Celebration in Dansolihon

On January 9, 2018, the Hesus Nazareno Chaplaincy in Dansolihon celebrated its Patronal Feast. Also, on that day the Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD, the main celebrant, blessed the new church.

The construction of the new church has officially started on January 24, 2017, and is completed in around 80 percent. Thanks to the industriousness of Fr. Jan Krzysciak, SCJ, the priest in charge of the chaplaincy, and cooperation of the Christian community the new church could rise up so quickly. Fr. Jan in these efforts is being helped by Fr. Dennis Macasero, SCJ – his assistant and Bro. Yohanes Sismadi, SCJ.

Hopefully, the next Patronal Feast will be held in a completely finished new church.

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Regional Assembly 2018

On February 5, 2018, 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 30 confreres, including Fr. Eduardo Aguero, SCJ from Macao (ICA) and Fr. Khoa Viet Nguyen, SCJ representing the District of Vietnam.

The theme of the assembly, as proposed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), is “Renewed Servant-Leaders for the New Evangelization”  and is dedicated to the Clergy and Consecrated Persons. “We aim towards the integral renewal of the values, mind-sets, behavior and life-styles of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons. Following the example of the Good Shepherd, they are invited to become servant-leaders who care most especially for the least, the lost and the last.” (CBCP Pastoral  Exhortation On the Occasion of the Opening of the 2018 Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, First Sunday of Advent, 03 December 2017).

As usual the assembly started with a short reflection on the theme guided by Fr. Eduardo Aguero, SCJ, service of reconciliation led by Fr. Patrick Gutib, SCJ, confession and adoration.

In the afternoon of the first day, the participants following the guide questions shared their personal experiences and insights regarding last year and the main topic of the assembly.

The day ended with the Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, supper and common recreation.

The second day was dedicated to the reports by communities and different fields of activities of the region.

The main topic will be elaborated on the third and fourth day of the assembly under the guidance of the main moderator Fr. Eduardo Aguero, SCJ.

The assembly is going to conclude on February 9, 2018.

STD Dissertation Oral Defense of Fr. Delio Ruiz

On January 29, 2018, Fr. Delio Ruiz, SCJ, member of the Philippine Region, has defended his STD Dissertation entitled “MINISTER OF CHRIST JESUS: A Study of Cultic Language in Romans 15:14-21 in the Context of Paul’s Missionary Framework.”  The Board of Examiners was composed of Fr. Renato Repole, S.J., S.T.D. (Principal Examiner), Dr. Markus Locker (Adviser), Fr. ​Herbert Schneider, S.J., S.T.D., and Fr. Antonio de Castro, S.J., S.T.L., E.H.D. The defense was being held in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctorate in Sacred Theology with field of specialization in Biblical Theology.

“In this study, the author draws upon the apostle Paul’s Old Testament background and the Pharisaic Judaism’s context TRACING Paul’s use of cultic language in Romans. Cultic language in Paul’s letters does not ONLY refer to a number of terms related to the Temple services such as offering sacrifices. Paul ALSO uses cultic language outside the context of the Temple in order to explain his arguments, creating an imaginative context for his theological and ethical message (cf. Phil 4:18; Rom 12:1).

The study focuses on the letter-frame (Rom 1:1-15; 15:13-16:27), especially the closing section, the so-called “neglected endings,” where Paul explains the nature of his mission to the Gentiles (Rom 15:14-21) and his travel plans (15:22-32). An essential part of the study is that Romans 15 SHOULD not be considered merely as an appendix of the letter, and that one still can learn more of the whole letter. In view of the significance of cultic language in Romans the investigation seeks to clarify the meaning of Paul’s self-description as “ministry of Christ Jesus” and his “priestly service of the gospel” with its result, “the offering of the Gentiles” (Rom 15:16).

The use of cultic language aids Paul in defining his ministry to both Jewish and Gentiles Christians in a comprehensible and compelling manner (Rom 15:14-21). In doing so, the apostle emphasizes his appeal to fraternal relation and mutual acceptance within the believers in the house churches in Rome (15:7-13). Thus, both groups would be united in worship and communal response to the gospel (Rom 15:5-6; 15:16).”  (http://lst.edu/community/news-a-features/1099-std-dissertation-oral-defense-of-fr-delio-ruiz-scj-argentina-on-29-january-2018)

The defense, held at Tipanan ni San Ignacio, Loyola School of Theology, lasted for almost two hours and was attended by the SCJs and friends from Metro Manila, Cagayan de Oro and Macao.

Congratulations to Fr. Delio, the new Doctor in Sacred Theology!

Farewell to Fr. Aloisio Back

After 26 years of missionary service in the Philippines Fr. Aloisio Back, SCJ went back to Brazil. On January 18, 2018, the community of the Dehon House Community in Manila bade its farewell to Fr. Back for the service he has rendered in different parishes and formation houses.

Fr. Aloisio arrived in the Philippines in 1992 together with Fr. Giuseppe Perantoni, SCJ, who later on was kidnapped and held in captivity for 6 months. After finishing his language course (Cebuano) in Davao City, his first assignment was in Dimataling as an assistant parish priest. After that, for many years Fr. Al, as he used to be called, was working as a formator: Master of Postulants, Master of Novices and Formator in the SCJ Theologate in Manila. Most of the Filipino SCJs are his “spiritual products.” His last assignment was as a parish priest in San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish in the Diocese of Novaliches (Quezon City). In addition to that, he was accompanying the young SCJ clergy.

Fr. Al will be always remembered as a person full of wisdom, friend of the young SCJs and a man of obedience. His guiding principle was to be “useful and less disturbing.”

The SCJ Philippine Region thanks Fr. Aloisio for all he has done for its growth and development and wishes him all the best!

Groundbreaking for New Church in Talisay

On January 1, 2018, the Christian Community of Quasi-Parish Medalla Milagrosa (Miraculous Medal) in Talisay, Hilongos, has witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Church.

The event, accompanied by a heavy rain of the typhoon “Agaton”, was presided by Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, D.D, the Bishop of Maasin Diocese. The community  hopes to celebrate New Year 2018 in the new Church.

A Prayer for the Merry…and the Not-So-Merry

Heavenly Father, We thank You and praise You today for the miracle of Your Son’s birth. Thank You for bringing great JOY to the whole world! Thank You for giving us the assurance that because You came to us in the form of a human, we who believe in Jesus can know with absolute certainty that we’ll spend eternity with You.

We thank You, Lord, for the many reasons we have been given a merry Christmas. And we rejoice for each blessing. New life. New love. A home. A job. New opportunities. Second chances. And more.

We know, Lord, that You bring the sun and the moon and set the stars in motion. You tell the ocean where to stop and the snow when to start. And we thank You for the mighty gift of Your creation.

Thank You, Father, for spiritual leaders and faith-filled friends who keep encouraging us when we are close to giving up.

And although we have many reasons to rejoice today, Lord, we also know December 25th can be not-so-merry for a whole host of reasons. We pray for those who are experiencing loss this Christmas: relational, financial, spiritual and physical.

We pray for those who are coping with loving a prodigal and our friends and family members whose hearts are far from You. We pray for those dealing with unemployment and addictions and chronic sickness … and unending pain and frustrations of all kinds. Thank You, Lord, that You are The Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace, even in the midst of our not-so-merry circumstances.

Finally, Lord, we ask You to grant us peace. Peace in our homes, peace in our churches, and peace in our hearts, when the world all around us spins out-of-control. Help us to stay focused on You, this Christmastime and always. Thank You for loving the whole world enough to send the greatest gift, Your Son, so that we might truly have a very merry Christmas. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

~ Steph Raquel

Wishing you Peace and Joy…

“God travels wonderful ways with human beings, but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people. God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather, his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self-determined beyond all proof. Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels, where our piety anxiously keeps us away: that is precisely where God loves to be. There he confounds the reason of the reasonable; there he aggravates our nature, our piety—that is where he wants to be, and no one can keep him from it. Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.” ― (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas).

On this holy night, while we contemplate the Infant Jesus just born and placed in the manger, we are invited to reflect. How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? “But I am searching for the Lord” – we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to seek me, find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply by the Infant’s presence is: do I allow God to love me? (Pope Francis, December 24, 2014)

Let us give our concerns to our Lord Jesus, giving Him everything in our lives that needs redemption and healing. Let us celebrate His birth in Bethlehem and His coming again and into our lives as the greatest Gift of all, by gratefully receiving the gifts of life and salvation He gives. And, let us rejoice that this Gift of a Savior frees us to be as Christ to our neighbor, making a difference in the lives of others.

May the blessings of the Christ Child bring you peace and joy in this Christmas Time and in the coming New Year 2018! And may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

Celebrating Feast of Immaculate Conception in Cagayan de Oro

On December 8, 2017, the Immaculate Conception Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro, celebrated its Patronal Feast of Immaculate Conception. The concelebrated Mass was presided by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, while the homily was delevered by Fr. Patrick Gutib, SCJ, both from the neighbour Sacred Heart Formation House.

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 the moment Fr. Janusz Burzawa is the Parish Priest and is assisted by Fr. Niño Etulle, Deacon Rev. Nathanael Robilla, and a seminarian on exposure Fra. Julius Socorro, SCJ.