By Laura Grisham
SOUTHAVEN – The day after welcoming three new SCJs to the fold, the U.S. Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart celebrated the anniversaries of the first profession of vows for 14 of their own: Father Bernie Rosinski (70 years); Father Thomas Cassidy, Father Mark Fortner, Father Patrick Lloyd and Father Steve Pujdak (60 years); Father James Brackin, Father Jack Kurps, Deacon David Nagel and Father James Schifano (50 years); Father Stephen Huffstetter (40 years); and Brother Duane Lemke, Father Vien Nguyen, Father David Szatkowski and Father Chuck Wonch (25 years). Together, they have served in religious life for a remarkable 650 years.
The celebration was held at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Franklin, Wisconsin.
Deacon David Nagel, SCJ, a 50-year jubilian, was the homilist for the Jubilee Mass. He recalled the responses of the prophet Samuel and Mary, Mother of Jesus, who both said ‘yes’ to God’s call. “Each of us celebrating our anniversary can remember God’s call to share in the work of his church,” said Deacon David. “…When I look at this group of jubilarians, I can see a large variety of gifts, he continued. “That is what we celebrate today with the anniversaries of each of these religious. Each of us called to give ourselves in service to the Lord and the church. And each of us in different forms of service, but each one completing the whole church of Christ.”
Sacred Heart Southern Missions congratulates their own Father Jack Kurps on his 50th jubilee! Originally from Chicago, Father Jack professed vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart in 1972 and was ordained in 1977.
He recently recalled how he had first been attracted to the Priests of the Sacred Heart some 62 years ago on a visit to Divine Heart Seminary in northwest Indiana, where his brother was attending. “I was nine years old when I first met priests like Paul Casper and Dominic Wessel. Although I was just a kid, they and other SCJ priests and brothers always seemed to welcome and have a kind word for us. I looked forward to our monthly visits and when, in eighth grade, I decided that I wanted to go to the seminary…”
Father Jack’s first assignment was in 1980 at Queen of Peace parish in Olive Branch, Mississippi. In addition to his parish ministry and decades of service as executive director at Sacred Heart Southern Missions, he has served as vocations director for the Priests of the Sacred Heart and on a number of committees and commissions, including as a delegate to the 1997 General Chapter. Kurps has also served several terms on the Provincial Council, and is currently vice provincial of the United States Province.
Speaking of his various ministries, Father Jack said, “I obviously have enjoyed being part of our ministry in Mississippi. And I enjoy my work on the Council and the prep work for provincial assemblies and other gatherings. I would consider my time as province director of vocations to be the most challenging, but also most rewarding of the ministries I have been asked to perform. As I am sure that anyone who has done formation work would agree, there is something very sacred about accompanying someone who is truly discerning what God is asking of him.
“In the last 15 years or so, I have had a growing awareness of not only being part of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, but also being part of the wider Dehonian Family – priests, brothers, sisters and lay men and women following the Dehonian charism.”
As acting chairperson of the Dehonian Associates Committee, Kurps has led several groups on the path towards becoming associates of the order. “It has been a privilege to accompany an increasingly larger number of the laity in Mississippi who have become Dehonian Associates.”
“I try hard to be a faithful son of Father Dehon. When I look to see where we minister, not just here in the U.S., but also in some of the most difficult places in the world, and what God has accomplished through us, I am proud and happy to be part of this,” said Father Jack.
Sacred Heart Southern Missions also congratulates Father David Szatkowski, local superior of the SCJs in Mississippi. He celebrates his 25th profession of vows this year.
Born in Pueblo, Colorado, and baptized in Alexandria, Virginia, as a child of a military family, Father David, 48, has lived in many parts of the world, “but I consider Lawton, Oklahoma, to be my hometown,” he said. After taking part in a summer program hosted by the province vocation office, Szatkowski applied to be an SCJ candidate in 1992.
“I liked that the SCJs ministered as a team,” Father David said. “I also liked the variety of ministries and the creative ways that ministry is done.”
He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1995, a Masters of Divinity from Catholic Theological Union in 2002, and was ordained to the priesthood shortly thereafter.
“I spent three years at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Houston before returning to school,” said Father David. This time, school was the Angelicum in Rome, where he earned a JCL and a JCD (canon law degrees). After graduation, Szatkowski served in provincial administration, in formation, and on the pastoral team here in northern Mississippi.
Reflecting on his years as a Priest of the Sacred Heart, Father David said that he has “come to see the wisdom of the call to ‘get out of the sacristy,” words to fellow priests from Father Dehon inspiring them to go to the people. “I think that by seeing ourselves as active repairers of the world we are free to find how we can invite people to the Heart of Christ.