Diocesan Clergy of Mindanao Convention 2019

Two SCJ’s: Fr. Joseph Muego and Dn. Joel Bolo joined the Diocesan Clergy of Mindanao Convention (DCM) held in Ozamis City from February 18 – 20, 2019. The theme of this year’s convention is ”Mindanao Clergy : journeying with the Youth”. The Convention is attended altogether by 373 bishops, priests and deacons from 21 dioceses.

Regional Assembly 2019

On February 11, 2019, the SCJ Philippine Region started its annual assembly. The assembly is being held at the Sacred Heart Formation House in Cagayan de Oro City and is attended by 35 confreres, including Fr. Alexander Sapta Dwi Handoko, SCJ, General Councilor for Asia from Rome, Fr. Quang Nguyen, SCJ, the Vice Provincial of the US Province and Fr. Khoa Nguyen, SCJ, from the District of Vietnam.

The assembly started with the welcome address of the superior of the community Cagayan de Oro I, Fr. Patrick Gutib, SCJ and the Regional Superior Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, followed by a service of reconciliation led by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ. The next activity was a short reflection by Fr. Delio Ruiz, SCJ, focusing on the “Year of the Youth” in the Philippines and the 30th Anniversary of the SCJ presence in the Philippines, ending with the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession.

In the afternoon of the first day, the participants following the guide questions shared in groups their personal experiences of the last year in the light of the incoming anniversary.

The day ended with the Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, followed by the supper and common recreation.

The second day was dedicated to the reports by communities and different commissions of the Region. The main celebrant  of the Eucharist was Fr. Robertus Sutopo, SCJ, who on February 12 celebrated his 50th birthday.

On the third and fourth day the group will discuss the agenda that came out of the reports, future celebrations and plans.

The assembly is to conclude on February 14, 2019 lunch time.

Viva Señor Jesus Nazareno!

Feast of the Black Nazarene, a miraculous statue of Jesus Christ carrying his cross, is one of the most popular religious celebrations in the Philippines. Every January 9 thousands of people join the celebrations in Quiapo  Manila and  Cagayan de Oro City, where the replica of the original statue is located.

The Black Nazarene represents Christ’s passion and suffering, and through the centuries it has become the Filipino people’s symbol of struggle and faith. Devotees have experienced numerous instances of answered prayers and miracles, making the devotion to the Black Nazarene one of the strongest spiritual and religious phenomena in the country.

It is said that the Black Nazarene was carved by an unknown Mexican sculptor from a dark wood in the 16th century in Mexico and then transported via galleon from Acapulco, Mexico to the Philippines on May 31, 1606. According to some stories, a fire that broke out inside the ship reached the statue and blackened even more the image.

It was brought by a group of Augustinian Recollect missionaries who brought it to the Church of San Juan Bautista in Bagumbayan (Saint John the Baptist Church at Luneta). After a couple of years, the Black Nazarene was moved to a bigger church near the area.

On January 9, 1767, the image of the Black Nazarene was transferred (Traslacion) to Quiapo Church (Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene) whose patron is also John the Baptist. Since that time, the annual feast day has been celebrated by millions of devotees thronging to touch the icon and lasting for around 20 hours.

Black Nazarene is also the patron saint of the Chaplaincy in Dansolihon, Cagayan de Oro City, administered by the SCJs. The feast, which is also  celebrated on January 9, was preceded with 9-day novena as a spiritual preparation for the main celebration. Each day, there was a special Novena Mass and procession with the little statue of Black Nazarene around the village of Dansolihon.

The main celebration on January 9, 2019, was held in the new church and was presided by Monsignor Florencio “Boy” Salvador, SSJV, the parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Pueblo, Cagayan de Oro Cty. The day before, on January 8, 2019, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Most  Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ,DD. administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to the 220 young Catholics from different communities of the chaplaincy.

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.

‘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.

Episcopal Ordination in Cagayan de Oro

On June 7, 2018, the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro celebrated the Episcopal Ordination of Fr. Raul Dael, SSJV. Fr. Raul is the third priest from the archdiocese, who became bishop. The other two are Bp. Jose A. Cabantan, DD, the Bishop of Malaybalay and Bp. Vilsom Basso, SCJ, who was assigned in the archdiocese when he was called to become a bishop in Brazil.

The new bishop, was on September 29, 2014, giving a spiritual input to the SCJs, who were starting their 1st Regional Assembly in Cagayan de Oro City. In his talk, Fr. Raul emphasized the mercy of God and the importance of being priests and religious after the Heart of Christ.

The main consecrators of Fr. Raul as bishop were: Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, DD,  from the Archdiocese of Manila, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, DD, archbishop of Cagayan de Oro and Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar, DD, JCD,  bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, who is being replaced by the new bishop Raul.

The celebration was attended by 30 Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, hundreds of priests from different archdioceses and dioceses and many people. The celebration that lasted three hours was beautifully prepared. The new bishop and people of Cagayan de Oro and their guests enjoyed also a meal together and the very nice weather.

Pilgrim Relics of St. Therese in Dumalinao Parish

The pilgrim relics of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus is for the fourth time in the Philippines. It arrived on January 13, 2018, and will stay until May 31, 2018, visiting different dioceses and parishes.

At the moment the relics is visiting the Diocese of Pagadian. On April 24, 2018, the relics, for a short time, visited the St. Isidore Parish in Dumalinao run by the SCJs.

The pilgrim relics of Saint Thérèse have visited the Philippines in 2000, 2008 and 2013.

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, also called Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, was born on January 2, 1873, in Alençon, France. She died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24.

She is one of the most popular Catholic saints. As a doctor of the church, she is the subject of much theological comment and study, and as an appealing young woman, whose message has touched the lives of millions, she remains the focus of much-popular devotion.

Relics are the material remains of a saint or holy person after death, as well as objects sanctified by contact with his or her body.

Real or first-class relics include the skin and bones, clothing, objects used for penance and instruments of a martyr’s imprisonment or passion, while representative relics are objects placed in contact with the body or grave of a saint.

The Catholic faithful venerate the relics of saints because as intercessors with God for the living, through their relics—a record of the saint—God manifests his presence.

Remembering Bishop Iti…

On April 19,2018, at the Butuan Doctors’ Hospital, passed away Most Rev. Zacarias C. Jimenez,D.D, an Auxillary Bishop-Emeritus of the Diocese of Butuan, and big friend of SCJs (Dehonians) in the Philippines.

Born on November 5, 1947, in Inabanga, Bohol in the Philippines, Bishop Jimenez was ordained to the priesthood on April 17, 1973, at the St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Tagbilaran. He was consecrated as bishop on January 6, 1995, at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

He served as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pagadian, Philippines, from December 2, 1994 to June 11, 2003. He then served as auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Butuan, Philippines and as titular bishop of Arba from June 11, 2003, until his death.

After suffering from two strokes, he died due to the acute respiratory failure.

Fondly called as Bishop Iti, served as the parish priest of the Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Butuan City. As a longtime seminary formator, was seen as a gentle, slow to anger, reasonable, nonjudgmental, and Spirit-abiding person. He was not only a good pastor and follower of Christ, but also true believer of Christ’s humility and compassion.

He was like a father to all SCJs, especially during the time of kidnapping of Fr. Giuseppe Pierantoni, SCJ, (October 17, 2001 – April 8, 20012) in Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur, working tirelessly for the release of Fr. Beppe.

As we thank God for the gift of his presence in our lives, we ask God to accept him into His Kingdom. Requiescat in Pace!