November 2, 2018
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
With Sr. Thérѐse of the Child Jesus, I want to ascend to God through confidence and love. Even if all the offenses that could ever be committed were on my conscience, it would not diminish my confidence; I would go, with a heart overwhelmed with contrition, and throw myself into the arms of my Savior.
I know that he cherished the prodigal son, I heard the words he spoke to St. Mary Magdalene, to the adulterous woman, and to the Samaritan at the well. No, no one could scare me away, for I know firsthand exactly what his mercy and his love are like. I know that these innumerable offenses would vanish in the blink of an eye, like a drop of water tossed into a blazing furnace.
I want to die in these dispositions of confidence and love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Daily Notes, July 10 and 11, 1916
Lived and Shared: Contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality
Fr. Michael van der Peet, SCJ (pictured right), was born John Peter van der Peet at Alkmaar, Netherlands, 1925, of devout Catholic parents. His mother taught him to love the Faith and to develop his musical talents. From an early age he knew he wanted to be a priest and religious, perhaps like three of his cousins in his father's family, who were members of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. So, at age 13, he asked at to attend their minor seminary at Bergen op Zoom. In 1940, the Nazis closed this seminary and forced all young men to work in their factories. He did his best to avoid capture, often dressing as a woman when riding his bike on errands.
In 1944, Michael continued his studies, made his first religious vows in 1946, and was ordained in 1953. He wanted to be a missionary in Chile, but his Provincial Superior suggested that the United States Province needed seminary instructors. He came to the US in 1955, first to study English at St. Joseph's Indian School in South Dakota. In the Fall, he was assigned to teach Latin, French and Music at Divine Heart Seminary at Donaldson, Indiana. He did so for the next 15 years.
After making a Cursillo retreat in 1970, he was drawn to give retreats. He was a popular retreat master, especially for religious Sisters during the time of upheaval and aggiornamento following the Second Vatican Council. When visiting in Rome in 1975, he saw Mother Teresa of Calcutta on a street corner with another Sister. He debated, but went up to Mother to ask for her prayers for him and his ministry. Mother in turn asked Michael for his prayers, and invited him to give an hour conference on prayer for her Sisters two days later. This began a lifetime friendship. Mother wrote 22 handwritten letters to Fr. Michael in which she discussed some of her inner darkness and doubts. Mother Teresa felt Fr. Michael understood the charism and spirit of the Missionaries of Charity. Fr. Michael served on the committee preparing for her beatification in 2011.
After his retreat ministry, Fr. Michael retired, but a year later volunteered to serve as assistant Novice Master. Then he offered his services as a spiritual director for the seminarians at Sacred Heart School of Theology. Once again, he planned to retire at age 85, but suffered a severe stroke and died April 21, 2010.
Fr. Michael was a man of deep feelings who gave himself to each person he ministered with. With deep faith, he followed the directions of his superiors and strove to live a life of love and reparation in the spirit of Fr. Dehon. His faith, together with his love of music, carried him through each of the dark and confusing times in his life. He was a man who lived a life of oblation, always making a return of love to the Sacred Heart for all the graces and blessings Jesus gave him. Nor did he forget the intercession of the Blessed Mother, keeping the Rosary in his daily prayers. I thank the Sacred Heart for his lived example of being a Dehonian and a powerful example of prayer and self-sacrifice.
Tom Westhoven, SCJ (pictured above, left)
Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve
In your kindness throughout the month of November, please lift up in your prayer the deceased members of the Priests of the Sacred Heart and your deceased loved ones. You may find helpful the following prayer.
as you completed your oblation to the Father
on the wood of the cross,
you confidently prayed,
“Into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Our deceased brothers and sisters,
who have gone before us in faith,
have also completed their life of oblation.
We entrust them to your mercy,
and with steadfast hope
we pray they are with you in paradise.
We pledge to stay united to them through prayer,
trusting that our community,
drawn together and held together by your love,
will find its full realization in eternity.
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.
Anyone is welcome to receive the Dehonian Spirituality email. Click here to add a subscriber.
The Dehonian Spirituality updates are edited by David Schimmel, U.S. Province director of Dehonian Associates. Questions or comments for David? Click here.
Click here to learn more about the Priests of the Sacred Heart on the US Province website. Click here to visit us on Facebook.