150th Ordination Anniversary of Fr. Leo Dehon to the Priesthood

Celebrating a jubilee is a cause of joy and happiness. It reminds us of something that happened and became history. It makes us look back and get a sense of the life we have consecrated. It is true that to celebrate is to remember, but that is not sufficient. To commemorate something means to make it present again and to live it as an act of gratitude. Looking at Father Dehon, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of his priestly ordination and his first Mass. On December 19, 1868, our founder was ordained as a priest at Saint John Lateran, Rome, with another 200 ordinands. The first mass took place the following day.

We can read again the words of our founder: “The impressions of the ordination cannot be expressed. I became a priest, owned by Jesus, and all is filled with him, his love for the Father, his zeal for souls, his spirit of prayer and sacrifice”(NHV 6/85).

On December 20th, Father Dehon celebrated his first Mass at Saint Claire Seminary: “It was emotional. When my father and mother approached for communion, no one could hold back the tears. Personally, I was crazy with love for our Lord and full of contempt for my poor, little self. It was the best day of my life “(NHV 6/86).

These words express many feelings: love, emotion, lively gratitude to God for so many gifts that he has received. Days of grace and happiness. In the preparation for ordination he carried out a course of spiritual exercises. He states: “Our Lord wanted to prepare me himself, giving me abundant graces. He certainly had in mind my current mission. I see it today, clearly. He gave me so generously that spirit of love and reparation which is the characteristic of my vocation” (NHV 6/82).

Priestly ordination and first Mass are two great days of celebration, as he wrote: “the best of my life” (NHV 6/82), always characterized by a profound experience of God, his gifts and the marvels of his love.

For us, as Dehonians, this commemoration is a day of celebration and joy; we give thanks to God because of Father Dehon and of the offering of his Dehonian vocation. We remember and celebrate this jubilee of our founder.

Let us ask God, the Father of mercy, to grant him the gift of Beatification, as a model of virtue and zeal; who sacrificed so much to remain faithful to His call, to spread the devotion to the Divine Heart of Jesus.

By: Fr. Ramón Domíngez Fraile, scj (dehon.it)

Letter of the Superior General for Christmas 2018

Returning to Bethlehem

Dear confreres and all the members of Dehonian Family,

At this time of year, we often speak about paths. The voice of the prophets invites us to repair the ones that have suffered damage and to build new ones to continue to give direction to our life. In these days, the voice of the Gospel speaks more about the travelers than the path, of a young couple from Nazareth, magi come from afar and a group of shepherds surprised during their work. All of them traveled. None of them traveled alone.

For many, Mary and Joseph are simply fulfilling their duty, but even before that, they had cer­tainly undertaken a moving journey. They were accompanied by the faith and intimate solida­rity that united them, and especially by God’s everlasting benevolence. The shepherds, on their part, felt invited to be witnesses of the Pastor who always acts for the good of His people. They overcame their fears and traveled during the night. They found a shared joy in a new era that that began before their amazed eyes that very night. The magi, the foreigners who came from the greatest distance, were wise enough to know that to reach their goal they needed to discern and be guided. None of these travelers was disappointed. The encounter with Jesus illuminated their faces and shined a great light upon their culture. Nobody felt like a stranger and no one thought of the other as a stranger. The only one who remained estranged from all this was Herod. He himself wanted to be estranged and remain excluded. He did not want to go beyond himself, and even less did he want to set himself on the road and start walking with the others. He was a prisoner of his power. All the others were able to enter Bethlehem, especially the simple ones, receptive to surprise, who had no ambitions of power or prestige, restless ones seeking the truth. It is they who teach us the path we must travel and inspire us to continue along the way.

The voice of the XXIV General Chapter that we celebrated just this year invites us to continue walking together, growing in the synodal culture. It means walking in the light of the Spirit, each day creating more space for the Good News that comes to us from Jesus in everything we do. It is Jesus who gives life and flavor to our journey. “His way is our way “(Cst. 12). Fr. Dehon has left us this living legacy. We must welcome it, live it and share it.

In this month of December, we remember that 150 years ago Fr. Dehon was preparing to cele­brate his first Christmas as a priest. His ministry in the Church was a continuous learning to walk with others and for others. If this is so, it is because he fully understood the road to Beth­lehem.

Contemplating once again what happened there spurred the life of our Founder. Bethlehem, the Holy night of Christmas, was the starting point for him. There he learned to remain and to walk hand in hand with God, to go out of himself and go out to meet others. He directed his way to meet and accompany those he knew would be most in need of attention and care, especially the youth around him. He never forgot to search for new horizons: «Ou faut-il aller? Je suispret : “Ecce venio!”. Faut-il aller a Bethleem, a Nazareth, en Egypte, en Galilee? “Ecce venio!”». [“Where must I go? I am ready: ‘Ecce venio!’. Must I go to Bethlehem, to Nazareth, to Egypt, to Galilee? ‘Ecce venio!’”] (CAM 1/63).

It is time to return to Bethlehem, to enter Bethlehem. We do not remain outside, as foreigners, or alone, because in Bethlehem we will always find closeness and tenderness, reparation and encouragement to keep going forward in the stages that will come. Bethlehem is a living testi­mony and a shared mission. “[…] May the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ “.[1]

We wish you a merry Christmas and a new year full of hope and generosity to continue on the journey together. May we all be attentive to the Day of God who comes to dwell among us.

In the Heart of Christ,

Fr. Carlos Luis Suarez Codorniu, scj
Superior General
and Council

[1] Paolo VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80 (citation from Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 10).

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.

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

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

Installation of the new Parish Priest in San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish

On July 21, 2018 Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D. the Bishop of Novaliches Diocese installed Rev. Fr. Niño B. Etulle, SCJ as second SCJ Parish Priest of San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish, Tierra Verde Homes I, Brgy. Culiat, Tandang Sora, Quezon City.

The celebration started at 5:00PM that lasted for one hour and thirty minutes. There were more than 200 people attended the installation. A good number of Parishioners and leaders from the different organizations of San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish attended the celebration together with the cooperation of some religious men and women coming from different religious congregation, guests, family members and close friends of Fr. Niño and SCJ’s coming from different communities were present to witness the installation.

The celebration ended with simple dinner prepared by the Parish Pastoral Council of San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish.

By: Fr. Joseph Butlig, SCJ