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The recent USC newsletter gave an overview of Father Superior General’s visit.  Fr. Heinz Kulüke spent ten busy days in the Chicago Province from November 28 – December 7.

He started his visit at Bordentown, meeting with the members of that community and the New Jersey District and traveling to the VIVAT headquarters at the United Nations in New York City.

Father General then came to Techny where he attended the annual Mission Office Board Meeting and met with the three U.S. provincials, the vocation team, Chicago Provincial Council and Characteristic Dimension coordinators. He also addressed the Techny community and met with the novices. He presided at the installation of acolytes at the Theologate, toured the Catholic Theological Union and then visited St. Anselm, St. Elizabeth and St. Joseph the Worker parishes. He said Mass at the Holy Spirit Sisters’ Motherhouse before heading back home.

The followings are some of Father General’s impressions and reflections on his visit.

1) The work at VIVAT is and will remain a special challenge. All this is about advocacy. The task will be to get a message across to the broader membership of the SVDs,  SSpS and other partner congregations that projects for the poor are and will remain important. But even more important is to go back to the causes of poverty and to do advocacy work. This is the task of VIVAT together with other organizations at the United Nations and among them particularly other religious organized as RUN (Religious United Nations). What is lacking at this point is communication. The VIVAT team needs more information from the religious working in the field and the Sisters and confreres in the field need to know what VIVAT is doing and can do. With Fr. Robert Mirsel SVD and Sr. Helen, SSpS, we found a good team to staff the office in New York.

2) The vocation animation team consisting of 2 full-time lay members and three full-time SVDs is a unique feature of the three US provinces. The team emphasizes that it does not only do vocation animation but in the context of vocation animation, there is also the pastoral work with the youth. Among the fruits of the team are the eleven novices that are at Techny presently and the some fifty young people studying at Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa. This approach of vocation animation and pastoral care for youth should be well documented and evaluated regularly. It might become a model for many other SVD provinces worldwide. In some countries, confreres seem to have given up searching for vocations simply because of the conclusion that there are no more vocations. However, changing methods in doing one’s work is always an option and might lead to much better
results. The US provinces are a good example for this.

3) Father General met with many confreres in this vast and great province. In Techny, more than eighty confreres gathered to listen to the update on the SVD worldwide. Father General recognizes that it is due to the hard work of these confreres present, their predecessors and other confreres worldwide that the Society is what it is today. The Brothers have to be given credit in a special way. Due to the ingenuity of many of our Brothers we have in many provinces a well-functioning infrastructure in place serving thousands of people. The prayers of our senior confreres for the ongoing SVD mission worldwide are needed more than ever. “The encounter with these unique confreres makes me leave with a feeling of deep gratitude”, said Father Heinz.

4) At an average in past years, some thirty SVD seminarians are enrolled in the Theologate formation program; eight new SVD seminarians are doing their CTP/ OTP in parts of the world. The community is divided into three groups with one formator each. Also, SVD professors who teach at CTU (Chicago Theological Union) form part of the community. Details of the program are known to the Generalate from various communications and among them the visitation reports. CTU surely is an excellent school preparing our young confreres to be missionaries. CTU has some 300 students from many different continents.

The USC formation program is surely one of the best in the Society from which other provinces in the SVD world could learn. Good formators are needed to accompany our young confreres. Presently there are eleven novices based in Techny. The group is very intercultural and from various backgrounds. Living close to our senior confreres and listening to their stories the novices hear much about missionary experiences from all continents.

Father General expresses his gratitude to the provincial, Fr. Tom Ascheman and his team for a well planned visit and all confreres for their impressive work, warm welcome, and great hospitality.

Published in the newsletter “Arnoldus Nota” – January 2016


Serving Indonesian Catholics in U.S.

Indonesian Catholic communities exist all across the United States. Indonesian Divine Word Missionaries have been involved with these communities since the 90s when the first two Indonesian Divine Word priests were assigned to the Los Angeles area. Presently, only Fr. Robert Mirsel SVD, working in VIVAT, has a formal diocesan appointment to be the chaplain for the Indonesian Catholic community in Brooklyn and Queens, New York.

Other Indonesian confreres have been invited to help with Sunday Masses for Indonesian Catholic communities in Washington, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, and Chicago. Indonesian Divine Word Missionaries in the Western Provinces serve communities in California. Besides saying Mass in the Indonesian language with these communities, the confreres look forward to the national gathering of Indonesian Catholics every two years. Keeping in touch with Indonesian Catholic communities had an additional benefit for the Society when Fr. Fransiskus Santoso entered the formation program several years ago.

USC Newsletter – January 2016