Dehonian Spirituality includes prayers and reflections based in spirituality of Fr. Leo John Dehon; it is published weekly by the US Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
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April 28, 2017

Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
In 1880, the infamous “Article 7” of the Ferry Law was passed, forbidding non-authorized Congregations [in France] to teach in state schools.  Thirty male religious Institutes were closed down and about 10,000 religious were forcibly expelled from their houses.  Fr. Dehon, too, was in a quandary as to how to save his small and almost unknown Congregation that was involved in the work at St. Quentin and especially at St. John’s College.
In 1882, Fr. Dehon sent Fr. Adrian Rasset to England to study the situation and decide as to the possibility of transferring the Congregation to Great Britain.  Bishop Thibaudier, then Superior General of the Congregation, was not very enthusiastic about this effort.  He wanted to keep the Congregation involved in the work at St. Quentin, while Fr. Dehon had always seen his Institute in an international light.
On July 22, 1882, Fr. Rasset wrote in a letter to his sister, a religious, “I am about to go to England for two months.”  He was going to be chaplain to the parish priest at Sedley, Staffordshire.  Fr. Rasset’s stay in England bore no fruits for the Congregation.  It wasn’t until 1934 that Fr. Matthew Kusters, then General Councilor, got the project for an SCJ house in England approved by the General, Fr. Lawrence Philippe.
In July 1934, we find him in England.  He approached the Archbishop of Westminster, who accepts Fr. Kusters’ collaboration in parish work, and gives him the town of Redbourn, where he gets a house.  He is later replaced by Fr. Lennatz, previously Apostolic Prefect in Cameroun, prior to the First World War.  Fr. Lennartz takes up official residence in Redbourn and this is the date of the founding of the English Province.
Dehoniana XV: 1986/2, “SCJ—Fifty Years in England”


Oblation: The daily practice of offering oneself to God

The life of oblation for a Priest of the Sacred Heart leads him to search for the will of God through small and great events.  In the early years, when the Congregation needed to establish itself firmly in order to carry out its mission to “the lowly and the humble, the workers and the poor,” the will of God seemed to entail a significant amount of building and administrating.  The dedication, vision, and energy of Fr. Matthew Kusters sum up his life of oblation.     
“Only two years after his ordination to the priesthood, Fr. Matthew Kusters, SCJ, was entrusted with the project of founding a house in Holland.  He became responsible for one major building project after another, first at Bergen-op-Zoom, where he was Superior for five years, then at Louvain, Heer, and Lanaken where, from 1905 to 1926, he not only established these houses, but also was Superior at each one.
“In his capacity as General Consultor, he got permission from the Superior General, Fr. Philippe, to begin a foundation in England and arrived there in 1934.  He lost no time begging for funds to buy a house in the village of Redbourn.  He finally bought one, but was called to Rome to attend a General Chapter, since the Superior General had been appointed Bishop of Luxemburg.  Fr. Kusters was given official business to handle so that it was not he but Fr. Lennartz who became the first resident of the house at Redbourn.
“When Fr. Kusters returned to England in 1936, there was not enough work for the two men in Redbourn, so he began another parish in a nearby village.  He acquired a house some 20 miles from Redbourn where he wanted to begin a Novitiate to give the Congregation in England a firm foundation.  He also made plans for a Juniorate [the period between first and final profession of vows] but his work was put in jeopardy when the First World War broke out. 
“It was quite incredible the pace at which this elderly priest moved; within three years he had changed residence five times.  Fr. Kusters was not only regional superior but also parish priest, novice master, and teacher of various subjects.  His health began to deteriorate and he died at the age of 78.”
John Dalbec, SCJ, “Biographical Notes on Deceased Members of General Curias”


Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayers the members of the British-Irish Province as well as the SCJs who are involved in establishing the newest areas of ministry in Angola, Vietnam, Paraguay, and Chad.  You may find helpful the following prayer by Charles de Foucauld [1858-1916].
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures—
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

The backstory
Each week reflections and prayers based in the Dehonian charism are published on the Dehonian Spirituality page of the U.S. Province website of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. This is an email version of that update. 

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The Dehonian Spirituality updates are edited by David Schimmel, U.S. Province director of Dehonian Associates. Questions or comments for David? 
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