Sacrament of Confirmation in Dumalinao

On May 21, 2019, 535 young people in Dumalinao (Zamboanga del Sur) received Sacrament of Confirmation. On May 22, 2019, another batch of 530 will be confirmed; 380 from Tigbao and 150 from MAIS area (Mga Anak sa Inahang Simbahan – Children of the Mother Church, barangays:  Pag-asa, Pag-laum, Camanga, Sumadat and Pinig). The ceremony of confirmation was held at the San Isidro Labrador Parish church, during the Holy Eucharist presided by the Bishop of Pagadian, Most Rev. Ronald I. Lunas, D.D., who was assisted by the Regional Superior, Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, Fr. Horst Steppkes, SCJ from Germany, Fr. Yohanes Sono Pribadi, SCJ, from the nearby Novitiate Fr. Dehon and Fr. Robertus Sutopo, SCJ, the parish priest. The last confirmation was held four years ago.

The Sacrament of Confirmation is one of the three Catholic sacraments of initiation. Confirmation in the Catholic Church includes the laying on of hands, and anointing in the sign of the cross with Chrism oil. Confirmation is the third and final sacrament which completes Christian initiation for Roman Catholics, as well as eastern Catholic churches, and is also prominent in the Orthodox Church and other Mainline Christian denominations, including the Church of England, Methodist and Lutheran churches.

Confirmation calls us to live a life of holiness and obedience to God’s will. That call is primarily through a renewal of our baptismal promises that were, in most cases, made for us by our parents when we were baptized. Our parents also made a promise at our baptism to raise us in the faith and teach us about our Church. That might take the form of encouragement to pray the rosary or adopt other devotional practices like the Stations of the Cross to deepen our faith. Hopefully, these statements within our creed were made real for us in our home-life, so that when the time comes for us to receive the Holy Spirit, we would be prepared to confirm our faith. We receive the Holy Spirit in seven unique ways through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are:

  • Wisdom – Helps us to rightly order our interpersonal relationships and the centrality of God and his will in our lives.
  • Understanding – Helps us to comprehend the Gospel and the will of God as communicated through his message.
  • Knowledge – The capacity for exploring and pondering God’s revelation along with the awareness that some mysteries of faith are beyond our ability to grasp completely.
  • Counsel – Helps us to choose the path of God when presented with choices that relate to our journey toward him.
  • Fortitude – Also refered to as courage or strength helps us to do what we know is right even when it might be difficult or costly.
  • Piety – Is a strong devotion to God through prayer
  • Fear of the Lord – Is not to be afraid of God, but to be in wonder of his power and might, and to marvel at his majesty.

The blessing that the bishop gives over the confirmands during the Roman Rite of Confirmation encapsulates all of these gifts beautifully

“All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.”

(CCC 1299)

Empowered by these gifts and the sacramental grace of God, the confirmed Catholic has everything they need to spread and defend the faith in both word and deed, or as many put it, to be a “soldier of Christ.”

Thanksgiving Masses of Newly Ordained SCJ Priests

On May 19, 2019, the two newly ordained priests were saying their “Thanksgiving Masses”, Fr. Joel J. Bolo, SCJ in Dansolihon and Fr. Ruel C. Paalisbo, SCJ in Bacolod (Lanao del Norte).

The celebration in Dansolihon started at 8:00 AM and was attended by some SCJ priests from the formation community in Cagayan de Oro and parishioners from the Jesus Nazareno Chaplaincy. The homily was delivered by Fr. John Karl Cabaluna, SCJ, the parish priest of Kumalarang, who once was in charge of the chaplaincy.

After the Mass, Fr. Joel gave his individual blessing to all who approached him and kissed his hands. The practice of kissing the hands of a newly ordained priest is a long-established custom in some countries. During ordination a new priest’s hands are anointed with chrism as a sign of consecration and of the change that has been effected in his soul. The custom of kissing his hands stems from a recognition of the fundamental change that has occurred and of the particular importance of the sign of the hands in priestly ministry. After ordination the priest uses his hands to hold the Eucharistic species during the consecration, to make the sign of the cross while absolving sins, to anoint the sick and dying, and on occasion to impart the sacrament of confirmation.

The celebration ended at the table which is a very essential element in the Philippine culture.

Similar celebration was held at Santo Niño Parish in Bacolod, Lanao del Norte, the place of Fr. Ruel C. Paalisbo, SCJ.

30 Years Anniversary of SCJ Presence in the Philippines

Thirty years ago, on May 17, 1989, the first group of SCJ missionaries arrived in the Philippines. The group was composed of eight (8) priests representing five (5) SCJ provinces and seven (7) nationalities.

After six months in the language school in Davao City, they were entrusted with three parishes: Kumalarang and Margosatubig (Prelature of Ipil) and Dimataling (Diocese of Pagadian). As they say “the beginnings were very simple and challenging.”

Today, the SCJ Philippines Region has 44 members: 34 priests (22 Filipino priests), 1 religious brother, 7 scholastics on temporary vows, and 2 scholastics on final vows. In addition to this 3 novices will profess their first vows on June 28, 2019. At the moment they run 3 formation houses and 8 parishes.

The celebration of this special anniversary started in the morning with the meeting of the families of the Filipino SCJs. The visitors were introduced to the activities  of the Philippine Region and the Founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Venerable Fr. Leo Dehon.

In the afternoon, the activities resumed at 4:00 PM with the Eucharist presided by Mons. Perseus Cabunoc, VG, SSJV, at the Immaculate Conception Parish church in Aluba.

The Holy Mass was followed by the Special Program held on the grounds of the Sacred Heart Formation House and was composed of the cultural presentation, message of the regional superior, Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, and two testimonies given by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, member of the first group, and Fr. John Karl Cabaluna, SCJ, the first SCJ Filipino priest.

The celebration was attended by the family members of the Filipino SCJs, representatives from different SCJ parishes and local benefactors, visitors from Germany, Poland, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, different religious congregations and Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, D.D., who joined the second part of the program.

The participants were given special tokens: t-shirt and a mug with the logo of the celebration. The elements of the logo include: a boat which signifies the Philippine Region. The boat sails on blue waves shaped like an open book, which is the Gospel that guides the journey of the region. On the boat there are three passengers, who represent the members of the region and different communities who raise their hands in jubilation and thanksgiving. There is also so called “Dehonian Cross”, the symbol of an SCJ identity and the theme of the celebration: “Sharing Dehonian charism, serving the Gospel and living in the community.”

The Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Philippines are thankful to God for all His blessings and protection and all the people of goodwill, who became a part of their success and helped to prepare this beautiful celebration.

20th Foundation Anniversary of Kasanag Daughters Foundation, Inc.

Second activity on May 16, 2019, as a part of bigger celebration of 30th anniversary of SCJ missionary presence in the Philippines, was the 20th Foundation Anniversary of Kasanag Daughters Foundation, Inc. (KDFI).

It started at 4:30 PM with the opening of the “Art Works Exhibit” of the “daughters”, followed by the Holy Eucharist, short program and supper. Fr. Horst Steppkes, SCJ, the Mission Procurator from Germany, cut the ribbon at the entrance to the exhibit room. Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, the superior of the SCJ Philippines Region was the main celebrant of the Holy Mass.

The program started at 6:00 PM with the introduction of the visitors by Fr. Lukas and Ms. Vivian Yecyec, the KDFI Operations Manager and was followed by short messages from Fr. Horst Steppkes from Germany and Fr. Zbigniew Chwaja, the Mission Procurator from Poland. Both entities are helping to run the foundation through  financial assistance.

The main part of the program was an inspirational talk by Judge Evelyn G. Nery, who underlined the need of not being silent in the face of the sexual abuses, especially on the minors.

As usual, the celebration ended with a dinner during which the guests and visitors could watch the video presentation “KDFI through the Years.”

Up to the present more than 200 girls received help from the institution.

Priestly Ordination in Cagayan de Oro

On May 16, 2019, two SCJ deacons, Rev. Joel J. Bolo and Rev. Ruel C. Paalisbo, were ordained priests. The ceremony of ordination was held at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro and was presided by the local archbishop Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, D.D.

Fr. Joel C. Bolo, SCJ, comes from Ugyaban, a part of Dansolihon Chaplaincy served by the SCJs, while Fr. Ruel C. Paalisbo, SCJ from Bacolod, Lanao del Norte, where the SCJs were in charge of the parish from 1994 – 2003.

The ordination to the priesthood was a part of bigger celebration of 30 years of SCJ missionary presence in the Philippines. The ceremony was attended by Bishop of Pagadian, Most Rev. Ronald Lunas, D. D., all members of the SCJ Philippines Region, SCJs from: Germany (Fr. Horst Steppkes), Poland (Fr. Zbigniew Chwaja and Fr. Bogdan Kuta), Indonesia (Fr. Titus Purbosaputra and  Fr. Vincent Sri Herimanto), Vietnam (Fr. Loc Nguyen and Fr. Luong Van Nguyen) India (Fr. Anthony Sundar Raj Mallavarapu), diocesan priests from Pagadian, Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, lay volunteers from Poland, parents and family members of the Filipino SCJs, parishioners from Quezon City, Dumalinao, Kumalarang, Bagong Silang, Talisay, Tandang Kutyo, Dansolihon, Aluba, Margosatubig, Bacolod, family members and friends of the newly ordained priests and other guests.

The ceremony started at 9:30 in the morning and ended with a common meal.

Parish Feast in Tandang Kutyo

On May 13, 2019, the parish community of the Holy Cross Parish (Parokya ng Banal na Krus) in Tandang Kutyo, Tanay, Rizal (Diocese of Antipolo) celebrated its feast. The celebration started with a procession of the faithful and the Holy Cross at 6:00 am and was followed by the groundbreaking ceremony of the new convent (priests’ residence) at 8:30 am presided by Fr. Manny Cuevas with the presence of some guest priests from the vicariate of San Ildefonso, Parish Pastoral Council and Parish Finance Council members, architect and parishioners. After the blessing, the Holy Mass was celebrated.

The Holy Cross Parish was officialy erected on June 26, 2016, and was entrusted to the Priests of the Sacred Heart. As of now, the parish is run by three SCJs: Fr. Marcial Aguirre, SCJFr. Nathaniel Robilla, SCJ and Fra. Victor Lingasa, SCJ. The parish has a long history of the devotion to the Holy Cross, the symbol of our salvation. Every second Monday of May many people would gather there to celebrate the titular feast of the chapel, not exluding the National Election held on this day. The particular date has a special meaning for the local people as it commemorates the date of finding again the cross after it disappeared from the chapel in mysterious circumstances.

Christ is alive!

O Risen Lord,
the way, the truth and the life,
make us faithful followers
of the spirit of your resurrection.
Grant that we may be inwardly
renewed; dying to ourselves
in order that you may live in us.
May our lives serve as signs
of the transforming power of your love.
Use us as your instruments
for the renewal of society,
bring your life and love to all
and leading them to your Church.
This we ask of you, Lord Jesus,
living and reigning with the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever. Amen

Easter, the feast of the Resurrection, invites us to move beyond the tomb and share the good news of the Resurrection with one another. Easter calls us to look for life among the living with grateful and joyful hearts. Easter urges us to courageously follow Jesus Christ, the risen one, and to boldly proclaim that out of darkness and suffering come new life.

Easter is about a new life, about Jesus risen from the dead, giving us hope when things feel hopeless, courage when we want to run away, strength to be open and vulnerable, confidence in the face of death, when things are at their worst, when things are dark and when human possibilities are exhausted.

Let us bring the joy of the gospel to the world by reflecting the Risen Lord in us, by living joyful lives filled with love and compassion. Let us be a resurrected people and testify to others that Christ is indeed risen in us!

Wishing you a blessed and holy Easter!

Perpetual Profession of Vows in Talisay, Hilongos

On April 10, 2019, two SCJ confreres on temporary vows, Bro. Victor Lingasa and  Bro. Julius Socorro, made their final commitment to God in the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred  Heart of Jesus (SCJ). The ceremony  was held in the under construction new church of Quasi Parish Medalla Milagrosa in Talisay, Hilongos, Leyte and was preceded by the SCJ regular meeting a day before. The concelebrated Mass was presided by His Excellency Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantilias, SDB, DD, the Bishop of Maasin Diocese. In his homily, the bishop welcomed all the SCJs and expressed his wish to have another SCJ presence in his diocese.

The final vows of Chastity, Obedience and Poverty were accepted by the Regional Superior Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ. Besides the SCJs, the celebration was attended by some diocesan priests from the area, religious sisters, family members of the perpetually professed and parishioners from different chapels, who worked very hard for the preparation of this event.

The Profession of Final Vows in Talisay was the first part of a larger celebration of 30th anniversary of the SCJ presence in the Philippines.