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

Parish Feast in Kumalarang

On May 14, 2014, the San Isidore Parish in Kumalarang celebrated its 33rd annual Feast of the Patron. This year the celebration was connected with the 25th anniversary of presence of SCJ priests. The main celebrant was the Vicar General Fr. Totong Gente. The Eucharist was followed by blessing of the new formation house and kindergarten, lunch and cultural presentation made by different zones of the parish.

First and Perpetual Profession of Vows


On May 13, 2014, six brothers on temporary vows and five Novices made their final and first profession of religious vows. The ceremony, which opened a week-long celebration of 25th Anniversary of the SCJ presence in the Philippines, took place in the parish church in Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur. The Vows were accepted by the Regional Superior, Fr. Francis Pupkowski, scj.

Warm welcome in Margosatubig

Margosatubig was one of the first places of the SCJ presence in the Philippines. Even the SCJs left this parish more than ten years ago, they are still remembered there and have many fans. On May 12, 2014, a group of friends from Margosatubig organized a special party commemorating the 25th Anniversary of their presence in the Philippines. Thank you for this wonderful celebration and for being a part of our journey! We love you too!

Dansolihon – A Blessing at Jesus Nazareno Chaplaincy


Yesterday I was invited to come with Fr. Frank Pupkowski, scj, and Fr. Khoa Nguyen,scj, to Dansolhon for the 08:00 Mass to be followed by the blessing of the new convent that  will  be  the  home  to  3  SCJs.  First  off  I  must  explain  to  you  that  here  in  the Philippines a convent or also called a convento as they say applies to both a convent for nuns and a rectory for priests.

At present Jesus Nazareno functions as a Chaplaincy that I can best describe as a sub-parish, it currently has 35 out stations, and if you add them all up about 1100 families. It is staffed by Fr. Jan Krzysuok, scj, and Fr. Elpido Luza, Jr., scj. Fr. Jan is a missionary from  Poland  while  Fr.  Elpido  is  a  native  Filipino.  They  will  soon  be  joined  by  Br.Yohanes Sismadi, scj, who is a missionary from Indonesia. As you can see this a real international SCJ community.  According to Fr. Frank, the regional superior, though it is a chaplaincy,Jesus Nazareno really is functioning as a parish.

By: Fr. Tom Cassidy, SCJ

Sports and the changing of the seasons in the Philippines

Walk with us!

As noted previously, Fr. Tom Cassidy is in the Philippines for the next few weeks, teaching English. On April 30 he writes:

philmapCDOToday is the last day of the month and tomorrow we begin May with the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, and in much of the world its May Day, which compares to our Labor Day celebration back in the States.

After class yesterday the students told me they were going out to play soccer. The players were all Vietnamese plus two from the formation staff. I learned that soccer is not popular with Filipinos, or at least with the three enrolled in our program. I’m not sure what is the most popular sport but as I mentioned in an earlier entry basketball may well be.

Unlike India, where I found at least three channels devoted to cricket, I have not found a similar local TV dedication to a…

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Settling in with the Philippine community

Walk with us!

SCJ Formation House, Cagayan de Oro SCJ Formation House, Cagayan de Oro

As noted previously, Fr. Tom Cassidy is in the Philippines for the next few weeks, teaching English. The following are recent reflections that he wrote for our province blog:

April 25, 2014: SCJ Formation House, Cagayan de Oro:

It is now 09:00 and later today I will meet with the students so I’ll save talking about them until tomorrow. I’ll try to explain the building complex that will be my home until early June. This is indeed a formation community as there are three levels of formation that take place here before the students move on to the novitiate and then to Manila for their theological studies. Here are the levels:

1. Postulants — these men are preparing to enter the novitiate the program in most provinces lasts for a year.

2. Aspirants — these men are studying philosophy at Xavier University and will…

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First day in the Philippines

Walk with us!

From India to the Philippines. After a short break at home for Holy Week and Easter Fr. Tom Cassidy is back in Asia, this time the Philippines, where he will be assisting with the English program there. This is the first of his blog posts from the region. 

Dehon House, Manila Dehon House, Manila

It is now late afternoon as I am completing my first day in the Philippines. Today is a recovery day from my travels and tomorrow I’ll fly down to Mindanao to begin my time as English teacher. Actually, if I am correct, it would be better to say Assistant English Teacher. As I understand my job it will be to work on pronunciation with the students, but time will tell as to what my real duties will be. I did come prepared with several texts thanks to Kelly Kornacki who heads the ESL program (English as a Second Language)…

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