Thirty years ago, on May 17, 1989, the first group of SCJ missionaries arrived in the Philippines. The group was composed of eight (8) priests representing five (5) SCJ provinces and seven (7) nationalities.
After six months in the language school in Davao City, they were entrusted with three parishes: Kumalarang and Margosatubig (Prelature of Ipil) and Dimataling (Diocese of Pagadian). As they say “the beginnings were very simple and challenging.”
Today, the SCJ Philippines Region has 44 members: 34 priests (22 Filipino priests), 1 religious brother, 7 scholastics on temporary vows, and 2 scholastics on final vows. In addition to this 3 novices will profess their first vows on June 28, 2019. At the moment they run 3 formation houses and 8 parishes.
The celebration of this special anniversary started in the morning with the meeting of the families of the Filipino SCJs. The visitors were introduced to the activities of the Philippine Region and the Founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Venerable Fr. Leo Dehon.
In the afternoon, the activities resumed at 4:00 PM with the Eucharist presided by Mons. Perseus Cabunoc, VG, SSJV, at the Immaculate Conception Parish church in Aluba.
The Holy Mass was followed by the Special Program held on the grounds of the Sacred Heart Formation House and was composed of the cultural presentation, message of the regional superior, Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, and two testimonies given by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, member of the first group, and Fr. John Karl Cabaluna, SCJ, the first SCJ Filipino priest.
The celebration was attended by the family members of the Filipino SCJs, representatives from different SCJ parishes and local benefactors, visitors from Germany, Poland, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, different religious congregations and Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, D.D., who joined the second part of the program.
The participants were given special tokens: t-shirt and a mug with the logo of the celebration. The elements of the logo include: a boat which signifies the Philippine Region. The boat sails on blue waves shaped like an open book, which is the Gospel that guides the journey of the region. On the boat there are three passengers, who represent the members of the region and different communities who raise their hands in jubilation and thanksgiving. There is also so called “Dehonian Cross”, the symbol of an SCJ identity and the theme of the celebration: “Sharing Dehonian charism, serving the Gospel and living in the community.”
The Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Philippines are thankful to God for all His blessings and protection and all the people of goodwill, who became a part of their success and helped to prepare this beautiful celebration.