In This Issue:
- Message from the Provincial
- An Unforgettable Mission
- 22 Years of Building a Dream
- Bringing Faith to the Big City
- Monthly Novena Intentions
Dear Friends of the MSC,
This year the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart celebrate with great joy and hope the 50th anniversary of our ministry in Colombia. Within the worldwide structure of the MSC, each Province is responsible for specific mission territories. The USA Province has Colombia as our mission. That means we are committed to providing personnel, financial support, formation training and leadership guidance to the mission area. This we have been doing continuously for 50 years.
It all began in 1967 when two MSC Fathers, Tom Hayden and Tom Carney, began ministry in Bogotá, Colombia. This was in response to an earlier call given by Pope St. John XXIII asking missionary societies to send personnel to South America in order to strengthen the Catholic faith. Over the next fifty years, our Province sent 16 missionaries to Colombia, some of them ministering there for up to 25 years.
As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we are pleased to report that 14 Colombian men have been ordained as MSC priests. Many dozens more did not end up being ordained, but received a quality education and a solid spiritual foundation for their lives. Those who were with us and then left during their formative years will always have the spark of the Spirituality of the Heart within them. They carry the love of the Heart of Jesus wherever they go and many of them continue to keep in touch with the MSC community members in Colombia. We see this broader influence also as part of our legacy.
Currently we have nine MSC seminarians at various stages of the formation program. Since all of them come from financially poor families, we continue to provide financially for their education, room and board and living expenses. But even more important is their spiritual formation. We strive to prepare young men who are well-grounded, emotionally mature and spiritually solid so that they can become faithful witnesses of the Gospel.
While this can be a daunting task and challenging to our resources, we are committed to the missionary mandate to reach out as Jesus did, to bring God’s love wherever we go. On our own, our success would be very limited; but with you, our friends and benefactors, so much more can be accomplished. For that reason we are deeply indebted to you who have become missionaries with us. Thank you so very much.
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus continue to bless you abundantly.
Fr. Raymond Diesbourg, MSC
By Fr. Thomas Carney, MSC
Our mission in Colombia began in 1967. It was a time of great despair for this Latin American nation recovering from ten years of a war that killed about 300,000 people and displaced thousands of families. Our purpose was to help “Preserve the Faith” as Pope John XXIII requested. Fr. Tom Hayden, MSC, initially began this mission as I had to tend to my responsibilities in Peru. I joined him shortly thereafter for a total of 25 years. The MSC men who were there the longest were myself (25 yrs.), Fr. Jablonski (22 yrs.), Fr. Fath (17 yrs.), and Fr. Hayden (14 yrs.).
Over the years we had a total of 16 MSC men helping rebuild Colombia. We dedicated ourselves to many parish activities, as well as ministries in high schools, chaplaincies, and health centers, built homes for hundreds of poor people (2007 Housing Project), formation of lay leaders, vocations and, most recently in 2012, Fr. Jablonski introduced Life’s Healing Journey retreats.
One of our biggest accomplishments was the building of Santa Margarita Maria de Alacoque Parish (named after the great apostle of the Sacred Heart, St. Margaret Mary), where Fr. Hayden was Pastor and I was Assistant Pastor. The MSC soon thereafter had another parish offered by the Archbishop of Cali, Our Lady of Guadalupe, in which I was Pastor for five years. Cali was one of the poorest areas we supported.
It is wonderful how the adults, as well as the children, have grown, kept their faith and made a new life for themselves after such terrible times. I will never forget the words of President John F. Kennedy, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” I feel honored to have been a part of it all. Thank you to all our friends that have supported this great mission and continue to support Colombia today.
By Fr. Joseph Jablonski, MSC
I arrived in Colombia for the first time on Independence Day, the 20th of July, 1973. I was a student of theology still in my temporary vows as an MSC and couldn’t speak a word of Spanish. However, while sitting in the back of the open pick-up truck, I fell in love with this fascinating country, its wonderful people, and delightful smells of street vendors selling Colombian cuisine. Along my 12-hour bus trip in Cali, I not only found a school and library but a pharmacy and clinic for the poor – it was like an oasis of ope amid poverty! I learned that our pastoral work of evangelization meant to respond to the needs of the people – spiritually and emotionally.
I was blessed to return to Colombia in 1976 as an MSC priest. Our goal as MSC from other continents was to encourage vocations to our community from each of the countries of Latin America where we worked. Encouraged by these international meetings, we began a formation program in Bogotá.
A more challenging ministry I worked in for a couple years was as a prison chaplain. I met face-to-face with arrested guerrilla fighters and drug traffickers. The social reality of Colombia was very difficult with a lot of violence and popular unrest. As we grew in numbers both by MSC arriving from the USA and the Colombians in formation, we took on a chaplaincy for expatriots living in Colombia from the different Embassies and international corporations.
As the years went by, my own ministry experiences multiplied and I felt called to work more in spiritual formation. I began to work giving retreats along with the Jesuits in Bogotá to priests, religious, seminarians and laity. I became the chaplain in several influential bi-lingual schools in the city during the days, while helping in Vida Nueva, for the rehabilitation of women involved in prostitution.
In July 2012 we offered our most powerful spiritual program to the people – Life’s Healing Journey retreats (LHJ). With all the suffering and hardship there, our LHJ program helped the people heal and move towards a more satisfying, fruitful life.
By Fr. Hugo Londoño, MSC
I was born and raised among the beautiful mountains of Colombia, where the most delicious coffee around the world grows. Working as a missionary for the MSC means that one may have to move to different areas of the world bringing the love of Jesus to everyone. That time had come in January 2005. I moved to the USA, specifically Chicago, IL. I wasn’t sure if I would get used to the severe weather, but having the opportunity for all these new experiences I can happily say it was worth it and have enjoyed the past 12 years in this challenging, beautiful and multicultural land.
I have been Pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Chicago for almost nine years. It is one of the most beautiful churches I know, located in Chicago’s historic Back of the Yards neighborhood.
I walk around our neighborhood almost every day and I can tell you sincerely – we are the people of God. I know the people work hard to keep their dreams alive and raise their children in the spirit of our Lord.
Within our parish, we strive to unite and empower the people in the community and especially enjoy working with the children – they are the future. We support them by providing resources to help them achieve their fullest potential.
In 2013, with a donation from one of our parishioners and church fundraising, we were able to create the St. Joseph Hope Scholarship, open to college-bound youth in the Back of the Yards community. We have proudly awarded 22 scholarships to deserving young adults.
In our efforts of bringing families together and building a stronger sense of community, we host the St. Joseph Feast, the Summer Festival and the Virgen de San Juan Festival. In June 2015, we celebrated the opening of St. Joseph Plaza. The plaza was created as an area for the community to gather in the safe outdoors to socialize or pray and reflect as they walk through the rosary formed on the pavers engraved with the messages from community members.
Each month, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in the United States pray a novena to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart for a special intention taken from the Holy Father’s intentions. To join us in the novena, simply set aside time to say the rosary each day during the dates below, for the intention listed for that month.
April 22-30: That young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously consider offering themselves to God in the priesthood or consecrated life.
May 20-28: That Christians may experience the influence of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, who leads everyone to the Heart of her Son.
June 17-25: That communities throughout the world may find in the Heart of Jesus a loving and merciful God.
July 22-30: That our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the merciful closeness of the Lord and the beauty of the Christian life.
August 19-27: That artists of our time, through their ingenuity, may help everyone discover the beauty of creation.
You can make a difference in the lives of so many people by supporting the MSC communities through guidance, love and support. Please consider donating today! Click here to donate online.