Twice a year the administrations of the US Province and Canadian Region meet to discuss common issues, seek ways of collaboration and update each other on their ministries and communities. This time it was the US Province’s turn to host; the spring meeting took place April 24 at the Provincialate Offices in Hales Corners, WI.
Their last meeting was in October at St. Thomas More Parish just east of Toronto. Then, as now, migration and immigration were topics of significant focus. Fr. Tony Russo updated the councils on the work of the North American Migration Committee. Recently established, the group is a continuation of an ad-hoc committee that developed following the 2013 North American Conference. Membership now includes Karen Mahoney, a parishioner at Resurrection of Our Lord in Ottawa. Karen was instrumental in helping the Dehonian community in Ottawa set up sponsorship for a Syrian refugee family last year. Also new to the committee is Fr. Louis-Marie Kayamba Butari, an SCJ immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo who is now administrator of a three-parish pastoral team in Montréal.
Fr. Tony noted that when the committee held its first in-person meeting in February they invited several immigrants, including one who is undocumented, to share their stories not only with committee members, but with the SCJ community at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. The committee has prepared prayer materials centered on migration issues and is assisting in bringing speakers on such issues to the US Province assembly in June.
The North American administrations also discussed expanding efforts to share the Dehonian charism beyond the Priests of the Sacred Heart. In Mississippi a group concluded its first year of meetings utilizing the “Spiritual Path,” a ten-session formation process for people to learn about the Dehonian charism. It is a North American adaptation of similar program developed at the general level of the congregation.
Fr. Jack Kurps, who led the initial group, noted that four of the ten participants were not Catholic. “But this just highlighted the many commonalities that we have in our faiths,” he said. “Theologically we may have differences but when it comes to the level of human experience we are all so similar. We had wonderful discussions about the Eucharist, about Mary and about baptism. It was very worthwhile.”
That initial group of ten plans to continue to meet, starting in fall. However, they hope to invite others to join them, with original members of the group leading the Spiritual Path process that they already experienced.
Two staff members at St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota (Mike Tyrell and Donna Dean, both members of the province’s Dehonian Associates Committee) hope to begin the Spiritual Path at the school later this year.
Other topics discussed at the meeting of North American administrations included the Dehonian retreats planned for SCJs in the US and Canada beginning in August, senior life issues, the North American Theological Commission (members of the commission will be attending the General Theological Conference in Indonesia in July), the 2018 General Conference (Fr. Quang Nguyen, US vice provincial, is chairperson of the conference planning committee), and vocation ministry.
The administrations will next meet October 16-17 in Montréal.