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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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January 15, 2016
 
 
 
Fr. Leo John Dehon: founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 
 
Among the many issues that confronted Fr. Dehon in his first pastoral assignment in the factory town of St. Quentin was the lack of decent and affordable housing.  Visiting with parishioners where they lived, he learned, “Most of these people have terrible housing.  One finds there some ragged clothes, one bed for the entire family, two or three broken chairs, and a wobbly table.”  The insecurity of living on a fluctuating daily wage forced a third of the 30,000 inhabitants of the city to rely on charity during the winter months.      
 
Dehon compared this deplorable situation to the “stables of Augeas,” a reference to the legendary Greek king who did not clean his stables for thirty years.  Such an overwhelming need, he wrote, required the concerted efforts of the State, the clergy, and an informed public.  Nonetheless, Dehon allocated his own resources to provide safe shelter for a particularly vulnerable group.       
 
Once he established the St. Joseph Youth Club, Fr. Dehon made available several small sleeping rooms and provided meals for those young workers who lived far from home or who were orphans.  This was the beginning of the “Family House.”  After acquiring an additional building, fifteen beds were available.  Over three years, the numbers kept growing.
 
Fr. Dehon recalled, “Our Family House was in full swing.  It included boarders and orphans.  Sr. Marie-Véronique took care of it.  The dormitory remained on Bouloirs Street.  The refectory and the kitchen were on St. Martin Street at the other end of our premises.  On April 1, 1878, we had 27 children and young people.  I have kept the list with the figure of the small fee paid by those who worked.”  Six residents paid nothing at all and the rest paid on a sliding scale.
 
Years later he wrote, “It was a necessary work in St. Quentin, and it should be taken up there again.”
 
 
 
  
 
 

Lived and Shared: contemporary expressions of Dehonian spirituality

During its December 15-16, 2015 meeting the Provincial Council of the US Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart approved the following statement regarding the growing refugee crisis and sent it to national elected leaders and the media.
 
Dear Editor:

The world is facing a refugee crisis worse than any since World War II.  We were glad to see President Obama move to accept additional refugees from Syria.  However, the Paris attacks have led to calls not to accept any, or to “pause” such efforts, or to accept only Christians.  These calls are based in fear, which is exactly the reaction the terrorists want and unworthy of us as a free people.  Christians need to remember that “love has no room for fear” [I John 4:18].
 
We urge humane action by the United States on behalf of the millions of refugees worldwide who are fleeing their homelands for survival.  These people are fleeing the same terror we are struggling against; we cannot turn our backs on them.  These are human beings in danger of being tortured or killed.  We understand the need to safeguard our national security and protect our people, but the vetting processes already in place are more than sufficient as long as we dedicate the needed resources to carrying them out on this scale.
 
Let us re-commit ourselves to our cherished principles of compassion and courage.  Otherwise terrorism will have succeeded not only in killing and displacing thousands, but also in causing us to abandon the ideals that have made us a great country.  Welcoming these refugees will show the terrorists that they cannot win, and will do far more than bombs ever can do to win the hearts and minds of people in the Middle East and around the world.
 
Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, Fr. Quang Nguyen, SCJ, Fr. Christianus Hendrik, SCJ,
Br. Frank Presto, SCJ, Fr. Duy Nguyen, SCJ, and Fr. Jack Kurps, SCJ
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reflection Questions: seeds for personal understanding and growth

In this Holy Year of Mercy, how can you practice the corporal work of mercy of sheltering the homeless?  Regarding the suffering of refugees, here are a few suggestions:  
  • Collaborate with local groups to respond to what refugees are experiencing.
  • Purposefully study Catholic social teaching.
  • Try to counteract racism and fear.
  • Take in or sponsor a refugee family.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Prayer: hands lifted in prayer; hands prepared to serve

January 16, 2016 is World Day of Refugees and Migrants.  In your kindness throughout the coming week, please remember in your prayer the refugees from Syria and those who give them shelter.  You may find helpful the following Act of Oblation adapted from the Prayer Book of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.
 
Good Shepherd,
protector and guide,
our lives overflow with your love.
 
Your word and your flesh
fill us with strength in difficult times
and nourish our lives as we celebrate your presence.
 
Walk with us, gracious Savior.
Give us the courage to join you in offering our lives
for those who believe themselves outside your embrace,
and those ignored or demeaned by society.
May they know the goodness and kindness of your Heart.
 
As we look forward to the dawning reign of God,
we choose to work for a world of justice and reconciliation
so that all humanity may come to dwell in your house.
 
Amen.
.
 

 
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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