Sacred Heart School of Theology held a tribute celebration for the Very Rev. Jan de Jong, SCJ, president-rector, on the occasion of his upcoming retirement.
The celebration started with a Mass. The homilist was the Very Rev. Thomas Cassidy, SCJ, provincial superior of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. Fr. Cassidy likened Fr. de Jong's leadership to the stewardship of the good shepherd.
At the dinner that followed, many dignitaries praised Fr. de Jong's leadership during his four and one half year term.
Franklin, Wis. Mayor Thomas Taylor presented Fr. de Jong with a proclamation recognizing his many accomplishments. Fr. John Hemsing, rector of St. Francis de Sales Seminary, expressed his gratitude for Fr. de Jong’s kindness and guidance when the former began his position as a new rector. Fr. Cassidy presented Fr. de Jong with a proclamation from the Holy See praising Fr. de Jong's service to the Church. SHST Board Chairman Mary Meehan, Vice Rector Fr. Thomas Knoeble, Student Council President Louis Shea, and Knights of Columbus Grand Knight David Kunze also praised the outgoing leader and presented him with gifts.
In an interview for the SHST alumni newsletter, Alumni Connections, Fr. de Jong reflected on the seminary's progress, and his joys and challenges, during his term. See it here.
At 74, Fr. de Jong has plans to travel internationally in his retirement, but will reside near Sacred Heart in Franklin and remain close to the Sacred Heart School of Theology community. Approximately 250 well-wishers attended the celebratory Mass and dinner.
More information, photos and the text of Fr. Cassidy's homily are available online courtesy of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.