First Regional Chapter Assembly

The Philippine Region of the Priests of the Sacred Heart is barely completing its first three (3) years since its elevation last March 14, 2012 and this time, September 29 to October 3, 2014, the first regional assembly chapter is being held. A total number of 34 participants including 2 confreres on temporary vows, Fr. Rino Venturin from the Vietnam district and Fr. Paulus Sugino from the General Administration.

The chapter assembly started on Monday morning with a very meaningful recollection with Fr. Raul Dael, SSJV from the archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro. Fr. Raul emphasized on the mercy of God and the importance of being priests and religious after the Heart of Christ. In the afternoon, as has become traditional, we invited priests to hear our confessions. From the second day until the last, the assembly dedicated so much time on discussing the motions for the improvement of the Philippine mission that were pre-approved for discussion during one of the monthly meetings, the questionnaire for the General Chapter, the approval of the Regional Directory to be forwarded to the general administration and some other urgent matters not necessarily part of the chapter documents. Atty. Grace Escobia, a Lay Dehonian who represented the region in the recent meeting in Rome, was given a moment to share to the assembly on the Spiritual Path handbook prepared for the lay dehonians and discussed with the group regarding further propagation of the Dehonian spirituality to the laity.

Finally, at the close of the chapter, Fr. Sugino gave the assembly some points of reflection regarding the theme for the upcoming general chapter next year. He presided the closing mass and in the homily exhorted the assembly to awaken the world with the love and mercy of God citing the region’s chapter assembly theme, “Wake Up the World”.

A few more reflections from the road in the Philippines

Originally posted on Walk with us!:

"I've been trying a lot of food I've never had before!" said Fr. Steve. We aren't sure if this face means that he likes his latest Philippines meal or?

“I’ve been trying a lot of food I’ve never had before!” said Fr. Steve. We aren’t sure if this face means that he likes his latest Philippine meal or?

As noted earlier, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter is visiting our communities and ministries in the Philippines. Today we have a “two-fer” — one text written on Sunday and one today for the province blog. Internet connections being a bit unreliable when traveling, we got both at once: 

Cagayan de Oro

I’ve seen and experienced so much in such a short time. I have much to think about and process and so many questions about a culture so new to me. Fr. Aloisio and Fr. Khoa served as today’s tour guides and gave me background on how our parish projects and formation programs developed and changed in the 25 years since the first SCJ foundations here. Fr. Al said that when he first arrived…

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Visiting students and ministries on Mindanao

Originally posted on Walk with us!:

College program

As noted previously, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter is spending much of September learning about our communities and ministries in the Philippines and Vietnam. Today he writes from Cagayan de Oro, where he visited with undergraduate formation and the Kasanag Daughters Foundation.

Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao

Our boat arrived in port just after sunrise. Watching the crew maneuver the large ship into the dock with fist-sized ropes and mechanical winches gave me an appreciation of their skill at a complex task. Too often I take for granted the daily labors that produce and transport our daily bread.

Our pre-novitiate formation house is located in this university town. When we drove through the college campus I was surprised to see all the students wearing high school-type uniforms. It saves a lot on student expense as they don’t have to compete with the latest styles, and gives campus security a clue as to who are…

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Seeing the impact of SCJ community in the Philippines

Originally posted on Walk with us!:

Fr. Steve with SCJs in the Philippines

Fr. Steve with SCJs in the Philippines

As noted yesterday, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter is visiting our missions in the Philippines and Vietnam this month to learn about the community and its ministries there. Today he writes on the way to Mindanao:

In the past few days I’ve traveled using many different modes of transportation. I write this from a bunk in a cabin on a ship bound overnight for the Island of Mindanao. The Philippines consists of over 7,000 islands, and in many places, water is the primary means of passage.

photo 1a

SCJ parish in the Philippines

Monday we toured an SCJ parish on the outskirts of Manila. St. Roque is in the Bagonsilang district of Caloacan City. Fr. John Karl, the pastor, tells me that there are 50,000 families here in one of the densest parts of the city. He, Fr. Nino and Deacon Chris live in a simple concrete block…

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Quezon City, the Philippines

Originally posted on Walk with us!:

A few of our theology students in the Philippines

A few of our theology students in the Philippines

Fr. Stephen Huffstetter is spending much of September visiting our communities and ministries in the Philippines and Vietnam. His first stop is the Manila area (Quezon City is a part of the Philippines Capitol region) where he is staying with our student community there. From there he writes:

After a trio of flights lasting two, 12 and 4 hours I was a weary traveler when I finally landed in Manila Friday night. I was warmly greeted by Fr. Delio, the head formator, and Sergio and AJ, two of our students. Metropolitan Manila has around 12 million people, and even at 10 p.m. the mass of cars, motorcycles and jeepnys was bumper to bumper. We drove past highly developed  shopping and nightlife areas with advertisements like you might find in Times Square, as well as row upon row of densely packed cinder…

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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