The 51st International Eucharistic Congress officially opens

IECSeventy nine years after the Philippines first hosted the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Manila, the 2016 IEC kicked off in Cebu on January 24, 2016, with thousands of Catholic devotees worldwide in attendance.

The IEC opened with a High Mass at the Plaza Independencia at 4 pm. The mass was celebrated by the legate from Pope Francis, His Eminence Charles Maung Cardinal Bo.

The eight-day religious congress is expected to draw 12, 000 participants from 55 countries across the globe.

The Philippines first hosted the IEC in Manila in 1937, the first time it was held in Asia.

Dubbed as “Olympics of the Soul,” this year’s theme is “Christ In You, Our Hope of Glory.”


Here is the full video of Charles Maung Cardinal Bo’s homily.


Day 2 – January 25, 2016


Day 3 – January 26, 2016


Day 4 – January 27, 2016


Day 5 – January 28, 2016


Day 6 – January 29, 2016


Day 7 – January 30, 2016


Day 8 – January 31, 2016


Closing Homily – January 31, 2016


Message of Pope Francis


51st International Eucharistic Congress – Theological Symposium

IECMore than 1,500 participants attend the 3-day International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) Theological Symposium at the Cebu Doctors’ University (CDU) which started on January 20 and will end on January 22, 2016.

The Theological Symposium is serving as an underpinning for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress that will be held from January 24 – January 31, 2016, in Cebu. The theme of the IEC 2016 is “Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory.” (Col. 1:27). The 33rd IEC on 1937 was held in Manila, the first for the country and has returned only in the Philippine shores after 79 years.

Among the topics to be taken up are the Christian virtue of hope, an exegetical discussion of a passage from the gospel of St. John, liturgy and inculturation, the history of the “Novus Ordo”, the evangelization of the secular world, and a catechesis on the Sunday Eucharist.

The topics have been chosen for their relevance to the theme of the IEC which is three-fold: the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life, the liturgical celebration and the social dimension of the Eucharist.

It is hoped that the symposium would give clear ideas to those who are not yet familiar with the theological understanding of the sacrament, or otherwise would offer a review if not deepen the knowledge of those who already have studied and are availing of it.

The symposium would also give a glimpse of the current issues, problems and challenges regarding this sacrament in the different places and cultures of the world.

Workshops will also be held to come up with pastoral plans, strategies and programs.

Day 1 – January 20, 2016

Day 2 – January 21, 2016


Day 3 – January 22, 2016



Here is the homily for the Concluding Mass for Day 3 of the ‪#‎IEC2016‬ Theological Symposium by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, DD.

Cebu Sinulog

Sinulog Festival and Santo Niño Devotion in the Philippines


“Viva Pit Señor!” That’s what the people of Cebu City, Philippines, chant throughout the Sinulog Festival, held every third Sunday of January. It is the month when one of the grandest and most colorful festivals of the Philippines is celebrated. The Sinulog Festival is celebrated in honor of the Santo Niño, the Child Jesus, the Patron of Cebu and the Philippines and reminisces the time when Filipinos embraced Christianity in the 16th century. The word ‘Sinulog’ is from the Cebuano language adverb ‘sulog’. It means “the rippling of water or water current movement.” Its adaptation describes the forward-backward step movement of the Sinulog dance, performed by many during the Festival.

The actual historic event, which the Sinulog Festival commemorates, occurred on 7 April 1521, when Fernando de Magallanes, a Portuguese navigator, landed on Cebu Island in the central Philippines and claimed the area in the name of the King of Spain. Until this date the Philippines practiced indigenous, Asian, and Islamic religions.  Magellan gave the Santo Niño wooden statue to Rajah Humabon’s wife, Hara Amihan, as a baptismal present. Rajah Humabon was Cebu’s ruler at that time. In honor of Carlos the First’s mother, Juana, Hara Amihan’s name was changed to Queen Juana. 800 natives together with their rulers were baptized into Christianity. Unfortunately, shortly after the conversion, Magellan went into reckless adventure by fighting the reigning ruler of Mactan Island, Rajah Lapulapu, with only a handful of men. He was killed in the encounter on 27 April 1521.

The remaining members of Magellan’s expedition returned to Spain to report the incident and the possibilities for conquest. It took 44 years before a new group came and began the conquest and formal Christianization of the islands. Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived in Cebu on 28 April 1565. His ships bombarded the native villages and inside one of the burning huts, a soldier named Juan Camus found a wooden box containing the Santo Niño statue.

Historians say that during the 44 years between the coming of Magellan and Legaspi, the natives continued to dance the Sinulog. This time however, they danced it no longer to worship their native idols but as a sign of reverence to the Santo Niño.  The original intact Santo Niño statue is now enshrined at the San Agustin Church (renamed Basilica Minore del Santo Niño) in Cebu City.

The Sinulog originated with the original candle vendors who sell their wares in front of the Augustinian Church of Cebu. They were the first, a couple of hundred years ago, to do the forward-and-backward movement of the prayer-dance of petition and thanksgiving to the Santo Niño. The movement is said to imitate the sulog (flow) of Cebu City’s Pahina River. While dancing–waving their lighted candles–the women chant “Pit Señor! Pit Señor!” Many, even Cebuanos, don’t know what the chant means until told that “pit” is the abbreviation of the word sangpit – which is Cebuano for “to call the name of” and therefore “Pit Señor” means say “Hail, Lord!”

The participants in the Sinulog Festival wear bright-colored costumes and dance to the music made by trumpets, native gongs, and drums. The streets are full of people eager to witness the beauty of the festival and to pay homage to the Santo Niño. The Santo Niño Sinulog Festivals are also held in other parts of the Philippines and in other countries around the world.

sinulog 2016Traditionally, the Sinulog Festival is celebrated for nine days. The ninth day culminates in the Sinulog Festival Grand Parade. A reenactment of the Christianizing of Cebu follows at the Basilica. A solemn procession is held in the afternoon along the city’s major streets. This usually lasts for hours due to multitudes of participants. A Pontifical Mass headed by the Cardinal is held at the Basilica. Bishops of Cebu assist in this event. Devotees and others populate the Basilica to attend the mass. Afterward, they all head out to the streets to witness the Sinulog Festival Grand Parade.

This is the event around which the Sinulog Festival revolves. The main theme of the Sinulog dance is Queen Juana, with the Santo Niño in her arms, blessing the people that are ill, poor, etc, and needing the healing of Santo Niño.

The Santo Niño Devotion is an important part of Filipino religious life and the Sinulog Festival is a time for joyful and colorful celebration. For a spectator on the street, it’s a beautiful scene to behold. But for participants doing street dancing, it’s a way to show their devotion to God. The Santo Niño Devotion is not a form of idolatry. The Child Jesus is one manifestation of Jesus, the Son of God, who died for us on the Cross, to save us and to offer us Eternal Life.   Other forms of Devotion to Jesus Christ include the Sacred Heart, Devine Mercy, Holy Name, and Eucharistic Adoration.


Start of the Annual Assembly 2016

The Annual Assembly is one of the most important activities of the Philippine Region. It is normally held in the beginning of January in Cagayan de Oro City. This year the assembly started on January 4 and will end on January 8, 2016. The purpose of this gathering is to evaluate the activities of the Region and plan new ones. The theme of the Annual Assembly 2016 is “‘Servants of God’s Mercy’ (MV 17); Answering the call of the Founder ‘Go, let the World know the Love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus'” and was inspired by the “Misericordiae Vultus”, the Bull of the Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy declared by Pope Francis and conclusions of the XXIII General Chapter in Rome “Merciful, in community, with the poor.” As usual it started with a short recollection conducted by Fr. Dariusz Drzewiecki, MIC, who helped the group to reflect on the theme of the “Year of Mercy” and was followed by the Community Reconciliation facilitated by Fr. Szymon Bendowski, SCJ, personal confession and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The whole afternoon of the first day was dedicated to personal sharing of all the participants who tried to answer the three following questions: What do you consider as most significant experience of the past year 2015? How can your experience of God’s mercy help to draw others closer to Christ? and What possible changes in your life do you hope to effect during this Year of Mercy? The activities of the first day were concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist presided by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, the superior of the Philippine Region.

On the second day of the assembly the different committees and communities will report their activities of the year 2015.  Wednesday and Thursday will be the core of the activities.. It will consist of three workshops allowing the assembly to identify the “lights and shadows” and challenges lying ahead of the Philippine Region, and come out with concrete plan of action. The method that will be used during these workshops is: SEE, JUDGE and ACT.

The assembly is attended by thirty five participants (35), members of the Philippine Region and guests. Among the guests there are: Fr. Paulus Sugino, the General Councilor for Asia, Fr. Luca Zottoli, the General Treasurer from Rome and Fr. Thai Tran, the representative from the District of Vietnam.

2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Christmas Greetings

Nativity Murillo Filipino Painting ColladoChrist the Lord, the Savior of the world, lying in the manger, is the light and life that the Father wants to give us so that God’s own divine life might flow through us and his divine light shine within us. He is the face of the Father’s mercy (MV 1). He frees us from guilt and gives us life that will not end so that we might live with him in the splendor of his Father forever.  

May the celebration of His birth, the wonder of His love, and the presence of Emmanuel, God with us, overcome every manifestation of our indifference and transform it into manifestations of our passionate love for Christ and His people.

May Christ’s love touch our hearts this Christmas. May it help us to appreciate the value of every human person – young or old, healthy or sick, born or unborn. May Christ’s love inspire us to create a society where all are treated fairly, where no one goes hungry or in need and where everybody is honored with the dignity due to the children of God.

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and Grace filled New Year 2016!

Jubilee Year of Mercy

Official logo for the Holy Year of Mercy. (CNS/courtesy Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization)What is the Year of mercy?

“Jesus Christ is the face of the father’s mercy.”

With these words, Pope Francis announced a Holy Year of Mercy beginning on Dec. 8,2015 – the feast of the Immaculate Conception – and ending on the feast Christ the King on Nov. 20, 2016.

Mercy lies at the very heart of the Christian message. Pope Francis envisions a year in which we will become more merciful in own own lives and share God’s mercy with others. In this Year of mercy, we are called to bring consolation to the poor, liberty to those bound by new forms of slavery in our society, spiritual sight to those who have lost touch with God, and human dignity to those most in need.


By scjphil Posted in Church

“Thank you” from Tanauan, Leyte

Tanauan is one of the oldest towns in the Province of Leyte, Philippines dating back to the year 1710. It is a second class municipality composed of fifty-four (54) barangays. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 50,119 people. The town has been baptized the title of “Cradle of the Intellectuals” or “Bungto Han Kamag-araman” since the Spanish colonial period. Tanauan is approximately eighteen (18) kilometers south of Tacloban City which is the Capital of the Eastern Visayas Region. It is bounded on the north by the Municipality of Palo, on the south by the Municipality of Tolosa, on the west by the Municipalities of Dagami and Tabon-Tabon, and on the east by San Pedro Bay. The town was heavily damaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013. (From Wikipedia)

Recently, the Priests of the Sacred Heart in the Philippines, who helped the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in Tanauwan, received a plaque of “Thank you” from the Local Government of the said town. The group of seminarians from Dehon House in Quezon City, under the guidance of Fr. Delio Ruiz, SCJ, spent their Christmas break extending their help to those who lost everything they had, including members of their families. Here the SCJ Philippine Region would like to thank all those, who through their generosity and open hearts made it possible.

St. Francis Xavier – One of Our Patrons

Xavier10b (1)St. Francis Xavier, (1506-1552). Born in the family castle of Xavier, near Pamplona in the Basque area of Spanish Navarre on Apr. 7, he was sent to the University of Paris in 1525, secured his licentiate in 1528, met Ignatius Loyola and became one of the seven who in 1534, at Montmartre founded the Society of Jesus. In 1536 he left Paris to join Ignatius in Venice, from whence they all intended to go as missionaries to Palestine (a trip which never materialized), was ordained there in 1537, went to Rome in 1538, and in 1540, when the pope formally recognized the Society, was ordered, with Fr. Simon Rodriguez, to the Far East as the first Jesuit missionaries. King John III kept Fr. Simon in Lisbon, but Francis, after a year’s voyage, six months of which were spent at Mozambique where he preached and gave aid to the sick eventually arrived in Goa, India in 1542 with Fr. Paul of Camerino an Italian, and Francis Mansihas, a Portuguese. There he began preaching to the natives and attempted to reform his fellow Europeans, living among the natives and adopting their customs on his travels. During the next decade he converted tens of thousands to Christianity. He visited the Paravas at the tip of India. near Cape Comorin, Tuticorin (1542), Malacca (1545), the Moluccas near New Guinea and Morotai near the Philippines (1546-47), and Japan (1549- 51). In 1551, India and the East were set up as a separate province and Ignatius made Francis its first provincial. In 1552 he set out for China, landed on the island of Sancian within sight of his goal, but died before he reached the mainland. Working against great difficulties, language problems ( contrary to legend, he had no proficiency in foreign tongues ), inadequate funds, and lack of cooperation, often actual resistance, from European officials, he left the mark of his missionary zeal and energy on areas which clung to Christianity for centuries. He was canonized in 1622 and proclaimed patron of all foreign missions by Pope Pius X.