Warm welcome in the Diocese of Maasin

Expansion of the SCJ presence to the middle of the Philippines, particularly in the Visayas area, was one of the top priorities of the Philippine Region since many years ago. It would serve not only as a link between the two big islands of Luzon and Mindanao, where the SCJs are present, but also it could become a source of new vocations.

After some research and consultations, the Bishop of Diocese of Maasin, Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD, has offered to the Congregation a part of a big parish in Hilongos, Southern Leyte, to be developed into a new parish.

On June 11, 2016, two SCJ priests, Fr. Arthur Guevara and Fr. Christopher Alburo were very warmly welcomed  by the people of Talisay, from the St. Pope John Paul II Southern Mission Territory, a part of Immaculate Conception Parish in Hilongos.

The concelebrated Mass was presided by Msgr. Antonio M. Gaviola, PC, the Pastor – Moderator of Hilongos Parish. Among the concelebrants were: Msgr. Marnito B. Bansig, Fr. Conrado C. Saavedra, Jr., the co-pastors and Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ and Fr. Khoa Nguyen, SCJ from the Priests of the Sacred Heart. During his homily Fr. Francis, introduced the SCJ Congregation and explained the reasons of the SCJ presence in the area.

The welcome party was not only attended by many parishioners, but also by the Mayor of Hilongos, Hon. Albert Villahermosa and all barangays capitans of the future parish.

The new SCJ community is composed of two SCJ priests and one seminarian on exposure, Fra. April Jhon Magarzo, SCJ. The challenge to start a new presence is very big, the living conditions of the community are very simple, but the priests assigned there are happy and the people are very excited and supportive.