1st Grand Fiesta of the Holy Name Society in Dumalinao

On March 19, 2017, on the feast of Saint Joseph, approximately 800 male members of the Holy Name Society, excluding their wives and children, attended the ”1st Grand Fiesta Celebration.” The festivity took place at Saint Isidore Parish, Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur. It started with the Celebration of the Eucharist presided by Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ and concelebrated by Fr. Franciszek Pupkowski, SCJ Regional Superior, Fr. Joseph C. Butlig, SCJ Regional Secretary, Fr. Donald Longno, SCJ Regional Councillor, Fr. Laurentius Suwanto, SCJ Scholastic Formator, Fr. Robertus Sutopo, SCJ, Balongating Sub-Parish in-charge and Fr. Joseph Muego, SCJ, Tigbao Sub-Parish in-charge. It was followed with a cultural program prepared by the participants.

The Holy Name Society was founded in 1961 by one of the Columban Fathers. Mr. Didong Sandalo was the first president. Unfortunately, the organization did not last long and it came to an end sometime in 1964.

In 2005, the organization was revived through the initiative of Mr. Roberto Torrecampo Anding, who became the president. This time the group was given a new name Mga Alagad sa Parokya (MAP) with 28 members. Among the various activities the group committed itself to clean the church every 3rd Saturday of the month. They also started to participate actively in the BEC  and Bible study every 3rd Thursday of the month. In addition, the group volunteered to prepare food during big celebrations and occasions of the parish.
In 2006, Fr. Janusz Burzawa, SCJ seeing the need of men’s participation in the church, officially recognized the organization and proposed to go back to the old name of Holy Name Society. Fr. Janusz supported very much this group during his time as a parish priest, which is continued by the present parish priest Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ.

The celebration is a way of thanksgiving to God for all the graces and blessings received by the group and to encourage them to continue their mission in serving the parish. Today, the organization extended their services and membership to the sub-parish of Balongating and sub-parish of Tigbao.

By: Fr. Joseph Butlig, SCJ

Flood in Cagayan de Oro

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A Low Pressure Area and the Tail-end of a Cold Front triggered flash floods in Cagayan de Oro City on Monday, January 16, 2017.

Thousands were stranded and hundreds of families were evacuated due to floods. Among those stranded have been students in universities, including those in the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines where floodwater has been chest-deep.

This is how Cagayan de Oro looked on January 16, 2017, in the afternoon, after some hours of very intensive rain with streets, cars and establishments submerged in water

Thanksgiving Mass at Dehon House

On January 9, 2017, a day after the ordination, Fr. Dang Van Nguyen and Fr. Luong Van Nguyen celebrated their first “Thanksgiving Mass” for the formation community in Dehon House. Fr. Dang was the main celebrant, while Fr. Luong delivered the homily and words of thanks in the end of the Eucharistic celebration.

After the final blessing both of them gave a special personal blessing to each participant, who in turn kissed the hands of newly ordained priests.

The celebration was attended by the SCJs from the Vietnamese District and Philippine Region, members of their families and many Vietnamese priests and religious sisters of whom many live in Manila. As usual the celebration was concluded with a common meal and special program prepared by the SCJ scholastics.

Priestly Ordination of two Vietnamese SCJs in Manila

20170108_121304On January 8, 2017, on the Feast of Epiphany, which in the Philippines is celebrated on Sunday after January 6, two SCJs from Vietnam: Dn Dang Van Nguyen and Dn Luong Van Nguyen were ordained priests. The ceremony of ordination, as in most cases, took place in the San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish in Tierra Verde Homes I Subdivision in Quezon City, a walking distance from the Dehon House, which at the present is under the pastoral care of three SCJ priests.

The ceremony of ordination headed by the Bishop of Novaliches, Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD, was held during the main Sunday Mass at 10:00 am, and it was attended by many SCJ confreres from Vietnam and the Philippines, priests and religious from different congregations, family members and friends.

Fr. Dang  is 33 years old and comes from the Diocese of Thai Binh, while Fr. Luong is 37 years old and comes from the Diocese of Bui Chu. Both of them arrived in the Philippines on September 30, 2007, where they underwent the process of initial formation and completed their studies. Prior to this, both of them were active in the Church; Fr. Dang was the organist for the children’s choir and Fr. Luong was the leader of altar servers. Fr. Luong wanted to become a diocesan priest, but due to some circumstances he was not able to fulfill his plans. Instead of entering the seminary he went to Saigon to continue his studies. In Saigon he met Fr. Jerry Sheehy, SCJ, who invited him to join the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Fr. Dang’s vocation to the priesthood was born when he was still in the grade 6. As he relates “I felt that I am a sinful person and I should become a priest to repair it.” In Saigon where he studied and taught catechesis in a Dominican Parish, he met also Fr. Jerry, who deeply impressed him and helped him to enter the seminary.

Wishing to the newly ordained priests all the best, especially perseverance in their vocation and serving the people, we offer a prayer for them as we expect them to pray for us too.

The Lay Missionary’s Experience in the Philippines

dsc_0960Miss Karolina Mankiewicz is a lay missionary from Poland who arrived in the Philippines in October 2016. Prior to this she was working as a teacher in grade school and was very active in the campaign organized by a Polish SCJ, Fr. Piotr Chmielecki, called “Zbieram to”, which  means “I collect it.” Together with other volunteers, she collected used batteries and cellphones, old appliances, and many other things for recycling. The purpose of this action is double: to save the environment and help the missions. The money obtained from this are used to help the poor and needy in different countries where the SCJ missionaries are working. Among many beneficiaries of this action is also the Philippines, particularly the victims of typhoon “Sendong” (Washi) living in “Mother of Divine Mercy Village” in Opol, Kasanag Daughters Foundation, and others.

Since her arrival, Miss Karolina is very much involved in the life of the “Village” where she spends most of her time, and “Kasanag Daughters Foundation” where she stays, organizing and participating in different activities. Recently, she attended the nine day Novena before Christmas called “Simbang Gabi” and prepared some Christmas gifts for the poorest. Here is her short sharing of the experiences she had:

As usual before Christmas, the inhabitants from the Mother of Divine Mercy Village were attending a nine day Novena called Simbang Gabi. Since the 15 th of December the Priests form 3 Congregations (Columban, Marian and Sacred Heart Fathers) were celebrating the Mass at 7 p.m. each day. During the Novena, on the 17 th of December the villagers were commemorating the 5 th anniversary of the typhoon Sendong. After the Mass they watched a short movie showing the tragedy which touched them a few years ago. At the end of common prayers every single day, people from different blocks were performing some Christmas songs or dances. This time helped them to prepare for the birth of our Savior….

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Just before Christmas thanks to financial support from the Polish benefactors we were able to give some food packages to the inhabitants from the Mother of Divine Mercy Village. 21 of them received some rice, spaghetti, sauce, salt, sugar, coffee, milk, sardines and some sweets for the kids along with the Pope’s calendar for the coming year. None of them were asking for any help that is why they were surprised and at the same time really grateful for the received gifts. Some of them we knew from the previous visits. Their histories were really touching and after listening to them you realize that only thanks to Heaven’s help they were able to start a new life. I remember two women’s stories. One of them has lost her husband and 8 kids in the typhoon. Now she got married again but she can not have more children. There is also another one who lost her husband and her little boys. After a few years she has a new family: a husband and one little girl. Now she’s expecting the second one. No wonder that this place where they live is called the village of Divine Mercy. God really helps them and rise them up.

Sending Off Ceremony in Cagayan de Oro

20161108_184319On November 11, 2016, Fr. Patro Gier, SCJ, will leave for his new assignment in Finland.  The main purpose of his joining the SCJ Finnish District will be  taking pastoral care of the numerous Filipino people living in Finland. He will follow in the footsteps of Fr. Jigger Ganados, SCJ, the first SCJ Filipino missionary to Finland who went there in December 2014.

The ceremony of sending off was held in Cagayan de Oro Formation House on November 8, 2016, during the Holy Eucharist, right after the SCJ meeting. The concelebrated Mass was presided by Fr. Patro. After the Holy Communion the Regional Superior, Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, gave him a special blessing and handed over the Missionary Cross, a symbol of being sent to proclaim the Good News.

Seminar for “Baby” Parish Priests and not only

20161018_085154This year the SCJ Philippine Region was entrusted with three new pastoral areas. Because of this several SCJs for the first time became parish priests. Although they were assigned in the parishes and have some pastoral experience many things for them are new. Being an assistant to the parish priest is  like sitting in the front seat, but not being a driver. According to the Canon Law “The Parish Priest is the proper pastor of the parish entrusted to him… exercising the pastoral care of the community entrusted under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, whose ministry of Christ he is called to share…” (Can. 519). The role of a Parish Priest is twofold: as an administrator and as a shepherd, who acts in the name of the local bishop and is accountable to.

In many dioceses there are special orientation seminars for new parish priests, so they would be properly informed of their duties and responsibilities. One of them is the Diocese of Novaliches, where the SCJs are entrusted with two parishes: San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish in Quezon City and St. Roque in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.

Following this good example, the SCJ Philippine Region, considering the needs of new parish priests, organized similar activity. Initially it was intended for those who are directly involved in the parish ministry, but finally it was open for all the members of the region. The seminar was held on October 18 – 19, 2016 at the Dehon House in Manila. On the first day, Fr. Rei Flores, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Novaliches, presented the theme “Canonical and pastoral implications of the office of the Parish Priest.” On the second day, Msgr Antonio Labiao, the Vicar for Pastoral Affairs of the same diocese, shared his insights on the theme “Parish Church: Community of Communities” and financial management of the parish. On the first evening, the group was graced with the presence of Bishop of Novaliches, Most. Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD, who joined the Holy Mass and supper.

Renewal of Vows in Manila

On September 28, 2016, the SCJ community at the Dehon House in Manila celebrating the memorial of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint martyr, also witnessed the renewal of religious vows of one of its members. During the Holy Eucharist, Fra. Vincent Bat Nguyen, SCJ, a member of the SCJ Vietnam District, renewed his vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience in the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The vows were accepted by his superior Fr. Francis Vu Tran, SCJ, the main presider of the ceremony, which was attended by a number of SCJs, religious from different, male and female, congregations and friends. As usual, the ceremony was followed by a simple yet delicious dinner.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz – First Filipino Saint

231St. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first Filipino saint. He is also the first Filipino martyred for the Christian Faith. Lorenzo Ruiz was a layman, married, and had two sons and a daughter. Born in Binondo, Manila, about 1600’s, he was educated in the school of the Dominicans there. He served as an altar boy and later was a helper and clerk-sacristan in the church of Binondo. He was a member of the Confraternity of the Rosary. He made his living probably as a calligrapher, one who renders documents in beautiful penmanship for private or official use. To be sure, that work denoted an accomplished and educated person, especially at a time when many an illustrious personage were far from excelling in this art. An adverse event made him leave the Philippines in 1636.

When he was in his late twenties or early thirties, he became involved or was accused of being involved in a criminal case, the circumstances of which are far from clear. Whether he was involved or not, one thing was clear, he was afraid that, as a consequence of a trial or mistrial, he might be given a death sentence. Upon landing in Japan where Christians were being persecuted, he was arrested and imprisoned together with his companions. He underwent inhuman tortures and valiantly confessed his Christian Faith. Refusing to renounce his Faith, he told his executioner that he was ready to die for God and give himself for many thousands of lives if he had them. On September 27, 1637, he was hung from a gallows by his feet, his body falling into a pit. After two days of agony, he died of bleeding and suffocation. His body was cremated and the ashes thrown into the sea. He and fifteen companions, martyred in the same persecution, were beatified by Pope John Paul II in Manila on February 18, 1981 and elevated to full honors of the altar by canonization on October 18, 1987 in Rome. Their feast day is on September 28th.