The International Dehonian Family Conference: One Dehon, Many Dehonians

Participants of the Dehonian Family ConferenceFrom May 15-20, 2014, at the Generalate of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in Rome, was held an International Dehonian Family Conference. Over 37 lay men and women from around the world along with SCJ priests from different continents and members of General Curia participated in this gathering. The Philippines was represented by two Lay Dehonians: Atty. Grace Escobia and Ms. Marian Cadorna. As Fr. Claudio Weber, SCJ the General Councilor in his homily said: “As a Dehonian Family we want to contribute to the contemporary Church so that it may become a wide-reaching family of brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, ready to proclaim Christ as St. Thomas and St. Paul did, a family where the poor can make their voices heard.” The motto of the gathering was “One Dehon, Many Dehonians”
Fr. Claudio pointed out two main objectives of the gathering: “They are to deepen our personal formation so that we can better share the Dehonian charism with lay people in our communities, and to find ways to coordinate our efforts.” There, Fr. Marcello Matte, SCJ gave the opening presentation on the charism of Fr. Dehon and its relevance for the Church and the world. It simply asks the participants “Does it continue to speak to us today?” Some of the participants were given the chance to speak on how they lived the charism of Fr. Dehon in their lives; how they were introduced to the Dehonian charism and continue to live it in a conscious effort. One participant from Brazil mentioned that it took someone to point it out to her that she is already living the Dehonian charism. Here she stressed the importance of lay formation as it answers the “Why’s” on living the Dehonian charism.
A formation tool called the “Spiritual Path” was established by the working group assigned by General Curia, to help the people know and learn more on Fr. Dehon and his charism. It is proposed as a four-year program based in monthly sessions of sharing, instruction and prayer, with each set of sessions developed by SCJ groups from different geographical areas. There is a theme for each year of the program: “Becoming Acquainted with the Dehonian Life,” “To Encounter Jesus Christ with Fr. Dehon,” “The Faith Journey of Fr. Dehon,” and “For the Life of the World.” It is noted that the formation plan is structured as a curriculum, coming up with themes as a result of questionnaires and other resources. It should be noted however, that the “Spiritual Path” is a work in progress, as what Fr. Adérito Barbosa, SCJ said. Fr. Adérito is a member of the working group tasked to develop this formation tool. Therefore there is as need for constant training and coordination among the groups who will be implementing the program. It is up to the groups to be flexible and adaptable to their individual groups’ needs and changing demands.
As the conference was coming to a conclusion, an organizing committee was chosen among the participants to continue the action and help the lay people who have the desire to create Dehonian groups but are unable to make the initial steps. This organizing committee is composed of consecrated women, lay Dehonians and SCJ priests, with which one of the members is our very own lay Dehonian, Atty. Grace Escobia. This committee will have a three-year term tasked to put a formal coordinating committee with an elected leadership and structure, and basically, to continue what has been started in the conference. “Together we can take small steps to grow organically, gradually deepening the awareness and understanding of the gift Fr. Dehon gave to us,” said Fr. John van den Hengel,SCJ vicar general, during the concluding sessions.

Message of Pope Francis for World Communications Day

Pope FrancisIn his message for the 48th World Communications Day, the Pope stressed the ever vital role of communication to humanity. His focus is summed up in the question “And who is my neighbor?”, as we can look at communication in terms of our being “neighborly”. In these modern times, he particularly focuses on globalization and the developments in travel and communications technology, which seemed to make it easier for people to be neighbors. The Pope also gave credit to the Internet as one of the unprecedented technological advances by mankind, which “offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. “
But although this digital age have contributed significantly in terms of bringing people closer together, there still exists this “ scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor”, as Pope puts it. The speed of the information transmitted relatively exceeds our capacity to reflect and decide, which impedes our proper self-expression. He said that with the digital media, we are exposed to various opinions, but it also enables us to be selective about the information that confirms our own wishes, ideas and interests. He notes that there are still people who lack access to this communication advancement, and therefore run the risk of being left behind.
Pope Francis then challenges us to be reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is not enough for the Samaritan to go near the man he finds half-dead on the side of the road, he also takes responsibility for him. Similarly, in order for us to be a good neighbor, “it is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply “connected”; connections need to grow into true encounters.” We need to be personally engaged, “as this digital highway is teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation and hope.” By means of the internet, the church doors are kept open so that people can enter and the Gospel can reach everyone.
He qualifies an effective Christian witness as someone who does not bombard people with religious messages, but is in encounter with others in an effort to willingly dialogue on their doubts and questions. To dialogue, means to believe the “other” has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective without renouncing our own ideas and traditions.
In conclusion, Pope Francis referred back to the Good Samaritan, where the wounds of the injured man were tended with oil and wine. Our communications will then be “a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts. May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful neighbors to those wounded and left on the side of the road.”
The Holy Father’s message is entitled Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter and is traditionally published coinciding the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers. The 48th World Communications Day also falls on Ascension Sunday, June 1, 2014.

By scjphil Posted in Church

Let us celebrate!

With  the  celebration  and  deacon  ordinations  set  for  16:00  on  Friday  and  yesterday being a six hour travel day back to Cagayan de Oro now is the first real chance I have to sit down to write this. It’s now Sunday morning and I will have the 10:00 English Mass at our parish of the Immaculate Conception, only a 5 minute walk from here. I do hope to have this journal entry done and sent long before I leave for that.

Friday’s celebrations were simply marvelous! The parishioners of St. Isidore the Farmer did  themselves  proud  in  providing  a  wonderful  liturgical  atmosphere  for  the  six deacons to be and their families. Obviously it was much easier for the 4 Filipinos to have their families attend the ordination. Though I’m not sure, I believe the majority of them come from the island of Mindanao since that’s where we have our major presence — although 2 of the 3 Filipino students I have come from near Manila on Luzon.

That’s  not  to  say  their  Vietnamese  brothers  did  not  have  family  present  and  even though English and/or Cebuano are foreign to them, they seemed to fit right in to enjoy and watch their sons and brothers being ordained deacons by Archbishop Al Sudarso, scj, of Palembang, Indonesia.

I wish I had enough bandwidth to embed a short video I took at the start of the Mass. Friday  marked  the  third  day  in  a  row  where  we  had  heavy  rains  during  the  late afternoon,  usually  between  15:00  and  sunset.  Friday  saw  the  heaviest  downpour though with less thunder and lightning. The roof of the new church is metal and does not  have  much,  if  any,  soundproofing  and  the  din  the  heavy  downpour  made  in  the church  almost  drowned  out  the  singing  and  praying.  Lucky  the  church  has  a  good sound system that could rise above the deluge Mother Nature was dropping from the sky.

Bishop  Emanuel  Cabajar,  CssR,  of Pagadian concelebrated  the  Mass  and preached.  This  time  he  did  it  in  English. The  Mass  and  ordinations  took  about  2 hours. Thanks to the rain the temperature in  the  church  was  rather  comfortable. While  we  had  fans  near  us  the  outlets have  as  yet  been  hooked  up  leaving  the fans  as  mere  decorations  —  thank goodness the rain cooled us down.

After  Mass  we  returned  to  the  old  church  which,  like  the  other  day,  served  as  our dining hall with the same Pagadian catering service handling the reception. As with the two  previous  meals  they  served  this  one  was  heavy  on  meats  and  rice, but  with  no vegetables to speak of but at least two or three kinds of fruit, especially pineapple and watermelon. As we foreign guest have learned any celebration would be a disaster if roasted pig were not there in abundance. We had two for the crowd to devour. I went up once or twice to try to get a piece, but I couldn’t get near the action. Clearly the Filipinos love their roasted pork and nothing goes to waste!

I was wondering where the show would take place and soon learned it was going to be at the local school gym. Don’t think of a gym in our terms, this is more like a covered outdoor stadium with bleachers on one side, a roof covering the entire expanse with the sides left open — better to keep things cool for fans, players/actors alike.

We were also lucky the rains had stopped several hours before we headed over to the gym. You did have to watch where you walked once leaving the main road as it then became a dirt track. Once again, my smartphonecame in handy not for calling, but for seeing  using  its  build  in  flashlight.  As  I’ve  written  before  that  has  been  one  of  its most useful features on my trips to India and the Philippines since calling is much too expensive.

As for the show itself the members of  St.  Isidore  the  Farmer’s  parish and  its many chapels  did themselves  proud.  The  show opened  with  an  adult  choir,  that included  our  own  Br.  Yohanes Baptista  Sismadi,  scj,  singing  the Philippine  national  anthem.  This choir  would  ma e  another appearance during the course of the evening as one of the adult acts.

Immediately  after  the  national anthem a prayer/dance was offered as the benediction for the evening. The dance would play the most important part of the evening’s entertainment. The  show  lasted  about  two  hours  and  interspersed  between  some  of  the  acts  was  a narration  of  the  25  year  history  of  the  SCJ  presence  in  the  Philippines.  During  the course of the show we had young girls (maybe between 8 and 10) come by with water and sweets for us to enjoy. As the SCJs were the honored guests we were seated in the front row on chairs in front of the bleachers and close to the stage — that made my taking photos with my iPhone rather easily.

Instead of adding more words, let me add a few photos of some of the acts. Note the teenagers performed many of the dances and I was amazed at the various routines they had to learn and how well they were able to carry them out. Of course, the little kids act was a scene stealer, especially one little girl who was soon lost as what to do and made up her own dance, including a long stint of simply sitting on the floor and waving her arms. I do know, parents, friends, parishioners and all the SCJS present went home with light hearts after such a delightful, and I do mean that, evening of entertainment. Dumalinao may not be Broadway or Hollywood, but on this night they don’t take a backseat to anyone.

 By Fr. Tom Cassidy, scj

Parish Feast in Kumalarang

On May 14, 2014, the San Isidore Parish in Kumalarang celebrated its 33rd annual Feast of the Patron. This year the celebration was connected with the 25th anniversary of presence of SCJ priests. The main celebrant was the Vicar General Fr. Totong Gente. The Eucharist was followed by blessing of the new formation house and kindergarten, lunch and cultural presentation made by different zones of the parish.

First and Perpetual Profession of Vows


On May 13, 2014, six brothers on temporary vows and five Novices made their final and first profession of religious vows. The ceremony, which opened a week-long celebration of 25th Anniversary of the SCJ presence in the Philippines, took place in the parish church in Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur. The Vows were accepted by the Regional Superior, Fr. Francis Pupkowski, scj.

Warm welcome in Margosatubig

Margosatubig was one of the first places of the SCJ presence in the Philippines. Even the SCJs left this parish more than ten years ago, they are still remembered there and have many fans. On May 12, 2014, a group of friends from Margosatubig organized a special party commemorating the 25th Anniversary of their presence in the Philippines. Thank you for this wonderful celebration and for being a part of our journey! We love you too!

Dansolihon – A Blessing at Jesus Nazareno Chaplaincy


Yesterday I was invited to come with Fr. Frank Pupkowski, scj, and Fr. Khoa Nguyen,scj, to Dansolhon for the 08:00 Mass to be followed by the blessing of the new convent that  will  be  the  home  to  3  SCJs.  First  off  I  must  explain  to  you  that  here  in  the Philippines a convent or also called a convento as they say applies to both a convent for nuns and a rectory for priests.

At present Jesus Nazareno functions as a Chaplaincy that I can best describe as a sub-parish, it currently has 35 out stations, and if you add them all up about 1100 families. It is staffed by Fr. Jan Krzysuok, scj, and Fr. Elpido Luza, Jr., scj. Fr. Jan is a missionary from  Poland  while  Fr.  Elpido  is  a  native  Filipino.  They  will  soon  be  joined  by  Br.Yohanes Sismadi, scj, who is a missionary from Indonesia. As you can see this a real international SCJ community.  According to Fr. Frank, the regional superior, though it is a chaplaincy,Jesus Nazareno really is functioning as a parish.

By: Fr. Tom Cassidy, SCJ

Sports and the changing of the seasons in the Philippines

Originally posted on Walk with us!:

As noted previously, Fr. Tom Cassidy is in the Philippines for the next few weeks, teaching English. On April 30 he writes:

philmapCDOToday is the last day of the month and tomorrow we begin May with the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, and in much of the world its May Day, which compares to our Labor Day celebration back in the States.

After class yesterday the students told me they were going out to play soccer. The players were all Vietnamese plus two from the formation staff. I learned that soccer is not popular with Filipinos, or at least with the three enrolled in our program. I’m not sure what is the most popular sport but as I mentioned in an earlier entry basketball may well be.

Unlike India, where I found at least three channels devoted to cricket, I have not found a similar local TV dedication to a…

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