June 11, 2016 marks the official start of SCJ presence in the Diocese of Maasin. The local bishop, Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD, entrusted to the Congregation a part of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Hilongos, particularly St. Pope John Paul II Southern Mission Territory with its main chapel in barangay Talisay. The idea behind this agreement is twofold: on the side of the Diocese, it is to answer the spiritual needs of the faithful and develop this area into a future parish and on the side of the Congregation is to expand the SCJ presence into the Visayas Region.
On October 22, 2016, on the liturgical memorial of St. John Paul II, the Southern Mission Territory was elevated to the rank of Chaplaincy. The Bishop of Maasin in his “Decree of Establishment” declared the following: “Since the Faithful in the southern part of the Immaculate Conception Parish needs the constant presence of the Minister of the Catholic faith in response to the mission of the Church to foster the growth of the catholic faith, and to care for the spiritual desires of the Catholic Communities in the said area; and after having duly consulted the Diocesan Board of Consultors, with the full knowledge of the Presbyterium, I, Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD, Bishop of Maasin, hereby solemnly decree the canonical establishment of the Chaplaincy of St. John Paul II, with all the rights and privileges accrued to such an entity in accordance with the Code of Canon Law, and our Diocesan Statutes and Decrees.
The Jurisdiction of this Chaplaincy will be composed of the following barangays: Talisay, Kanghaas, Tabunok, Tuguipa, Hitudpan, Lunang, San Agustin, Bun-ot, Catandog I, Catandog II, Bantigue of the Municipality of Hilongos, Leyte…
…Moreover, I designate Fathers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SCJ) to look after this new chaplaincy. I also designate the chapel of Talisay to be the official chapel of the Chaplaincy…”
The “Decree of Establishment” was read during the Holy Mass by the Chancellor of the Diocese Fr. Alexes Villarubin, JCL. The concelebrated Mass was presided by Msgr. Oscar A. Cadayona, the Vicar General from Maasin, while the homily on “Life and Legacy of St. John Paul II” was delivered by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, the SCJ Philippine Regional Superior. Among the concelebrants were Msgr. Antonio M. Gaviola, PC, the Pastor – Moderator of Hilongos Parish, Fr. Conrado C. Saavedra, Jr.,, Fr. Joseph Butlig, SCJ, Fr. Elpidio Luza Jr., SCJ, Fr. Arthur Guevara, SCJ and Fr. Christopher Alburo, SCJ.