Four new SCJ Priests of the Philippine Region: “Anointed to share in the priesthood of Christ”

November 26, 2013 is a milestone in the history of the Philippine Region. Significantly, aside from being the date when we commemorate the SCJ Memorial, on this day, four of our Filipino Brothers have been ordained priests, namely: Elpidio Luza, Niño Etulle, Joseph Butlig and Marlo Piloton. They are, as their aphorism during the ordination mass states, “Anointed to share in the priesthood of Christ.” They finished their initial formation in the Philippines.

The meaningful and solemn Eucharistic celebration was presided by Most Reverend Archbp. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro. The ordination took place in San Antonio de Padua Parish Church in Nazareth, Cagayan de Oro City which is the home parish of Fr. Elpidio. The church was overflowed with religious from different congregations, family members, relatives and friends as well as guests of our other three neo-presbyters during the Holy Mass. They came from various parts of the Philippines.

Archbp. Ledesma, in his homily, shared about the importance of priesthood. Following Christ and being his witness is the ultimate and fundamental aim of priesthood. Bishop also reminded the three roles of priesthood: prophetic, priestly and royal. Each of it should be practice in the spirit of service to the people. Finally he expressed his gratitude to the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. He recalled his personal experience where he met SCJs missionaries in Prelature of Ipil for the first time. He mentioned remote parishes and missions where the SCJs work and projects they run. Also he thanked them for helping the victims of calamites in the Philippines including the recent one: Yolanda, and earlier: Sendong in Cagayan de Oro.

After the Mass, the reception and fraternal gathering followed at the Sacred Heart Formation House in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro. It is the seat of the Administration of the SCJ Philippine Region as well a formation center. This place is where the houses of Philosophy and Postulancy are located. More than 1000 guests took part in the dinner. Many of them stayed until evening and joined the celebration of the Memorial of the SCJ Martyrs. It was a beautiful and momentous feast day for all of us. Indeed, November 26, 2013 will be remembered as a distinct day in the history of the Philippine Region in which four new priests joined us in our Dehonian mission here.

We are grateful to the Lord for gift and vocation of the four new priests. They will join us in the mission of the Philippine Region. May they be always faithful to God and follow the charism of Fr. Dehon, our founder.

Vivat Cor Jesu!

Fr. Andrzej Sudol, SCJ

November 26 – Remembering the SCJ Martyrs

SCJ_Memorial DayNovember 26 has been permanently inscribed in the calendar of activities of all SCJ communities around the world as SCJ Memorial Day.  On this day the congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart remembers all those who have died as martyrs. This special day set to be celebrated every 26th of November was decreed by the General Superior, Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, and his council, on May 11, 2004.  Significantly this date corresponds with the death anniversary of Bp. Wittebols, SCJ who was murdered together with 27 religious during the Simba revolution in Congo in 1964. Their deaths occurred during the month of November from the 3rd to the 27th. On the 26th the Bishop of Wamba was killed along with six other missionaries.  They gave their lives for the love of evangelization.  Many of them were quite young.

Earlier, in 1936, Bl. Juan Maria de la Cruz, together with many priests, religious and lay people from Valencia, became victims of religious persecution during the Civil War in Spain from 1936 to 1939.

At some point in World War II, 5 priests were murdered or died in the hands of the Nazis:  1 was German and the 2 others were priests from Luxembourg, a Belgian and an Italian.  11 Dutchmen died in concentration camps in Indonesia.   Besides these religious, 3 French missionaries died in Cameroon in 1959 and also a Dutch missionary from the North Brazilian Province in 1975 as a result of his protective assistance to poor fishermen in Northeast Brazil.

As stated in the letter of General Superior Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho dated May 31, 2004:  All of them “washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14) and achieved the ideal of the Founder who wished to be missionary and martyrBy their untimely demise, they became one with Him who loved us and gave his life for us (Gal. 2:20 ). Their deaths were the consequence of a life choice made much earlier and kept perseveringly to the end. They are our inspiration and a source of strength for our vocation and mission. We recall that martyrdom can be one possible outcome for each of us as we look at a life coupled with a daily faithfulness to the Gospel taken on and lived in observance of a charism marked by the reparatory oblation of Christ.

Recently, on October 13, 2013, in Tarragona, Spain, another group of 522 martyrs was beatified.  They were also killed during the religious persecution from 1936 to 1939.  On this occasion, Pope Francis sent to all participants a special video with this very interesting and inspiring message:

“Who are the martyrs?  They are Christians who have been “earned” by Christ, disciples who have learnt well the sense of that “love to the extreme limit” which led Jesus to the Cross. There is no such thing as love in instalments, no such thing as portions of love. Total love: and when we love, we love till the end.  On the Cross, Jesus felt the weight of death, the weight of sin, but he gave himself over to the Father entirely, and he forgave. He barely spoke, but he gave the gift of life. Christ “beats” us in love; the martyrs imitated him in love until the very end.

The Sainted Fathers say: “Let’s imitate the martyrs!” We must always die a little in order to come out of ourselves, of our selfishness, of our well-being, of our laziness, of our sadnesses, and open up to God, to others, especially those who need it most.

We implore the intercession of the martyrs that we may be concrete Christians, Christians in deeds and not just in words, that we may not be mediocre Christians, Christians painted in a superficial coating of Christianity without substance – they weren’t painted, they were Christians until the end. We ask them for help in keeping our faith firm, that even throughout our difficulties we may nourish hope and foster brotherhood and solidarity.”

 The message of the Pope applies to each one of us as well. May the memorial of our SCJ brothers, who died as martyrs, become a source of inspiration and renewal of our faith and commitment to God and to his people.  May it become a seed of our growth in holiness.  May it teach us that every time we suffer, we are more credible and the Gospel proclaimed by us, has a greater value.

Solidarity with the Philippines; Letter of the General Superior



Prot. N. P0301/2013

November 12, 2013

            Dear Confreres,

It is with great sadness that we have witnessed once again the force and the devastation of extreme weather. This time it occurred in the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippine coast last Friday. With storm surges of up to six meters and winds exceeding 200 km per hour, the death toll has reached many thousands especially near the coasts. At least 800.000 people have been displaced.

It is with a sense of relief that we can report that none of our confreres in the Philippines has been killed or injured. We do not have a precise report yet as to the damage done by the winds. Some of the families of our Philippine confreres were affected but we have heard of no deaths until now.

At this time we wish to stand with the Philippine people and try to help them in this time of need. On your behalf, the General Administration has already sent $20,000 for relief assistance. We have sent the money to Fr. Francis Pupkowski, the superior of the Philippine Region, so that he can direct the relief money to the neediest parts of the country.

We invite our Provinces, Regions and Districts to channel their own contributions either through the Generalate by contacting Fr. Aquilino Mielgo Domínguez ( or directly to the Philippine Region through Fr. Francis Pupkowski (

In this time of need, we want to express our sympathy and our support. We hope that with international assistance the Philippine people will soon be able to rebuild homes and replace the crops that were ruined by the very high winds. We will support them also with our prayers.

May the Lord accompany the Philippine people in this difficult time and give them courage and determination to restore their lives and their livelihoods.

In the Heart of Christ,

Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho

General Superior

One of world’s strongest typhoons lashes Philippines

One of the most powerful typhoons in history is believed to have killed 1,200 people in the Philippines, the Red Cross said Saturday, as rescue workers raced to reach towns devastated by tsunami-like waves.

A day after Super Typhoon Haiyan whipped across the central Philippines with maximum sustained winds of around 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour, a picture emerged of entire communities having been flattened.

Authorities said that, aside from the ferocious winds, storm surges of up to three metres (10 feet) high that swept into coastal towns and deep inland were responsible for destroying countless homes.

“Imagine a strip one kilometre deep inland from the shore, and all the shanties, everything, destroyed,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said after visiting coastal towns in Leyte, one of the worst-hit provinces in the east of the archipelago.

“They were just like matchsticks flung inland. All the houses were destroyed.”

The official government death toll on Saturday night was 138.

But with rescue workers yet to reach or communicate with many ravaged communities across a 600-kilometre stretch of islands, authorities said they were unable to give a proper assessment of how many people had been killed.

Philippine Red Cross secretary general Gwendolyn Pang said her organisation estimated 1,200 people had died, while a UN official who visited Leyte described apocalyptic scenes.

“This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris,” said Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, the head of a UN disaster assessment coordination team.

“The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami,” he said, referring to the 2004 disaster that claimed about 220,000 lives.

Stampa made his comments after arriving in Tacloban, the destroyed capital of Leyte with a population of about 220,000 people.

More than 100 bodies were littered in and around Tacloban’s airport, according to the facility’s manager.

AFP journalists who arrived in Tacloban on a military aircraft encountered dazed survivors wandering amid the carnage asking for water, while others sorted through what was left of their destroyed homes.

One resident, Dominador Gullena, cried as he recounted to AFP his escape but the loss of his neighbours.

“My family evacuated the house. I thought our neighbours also did the same, but they didn’t,” Gullena said.

Eight bodies had been laid to rest inside Tacloban airport’s chapel, which had also been badly damaged, according to an AFP photographer.

One woman knelt on the flood-soaked floor of the church while holding the hand of a dead boy, who had been placed on a wooden pew.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla reached the fishing town of Palo, about 10 kilometres from Tacloban, by helicopter and said he believed “hundreds” of people had died just in that area.

Pope Francis tweeted his support for the typhoon victims: “I ask all of you to join me in prayer for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda especially those in the beloved islands of the Philippines.”

Race to reach decimated communities

Meanwhile, the military, government relief workers and non-government organisations battled to reach communities and deliver desperately needed supplies.

Fifteen thousand soldiers were in the disaster zones and helping in the rescue effort, military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Ramon Zagala told AFP.

Zagala said helicopters were flying rescuers into priority areas, while infantry units deployed across the affected areas were also proceeding on foot or in military trucks.

Haiyan’s wind strength, which remained close to 300 kilometres an hour throughout Friday, made it the strongest typhoon in the world this year and one of the most intense ever recorded.

It exited into the South China Sea on Saturday and tracked towards Vietnam, where more than 200,000 people crammed into storm shelters.

Philippine authorities had expressed confidence on Friday that only a few people had been killed, citing two days of intense preparation efforts led by President Benigno Aquino.

Nearly 800,000 people in danger zones had been moved to evacuation centres, while thousands of boats across the archipelago were ordered to remain secured at ports. Hundreds of flights were also cancelled.

Aquino said on Saturday night it appeared some communities had not heeded the warnings.

“I hesitate to say this, but it seems that Tacloban was not that prepared, shall we say, compared with other areas,” he told reporters in Manila.

An average of 20 major storms or typhoons, many of them deadly, batter the Philippines each year as they emerge from the Pacific Ocean.

The Philippines suffered the world’s strongest storm of 2012, when Typhoon Bopha left about 2,000 people dead or missing on the southern island of Mindanao.

Haiyan is expected to make landfall in central Vietnam early Sunday, with millions of people thought to be in its path.

Authorities have begun mass evacuations in at least four central coastal provinces, Vietnam’s state-run VNExpress news site said, as the country was put on high alert.


SCJ Young Clergy Meeting

Cagayan de Oro City – It has been about six years now since the Young SCJ Clergy of this region has been organized and every year-end the group gathers together to share, to evaluate and to plan for the upcoming year. This year-end, the gathering took place last November 4-5 at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, about 47km west ouside this city. Everybody arrived for lunch, as scheduled, except for Fr. John Karl and Deacon Niño who could not come down from Manila as well as Fr. Aloisio Back, our beloved adviser, whose flight was cancelled due to a bad weather condition. There were 10 of us present and also keeping in thoughts Frs. Partrick and Rechie who are in Rome. The whole afternoon, until dinner time, was dedicated to sharing, evaluation and planning. The sharing was very good and comprehensive where some personal and pastoral concerns were expressed. There were a lot of new things that came up too. Everybody also expressed excitement for the coming ordination of the new priests and the incoming new clergy for the next year.  Indeed it is such a great joy knowing and foreseeing the moderate yet consistent increase in the number of local priests in the region. Another very interesting point in our discussion was whether we find ourselves ready to go for missio ad gentes. The discussion was very lively and we felt some of us are actually willing to go for missions when given an opportunity.

For the upcoming year, the group foresees having an ongoing formation focusing on Pastoral Management Skills. We ended the meeting with an election of a new Chairman and Secretary, Fr Jigger and Fr Rico, respectively. After supper, we had the opportunity of taking a dip at the pool near the venue. The following day, we concluded our gathering with the celebration of the Eucharist and off we dispersed to our own communities after a simple breakfast.

By: Fr. Tong