November 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 28 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 laypeople 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.
The SCJ Memorial Day is celebrated in a very special way in all formation communities, normally together with the members of the Dehonian Family, friends, and benefactors. This year due to the coronavirus pandemic the celebration was very simple. In Cagayan de Oro, the Eucharist, “In Memoriam” of the SCJ Martyrs, was presided by Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, the Superior of the SCJ Philippines Region. Also during the same celebration Bro. Rene Boy D. Socorro made his final commitment to God in the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart by professing the three vows of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience. The vows were accepted by Fr. Lukas Sasmito.