This week we can sing again the “Te Deum” in Europe. On January 10, 2017, three provinces celebrated their 70th anniversaries of “canonical birth:” the British-Irish, Polish and Spanish.
The presence of the SCJs in Great Britain and Ireland began in 1937 with two parishes. The first missionary fathers in England were Fr. Lennartz and Fr. Kusters. A minor seminary was opened, and in 1948, after World War II, the novitiate. Today the Province suffers from a lack of vocations but is helped by members of other provinces. We are grateful to the British-Irish Province for its collaboration with the whole Congregation; the London Project may be a way to continue the Dehonian presence there.
In 1908 Fr. Dehon sent a scholastic (Meijerink) to Krakow to learn Polish in preparation for a future mission in Finland. A year later, when he went to Tervuren, Belgium, he brought four Polish candidates, followed by many others. Among them was the future founder of the Polish Province.
The first Polish SCJ, Fr. Kazimierz Wiechec, who arrived in Krakow in 1928. There, he started the first house of the province. Already that year there were 14 Polish men in the formation program. Today, the Polish Province is the largest in the congregation, with another 100 members working in entities around the world.
With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German SCJs had to leave the mission in Cameroon. Some went to Spain. On December 27, 1919, Fr. Zicke founded the first house in Puente la Reina, Spain. In 1947 the new Spanish Province had 18 priests, 10 brothers, 29 scholastics and 15 novices. Today the province sends many members to the missions, especially in Latin America, but within the province there is currently a lack of vocations.
The congregation’s history encourages us to continue our presence in these countries to give witness to the love of the Heart of Jesus for all.