St. Augustine – Patron Saint of Cagayan de Oro

St AugustineSt. Augustine was born at Tagaste November 13, 354 at Tagaste, Numidia, North Africa (Souk-Ahras, Algeria) as Aurelisu Augustinus.  His father was a pagan who converted on his death bed; his mother was Saint Monica, a devout Christian.  He received a Christian upbringing and in 370 went to the University at Carthage to study rhetoric with a view to becoming a lawyer.  He gave up law to devote himself to literary pursuits and gradually abandoned his Christian faith, taking a mistress with whom he lived fifteen years and who bore him a son, Adeodatus, in 372.  After investigating and experimenting with several philosophies, he became a Manichaean for several years; it taught of a great struggle between good and evil, and featured a lax moral code.  A summation of his thinking at the time comes from his Confessions: “God, give me chastity and continence – but not just now.”  In 384, he accepted the chair of rhetoric at Milan, and of his tutor, Simplicianus, he returned to his Christian faith and was baptized on Easter Eve 387.  On the death of his mother he returned to Africa, sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and founded a sort of monastery at Tagaste.  He was ordained in 390 and moved to Hippo where he established a community with several of his friends who had followed him.  Five years later he was consecrated Bishop and made coadjutor to Valerius, Bishop of Hippo, whom he succeeded in the following year. Augustine became the dominant figure in African Church affairs and was the leader in the bitter fights against Manichaeism, Donatism, Pelagianism and other heresies.  Augustine’s towering intellect molded the thought of Western Christianity to such an extent that his years after his death.  He wrote profusely, expositing and defending the faith, and to this day many of his two hundred treatises, some three hundred sermons are of major import in theology and philosophy.  Among his best best-known works are his Confessions; City of God, a magnificent exposition of a Christian philosophy of history; De Trinitate; De Doctrina Christiana; Enchiridion; and his treatises against the Manichaeans and the Pelagians.  His later thinking can be summed up in a line from his writings: “Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.”  Called Doctor of Grace, he is one of the greatest of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and with the possible exception of Thomas Aquinas, the greatest single intellect the Catholic Church has ever produced.

Father José Ornelas Carvalho SCJ appointed Bishop of Setubal


jose_ornelas_carvalhoToday, August 24, 2015, the Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed our confrere Father José Ornelas Carvalho SCJ, a member of the Portuguese Province, Bishop of Setubal Portugal, a city 40 km south of Lisbon.

The Diocese of Setúbal (Latin: Dioecesis Setubalensis) is a suffragan seat of the Catholic Church of the Patriarchate of Lisbon, and includes 9 of the 13 municipalities in the district of Setubal: Setubal, Alcochete, Almada, Barreiro, Moita, Montijo, Palmela, Seixal, and Sesimbra. It also includes some villages in the municipalities of Alcacer do Sal and Grândola. The cathedral of Santa Maria delle Grazie is located in the city of Setubal.

The 57 parishes are organized into 7 vicariates, with 86 diocesan and religious priests, 12 permanent deacons and one transitional deacon. The institutes of consecrated life that serve in the diocese include 7 men’s and 16 women’s communities. Currently the population is around 720,000 inhabitants in an area of approximately 1500 square kilometers. According to the latest census held in 2001, 508,053 people (70.%) say they are Catholic, while 25% did not respond or said they did not profess any religion. More than a quarter of the population (28.%) are under 25 years old. 57% are between 25 and 64 and 19% are over 65.

Father José Ornelas Carvalho was born on January 5, 1954 in Porto da Cruz, Madeira. He made his first profession September 29, 1972 in Aveiro and perpetual profession September 23, 1977 in Porto. He was ordained a priest in Porto da Cruz on August 9, 1981.

From 1979 to 1983 he studied for a Licentiate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. From 1993 to 1996 he prepared for his Doctorate at the Jesuit University in Frankfurt Germany and in 1997 he received a Doctorate in Biblical Studies from the Catholic University of Lisbon. For many years he was professor of Sacred Scripture in Lisbon.

After serving the Portugese SCJ province as Provincial Secretary and Provincial Councilor from July 1 2000 to May 26, 2003, he was appointed Provincial Superior of the Portuguese Province. In the XXI General Chapter he was elected Superior General of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ) and re-elected in the next General Chapter: he led the congregation from May 27, 2003 until June 6, 2015.

We are very grateful to Father José Ornelas Carvalho for the attentive service to the brothers of our congregation and for his inspiration, energy and foresight. In particular we feel the need to emphasize his great attention to implementing important yet difficult issues such as internationality and creating closer cooperation between the various entities. In his service he has never ceased to invite community members to follow the missionary impulse.

This attention stems from a missionary spirit cultivated during his training and biblical formation that moves one to proclaim the Gospel everywhere. Also he insisted that the Congregation reach out to new horizons. Despite the drastic decline in numbers in the European and North American provinces, the congregation remained numerically stable thanks to growth in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Fr. Carvalho made an important commitment to a more “real” and “critical” knowledge of SCJ foundational sources. Accessibility to these sources is possible today thanks to the work implemented in recent years by the Dehonian Center for Studies in Rome, and their site

For his new service in the vineyard of the Lord we wish him all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. May the God of surprises bless him abundantly, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus keep his sensitivity to the poor and to all those who suffer and who are on the margins of our societies, especially in his new diocese of Setubal. May the Mother of Jesus always give her comfort and Father Leo Dehon preserve him in his vision and his openness to new horizons.

The episcopal ordination of Father Jose Ornelas will take place Sunday, October 25, 2015 in Setúbal.

P. Heiner Wilmer SCJ

Superior General

Retreat in Malaybalay

From August 17 to 21, 2015, twenty two SCJs took part in their annual retreat. This year the retreat was held at the Transfiguration Monastery of Benedictine Monks in Barangay San Jose, Malaybalay City, Province of Bukindnon. The retreat was guided by Dom. Pachomius San Juan, OSB, aka Dom Paco . The SCJs enjoyed the silence of the place, its coolness and participation in the prayers with the monks that started as early as 3:40 am.

Bagong Silang – Feast of the Patron

On August 16, 2015, the Parish Community of Bagong Silang, Diocese of Novaliches, celebrated its Patronal Feast of St. Roque. As usual, the celebration was preceded with nine day novena masses to prepare the parishioners to participate fully in the fiesta activities. The theme chosen for this year was “Patuloy na paglalakbay tungo sa banal at lumalagong sambayanan kasama si Maria at San Roque” (Continuous journey towards holiness and growing community with Mary and San Roque).

St. Roque Parish was erected on June 19, 2011 and is being pastored by three SCJ priests; Fr. John Karl “Fr. Nonong” Cabaluna as the parish priest, assisted by Fr. Christopher “Fr. Cris” Alburo and Fr. Elpidio “Pjoe” Luza Jr.


Celebration of Death Anniversary of Fr. Leo Dehon in Cagayan de Oro

91006AOn August 12, 2015, the formation community of Cagayan de Oro, together with the SCJs from nearby communities, members of the Dehonian Family and friends of the Congregation, celebrated the 90th Death Anniversary of Fr. Leo Dehon, the founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. In his homily, Fr. Francis Pupkowski, scj, recalled the last moments of life of Fr. Dehon, summarized his activities and reflected on the challenges lying ahead of his spiritual sons and daughters. As usual the celebration was concluded with a common meal.

New General Treasurer

Fr. Luca ZottoliFr. Luca Zottoli, a member of the North Italian Province, has been named as the new general treasurer for the Priests of the Sacred Heart. He is 42, and professed his first vows in 1992. Fr. Luca is currently the superior of the student community in Bologna.

In 1997 -1998, Fr. Luca made his one year of exposure in the Philippines, particularly in the island of Mindanao and speaks the local language Cebuano quite well.

Words of gratitude from Kananga

KanangaOne of the deadliest typhoons that passed through the Visayas Region on November 8, 2013, was typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), that left thousands of dead, destroyed completely many properties and houses leaving tens of thousands with nothing. The most affected places were Tacloban City and Bantayan Island.

Thanks to the former General Superior, Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, scj,who sent a letter to the Congregation asking for help, many entities answered positively and because of this the SCJs were able to help many people in Tacloban area (Leyte Province) and Bantayan Island (Cebu Province), to build or rebuild their houses. In Leyte Province, the SCJs have provided new houses and materials to help rebuilding people’s houses for a total of 167 families (66 in Kananga and 101 in Tanauan and Tacloban). In Bantayan and Botong Islands 29 plus 47 houses respectively.

Recently, the office of the regional superior received a poster from the Holy Family Parish in Kananga in Leyte with the words of gratitude, which the SCJs from the Philippine Region want to share with all who have helped the victims of typhoon Yolanda.

Closing Mass

Today, on June 6, 2015, the XXIII General Chapter officially closed and the new superior general, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, was installed. The witnesses to Fr. Heiner’s oath were the out-going superior general, Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, and Fr. Antonio Panteghini, who served as superior general from 1979 – 1991.

Last day of the Chapter

On June 5 the chapter members began the day with Eucharist, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. John van den Hengel.


Then it was time for the group photo before walking to the corner to catch a bus to the Vatican to have an audience with the Holy Father, Pope Francis.

The Holy Father set aside the talk he had prepared earlier, saying that the speeches are boring. At first, he recalled the story of his long time friend, Fr. Virginio Bressanelli, one of the General Superiors and now bishop in Argentina. Also, the Pope Francis expressed his hope that the beatification process of Fr. Leo Dehon will end soon. He was very happy with the theme of the XXIII General Chapter “Merciful, in community, with the poor” and  asked all the members of the congregation to be carriers and servants of mercy, also in the confessionals. In the end, the Holy Father reminded all about the importance of the Eucharist, adoration and prayer asking to pray for him also.

Prepared address of Pope Francis to the Dehonians

At lunch the chapter continued to celebrate Fr. John’s anniversary before heading back to the meeting hall to review and approve the synthesis document.

After the approval of the final document of the Chapter, the outgoing General Superior, Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, thanked all for the opportunity to serve the congregation for the past 12 years. The assembly awarded Fr. Ornelas with a long applause. Prior to this, one of the former general superiors, Fr. Antonio Panteghini, now a missionary in Cameroon, expressed his joy of seeing the Congregation growing, especially in Africa and Asia.

At the very end, the general superior elect, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, expressed his thanks to all, who contributed to the success of the XXIII General Chapter.