Celebration of the Immaculate Conception Feast in Aluba Parish

On December 8, 2019, the Immaculate Conception Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro City, celebrated its Patronal Feast. The concelebrated Fiesta Mass was presided by Fr. Julius Clavero, SSJV, the parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Pueblo, Cagayan de Oro City. As usual the main celebration was preceded with nine day novena and other activities, such as a Parish BEC Family Day on November 30, Walk for Fun on December 7, and culminated with the Acoustic Band Concert on December 8.

The Immaculate Conception  is also the Principal Patroness of the Philippines and this year is celebrated on December 9.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX’s solemn declaration, Ineffabilis Deus, clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin. In proclaiming the Immaculate Conception of Mary as a dogma of the Church, the pope expressed precisely and clearly that Mary was conceived free from the stain of original sin. This privilege of Mary derives from God’s having chosen her as Mother of the Savior; thus she received the benefits of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception.

This great gift to Mary, an ordinary human being just like us, was fitting because she was destined to be Mother of God. The purity and holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a model for all Christians.

The Immaculate Conception Parish in Aluba is being administered by the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SCJs) since June 1, 2011. At the present Fr. Janusz Burzawa is the Parish Priest and is assisted by Fr. Szymon Bendowski, and Fr. Ruel C. Paalisbo.

Miraculous Medal Quasi-Parish in Talisay declared a Parish

On November 30, 2019, the Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Quasi-Parish in Talisay, Hilongos, Southern Leyte, was elevated to the rank of a parish. The declaration was made by the Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, D.D., the Bishop of Maasin, during the concelebrated Holy Eucharist.  Also, during the same ceremony, the bishop has installed Fr. Arthur Guevara, SCJ, as a Parish Priest of the new parish. The celebration was a part of the 3rd Feast of the Patron and was preceded with nine day Novena and other activities.

In the Roman Catholic Church, a parish is a stable community of the faithful within a particular church, whose pastoral care has been entrusted to a parish priest, under the authority of the diocesan bishop. It is a territorial entity constituting a division within a diocese.

The parish is where the Church lives. Parishes are communities of faith, of action, and of hope. They are where the gospel is proclaimed and celebrated, where believers are formed and sent to renew the earth. Parishes are the home of the Christian community; they are the heart of our Church. Parishes are the place where God’s people meet Jesus in word and sacrament and come in touch with the source of the Church’s life.

The official SCJ presence in the Diocese of Maasin started on June 11, 2016, when the local bishop entrusted to the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ) a part of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Hilongos,  the St. Pope John Paul II Southern Mission Territory, with its main chapel in the Barangay Talisay, later on Miraculous Medal Quasi-Parish. At the moment there are three SCJs assigned there: Fr. Arthur Guvera, Fr. Christopher Alburo and Fr. Josepatro Gier, Jr.

On January 1, 2018, with the ground breaking ceremony, the parishioners of Talisay started construction of their new parish church, which at the moment is at the stage of its completion.

The celebration was attended by the Regional Superior Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, the Regional Secretary and Treasurer Fr. Joseph Butlig, SCJ, Fr. Elpidio Luza, SCJ, the Parish Priest of Bagong Silang, diocesan priests, religious from different congregations and parishioners. As usual, it ended at the table filled with the different kinds of food.

Celebration of SCJ Memorial Day 2019

November 26, 2019 marks the 55th death anniversary of Mgr. Joseph Albert Wittebols, SCJ, the bishop of Wamba, who was killed together with six other missionaries in 1964 in Congo during the Simba revolution.
Since 2004, the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ), remembers on this day all SCJs who have died as martyrs for the sake of the Gospel and Kingdom of God.
The SCJ Memorial Day is celebrated in a very special way in all formation communities together with the members of the Dehonian Family, friends and benefactors.
This year, the celebration of the memorial day in Dehon House in Manila, was presided by Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, the Superior of the SCJ Philippines Region, while the homily was delivered by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, from Cagayan de Oro,  in-charge of the fundraising office.
In his homily, Fr. Francis shared about the meaning of martyrdom, history and the common call to be living martyrs.
After the Mass, the participants were invited to watch a short video presentation about the SCJ Martyrs, which was followed by a common meal.
The celebration was attended by the SCJs from the Zone of Manila, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga del Sur, guest priests, religious of different congregations, friends and benefactors.
Similar celebrations were held in the Sacred Heart Formation House in Cagayan de Oro and Novitiate Fr. Dehon in Lower Lucoban, Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur.

Entity Superiors Meeting in Rome and other events

The New Superiors Meeting was followed by the Entity Superiors Meeting. It was held at the SCJ Generalate in Rome on November 11 – 15, 2019. In between there were two important events organized by the Dehonian Studies Centre (CSD): International Dehonian Theological Commission (CTID) meeting and the International Conference on the Sacred Heart Devotion titled “Sacred Heart Devotion: Memory – Body – Image – Text; Continuity and Discontinuity.”

The first activity was an annual gathering  of the coordinators of the continental commissions, the staff of the Dehonian Studies Centre, and the two General Councillors, Fr. Léopold Mfouakouet and Fr. Artur Sanecki. The Philippines Region was represented in this meeting by Fr. Delio Ruiz.

The second event on November 8 – 9, 2019, sponsored by the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the University of Lucerne (Switzerland), was a conference attended by 120 participants including Dehonian confreres from all over the world, lay people, members of religious congregations dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and experts from Switzerland, Germany, USA, Spain and Italy.

The Meeting of the Entity Superiors was attended by 37 confreres from all of the provinces, regions and districts of the Congregation, along with members of the General Government and the main services of the Curia. During five very exhausting days the superiors, among many different topics, reflected on the challenges the congregation is facing, new perspectives, structures, internationality, collaboration among entities, finances, etc.

On November 13, 2019, the superiors of the entities have been invited to commemorate the confreres killed and presented as models for Dehonian consecration and vocation: Blessed Giovanni Maria della Croce and P. Martino Capelli, whose 75th anniversaries of martyrdom are being celebrated and are recognized as important steps in the process of Canon for beatification. The relics of Blessed Giovanni Maria della Croce and the original 1931 document of the renewal of the vows of Fr. Martino Capelli were present in the meeting room. At the end of the day the superiors of the entities and several members of the Generalate community went to the Basilica of St. Bartholomew, to honor these Dehonian martyrs of the 20th and 21st centuries. Together with the Community of Sant ‘Egidio, they prayed Vespers and transferred the relics and memories of these confreres, placing them in the chapels.

For more information please visit the webpage of the congregation http://www.dehoniani.org/en/

Meeting of New Superiors in Rome

Superiors of the different entities of the Congregation, in their first triennium as superiors, take part in a meeting organized by the General Curia in Rome, Italy, from November 5 to 7, 2019. The meeting will be followed by the meeting of all entities superiors that will be held in the same venue from November 11 to 15, 2019.

All participants were welcomed by the General Superior Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniu, SCJ. In the morning, the new superiors shared their experiences on what they consider as the blessing, cross, hope and fear. The workshop was guided by the General Councilor, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, SCJ.

In the afternoon, the new superiors met with the General Secretary Fr. Iglesias Pedro Curto, SCJ, who explained the different administrative procedures in the Congregation.

The Philippines Region is being represented by Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ. The new superiors had the opportunity to meet Fr. Vincentius Sri Herimanto, SCJ, the new General Councilor who replaced Fr. Alexander Sapta Dwi Handoko, SCJ. Fr. Vincent for many years was a member of the Philippine Mission.

All Souls Day Prayer

November 2 is the Commemoration of All of the Faithful Departed, or All Souls. On this day, we pray that all those who have died, our loved ones, and also those people around the world who we will never meet, through the mercy of God, will rest in peace. 

God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.

Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.

In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.

Amen.

Parade of Saints 2019

Like in the previous years, on November 1, 2019, parishioners of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro, took part in a “Parade of Saints” to celebrate All Saints’ Day. The parade is a counter-culture activity to the pagan celebration of Halloween and an avenue of catechizing children at an early age, and families, about the lives of the saints.

Catholic saints are people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint, the Church honors, responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts for the glory of God and the good of others. God calls each one of us to be a saint.

Similar celebration was also held at San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish in Quezon City, Diocese of Novaliches.

All Saints’ Day in the Philippines

The Solemnity of All Saints’ Day, also called All Hallows Tide, All Hallomas, or All Hallows’ Day, on November 1, is a celebration of all Christian saints, known or unknown, canonized or beatified, but more particularly those who have no special feast days of their own. In many countries, including the Philippines, All Saints’ Day is not only for remembering the saints, but also for honoring and paying respects to departed relatives and friends, through prayers, floral and food offerings, vigil, and lighting of candles at gravesites. For Catholics, it is a holy day of obligation, as they go to Mass and participate in ceremonies for the dead.

All Saints’ Day originated from the ancient tradition of honoring the martyrs of Christianity. As the number of persecuted martyrs grew, the church instituted a common commemoration of their faith. Pope Boniface IV consecrated the pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs on May 13 in 609 A.D. Pope Gregory III (731-741) instituted November 1 as the official date of All Saints’ Day.

Filipinos, known for having great respect for their deceased relatives, consider All Saints Day, called “Undas” or Todos los Santos, a day of remembrance, an important liturgical celebration, next to Christmas and Holy Week, that begins at Vespers on evening of October 31 and ends at the close of November 1. Undas is similar to the Mexican tradition of “Dia de los Muertos” or “Day of the Dead,” in which the focus is on family gatherings before tombs of loved ones.

Filipinos go home to their provinces where their loved ones are buried to pay them honor and respect; they offer flowers and food baskets and light candles in cemeteries, memorial parks, mausoleums, and columbariums where they reunite with relatives and friends, share stories and memories, and together pray for their dearly departed. In rural communities, groups of older people, and sometimes children, organize singing groups that go from house to house to serenade families, called “pangangaluluwa” or the Visayan “kalag-kalag” (souling), a practice belived to bring peace to departed souls.

First Dehonian Family Encounter in CDO

Seventy one (71) participants from the SCJ parishes, all over the Philippines, members of the Dehonian Youth and Lay Dehonians, took part in the “First Dehonian Family Encounter”, that was held at the Sacred Heart Formation House in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro City.

The purpose of this meeting, which was a part of celebration of the 30th Anniversary of SCJ presence in the Philippines, was sharing of experiences, learning more about Father Dehon and fellowship among the different groups.

The meeting started on Friday, October 25, 2019, with the Holy Mass to the Sacred Heart of Jesus presided by Fr. Janusz Burzawa, SCJ. On the following day, October 26, 2019, during the morning session Fr. Janusz deepened the theme: “Sharing the Dehonian Charism Serving the Gospel, and Living in the Community” by sharing about the life and works of Fr. Leo John Dehon, and as well  his personal experiences as a missionary in the Philippines for the last 26 years.

In the afternoon, Ms. Elaine Gutang conducted the team building activities. The Eucharist was presided by Fr. Patrick Gutib, SCJ, one of the main organizers of these activities. In the evening, all participants took part in a special program prepared and presented by each group.

On Sunday, October 27, 2019, all the participants attended the Holy Eucharist at the Immaculate Conception Parish, across the street, presided by the regional superior Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ. The lunch was followed by the closing activities, namely evaluation and planning. At 3:00 PM the meeting was over and all could return to their respective places. The biggest group came from San Isidro Labrador Parish in Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur. Some of the groups were accompanied by their priests.

Hopefully, this was not one time activity, but it will continue in the future.