With the invocation of the Holy Spirit, on June 10, 2019, the formation community in Cagayan de Oro I officially started new academic year 2019 – 2020. During the Holy Eucharist presided by the Regional Superior, Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, three (3) Aspirants (2 Vietnamese and 1 Filipino) were accepted into the Postulancy Program, six (6) into the Aspirancy and five (5) into Orientation Year. The new Postulants were given Bible, while all the others “Rules of the House.” Altogether there are twenty (20) young men, who expressed their wish to follow their vocation in the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SCJ).
In celebration of the Year of the Youth and in unity with the 30th anniversary of SCJ presence in the Philippines, this year’s Dehonian Youth Missionaries (DYM) summer mission is mainly centered on the theme: “Sharing Dehonian charism, serving the Gospel and living in the community.” With open minds and open hearts, 17 young missionaries (from the Philippines, Vietnam, and East Timor), bravely said “YES!” to the call of meeting God through serving His people in the humble sitio of Balongkot, under Jesus Nazareno Chaplaincy of Dansolihon, Cagayan de Oro City.
Just like how it normally is, the activity started with a 3-day stay-in formation seminar, called “Umol”. It is composed of spiritual inputs, recollection, and team building, on May 20-22. This is to establish camaraderie among the missionaries before we were sent forth to the mission area on May 23. The mission proper started in the afternoon of the same day, respectively.
We visited the Christian households in the area, blessed their homes and had faith sharing with the families. We also conducted activities like Flores de Mayo, animation, community building, recollection, and Taizé Prayer. One of the many challenges was to reorganize and strengthen the community’s core group and establish a strong foundation for the adult catechists and the youth.
What inspired us aside from the community’s warm welcome was the fact that we were sent there to see Christ in every person we meet and every situation we face. Moreover, we became missionaries not only to the people in Balongkot, but also to each of our fellow missionaries as true prophets of love and servants of reconciliation; embracing the community life selflessly regardless of our differences. Thus, this has been a clear manifestation of the SINT UNUM taught by our founder, Ven. Fr. Leo John Dehon.
By: Rexy Gracey
May is not only the month of “Flores de Mayo”, but also, in the SCJ parishes, of “Summer Youth Mission.” Here below is an account of the youth mission in Banal na Krus Parish and some pictures from Cagayan de Oro and Dumalinao.
As we celebrate the year of the youth, Banal na Krus Parish (BNKP) Youth Ministry happily granted the challenge of being missionaries and be with the people of Sitio Pantay, Brgy. Tandang Kutyo Tanay, Rizal on May 18-23, 2019, for the first time since the Dehonian Priests run the parish. In relation with the Year of the Youth, the theme of the first BNKP youth mission is: “BNKP Youth in Mission: Beloved. Gifted. Empowered.”
This mission was participated by 17 young missionaries under the Parish of Banal na Krus. The said mission started in two (2) days formation seminar last May 03 – 04, 2019, at the BNKP formation hall. During the seminar, the missionaries had the chance to know more about themselves, to work with others, to grow mentally, morally, emotionally, and more importantly spiritually. They also experienced the team building, recollection, and Taize Prayer.
The Missionaries of Banal na Krus had sent off in the mission area at Sitio Pantay Brgy. Tandang Kutyo Tanay, Rizal last May 19, 2019. They arrived in mission area at exactly 10 in the morning of the said date. And they were able to meet the Chapel officers of that area. The missionaries were divided in three groups to handle the kids, youth, and adults.
Every morning, the missionaries assigned to handle the kids are off to chapel for “Flores de Mayo”, which will be included the catechism of the children, teach them the basic prayers, pray the Holy Rosary, offer flowers to Mother Mary and after that the assigned missionaries will lead the game for the kids.
There are also missionaries who are assigned for house visitation. The visitation is meant to talk them personally and listen to their experiences in the family and the community. After the visitation of the house, the BEC cells had also a chance to do the Lectio Divina together with the missionaries.
In this mission, the people of the area were touched and inspired by missionaries’ community life on how to live the life of BEC. They learned and idolized the young missionaries for serving, and sharing the word of our Lord Jesus Christ at their young age. Moreover, they were inspired and enlightened also about the purpose of Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) by witnessing through the life of the missionaries as community.
Having experienced with the life in Sitio Pantay Brgy. Tandang Kutyo Tanay Rizal, and with the community, the missionaries were inspired and became appreciative to what they have, and knew the importance of being contented in their lives. They learned so many things in this mission, and looking forward to have more missions in the future and be an inspiration to others in their personal and spiritual lives.
This mission will not be successful if there is no support from our Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Marcial C. Aguirre, SCJ., Assistant Priest Rev. Fr. Nathaniel D. Robilla, SCJ., Bro. Victor S. Lingasa, SCJ., parishioners and benefactors.
By: Justine Estrella
Balungkot, Dansolihon Chaplaincy
On May 21, 2019, 535 young people in Dumalinao (Zamboanga del Sur) received Sacrament of Confirmation. On May 22, 2019, another batch of 530 will be confirmed; 380 from Tigbao and 150 from MAIS area (Mga Anak sa Inahang Simbahan – Children of the Mother Church, barangays: Pag-asa, Pag-laum, Camanga, Sumadat and Pinig). The ceremony of confirmation was held at the San Isidro Labrador Parish church, during the Holy Eucharist presided by the Bishop of Pagadian, Most Rev. Ronald I. Lunas, D.D., who was assisted by the Regional Superior, Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, Fr. Horst Steppkes, SCJ from Germany, Fr. Yohanes Sono Pribadi, SCJ, from the nearby Novitiate Fr. Dehon and Fr. Robertus Sutopo, SCJ, the parish priest. The last confirmation was held four years ago.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is one of the three Catholic sacraments of initiation. Confirmation in the Catholic Church includes the laying on of hands, and anointing in the sign of the cross with Chrism oil. Confirmation is the third and final sacrament which completes Christian initiation for Roman Catholics, as well as eastern Catholic churches, and is also prominent in the Orthodox Church and other Mainline Christian denominations, including the Church of England, Methodist and Lutheran churches.
Confirmation calls us to live a life of holiness and obedience to God’s will. That call is primarily through a renewal of our baptismal promises that were, in most cases, made for us by our parents when we were baptized. Our parents also made a promise at our baptism to raise us in the faith and teach us about our Church. That might take the form of encouragement to pray the rosary or adopt other devotional practices like the Stations of the Cross to deepen our faith. Hopefully, these statements within our creed were made real for us in our home-life, so that when the time comes for us to receive the Holy Spirit, we would be prepared to confirm our faith. We receive the Holy Spirit in seven unique ways through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are:
- Wisdom – Helps us to rightly order our interpersonal relationships and the centrality of God and his will in our lives.
- Understanding – Helps us to comprehend the Gospel and the will of God as communicated through his message.
- Knowledge – The capacity for exploring and pondering God’s revelation along with the awareness that some mysteries of faith are beyond our ability to grasp completely.
- Counsel – Helps us to choose the path of God when presented with choices that relate to our journey toward him.
- Fortitude – Also refered to as courage or strength helps us to do what we know is right even when it might be difficult or costly.
- Piety – Is a strong devotion to God through prayer
- Fear of the Lord – Is not to be afraid of God, but to be in wonder of his power and might, and to marvel at his majesty.
The blessing that the bishop gives over the confirmands during the Roman Rite of Confirmation encapsulates all of these gifts beautifully
“All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.”
Empowered by these gifts and the sacramental grace of God, the confirmed Catholic has everything they need to spread and defend the faith in both word and deed, or as many put it, to be a “soldier of Christ.”
On May 19, 2019, the two newly ordained priests were saying their “Thanksgiving Masses”, Fr. Joel J. Bolo, SCJ in Dansolihon and Fr. Ruel C. Paalisbo, SCJ in Bacolod (Lanao del Norte).
The celebration in Dansolihon started at 8:00 AM and was attended by some SCJ priests from the formation community in Cagayan de Oro and parishioners from the Jesus Nazareno Chaplaincy. The homily was delivered by Fr. John Karl Cabaluna, SCJ, the parish priest of Kumalarang, who once was in charge of the chaplaincy.
After the Mass, Fr. Joel gave his individual blessing to all who approached him and kissed his hands. The practice of kissing the hands of a newly ordained priest is a long-established custom in some countries. During ordination a new priest’s hands are anointed with chrism as a sign of consecration and of the change that has been effected in his soul. The custom of kissing his hands stems from a recognition of the fundamental change that has occurred and of the particular importance of the sign of the hands in priestly ministry. After ordination the priest uses his hands to hold the Eucharistic species during the consecration, to make the sign of the cross while absolving sins, to anoint the sick and dying, and on occasion to impart the sacrament of confirmation.
The celebration ended at the table which is a very essential element in the Philippine culture.
Similar celebration was held at Santo Niño Parish in Bacolod, Lanao del Norte, the place of Fr. Ruel C. Paalisbo, SCJ.
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.
On May 16, 2019, two SCJ deacons, Rev. Joel J. Bolo and Rev. Ruel C. Paalisbo, were ordained priests. The ceremony of ordination was held at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro and was presided by the local archbishop Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, D.D.
Fr. Joel C. Bolo, SCJ, comes from Ugyaban, a part of Dansolihon Chaplaincy served by the SCJs, while Fr. Ruel C. Paalisbo, SCJ from Bacolod, Lanao del Norte, where the SCJs were in charge of the parish from 1994 – 2003.
The ordination to the priesthood was a part of bigger celebration of 30 years of SCJ missionary presence in the Philippines. The ceremony was attended by Bishop of Pagadian, Most Rev. Ronald Lunas, D. D., all members of the SCJ Philippines Region, SCJs from: Germany (Fr. Horst Steppkes), Poland (Fr. Zbigniew Chwaja and Fr. Bogdan Kuta), Indonesia (Fr. Titus Purbosaputra and Fr. Vincent Sri Herimanto), Vietnam (Fr. Loc Nguyen and Fr. Luong Van Nguyen) India (Fr. Anthony Sundar Raj Mallavarapu), diocesan priests from Pagadian, Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, lay volunteers from Poland, parents and family members of the Filipino SCJs, parishioners from Quezon City, Dumalinao, Kumalarang, Bagong Silang, Talisay, Tandang Kutyo, Dansolihon, Aluba, Margosatubig, Bacolod, family members and friends of the newly ordained priests and other guests.
The ceremony started at 9:30 in the morning and ended with a common meal.
O Risen Lord,
the way, the truth and the life,
make us faithful followers
of the spirit of your resurrection.
Grant that we may be inwardly
renewed; dying to ourselves
in order that you may live in us.
May our lives serve as signs
of the transforming power of your love.
Use us as your instruments
for the renewal of society,
bring your life and love to all
and leading them to your Church.
This we ask of you, Lord Jesus,
living and reigning with the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever. Amen
Easter, the feast of the Resurrection, invites us to move beyond the tomb and share the good news of the Resurrection with one another. Easter calls us to look for life among the living with grateful and joyful hearts. Easter urges us to courageously follow Jesus Christ, the risen one, and to boldly proclaim that out of darkness and suffering come new life.
Easter is about a new life, about Jesus risen from the dead, giving us hope when things feel hopeless, courage when we want to run away, strength to be open and vulnerable, confidence in the face of death, when things are at their worst, when things are dark and when human possibilities are exhausted.
Let us bring the joy of the gospel to the world by reflecting the Risen Lord in us, by living joyful lives filled with love and compassion. Let us be a resurrected people and testify to others that Christ is indeed risen in us!
Wishing you a blessed and holy Easter!