After several years in the United States, first as an ECS student at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, and then as a graduate student at Marquette University, Fr. Albertus Joni, SCJ, began his journey home to Indonesia yesterday. Before leaving, he shared this message with Dehonians in the US Province (professed SCJs and others associated with the community):
“As many of you are aware, I will return to Indonesia this week. As I write this letter to all of you, many memories come into my mind. I can clearly see how the Merciful Heart of Jesus has been blessing me abundantly through all of you, my Dehonian brothers and sisters of the US Province. I came here three years ago from Indonesia, a faraway Southeast Asian country. My Indonesian Provincial Superior asked me to get a degree in the United States. Fr. Ed Killianski, SCJ, and his council approved sponsorship of my studies here, and I am very thankful for that.
“It took me three different flights and 29 hours to reach Milwaukee. That was my longest flight ever. I spoke only a little English with a heavy accent when I arrived. The ECS (previously, ESL) Program prepared me well for my graduate studies. I am so grateful to have had my wonderful English teachers, as well as Fr. Yvon Sheehy, SCJ, and Bro. Duane Lemke, SCJ, as my tutors, directors and friends. As my brothers, they have helped me to better understand American culture and the way in which you live our religious vocation here. I truly learned a lot of things in this community.
“Time flies. After so much help and support from the Sacred Heart Monastery community members, I graduated with my MA in Philosophy at Marquette University in January, 2020. I then applied for the Ph.D. program at the same school, and in the fall, 2020 semester, started as a doctoral student. However, the more deeply that I go into this program, the more that I realize that it is heavily designed to prepare a person to be a philosophy professor. I feel that this program does not fit my vision right now. Therefore, after consulting with my superiors and my advisors, I asked to return to Indonesia and experience parish and campus ministries in Palembang. I will take this opportunity not only as a break from my studies but also as a chance to share my knowledge among real people and their concrete struggles.
“During these last three years, I experienced your warm hospitality and communal love. The spirit of Sint Unum flows from the same Dehonian charism we live out. I am so proud of this province, and I am so grateful for all of you who have been supporting me. I’d like also to thank all the benefactors who have been very supportive to our foreign missions. Their contribution to the US Province enables foreign priests like me to study here and to build the Church in so many corners of the world. When Pope Francis wrote about ‘neighbors without border’ in his Fratelli Tutti, I can easily connect his reflection with my own reality here as an adopted member of the US Province. Your caring love and generosity have transformed me to be more confident in sharing my knowledge, to be more open to cultural differences, and to be more attentive to the social injustice around us.
If you didn’t see it, be sure to watch Fr. Joni’s vocation story on YouTube. Click here to access it.
Let the Priests of the Sacred Heart pray for your loved ones and intentions.