Celebration of 180th Birth Anniversary of Fr. Leo Dehon

The celebration of the 180th Birth Anniversary of Fr. Leo Dehon began with a special nine-day novena prayer on March 5, 2023

Fr. Leo Dehon, also known as Ven. Fr. Leo John Dehon was a French Roman Catholic priest who founded the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SCJ) congregation in 1878. He was born on March 14, 1843, and died on August 12, 1925. His life and mission inspired many people around the world, especially those who follow his charism of social justice, spiritual renewal, and apostolic ministry.

To honor the legacy of Fr. Dehon, the seminarians and staff of the Sacred Heart Formation House in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, organized a series of activities from March 11 to 12, 2023. These activities aimed to foster unity, fellowship, and service among the seminarians, as well as to share the values and teachings of Fr. Dehon with the wider community.

On March 11, 2023, the seminarians started the day with a parade around the formation house compound. They wore colorful shirts representing their respective teams for the sports and quiz bee competitions. The parade added to the festive atmosphere of the celebration, as it attracted the attention of the nearby residents and passers-by.

After the parade, the seminarians and staff divided themselves into three teams for the sports competitions: volleyball, basketball, soccer, and badminton. The sports events were held in the spacious sports area of the formation house, which was adorned with colorful flags and poster of Fr. Dehon. The sports events allowed the seminarians to showcase their skills, sportsmanship, and teamwork, as they cheered for their respective teams and opponents.

In the afternoon of March 11, the seminarians gathered in the session hall of the formation house for the Dehonian Quiz Bee. The quiz bee competition was composed of three groups: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael, and was moderated by Fr. Ronald Basco, SCJ, the formator of the Aspirancy Program.

The quiz bee tested the knowledge and memory of the seminarians about the life, works, and teachings of Fr. Dehon, as well as the history, spirituality, and mission of the SCJ congregation.

The quiz bee was a fun and educational activity for the seminarians, as they learned new things about their founder and their congregation. The quiz bee also showed the competitiveness and enthusiasm of the seminarians, as they tried their best to answer the questions and win the game. In the end, the team St. Michael emerged as the champion of the quiz bee, with a score of 90 points out of 100. The team St. Gabriel and St. Raphael followed closely with 85 points and 80 points, respectively.

On March 12, 2023, the seminarians continued their celebration of Fr. Dehon’s birth anniversary by reaching out to the children in the nearby community of St. Vincent de Paul in Buena Oro, Macasandig. The outreach program was a way for the seminarians to share their talents, time, and resources with the children who might need them the most. More than seventy (70) children from three chapels: Buena Oro, South Woodland, and Promised Land of Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro City, participated in the event. The seminarians organized performances, games, and basic catechism to educate them about the founder and the congregation. The kids were also provided with snacks to enjoy after the activities.

The outreach program was also a way for the seminarians to live the spirit of Fr. Dehon’s command to “go out to the people,” and to be with the poor.

The main celebration was held on March 14, 2023, during the Holy Eucharist presided by the Regional Superior, Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ. In his homily Fr. Lukas stressed the importance of forgiveness and mercy in our daily lives and interactions with others.  His reflection was based on the Gospel of the day, a parable about the ungrateful servant.  Just as the king in the parable forgave the servant’s debt, Fr. Dehon believed in the power of forgiveness to heal wounds and repair broken relationships. He also recognized the importance of seeking forgiveness when we have wronged others. The parable highlights the need to forgive not only to experience freedom and inner peace but also to build bridges and restore relationships that have been broken by conflict and hurt.

In celebrating Fr. Dehon’s birth anniversary, we are invited to reflect on his teachings and example of forgiveness and strive to incorporate these values into our own lives. We can practice forgiveness towards those who have wronged us, seek forgiveness from those we have wronged, and work towards building and maintaining healthy and compassionate relationships with others. The seminarians and staff of the Sacred Heart Formation House attended the celebration, SCJs from the Cagayan de Oro Zone, Dehonian Youth, Lay Dehonians, and friends.

In conclusion, the celebration of Fr. Dehon’s 180th Birth Anniversary was a meaningful and inspiring event that highlighted the continuing relevance of his life and mission. The activities conducted by the Sacred Heart Formation House community reflected Fr. Dehon’s vision of social justice, spiritual renewal, and apostolic ministry, and served as a reminder for everyone to continue his legacy of selfless service and love for the poor.

Celebration in Manila