Parish Feast Day Celebration in Aluba

On December 8, 2018, the Immaculate Conception Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro City, celebrated its Patronal Feast of Immaculate Conception. The concelebrated Mass was presided by Fr. Bon Genson, SSJV, first diocesan priest who comes from this parish.

At the end of the Holy Eucharist, the parishioners renewed their Act of Dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary, followed by floral offering and common meal.

The Immaculate Conception Parish in Aluba is being administered by the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SCJs) since June 1, 2011. At present Fr. Janusz Burzawa is the Parish Priest and is assisted by a deacon Rev. Ruel C. Paalisbo, SCJ.

Family Day celebration in Aluba

On December 2, 2018, the First Sunday of Advent, the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro  City, celebrated its Family Day. As seen on the pictures the celebration was attended by many parishioners and it included different presentations, fun and of course common meal. The Family Day is an annual event and a part of preparation for the Parish Feast of Immaculate Concepcion on December 8.

Dehonians with Pope Francis

The new general administration, together with the community of the general house in Rome, and other Dehonians who were present, met the Holy Father, Pope Francis, during the general audience on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at the Paul VI Audience Hall.

There was a desire to have an audience with the pope during the General Chapter, which was in July. However, Pope Francis was not available. It was hoped that a meeting could take place at a later date.

On Wednesday, the pope concluded with a reflection on the commandments: “In the contemplation of life described in the commandments, that is a grateful, free, authentic, blessed, mature, guardian and lover of life, faithful, generous and sincere, we, often without realizing it, find ourselves before Christ. The Decalogue is his ‘x-ray’, which he described as a photographic negative that lets his face appear –– as in the Holy Shroud.

“And so, the Holy Spirit nurtures our heart by putting in it the desires that are His gift, the desires of the Spirit, the desire according to the Spirit, and his rhythm, the desire with the music of the Spirit.”

We were also involved by that silent child who took the liberty of going to the pope and then to the Swiss Guard: “This child cannot speak, he is silent, but knows how to communicate,” said the pope. “He is free, unruly free, but free! Am I so free before Jesus?”

At the end of the catechesis, after greeting the sick and the newlyweds, the Pope came to meet us, arranged on the steps, to take a group photo with him.

Looking at Fr. General, the pope greeted us with a joke: “Is this the new superior general or the next bishop?!” recalling what happened in April.

We smiled because we knew what he meant!

Immediately Pope Francis added in Italian, and then repeated in Spanish: “Pray for me!”

We left him to continue his greeting of the pilgrims, bringing with us the invitation, repeated, to pray for him. This is what we do and will continue to do!

The community of the General House is pleased and grateful to have had a meeting with the successor of Peter, as he loved Fr. Dehon.

This was really a “walking together” after the initiatives for the “Dehonian Memorial Day”, as we continue to prepare for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Fr. Dehon, already which had been noted during the chapter with a festive concelebration in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. As a community, we will be together at the pontifical French seminary of St. Clare on the afternoon of Wednesday, December 19, 2018.

Fr. Bruno Pilati

Superior of the community of the General House in Rome

Celebration of the SCJ Memorial Day in Cagayan de Oro

On November 26, 2018, members of the three SCJ communities in Cagayan de Oro area, together with the Dehonian Youth, Lay Dehonians and friends, celebrated the SCJ Memorial Day. The celebration was held at the Sacred Heart Formation House and was presided by Fr. Joseph Butlig, SCJ,  who on this day celebrated his fifth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.

November 26 – Dehonian Memorial Day

On November 26 the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart remembers all its members who have died as Martyrs doing God’s work in different parts of the world.

“The celebration of this day was instituted by the Superior General, Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, on May 31, 2004, as an opportunity to commemorate those who impacted the Congregation with their offering of life and their generous witness. November 26 was chosen because it was on this day (November 26, 1964) that Mgr. Joseph Albert Wittebols, SCJ, the bishop of Wamba, together with six other missionaries, were killed. On the same date we also note the death of the Servant of God, Fr. Andreas Prevot, SCJ, in Brugelette – Belgium (1913).

The Dehonion Memorial Day invites the entire Dehonian Family to remember all of our brothers who have passed this world and are enjoying the face of God the Father in heaven. On this day we Dehonians join in supplication and thanksgiving for all confreres who have died. It is a day for gratitude and remembrance. Moreover, it is a moment to thank God with our prayers. Celebrating this memory also represents an opportunity to make availability to God visible in our daily life; the life offered by our brothers has profound meaning as an act of following Christ Jesus in a charism marked by oblation and reparation, as well as living and renewing values such as reconciliation, peace, justice, “Sint Unum”…

This year we want to direct our gaze to a particularly important moment to be remembered: the centenary of the end of the First World War (11 November 1918). Even the Congregation was strongly wounded by this Great War, endangering its survival and causing numerous internal conflicts. Many confreres were forced to take part and 33 of them lost their lives”.

From the letter of Fr. Ramon Dominguez Fraile, SCJ The General Postulator

“Their blood are seed of Christians” May our Martyrs strengthen our identity to continue bear witness to the Heart of Jesus and the civilization of love.

Novena Prayer commemorating the SCJ Martyrs

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

V. No one lives for himself; no one dies for himself.

R. We live and die for our God and our Lord, to him belongs all that lives(Rom 14:7-8)

Let us pray:

God our loving Father, we praise you!

We thank for all our SCJ brothers who died as martyrs, for their faith and dedication.

Through their intercession, enable us by Holy Spirit of Love, to live and die for you and your beloved people, hoping that we may be transformed day by day into the likeness of your Son Jesus.

United with him around the table of his Eucharistic Sacrifice, inspire us to surrender ourselves to be taken by you, Father, to be blessed, broken, and shared with and for others in love and unity, so that our beloved country may attain that peace we long for.

Lord God, may the witness of our SCJ brothers, who died as martyrs, strengthen our faith. May their martyrdom be the seed for our growth in holiness. Give us the power of your spirit to promote understanding and reconciliation, that all may live justly and in peace as brothers and sisters of Jesus, your Son.

Amen.

Our Father…

Hail Mary (3x) …

Glory be…

V. Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary,

R. Help us to ponder and live the Mysteries of the life of Jesus.

V. Our SCJ brothers Martyrs,

R. Pray for us that we may live and die for our faith. Amen

‘Parade of the Saints’ instead of Halloween Party

In the Church’s liturgical calendar, November 1 is the Solemnity of All Saints. The preceding eve is known as “All Hallow’s Eve” or Halloween. The root word of Halloween – ”hallow” – means ”holy.” The suffix “een” is an abbreviation of “evening.” It refers to the Eve of All Hallows, the night before the Christian holy day that honors saintly people of the past. Unfortunately, the Western influence took away the “Holy” in Halloween through dress up parties on October 31 where people wear costumes to look like monsters, ghouls, and other evil entities. Whether they willfully know this or not, the practice of dressing up like creatures of the night and demons have pagan origins.

In what is seen as a “counter-cultural revolution” to the Western Halloween observance, Catholic parishes around the country dress up their faithful followers in costumes that are of the complete opposite of vampires and zombies. Instead of wearing terrifying and bloody costumes and masks, the Church encourages the faithful to hold “Parade of Saints” or let the children wear costumes of Saints.

Meaning and Origin of All Saints Day

In the early years when the Roman Empire persecuted Christians, so many martyrs died for their faith, that the Church set aside special days to honor them. For example, in 607 Emperor Phocas presented to the pope the beautiful Roman Pantheon temple. The pope removed the statues of Jupiter and the pagan gods and consecrated the Pantheon to “all saints” who had died from Roman persecution in the first three hundred years after Christ. Many bones were brought from other graves and placed in the rededicated Pantheon church. Since there were too many martyrs for each to be given a day, they were lumped together into one day. In the next century, All Saints Day was changed by Pope Gregory III to today’s date–November l. People prepared for their celebration with a night of vigil on Hallows’ Eve — Halloween (possibly because of the strong holdover influence of the Celtic Samhain festival which many Christians in Ireland, Britain Scotland and Wales had continued to observe).

In the 10th century, Abbot Odela of the Cluny monastery added the next day–November 2nd–as “All Souls” Day” to honor not just the martyrs, but all Christians who had died. People prayed for the dead, but many unchristian superstitions continued. People in Christian lands offered food to the dead–as it had been in pagan times. The superstitious also believed that on these two days, souls in purgatory would take the form of witches, toads, or demons and haunt persons who had wronged them during their lifetime. As happens so often in Church history, sacred Christian festivals can absorb so many pagan customs that they lose their significance as Christian holidays.

“Parade of Saints”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Laity (CBCP-ECL) on Saturday, October 27, 2018, called on the faithful to refrain from participating in “secular” activities, including the celebration of Halloween and wearing of scary costumes.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of CBCP-ECL, said such event is not a Christian celebration as Halloween is a “celebration of death” while All Soul’s Day and All Saints’ Day are “celebration of life”.

In an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas, the bishop explained why the two-day observance is more about life than death.

When people visit the dearly departed during these days, they say prayers, offer flowers, light candles and bring food, which are all signs of life. “It is really a celebration of life,” he said.

“Let us go to the cemeteries to remember and pray for our departed,” Bishop Pabillo said.

“The Parade of Saints is a reclaiming of the Eve of All Saints day for Christ. It really belongs to Christ because it is the beginning of All Saints’ Day, the feast of all who have washed their robes with the Blood of the Lamb.”

The “Parade of Saints” was also, not for the first time, organized by the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro. As usual, the celebration started on November 1 at 7:00 am with the Holy Eucharist  and was followed by the “Parade of the Saints.” around the parish.

Similar parade was also held the day before, on October 31, at the Medalla Milagrosa Quasi Parish in Talisay, Hilongos, Southern Leyte, during the culmination of the Month of Holy Rosary.

To reclaim the sacredness of the eve of All Saints, we need to create a counterculture that will serve as a Christ-centered alternative to Halloween by starting a tradition of our own. The Parade of Saints is a fitting tradition that can be firmly established in every parish and diocese to bring back the sacredness of All Saints Day and to give back the glory to God.

Saint M. Faustina Kowalska

On October 5, 1938, a young religious by the name Sister Faustina (Helen Kowalska) died in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow, Poland. She came from a very poor family that had struggled hard on their little farm during the terrible years of WWI. Sister had had only three years of very simple education. Hers were the humblest of tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or the vegetable garden, or as a porter.

On February 22, 1931, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ appeared to this simple nun, bringing with Him a wonderful message of Mercy for all mankind. Saint Faustina tells us in her diary under this date:

“In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, ‘paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'”

Some time later, Our Lord again spoke to her:

“The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous;the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at
that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross….Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him.”

By scjphil Posted in Church

Bl. Juan Maria de la Cruz – First Dehonian Martyr

“God’s Blessings! Let all things be done according to the divine will. I am very happy to be able to suffer with Him, because He suffered so much for me, a poor sinner.”

-Written in a letter by Fr. Juan Maria de la Cruz, a few days before his death-

On September 22 we remember and celebrate the life of Fr. Juan Maria de la Cruz. On March 11, 2001, Pope John Paul II declared him blessed along with other 232 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

Mariano García Méndez was born on September 25, 1891, in San Esteban de los Patos in the Province of Avila. He was the firstborn of 15 children.

His family looked after the local church. Because there was no priest in the small community, his father, after a day of working in the fields, led novenas and rosary prayers. It came as no surprise when the father’s eldest, the boy called Marianito, felt called to the priesthood at the age of 10.

He eventually pursued that call and was ordained a priest for the diocese of Avila. Fr. Juan Maria served in parish ministry and later as a school chaplain.

Before diocesan ordination, Fr. Juan Maria discerned a vocation with the Dominican Fathers of Saint Thomas of Avila but health concerns prevented him from completing his novitiate. After ordination, he continued to feel called to religious life and sought entrance into the Christian Brothers in Nanclares de Oca, but again, his health failed him.

Continuing to serve as a diocesan priest, Fr. Juan Maria often found himself in Madrid, where he went to the church of the Religiosas Reparadoras (Sisters of Reparation). During one such visit, he met Fr. William Zicke, one of the founding members of the Spanish Province. They struck up a friendship and Fr. Juan Maria told him of his desire for religious life. In turn, Fr. Zicke told him about the Priests of the Sacred Heart and its founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon.

In the Dehonians Fr. Juan Maria found what he had been searching for and on October 31, 1926, he made his first profession. He took the religious name by which he is now known: “Juan María de la Cruz.” The name honored his two great loves: Holy Mary and St. John of the Cross, who like himself was from Avila.

Initially, Fr. Juan María was a teacher in the minor seminary at Novelda. However, by 1929 he moved into fundraising to help support the Spanish Province. At that time, fundraising was barely a step up from begging. Fr. Juan María went from village to village seeking both funds and vocations for the congregation.

The Spanish Civil War

In the midst of the turbulent years of civil strife in Spain from 1931-36, the Catholic Church in Spain suffered one of the most difficult persecutions in its history. Churches, seminaries, rectories, monasteries and convents, were sacked and destroyed. Thirteen bishops, 4,184 priests, 2,365 religious brothers, 283 nuns and thousands of lay Catholics were killed.

On July 23, 1936, Fr. Juan traveled to Valencia seeking refuge with one of the congregation’s benefactors. To hide his identity as a priest he dressed in a large, secondhand jacket. The oversized garment eventually earned him the nickname “Fr. Chaquet” (Fr. Big-Jacket).

Walking from the train station he passed the church of “los Santos Juanes” in the center of the city. There he witnessed men desecrating and burning the church. Fr. Juan shouted in protest. When the men heard his shouting, they said to each other: “He is a reactionary.”

“No, I am a priest!” said Fr. Juan.

That was all that was needed to arrest him and take him to the Modelo jail in Valencia.

In jail, witnesses recalled that Fr. Juan María remained faithful to his religious call.

A fellow prisoner remembers Fr. Juan standing in the prison courtyard, leading the rosary in a loud voice “and since we were always being watched by armed guards who insulted us and threatened us, someone asked him not to pray so as not to provoke them. But he said that nothing could have been better than to die praying, and so we continued with our prayers…”

“I remember having seen him every day in the prison yard praying with his breviary for at least an hour or an hour-and-a-half. He was seen praying so often that somebody said: ‘One day Fr. Chaquet will be shot down like a baby bird.’”

And another witness of those days said:

“He carried out his ministry with those who asked for it. He encouraged the people but did so in combination with a moderation which was an inherent characteristic of his priestly character. It can absolutely be said that he never made one gesture which could be considered as being insolent, it was rather quite the contrary.”

Fr. Juan’s cellmate said that “He always behaved like a completely worthy priest. If he found himself in the yard and heard the hours rung he recited prayers with whomever happened to be there. There were some who saw him doing that on several occasions. There were also times when I myself saw him praying in the cell. I never saw him behave discourteously with anyone.”

On the night of August 23, 1936, Fr. Juan, together with nine other prisoners, was taken south of Valencia to be shot. The next day the bodies of the victims were thrown into a common grave in the cemetery of Silla.

Fr. Juan María de la Cruz was the first Dehonian to be named blessed by the Church.

N.B. For English translation, please turn on subtitles

The consecration of Fr. Wilmer

On September 1, thousands of people, including Dehonians from around the world, filled the cathedral of Hildesheim and two nearby churches to be a part of the episcopal ordination of Heiner Wilmer, SCJ, as the 71st bishop of the German diocese.

Archbishop Stefan Heße of Hamburg was the ordaining bishop. The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, presented the papal certificate of appointment to the new bishop. Among the concelebrants were Bishop José Ornelas Carvalho, who served as Dehonian superior general before Bishop Heiner, and Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniú, the newly elected superior general.

Until his appointment, Bishop Wilmer was the superior general of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians). His coat of arms prominently features the Dehonian cross, which is also his bishop’s cross.

His motto, “Adiutores Gaudii Vestri,” based on 2 Corinthians 1:24, encompasses his understanding of his service as bishop. St. Paul writes: “Not that we lord it over your faith; rather, we work together for your joy, for you stand firm in the faith.”

The Diocese of Hildesheim, which includes the city of Hanover, is one of the oldest dioceses in the world. It was founded in 815 and is located in northern Germany; it is over 18,5000 square miles and includes approximately 610,000 Catholics and 200 priests. Bishop Wilmer succeeds Bishop Norbert Trelle, who headed the diocese from 2006 until 2017.

Bishop Wilmer was provincial superior of the German Province when he was elected superior general in 2015. He was born on April 9, 1961 in Schapen, Germany, was ordained in 1987, and professed his first vows with the congregation in 1982.

Prior to his service as provincial superior Bishop Wilmer held a number of positions in education. From 1998 – 2007 he was headmaster of Gymnasium Leoninum in Handrup, Germany. Before that, he spent a year teaching German and history at the Jesuit’s Fordham Preparatory School in New York (USA).

From 1995 – 1997 he served at Liebfrauenschulem, a school in Vechta, northern Germany, as a teacher of religion, history and politics, as well as a school chaplain.

Bishop Wilmer has also taken part in several social initiatives with the poor and disenfranchised. In 2006 he spent three months in Caracas, Venezuela, doing catechesis among the city’s barrios. From 1996 – 1997 he worked to develop a training initiative for women at a penitentiary in Vechta (Germany).

During his year teaching in New York he served in the Jesuits’ soup kitchen. And in 1993 he spent four months in Toronto, Canada, serving as a chaplain at “L’Arche Daybreak,” a residential home for people with disabilities.

His studies have included French Philosophy at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and Fundamental Theology at the University of Freiburg, where he earned his doctorate. The title of his thesis: “Mystik zwischen Tun und Denken. Zum Ort der Mystik in der Philosophie Maurice Blondels” [Mysticism between doing and thinking. The place of mysticism in the philosophy of Maurice Blondel].

After the episcopal ordination, thousands moved to the cathedral courtyard for an outdoor party. A German band played as German-themed foods were shared with the crowd, including German beer!

By: Mary Gorski