Monday, April 30, 2012

On Tuesday, April 24, I made “deacon promises.” This set of public professions is preparatory to the rite of ordination as a deacon. The three oaths or affirmations in which I will engage are: 1) an Oath of Freedom and Knowledge; 2) an Oath of Fidelity; and 3) a Profession of Faith.

Service is the essential feature of the role of a deacon, either permanent or transitional. This responsibility is, of course, not unique to deacons. All of the baptized are called to ministry of performing works of mercy and charity.

It seems to me that a servant heart is formed in many ways but, most especially, through the continuous process of interior change (conversion) to which God calls all of us. My own ongoing development of a servant heart has been an integral part of this journey as a seminarian. For the permanent deacon, that servant heart may be played out in roles as a father, husband, worker or neighbor. For myself, the quest for a servant heart will extend, God willing, through ordination and service as a priest: a father to others; a spouse of the Church; and a worker for Christ.

A deacon connects the gifts of the altar with the service of others, particularly the poor. My own servant heart-in-process is overflowing with great joy in anticipating the Rite of Ordination as a Deacon on Saturday, April 28 at St. Barnabas Church in Louisville.

My next and final blog entry will recap reflections resulting from the events of April 28. At that time, I will also officially “hand off” my duties as your friendly local seminarian blogger to another man (to be announced---drum roll, please!). Until then...


Steven Henriksen

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


This time of year, at least within a seminary, is marked by the reality of “good-bye’s.” Sixteen of my seminarian brothers will be graduating at the end of this semester. From U.S. dioceses as far west as Portland and as far south and north as Forth Worth and Milwaukee, respectively, the geography to be served by these graduates is truly an expansive one. Best wishes and God speed to all: may the Spirit continue to guide each in serving the People of God!

The President-Rector for Sacred Heart, Father Jan de Jong, SCJ will also be retiring on July 1. Father de Jong’s tenure as Rector extended over a four year period and was marked by many achievements. Hearty congratulations go to Father de Jong as he transitions to the next stage in his life’s journey.

We, too, are transitioning into a new season, that of Easter, a period which extends for 50 days. As the readings over this period indicate, it is a time for joyful celebration of the reality and meaning of Our Lord’s Resurrection! Some of the followers of Jesus are, in a sense, saying “good-bye” to Him as Ascension approaches (celebrated in the Church on May 17). These grace-filled moments were surely times of revelation (see Luke 24:13-35), commissioning (Mark 16:14-18) and nourishment, both spiritual and physical (John 21:1-14). It has been my experience that “how” one leaves, or says good-bye, is often remembered more than many of the events prior to the departure.

For my brother seminarians and the President-Rector, the time for good-byes is rapidly approaching. For the followers of Jesus, the seemingly final good-bye of the Cross turned, instead, to his post-resurrection appearances, His continuing presence in the life of the early Church and His love and involvement with our own lives today. Happy Easter Season!

Steven Henriksen

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pastel Shades of Red and Blue: The Easter Season and Looking Ahead

He is Risen! This message of joy concluded our observance of the events during the Triduum.

I spent the Triduum here in Wisconsin participating in services at St. Gregory the Great (Milwaukee) and at St. Mary’s (Hales Corners). Easter brunch plans were changed from the Polonez to Mader’s, a German restaurant in Milwaukee, which featured delicious and bountiful food as well as great fellowship. Tuesday, April 11 marked a return to classes following conclusion of the seminary’s Easter break, with a “full-court press” now underway to conclude the semester.

And, speaking of full-court presses, congratulations to Big Blue Nation! The tourney was followed closely by my fellow Commonwealth brethren (at this and other seminaries) and myself who, despite any Red/Blue divides, joined together on April 2 in cheering for a Cats victory. If only our country’s political Blue/Red divisions could be settled in such an amicable manner?!

Red and Blue affiliations will also come together when Nick Brown, Chris Lubecke, and myself are ordained as transitional deacons for the Archdiocese of Louisville on April 28 at St. Barnabas parish. Nick, Chris and I were selected as seminarians for the Archdiocese of Louisville in 2007, so, it is appropriate that the three of us approach the opportunity to serve as deacons at the same time. The three individuals scheduled to receive Holy Orders in May (Stuart Priddy and David Carr in 2007 and Christopher Rhodes in 2006) also began their Archdiocese-sponsored studies during the same time period.

Perhaps this recounting is a way of reminding myself---and, indeed, all of us---that vocational calls bear fruit when they are supported and nurtured. Father Bill Bowling, now with St. Augustine in Lebanon, was the Vocation Director for the Archdiocese when Nick, Chris, Stuart, David and I joined the program. Thank you, Father Bill, for seeing the promise in each of us and for your support through the challenges of seminary formation. And, of course, many thanks to Father Jeff Shooner, the Vocation Director since 2010 for your equally vital and affirming assistance!

With the reality of spring, and the approach of the Derby, comes the realization that “all things are possible.” Take some time today to enjoy the wonder of the outdoors---I will be doing the same in what (should be) the first in a series of snow-less months here in Wisconsin!


Steven Henriksen

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Holy Week: A New Rector---A Joyful Liturgy---and a Polish Brunch

Last Wednesday, March 25, an announcement was made concerning the selection of a new President-Rector for Sacred Heart School of Theology: Monsignor Ross Schecterle. Monsignor Schecterle will become the seminary’s 19th rector on July 1 succeeding Father Jan de Jong who has served in that position since 2008. Monsignor Schecterle, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, most recently served as rector of the American College of the Immaculate Conception in Louvain, Belgium.

The appointment concludes an extensive search process which followed the decision of the United States Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ’s) to open the process to non-SCJ candidates. Best wishes to Monsignor Schecterle as he begins the transition process leading to his installation as the new Rector in the fall of this year.

While the President-Rector selection sweepstakes was closely watched by the seminary community, a far more important event took place a few days after the announcement: Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos). I joined with four of my seminarian brothers in participating in Palm Sunday services at St. Francis of Assisi parish in downtown Milwaukee. As mentioned in a previous post, the St. Francis of Assisi community has a special place in my heart especially for their joyful and passionate liturgical celebrations. And, Sunday, March 28 was no exception!

The children of the parish reenacted the last week of Jesus’ life in a presentation which featured bright colors, authentic costumes and enthusiastic voices. The Gospel was read by Francisco Diaz whose emotional and heartfelt identification with Jesus’ Passion and Death was so evident in his proclamation of the Word. The choir, comprised of Latino (a), African-American and European-American vocalists, rang out as did the harmonies of those of us gathered in the similarly multicultural assembly. If the truth be told (and it is in this post), more than a few eyes were wet with tears and even more big grins were in evidence throughout the service.

With Palm Sunday kicking off a busy week of Holy Week activities, the pace here at the seminary slows to a more contemplative pace. I will be spending Holy Week in the Milwaukee area with plans to attend Triduum events at St. Gregory the Great parish, the site of my pastoral formation placement last year.

Gathering with some of my brother seminarians for an Easter brunch at one of the city’s best Polish restaurants is also on the calendar. Folks: if you ever want to sample traditional Polish cuisine, may I suggest Polonez restaurant, one of the area’s best for pierogi, sausage and stuffed pork. As with all previous promotions, I don’t receive a commission here; so, order a platter or two and enjoy!

A blessed Easter to all! He is risen!