40th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood

Forty (40) years ago on February 21, 1979, Fr. Yohanes Sono Pribadi, SCJ, member of the SCJ Philippine Region, was ordained priest. The ceremony of ordination took place in Metro, Lampung Tengah, Indonesia, his native place and was officiated by the Most Rev. Albert Hermelink Gentiaras, SCJ, Dutch, Bishop of Tanjungkarang. It should be noted that he was ordained as a diocesan priest for the Diocese of Lampung. However, knowing many SCJ priests, Fr. Yohanes had enough opportunities to learn about their charism and spirituality. Besides, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was embedded in him by his father, a great devotee of God’s Heart. These all helped him to decide entering the Congregation.

On July 20, 1980, Fr. Yohanes made his first profession of vows and in 1983 the final profession. His first assignment was as a Parish Priest in Trinity Parish in Belitang, South Sumatra, where he served for three (3) years. His next assignment from 1984 – 1988 was in Muara Bungo, Province of Jambi, Sumatra. In 1988, Fr. Yohanes was appointed to join the international mission in the Philippines and sent to the United States to study English.

On May 17, 1989, Fr. Yohanes arrived in the Philippines in a group of eight missionaries, where he stayed until the year 2003. During thirteen years of his stay in the Philippines he was assigned in parishes of Dimataling, Cagayan de Oro City, Bacolod and Kumalarang. Also for many years he was in-charge of vocations.

In Indonesia, Fr. Yohanes was assigned for two (2) years as a parish priest in Kotabumi, Lampung, where he also took care of the dormitory for boys, three (3) years in Jakarta and four (4) years in Pasangsurut, Diocese of Palembang.

In 2014 Fr. Yohanes returned to the Philippines and was assigned in the Novitiate Fr. Dehon in Lower Lucoban, Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur. Besides being the superior of the community and assistant to the Novice Master, Fr. Indra Pamungkas, SCJ, he is taking care of the garden and his coffee plantation of which he is very proud of.

As mentioned above, Fr. Yohanes is a member of the first group, the very first missionary from Indonesia, the oldest member of the Philippine Region in age, ordination and first profession. He was born on June 2, 1950. Among his relatives there are four (4) priests: three (3) diocesan and one (1) SS.CC. Congregation of the Sacred Hearts and three (3) religious sisters.

The Thanksgiving Mass was held in the chapel of the SCJ Novitiate in Lower Lucoban and was attended by a number of SCJs, religious sisters and friends from the places of his assignment: Dimataling, Bacolod and Kumalarang.

In his, not very short homily, Fr. Yohanes shared about his vocation, way to the priesthood and experiences. The ceremony was very nice and solemn.

HAPPY 40th ANNIVERSARY OF ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD!

Diocesan Clergy of Mindanao Convention 2019

Two SCJ’s: Fr. Joseph Muego and Dn. Joel Bolo joined the Diocesan Clergy of Mindanao Convention (DCM) held in Ozamis City from February 18 – 20, 2019. The theme of this year’s convention is ”Mindanao Clergy : journeying with the Youth”. The Convention is attended altogether by 373 bishops, priests and deacons from 21 dioceses.

Renewal of Marriage Vows at San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish

On February 16 – 17, 2019, ninety (90) couples from the San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish in Quezon City, Diocese of Novaliches, renewed their Marriage Vows in this love month of February. The Family and Life Ministry organized this activity to celebrate the inspiring and grace-filled union of the married couples in the parish.

All six (6) Masses of the parish including the Saturday anticipated Mass held the Renewal of Vows. The couples were requested to wear white or their Sunday’s best dress for the event. Upon their arrival each couple was welcomed and escorted by the usherettes to their reserved seating places at the front of the Church.

The ceremony was integrated within the Mass. They were serenaded by the Music Ministry and received the special blessing from our assistant parish priests, Rev. Fr. Showereddy Nekkanti, SCJ, Rev. Fr. Donald Longno, SCJ and guest priests Rev. Fr. Delio Ruiz, SCJ, and Rev. Fr. Rechie Gier, SCJ.

After the Mass, the couples took pictures and everyone was given a copy of their vows in the form of a certificate and was handed a stem of heart balloons.

The Parish Youth Ministry meanwhile, distributed packets of chocolates and candies to all parishioners who attended the Mass.

By: Fr. Niño Etulle, SCJ

Dehonians join “Walk for Life” 2019

San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish (SLRP) joined the entire Catholic Church in its stand to “Walk for Life” on February 16, 2019 at the Quezon City Circle, led by the Assistant Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Showe Reddy Nekkanti, SCJ. The SLRP Community was well represented with participants from the Parish Pastoral Council, Religious (Dehonian Brothers and Adorers of the Blood of Christ Sisters), Youth and other ministries of the parish.

There was a prayer procession of the Holy Rosary for life; video presentation on the persecution of Christians around the world; youth sharing on Extra Judicial Killings, lowering the age of criminal liabilities, purity and chastity, family life, environment, corruption, and protecting the sanctity of life in general.
The event culminated to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist presided by His Eminence Luis Antonio ‘Chito’ Tagle, Archbishop of Manila.

Also in Cagayan de Oro City the Dehonian seminarians joined the simultaneously held march.

The “Walk for Life” is a marching event, wherein participants walk hand-in-hand, to show united support to Christian values.

It was initially organized as a form of action or protest against cruelty and killings, with one example being the extrajudicial killings stemming from the war against drugs and drug abuse.

The activity is also a way of showing support to the marginalized communities, especially those who have experienced abuse, neglect, and denied of their human rights.

“Walk for Life” is being participated by priests, bishops, church personnel, those faithful to the church, and those with a stand in preserving life of all.

The first “Walk for Life” event took place at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on February 18, 2017 and was attended by thousands of members of Catholic and Christian Churches, as well as from religious and non-religious organizations.

Regional Assembly 2019

On February 11, 2019, the SCJ Philippine Region started its annual assembly. The assembly is being held at the Sacred Heart Formation House in Cagayan de Oro City and is attended by 35 confreres, including Fr. Alexander Sapta Dwi Handoko, SCJ, General Councilor for Asia from Rome, Fr. Quang Nguyen, SCJ, the Vice Provincial of the US Province and Fr. Khoa Nguyen, SCJ, from the District of Vietnam.

The assembly started with the welcome address of the superior of the community Cagayan de Oro I, Fr. Patrick Gutib, SCJ and the Regional Superior Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, followed by a service of reconciliation led by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ. The next activity was a short reflection by Fr. Delio Ruiz, SCJ, focusing on the “Year of the Youth” in the Philippines and the 30th Anniversary of the SCJ presence in the Philippines, ending with the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession.

In the afternoon of the first day, the participants following the guide questions shared in groups their personal experiences of the last year in the light of the incoming anniversary.

The day ended with the Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, followed by the supper and common recreation.

The second day was dedicated to the reports by communities and different commissions of the Region. The main celebrant  of the Eucharist was Fr. Robertus Sutopo, SCJ, who on February 12 celebrated his 50th birthday.

On the third and fourth day the group will discuss the agenda that came out of the reports, future celebrations and plans.

The assembly is to conclude on February 14, 2019 lunch time.

Viva Pit Senyor!

Today, on the 3rd Sunday of January, the Church in the Philippines celebrates the Feast of Santo Niño, one of the most popular religious celebrations not only in Cebu City, but also in the entire Philippines.

Short History of the Image of Santo Niño de Cebu

In April 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, in the service of Charles V of Spain, arrived in Cebu during his voyage to find a westward route to the Indies. He persuaded Rajah Humabon and his chief wife Humamay, to pledge their allegiance with Spain. They were later baptized into the Catholic faith, taking the Christian names Carlos (after Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) and Juana (after Joanna of Castile).

According to Antonio Pigafetta, Italian chronicler to the Spanish expedition, Ferdinand Magellan himself presented the Santo Niño to the newly baptized Queen Juana as a symbol of the alliance. To her husband Carlos, Magellan presented the bust of “Ecce Homo”, or the depiction of Christ before Pontius Pilate. He then presented an image of the Virgin Mary to the natives who were baptized after their rulers. Magellan died on April 27, 1521 in the Battle of Mactan, leaving the image behind. Legends say that after initial efforts by the natives to destroy it, the image was venerated as the animist creation deity Bathala. Many historians consider the facial structure of the statue made from Belgium, where Infant Jesus of Prague statues were also common.

In 1980, Filipino historian Nicomedes Márquez Joaquín wrote about the 44 years after Magellan’s soldiers left before the next Spanish expedition came under Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. Joaquín said that the statue was once denounced by natives as originally brought by Magellan, but was reinforced again by de Legaspi which the natives continued to dispute claiming that the statue came originally from their land.

On April 28, 1565, Spanish sailor Juan de Camus found the statue in a pine box amidst the ruins of a burnt house. The image, carved from wood and coated with paint, stood 30 centimeters tall, and wore a loose velvet garment, a gilded neck chain and a woolen red hood. A golden sphere, a replica of the world, was in the in the left hand, and the right hand is slightly raised in benediction. Camus presented the image to Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and the Augustinian priests; the natives refused to associate it with the gift of Magellan, claiming it had existed there since ancient times. Writer Dr. Resil Mojares wrote that the natives did so for fear that the Spaniards would demand it back. The natives’ version of the origin of the Santo Niño is in the Agipo (stump or driftwood) legend, which states that the statue was caught by a fisherman who chose to rid of it, only to have it returned with a plentiful harvest.

The statue was later taken out for procession, afterwards which Legaspi then ordered the creation of the Confraternity of the Santo Niño de Cebú, appointing Father Andres de Urdaneta as head superior. Legaspi instituted a fiesta to commemorate of the finding of the image, and although the original celebration still survives, Pope Innocent XIII moved the celebration to the Third Sunday of January to avoid conflict with Eastertide.

The Minor Basilica of Santo Niño (Spanish: Basilica Minore del Santo Niño) was built on the spot where the image was found by Juan de Camus. The parish was originally made out of bamboo and mangrove palm and claims to be the oldest parish in the Philippines. Pope Paul VI elevated its rank as Minor Basilica on its 400th year anniversary.

Viva Señor Jesus Nazareno!

Feast of the Black Nazarene, a miraculous statue of Jesus Christ carrying his cross, is one of the most popular religious celebrations in the Philippines. Every January 9 thousands of people join the celebrations in Quiapo  Manila and  Cagayan de Oro City, where the replica of the original statue is located.

The Black Nazarene represents Christ’s passion and suffering, and through the centuries it has become the Filipino people’s symbol of struggle and faith. Devotees have experienced numerous instances of answered prayers and miracles, making the devotion to the Black Nazarene one of the strongest spiritual and religious phenomena in the country.

It is said that the Black Nazarene was carved by an unknown Mexican sculptor from a dark wood in the 16th century in Mexico and then transported via galleon from Acapulco, Mexico to the Philippines on May 31, 1606. According to some stories, a fire that broke out inside the ship reached the statue and blackened even more the image.

It was brought by a group of Augustinian Recollect missionaries who brought it to the Church of San Juan Bautista in Bagumbayan (Saint John the Baptist Church at Luneta). After a couple of years, the Black Nazarene was moved to a bigger church near the area.

On January 9, 1767, the image of the Black Nazarene was transferred (Traslacion) to Quiapo Church (Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene) whose patron is also John the Baptist. Since that time, the annual feast day has been celebrated by millions of devotees thronging to touch the icon and lasting for around 20 hours.

Black Nazarene is also the patron saint of the Chaplaincy in Dansolihon, Cagayan de Oro City, administered by the SCJs. The feast, which is also  celebrated on January 9, was preceded with 9-day novena as a spiritual preparation for the main celebration. Each day, there was a special Novena Mass and procession with the little statue of Black Nazarene around the village of Dansolihon.

The main celebration on January 9, 2019, was held in the new church and was presided by Monsignor Florencio “Boy” Salvador, SSJV, the parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Pueblo, Cagayan de Oro Cty. The day before, on January 8, 2019, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Most  Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ,DD. administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to the 220 young Catholics from different communities of the chaplaincy.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come! Let earth receive her King!

Christmas is a special time when we come together and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Jesus is the gift God wants us to have. It’s the miracle of God giving himself to us; in a sense, inviting us to hold him in our hands and to discover the joy that living with him brings.

The joy of Christmas and the gift of Emmanuel – God with us – gives us the confidence to face the future with hope. This hope is born of our faith in the Living God.

Christmas is, first and foremost, about Love, God’s Love. God loves us so much that He gave us the most precious gift, Jesus, His own Son. That’s the heart of Christmas.

This great and wonderful love calls us to love one another. We share love in and through our human relationships; love is a commitment and a decision to stick by others, come what may, through thick and thin, when the going is easy and when the going gets more challenging. The love that we share in our human relationships is a reflection of the love of God, calling us to give of ourselves for others.

Jesus left us an example to follow. So we need to always be learning from his life in the Gospels. From the crib of Bethlehem to the cross of Calvary, he gave his life completely as a gift of love. That is how we should live. By loving others as Jesus has loved us. We are all brothers and sisters, members of one family.   “What you do to one of these little ones, you do it to me.” What we do to each other, good or bad, we do it to God.

At Christmas, we remember that Jesus was born in poverty, in a stable among the poorest people and the farm animals. What does this mean for us today? We are called to look for the face of Christ in the poor, those at our own door and in places far from here. Love can look like a cup of coffee offered, a hand held, a smile shared, and a story heard. In the end, we will be judged by how we care for the poor. Let us welcome him with joy and generosity, giving space in our lives to the others: refugees, migrants,   poor, sick, and weak, lonely, abandoned those at the margins of society.

Christmas is also about repentance and forgiveness. Love takes commitment and work, and sometimes we don’t get it right. We’re not perfect. But with God there is mercy and forgiveness, and second chances. And so must we offer those gifts to others. Christmas is a time of renewal, of fresh starts and coming together. Because our time is so precious, it is a beautiful gift. So let us try to be more generous with our time and more ‘present’ to others; less distracted. Let’s try to turn off our phones and computers more often so we can really pay attention to the people we love.

Christmas is not a day or a season; it is a lifetime of growth in holiness by generous giving of oneself to the others, by making a difference in the world.

May this Christmas celebration bring us peace and joy in our hearts and homes. And may God’s blessing be with us through thick and thin in the coming year 2019.

150th Ordination Anniversary of Fr. Leo Dehon to the Priesthood

Celebrating a jubilee is a cause of joy and happiness. It reminds us of something that happened and became history. It makes us look back and get a sense of the life we have consecrated. It is true that to celebrate is to remember, but that is not sufficient. To commemorate something means to make it present again and to live it as an act of gratitude. Looking at Father Dehon, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of his priestly ordination and his first Mass. On December 19, 1868, our founder was ordained as a priest at Saint John Lateran, Rome, with another 200 ordinands. The first mass took place the following day.

We can read again the words of our founder: “The impressions of the ordination cannot be expressed. I became a priest, owned by Jesus, and all is filled with him, his love for the Father, his zeal for souls, his spirit of prayer and sacrifice”(NHV 6/85).

On December 20th, Father Dehon celebrated his first Mass at Saint Claire Seminary: “It was emotional. When my father and mother approached for communion, no one could hold back the tears. Personally, I was crazy with love for our Lord and full of contempt for my poor, little self. It was the best day of my life “(NHV 6/86).

These words express many feelings: love, emotion, lively gratitude to God for so many gifts that he has received. Days of grace and happiness. In the preparation for ordination he carried out a course of spiritual exercises. He states: “Our Lord wanted to prepare me himself, giving me abundant graces. He certainly had in mind my current mission. I see it today, clearly. He gave me so generously that spirit of love and reparation which is the characteristic of my vocation” (NHV 6/82).

Priestly ordination and first Mass are two great days of celebration, as he wrote: “the best of my life” (NHV 6/82), always characterized by a profound experience of God, his gifts and the marvels of his love.

For us, as Dehonians, this commemoration is a day of celebration and joy; we give thanks to God because of Father Dehon and of the offering of his Dehonian vocation. We remember and celebrate this jubilee of our founder.

Let us ask God, the Father of mercy, to grant him the gift of Beatification, as a model of virtue and zeal; who sacrificed so much to remain faithful to His call, to spread the devotion to the Divine Heart of Jesus.

By: Fr. Ramón Domíngez Fraile, scj (dehon.it)