November 16, 2018
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart
The college of Hazebrouck was a house blest by God. The director, Fr. Dehaene, had the title of principal. His life deserves to be written. He evangelized Flanders, preaching with great eloquence in Flemish and in French. In the college he gave the daily spiritual reading, catechism on Sundays, preached and heard confessions. He taught philosophy, presided at all the meetings, and directed the whole place. He could be both reserved and extremely good. He was my confessor for four years. He took a liking to me which I did not deserve.
I still have a few letters he wrote to me. They give a thorough description of him—his goodness, zeal, love for Rome, his projects for an association of priests, his joy in trials, and his attachment to the work of Christian education. Fr. Dehaene died July 15, 1882, at the age of 73. Long and cruel sufferings had forced him to retire; his soul had been perfected in sorrow. I take pleasure in describing this father of my soul. It seems to me that something of his own soul passed into mine.
Fr. Boute was the instrument of Providence for the most important graces of my life. It was through him that I went to the college of Hazebrouck. Fr. Dehaene was a father to me; Fr. Boute was my teacher, a real good teacher in every Christian meaning of the word. I owe him my first literary formation and the training of my reason. For four years he was my guide, my councilor, and my protector. For two years he was my professor and what a professor! How grateful I am to him! What a good humanist he was! He was serious, precise, methodical, and truly erudite.
Our Lord prepared him for his death by three years of sufferings. He had no illusions about his condition. His last letter is dated September 1871. He died a few months later, worn out by sufferings. I went to his funeral and was deeply moved. His life was admirably summarized in these words: “The learned will shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as the stars for all eternity” [Daniel 12:3]. “Happy the man who stands firm when trials come. He has proved himself and will win the prize of life” [James 1:12]. “Sufferings and illness borne with patience win the crown which God prepares in heaven” [St. Alphonsus].
Fr. Boute was the instrument of divine Providence for my Christian education and for my vocation. With Fr. Dehaene he had a decisive influence upon my adolescent years. His is now with God.
Notes on the History of My Life, “Hazebrouck” [1855-1859]
Lived and Shared: Contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality
Whenever the memory of Fr. Kevin McInnis, SCJ (picture above, right), comes to mind, I think about a quiet, gentle spirit. It was a privilege to live in community with Kevin for a couple of years at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in St. Louis.
Fr. Kevin was not a staff member of the parish; rather, he made his home with those of us on staff while his full-time ministry was as a chaplain at a local hospital. Still, with his pastoral experience in parishes both in the U.S. and in foreign missions, he always was sensitive to the kind of work the other SCJs were about and saw that his “other job” was to be supportive to the community that he lived with. It was that quality about Kevin that led the rest of us to bestow on him the nickname of “Special K.”
Fr. Kevin’s faithfulness to our community life was always an inspiration to me and the other SCJs. As much as his position at the hospital would allow, he was a strong presence in our house. Since I was still so new to parish ministry, often Kevin’s perspective had the best advice for some pastoral situation I was facing. It is that presence and perspective that makes me sure that Fr. Dehon would have welcomed and appreciated the gift of his life to the community.
Bob Naglich, SCJ (pictured below Fr. Kevin)
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 for the deceased adapted from the Roman Missal.
Wise and loving God,
strengthening us by the mystery of your Son’s Cross
and promising us a share in the mystery of his Resurrection,
mercifully grant that your departed servants
may be gathered into the company of your chosen ones.
We make this prayer
through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
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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