+ Bp. Federico O. Escaler, S.J., D.D.

Bp. Federico EscalerYesterday, on November 28, 2015, the former and the first Bishop of Prelature of Ipil, Most Rev. Federico O. Escaler, S.J., D.D., at the age of 93, has joined the Lord. Bp. Escaler was one of the two bishops who in 1989 accepted members of the first group of SCJs into his Prelature, entrusting them two parishes: Margosatubig (now Diocese of Pagadian) and Kumalarang (Diocese of Ipil).

All members of the SCJ Philippine Region express their gratitude for Bp. Freddy’s fatherly care and love and join the prayers in his intention. May he rest in Peace!


Biography of Bishop Federico O. Escaler, S.J., D.D. (1922-2015)
By Sch. Amado T. Tumbali, Jr., SJ
Asst. Province Archivist

The Most Reverend Federico Ocampo Escaler was born on 28 June 1922 in Manila. On his birthday in 1941, after finishing a degree in Ateneo de Manila, where he also studied his primary and secondary education, Freddy, as he had been called in the Society of Jesus, entered the Jesuits at Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches. However, Freddy and his fellow novices moved to Ateneo de Manila at Padre Faura during the outbreak of WWII. They began Juniorate there on 1 June 1943 but eventually moved to La Ignaciana in Sta. Ana, and then, finally back to Novaliches. From 1945-1948, he studied and finished his M.A. in Philosophy at St. Robert Bellarmine College which was first located in La Ignaciana, and then in Novaliches. He was a regent from 1948-1951 at San Jose Seminary in La Ignaciana where he taught English, Latin, Tagalog, Spanish, Sociology, Philippine Government, and Geometry. He was also the Prefect of Discipline to the major seminarians and moderator of the Sodality, the choir, and INSTA. He studied and finished S.T.B. and S.T.L. at Woodstock College, Maryland, U.S.A. from 1951-1955. He was ordained deacon at Fordham, New York, U.S.A on 18 June 1954 by Bishop Thomas J. Feeney, S.J., D.D. and priest the following day by Francis Cardinal Spellman. From 1954-55, he did some special studies in Guidance and Counseling at Boston College and Fordham University, respectively.

After Fr. Freddy’s tertianship at Palacio del Santo Duque, Gandia, Valencia, Spain in 1956, his first assignment as a priest in the Philippines was Minister at San Jose Seminary in Highway 54. A year after, he was assigned Archivist of the Vice Province and Socius to Vice Provincial Francis Clark. In 1961, he became Superior and Minister of La Ignaciana Retreat House in Sta. Ana. While serving those competencies, he also gave retreats around the country.

In 1962, Fr. Freddy was Rector and President, while teaching Theology, at Ateneo de Davao. In 1966, he was back to Xavier House as Province Treasurer. While in Manila, he was also Chaplain of the Christian Family Movement. In 1973, he was assigned to Ateneo de Cagayan (X.U.) as Rector and President, while teaching Theology. Three years after, he was named as the first Bishop of then to be established Prelature of Kidapawan in North Cotabato. In 1976, he was ordained bishop on the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola by Jaime Cardinal Sin at Manila Cathedral. From 1976-1980, he was in Kidapawan until his assignment to pioneer the newly created Prelature of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay, where he dedicated himself for 17 years until his retirement on his birthday in 1997. Those indeed were tough years, including his first episcopal assignment. “Ipil and Kidapawan were hotbeds of conflict during the time,” as writer Christian Dy describes. Indeed, in 1985, Bishop Freddy was kidnapped and in 1995, another group of armed militants torched Ipil and left at least 53 dead.

Back in Manila, he continued pastoral work as Spiritual Director of Buklod ng Pag-ibig, Chaplain of A.I.M. and the Cenacle Prayer Group. Towards the end of 2015, a mass was discovered in his liver for which he declined further intervention. He died on 28 November 2015 in his family ancestral residence in San Miguel, Manila.



Remembering SCJ Martyrs

November 26, 2015November 26th  is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Monsignor Joseph Wittebols, SCJ – the Bishop of diocese of Wamba – together with six other missionaries in Congo in 1964.

Twenty-eight religious altogether gave their lives in 1964, during the Simba revolution. Their deaths occurred during the month of November from the 3rd  to the 27th.

There many more SCJs who died as martyrs:

  • Bl. Juan dela Cruz in Spain,
  • 5 SCJs who died during World War II (one German, two from Luxembourg, a Belgian, and an Italian),
  • 11 Dutchmen who died in concentration camps in Indonesia,
  • 3 French missionaries who died in Cameroon in 1959
  • and another Dutch missionary from the North Brazilian Province who died in 1975 as a result of his protective assistance to poor fishermen in Northeast Brazil.

Their deaths were the consequence of a life choice made much earlier …

They are our inspiration and a source of strength for our vocation and mission.

For this reason, in a session of the General Council held on May 11th, 2004, an SCJ MEMORIAL DAY was decreed to be celebrated every year on the 26th of November, anniversary of the death of Bp. Wittebols, SCJ.

“This date should be opportunely prepared for and celebrated in all communities, especially in formation communities, and with lay people who share our pastoral, educational, and missionary activities.

Let the celebration of this day become an occasion to learn about and remember those persons who have impacted the history of a province / region / district and the Congregation, or a particular work or section of our mission”.

Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, scj


candleWe Pray…

God our loving Father, we praise you!

We thank for all our SCJ brothers who died as martyrs, for their faith and dedication.

Through their intercession, enable us by Holy Spirit of Love, to live and die for you and your beloved people, hoping that we may be transformed day by day into the likeness of your Son Jesus.

Lord God, may the witness of our SCJ brothers, who died as martyrs, strengthen our faith.

May their martyrdom be the seed for our growth in holiness. Give us the power of your spirit to promote understanding and reconciliation, that all may live justly and in peace as brothers and sisters of Jesus, your Son.


Blessing of New Parish House in Bagong Silang

DSC00826The San Roque Parish Phase 9 in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City is being run by the SCJs for more than four years. The parish is a part of Santo Niño Vicariate and it belongs to the Diocese of Novaliches. At the moment the parish is being served by three SCJ priests: Fr. John Karl Cabaluna, Fr. Elpidio Luza, Jr., Fr. Christopher Alburo and one seminarian on exposure Bro. Alex Jumawid. It is located in very densely populated area with a little space for the parish church and some parish facilities. The access road is very narrow and not accessible to trucks or bigger vehicles. The whole area is covered with little, very close to each other, houses, a kind of squatter place inhabited by the very poor who have no access to tenured land of their own.

Among the different ministries and activities such as Lay Ministers, Catechists, Youth, Altar Servers, Legion of Mary, the parish has one of the strongest BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities) Program in the whole diocese. Also, the parish, with the initiative and support of the Parish Priest, Fr. John Karl Cabaluna, scj, has organized many programs benefiting the poor, sick and homeless. One among them is the “Bath, Eat and Go Program”, where the homeless can come to the parish, take shower, have a meal and go back to their shelters. Everyday. the parish is serving more than one hundred meals and selling kilos of rice at a lower price.

In the beginning, the parish was served by Fr. John Karl from  the Dehon House, an SCJ Formation House in Quezon City, who was helped by the priests from the formation community and some seminarians. Since  four years ago, the priests assigned in San Roque Parish were living in the parish, first in the rented house and later on in a temporary, very simple and perishable hut, with no privacy and basic facilities.

To have a decent place, where the priests could rest, pray together and feel safe, was not only a dream of the priests assigned there, but also of the parishioners and the SCJ Congregation.

Finally, the dreams came true on November 7, 2015, when the new parish house was completed and blessed by Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD. The SCJs in Bagong Silang got their new house, fruit of cooperation between the priests, parishioners, the Diocese of Novaliches and the Philippine Region of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SCJ).

The blessing was preceded by the raffle draw with motorcycle as the first prize.

Congratulations to the winners, to the SCJ priests and all parishioners!

Congratulations to the New SCJ Bishop!

On Sunday, October 25, José Ornelas Carvalho, former superior general of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, was ordained and installed as bishop of the Diocese of Setúbal in his native Portugal. Joining the diocese in the celebration were Dehonians from around the world, including several bishops, as well as family and fellow bishops and priests of Portugal.


World Mission Sunday 2015

World Mission Sunday, organized by the Propagation of the Faith, is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice.  In 2015, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on October 18.

Annually, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on the next-to-last Sunday in October. As described by Pope John Paul II, World Mission Sunday is “an important day in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world” (see Redemptoris Missio 81).

Pope John Paul II has also spoken of the Propagation of the Faith’s General Fund of support, calling this a “central fund of solidarity.” In a message delivered on a recent World Mission Sunday, the Pope said: “The offerings that will be collected [on World Mission Sunday] are destined for a common fund of solidarity distributed, in the Pope’s name, by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith among the missions and missionaries of the entire world.”

Every year the needs of the Catholic Church in the Missions grow – as new dioceses are formed, as new seminaries are opened because of the growing number of young men hearing Christ’s call to follow Him as priests, as areas devastated by war or natural disaster are rebuilt, and as other areas, long suppressed, are opening up to hear the message of Christ and His Church. That is why the involvement and commitment of Catholics from around the world is so urgently needed. Offerings from Catholics in the United States, on World Mission Sunday and throughout the year, are combined with offerings to the Propagation of the Faith worldwide.

Mission dioceses – about 1,100 at this time – receive regular annual assistance from the funds collected. In addition, these mission dioceses submit requests to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for assistance, among other needs, for catechetical programs, seminaries, the work of Religious Communities, for communication and transportation needs, and for the building of chapels, churches, orphanages and schools. These needs are matched with the funds gathered in each year. The world’s national directors of the Propagation of the Faith vote on these requests, matching the funds available with the greatest needs. These funds are then distributed, in their entirety, to mission dioceses throughout the world.

By scjphil Posted in Church

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 www.Dehon.docs.

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.