé-Murray St. Gatineau, QC  J8P 4Z4

Tél.: 819-663-5244 Fax: 819-663-2078

 Best wishes for his new ministry.

Le P. Greg Murray commencera son nouveau ministère le 3 juillet 2021 dans l’Archidiocèse de Gatineau (St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Columban, St. Malachy et Our Lady of Victory). Il résidera à St. Aloysius Gonzaga:

 

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Fr. Greg Murray leaves Montréal and returns to Ottawa

La communauté de Montréal s’est réunie dimanche soir, 20 juin, pour un souper d’au-revoir au P. Greg Murray, qui commencera dans les prochaines semaines, un nouveau ministère dans l’Archidiocèse de Gatineau. Pour l’occasion, les PP. Roger Phaneuf et Richard Woodbury s’étaient déplacés pour rejoindre les résidents du boul. Gouin. La soirée s’est déroulée autour d’un bon repas préparé au BBQ. Le P. Greg a quitté Montréal lundi, le 21 juin, pour rejoindre la communauté d’Ottawa en attendant d’emménager dans un presbytère de la région de Buckingham, avec le P. Élie Muzungu Kasongo.

The Montreal community gathered on Sunday, June 20, for a farewell dinner to Fr. Greg Murray who will begin a new ministry, in a few weeks, in the Archdiocese of Gatineau. On this occasion, Frs. Roger Phaneuf and Richard Woodbury, joined the residents at Boul. Gouin for a nice meal cooked on BBQ on the porch. Fr. Greg left Montreal on June 21 to join the Ottawa community before moving in a parish in or near Buckingham, with Fr. Elie Muzungu Kasongo.

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Richard Woodbury 50ième anniversaire

Aujourd’hui, 16 mai 2021, marque le 50ème anniversaire d’ordination du P. Richard Woodbury. La communauté de Montréal a célébré cet événement en invitant le Père Richard à présider l’Eucharistie du vendredi 14 mai à la résidence du boulevard Gouin. Originaire de Grenville, Québec, le Père Richard a exercé son ministèredans cette région, comme professeur puir directeur des élèves au Séminaire du Sacré-Cœur de Pointe-au-Chêne (maintenant Grenville-sur-la-Rouge) et à Hawkesbury (Ontario), Saint-Philippe d’Argenteuil, Grenville et Brownsburg-Chatham. Toutes nos félicitations!

On May 16 Fr. Richard Woodbury will celebrate his 50th anniversary of ordination. On May 14 – as the pictures show – he celebrated at the community in Montréal. On Sunday it will be remembered – with all the reservations of COVID-19 – in the parish of Grenville. We look forward to be able to celebrate his dedication and service at a possible Assembly in September. Congratulations and thank you, Richard.

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Paulin Makiala completes his studies

On Sunday the Ottawa community celebrated the completion of the program of studies of Fr. Paulin Makiala. Fr. Paulin presided at the Eucharist with its zoom extension to the Dehon Sunday Community. In his homily Fr. John van den Hengel connected Fr. Paulin’s stay to the Sunday Gospel of the true vine: “Fr. Paulin has been a moment of growth and joy for us. It has been fascinating to watch how from being a stranger to us – except through the bond that we have as members of the same Congregation – to entering fully into our community. His has been the kind of process that the Gospel talks about – the slow, at times painful, but also joyful becoming part and parcel of our lives together. Now he is part of our vine; he brought his life-force with him and mixed it with ours and he has enriched us with his care, his joy, his smile and laughter, and his picking up on things that us older guys find more and more difficult to do. He has now completed the studies for which he came to Canada (that is the reason for asking him to preside today.) But he completed more than his studies in these past three years. He became part of us. For however difficult it is, he brought with him the word of the Letter of John of today: he taught us his faith in the name of Jesus but also his central commandment: Love one another just as he has commanded us. So we hope that even when he might go back to the Congo, he will continue to abide with us in the power of Jesus. We congratulate you this day, but we also thank you, Paulin.”

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Closed borders open educational opportunities

Fr. John (center) meets with the SCJ students in Vietnam

While the pandemic has closed most borders, it has opened up a world full of educational opportunities.

The District of Vietnam has five SCJs preparing for final vows; they will make their final profession on the feast of the Sacred Heart, June 11. Fr. Francis-Vu Tran, SCJ, district superior, reached out to Fr. John van den Hengel, SCJ, to see if he could provide a few sessions for the program. Fr. John is a member of the Ottawa community in the Canadian Region, about 8,500 miles (13,700 kilometers) away from the students’ desks in Vietnam.

With the help of the internet, Fr. John held four video-conference sessions for the Vietnamese SCJs between April 13-22. Time zone differences had the students and teacher meeting at the same time, but at different ends of the days. The students were in front of their computers at 8:00 pm, while Fr. John was next to his at 9:00 am.

The topic of the sessions focused on the social work or the social spirituality of Fr. Leo John Dehon; Fr. John said that the topic was chosen by Fr. Francis-Vu.

“It was interesting to note that the Vietnamese had little awareness or understanding of the French context out of which Fr. Dehon came and which determined much of his activity and vision,” said Fr. John.

“All of the Vietnamese had their formation in the Philippines and so language was not a problem,” he continued. Two of the Vietnamese –– Vincent Thoan Van Do and John Hung Dinh –– had done a pastoral year in Toronto. Paul Linh Hai Le had spent time in Dublin. “It was quite a cosmopolitan group!”

Bringing the Dehonian charism to an Asian context

Fr. John said that “the challenge of such a presentation is to allow the Vietnamese to get beyond the literal vision of Fr. Dehon and his engagement in the social sphere and to interpret it within an Asian context with a totally different history and culture – and politics! How do you translate Fr. Dehon’s notion of ‘pure love,’ which animated his social engagement, into the complex environment of Vietnam?”

He said that the Zoom sessions allowed for interaction between the students and presenter, “but it would have been a joy to have been able to sit in the same room in Ho Chi Minh City and to probe their vocation to the charism of Leo Dehon.”

Fr. John added that COVID-19 has had a much different impact on Vietnam than on many other countries. There have been only 2,843 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 35 deaths. Closed borders and other restrictions have been credited for controlling the virus. “While the Province of Ontario is in lockdown, the students in Vietnam are now fairly free in their movements.”

 

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Letter of Fr. Gustave

 

REGION DU / OF  CANADA

Dear confreres,

Today we are entering Holy Week, a special time in our journey of faith and perhaps in our personal history, given the context in which we will live this highlight of the Church. Many people will not be able to celebrate Easter as they would have liked, especially because of the Coronavirus Pandemic which affected us through the confreres who experienced it directly by contracting the virus or indirectly by providing spiritual, moral, psychological and material support to those who need it most, starting with the members of our respective communities before extending this solidarity to a much wider circle: our parishioners, our families, friends and acquaintances. We cannot yet say that the worst is over because the threat is omnipresent with the third wave on the horizon, but we must gratefully acknowledge the efforts of the international scientific community to put in place vaccines that make us dream of seeing the end of the tunnel and coming out in the months that follow. It is for this reason that I encourage confreres who wish to do so not to hesitate to take the vaccine once they are eligible according to the criteria setup by the health services, and to those who have already received it, all my congratulations despite the sometimes discouraging speeches surrounding these vaccines.

In relation to the life and activities of our region, the regional council and some commissions have met several times to plan or decide on certain issues relating to the smooth running of our entity. Most recently, the Regional Council invited Father Peter McKenna scj to speak about his apostolate with immigrants here in Canada and the work of the North American Immigration Commission. We salute their efforts and their concern to work to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters who are in need and especially in search of the regularization of their status in Canada. Welcoming and accompanying immigrants or asylum seekers is everyone’s job because by this act we not only give a concrete face to Jesus, but also we respond effectively to his invitation: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Mt 25:35).

At the same time, the Council thanked and encouraged Father Antonio Maria Resende Pereira scj in his work as responsible of vocations in our Region. Father Antonio presented his activities with optimism and he highlighted the concrete difficulties in welcoming future or potential Candidates who will knock on our doors. The issues and challenges raised will be the subject of profound analysis at our next regional assembly, since the issue of vocations is not a matter for one person but for all the members of the Region gathered in their local communities.

My dear confreres, let me now point out some news that has characterized the life of our region in recent times and which for us are signs of Providence. In this register, we place the appointment of Father Willyans Prado Rapozo scj as Administrator of St. Helen Parish in Toronto, for a period of six months at the end of which an evaluation and other proposals will be made depending on the circumstances that will arise. We are also grateful to Providence for the arrival of Father Ushindi Kambale Sahani scj, whom the province of Congo has freed to work in the Sault-au-Recollet Pastoral Unit, entrusted to the Priests of the Sacred Heart by the Archdiocese of Montreal.

Another point that we can put to our credit is the permission granted by the General Administration to our entity, to experiment a new process of appointment of the new regional administration. As a reminder, at our Regional Assembly in Kingston (August 12-15, 2019), we discussed without finding a solution, on the procedure in force and which some found very long. This task was subsequently entrusted to the regional council, which, at its council meeting on January 25, 2021, came to propose a text to Rome for ad experimentum use from the next consultation which will take place this summer 2021. The General Government welcomed this proposal, especially as it joined the practice of most of the Congregation’s entities. This is only on an experimental basis and will be evaluated in the next regional Chapter for its adoption and possible inclusion in the Regional Directory. (You’ll find the proposed text attached). I know that this text will not meet everyone’s expectations, but like any human work, it is perfectible and I ask everyone for its effective implementation and amendment when the time comes.

Dear confreres, I also take this opportunity to thank all three communities for the much appreciated work that we have done in relation to the questionnaire received from Rome in connection with our Rule of Life. The various responses have shown the interest we have in this founding text of the Congregation, which for us consists of a code of conduct and a guide for our commitment to Christ as disciples of Father Dehon.

My dear brothers in Christ, I cannot close this message without mentioning the mystery of Easter, which we will soon celebrate in special circumstances, as I pointed out at the beginning of this letter. Easter is this great passage from Darkness to Light, it is the Victory of Good over Evil; it is the victory of Life over Death. It is this good news and this message of faith that we are called to announce, starting with our own community, to encourage each other and to inspire hope in a humanity facing challenges where human beings feel left without a solution. Yes, Christ is alive forever and we are witnessing it.

It is with this optimism of the Easter message that we can dream of a better future and think that in the coming days we will be able to meet again physically as members of the Region and to celebrate our Regional Assembly next Summer or next Fall. This is my wish and that of several confreres. To all of you, I wish Good Holy Week and Happy Easter. May the Light of the Risen Christ enlighten us in our journey and in our ability to renew the “Fiat” of our Baptism and religious Consecration every day of our lives.

 

                                                                                                 

   Chers confrères,

Nous allons bientôt entrer dans la Semaine Sainte, un temps particulier dans notre cheminement de foi et peut-être dans notre histoire personnelle, vu le contexte dans lequel nous allons vivre ce temps fort de l’Église. Plusieurs personnes ne pourront pas célébrer Pâques comme elles l’auraient souhaité, surtout à cause de la Pandémie du Coronavirus qui nous a affectés par les confrères qui l’ont expérimentée directement en ayant contracté le virus ou indirectement en apportant un soutien spirituel, moral, psychologique et matériel à ceux qui en ont le plus besoin, commençant par les membres de nos communautés respectives avant d’étendre cette solidarité à un cercle beaucoup plus large : nos paroissiens, nos familles, amis et connaissances. Nous ne pouvons pas encore dire que le pire est passé car la menace est omniprésente avec la troisième vague qui pointe à l’horizon, mais nous devons reconnaître avec gratitude les efforts déployés par la communauté scientifique internationale, de mettre en place des vaccins qui font que nous puissions rêver de voir le bout du tunnel et en sortir dans les mois qui vont suivre. C’est pour cette raison que j’encourage les confrères qui le souhaitent à ne pas hésiter de prendre le vaccin une fois qu’ils sont éligibles selon les critères suivis par les services de santé, et à ceux qui l’ont déjà reçu, toutes mes félicitations malgré les discours parfois décourageants qui entourent ces vaccins.

Par rapport à la vie et aux activités de notre région, le conseil régional ainsi que certaines commissions, se sont plusieurs fois réunis pour planifier ou statuer sur certaines questions relatives à la bonne marche de notre entité.  Tout récemment, le conseil régional a invité le Père Peter McKenna scj qui a parlé de son apostolat avec les immigrants ici au Canada ainsi que les travaux de la commission nord-américaine d’Immigration. Nous saluons leurs efforts et leur souci de travailler pour améliorer la vie de nos frères et sœurs qui sont dans le besoin et surtout en quête de la régularisation de leur statut au Canada. Accueillir et accompagner les immigrants ou les demandeurs d’Asile, c’est le travail de tout le monde car par cet acte, non seulement nous donnons un visage concret à Jésus, mais aussi nous répondons efficacement à son invitation : J’étais un étranger et vous m’avez accueilli (Mt 25, 35).

Par la même occasion, le Conseil a remercié et encouragé le Père Antonio Maria Resende Pereira scj dans son travail comme chargé des vocations dans notre Région. Le Père Antonio a présenté avec optimisme ses activités en même temps qu’il a souligné les difficultés concrètes par rapport à l’accueil de futurs ou potentiels Candidats qui frapperont à nos portes. Les questions et défis soulevés feront l’objet d’analyse profonde lors de notre prochaine assemblée régionale, étant donné que la question des vocations n’est pas l’affaire d’une personne mais de tous les membres de la Région réunis dans leurs communautés locales.

Chers confrères, permettez-moi de souligner maintenant quelques nouvelles qui ont caractérisé la vie de notre région ces derniers temps et qui pour nous sont des signes de la Providence. Dans ce registre, nous mettons la nomination du père Willyans Prado Rapozo scj comme Administrateur de la Paroisse Saint Hélène à Toronto, pour une période de six mois au bout de laquelle une évaluation et d’autres propositions seront faites selon les circonstances qui se présenteront. Nous sommes également reconnaissants à la Providence, pour l’arrivée du Père Ushindi kambale Sahani scj que la province du Congo a libéré pour travailler dans l’Unité Pastorale Sault-au-récollet, confiée aux Prêtres du Sacré-Cœur par l’Archidiocèse de Montréal.

Un autre point que nous pouvons mettre à notre actif, c’est la permission accordée par l’Administration Générale à notre entité, de pouvoir expérimenter un nouveau processus de nomination de la nouvelle administration régionale. A titre de rappel, lors de notre Assemblée régionale tenue à Kingston (du 12 au 15 Août 2019), nous avons réfléchi sans trouver de solution, sur la procédure en vigueur et que certains ont trouvé très longue. Cette tâche a été confiée par la suite au conseil régional qui est arrivé, lors de son conseil du 25 janvier 2021, à proposer un texte à Rome pour une utilisation ad experimentum à partir de la prochaine consultation qui aura lieu cet été 2021. Le gouvernement général a accueilli cette proposition avec joie surtout qu’elle rejoint la pratique de la plupart d’entités de la Congrégation. Ceci n’est qu’à titre expérimental et sera évalué lors du prochain chapitre régional pour son adoption et son éventuelle insertion dans le Directoire Régional. (Vous trouverez le texte proposé en pièce jointe). Chers confrères, je sais que ce texte ne rejoindra pas les attentes de tout le monde, mais comme n’importe quelle œuvre humaine, elle est perfectible et je sollicite le concours de tout le monde pour sa mise en pratique effective et son amendement le moment venu.

Chers confrères, je saisis également cette opportunité pour remercier toutes les trois communautés pour le travail très apprécié que nous avons fait par rapport au questionnaire reçu de Rome en lien avec notre Règle de Vie. Les différentes réponses ont montré l’intérêt que nous avons vis-à-vis de ce texte fondateur de la Congrégation et qui consiste pour nous un code de conduite et un guide pour notre engagement à la suite du Christ en tant que disciples du Père Dehon.

Chers confrères, je ne peux pas clôturer ce message sans évoquer le mystère de Pâques que nous allons bientôt célébrer dans des circonstances particulières comme je l’ai souligné au début de cette lettre. Pâques c’est ce grand passage des Ténèbres à la Lumière, c’est la Victoire du Bien sur le mal; c’est la victoire de la vie sur la Mort. C’est cette bonne nouvelle et ce message de foi que nous sommes appelés à annoncer en commençant par notre propre communauté, pour nous encourager mutuellement et susciter l’espoir dans une humanité aux prises avec des défis où l’être humain se sent dépourvus de solution. Oui, le Christ est vivant pour toujours et nous en sommes témoins.

C’est avec cet optimisme du message de Pâques que nous pouvons rêver d’un avenir meilleur et penser que dans les jours à venir nous seront capables de nous retrouver physiquement comme membres de la Région pour vivre notre Assemblée régionale l’été ou l’automne prochain. Tel est mon souhait et celui de plusieurs confrères. A vous tous, je souhaite bonne Semaine Sainte et Bonnes fêtes Pascales. Que la Lumière du Ressuscité nous éclaire dans notre cheminement et dans notre capacité à renouveler le Oui de notre Baptême et de notre Consécration religieuse tous les jours de notre vie.

Montréal, March 29, 2021

Gustave Lulendo N’Dotony,scj 

Supérieur régional

 

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