Prophet of Love and Messenger of Hope

Remembering Pope St. John Paul II on his 100th Birth Anniversary

Karol Józef Wojtyła, known as John Paul II since his October 1978 election to the papacy, was born in the Polish town of Wadowice, a small city 50 kilometers from Krakow, on May 18, 1920. He was the youngest of three children born to Karol Wojtyła and Emilia Kaczorowska. His mother died in 1929. His eldest brother Edmund, a doctor, died in 1932 and his father, a non-commissioned army officer died in 1941. A sister, Olga, had died before he was born.

He was baptized on June 20, 1920 in the parish church of Wadowice by Fr. Franciszek Zak, made his First Holy Communion at age 9 and was confirmed at 18. Upon graduation from Marcin Wadowita high school in Wadowice, he enrolled in Krakow’s Jagiellonian University in 1938 and in a school for drama. Continue reading

31 years of SCJ presence in the Philippines

May 17, 1989, is the official date of arrival of first SCJ missionaries in the Philippines. The original group was composed of eight (8) priests representing seven (7) nationalities and five (5) different entities: 3 from Argentina, 2 from Indonesia, 1 from Germany, 1 from Poland and 1 from British-Irish Province.

The settings of the first assignments were very simple and often challenging. The Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ) were offered three parishes in Zamboanga del Sur: Dimataling in the Diocese of Pagadian and Margosatubig and Kumalarang in the Prelature of Ipil. For a long time, they had no TV set, refrigerator or telephone. The roads were rough, dusty and very often impassable during the rainy season.

One of the most difficult moments they had experienced happened in October 2001 when Fr. Giuseppe “Beppe” Pierantoni, SCJ, an Italian missionary, was kidnapped. Fr. Beppe was held in captivity for six months. Nevertheless, it was also a time of grace because that harrowing event strengthened their unity and solidarity. Continue reading

Viva Señor San Isidro!

St. Isidore, the Farmer is the patron saint of two SCJ parishes: Kumalarang and Dumalinao. This year, due to the pandemic coronavirus and GCQ (General Community Quarantine), the celebration of the parish feast was very simple. The main part  which is the Holy Eucharist was held online. In Kumalarang the Holy Mass was presided by Fr. John Karl Cabaluna, SCJ, the parish priest and in Dumalinao by Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ,  the regional superior of the Philippine Region, who for the last two months is stranded in Zamboanga del Sur. The motorized procession with the statue of the saint was held either before or after the Mass. Even it was a rainy fiesta, the parishioners enjoyed their meal and time together. Continue reading

Feast of St. Isidore, the Farmer in the time of COVID-19

St. Isidore, the Farmer (1070-1130) is considered the patron saint of farmers and rural communities.  He was born to very poor yet very pious Catholic parents in Madrid; as a young boy, he went to work on the estate of John de Vergas, a wealthy landowner from the nearby town of Torrelaguanna.

Isidore labored on Vergas’ farm for the rest of his life. He was a model worker, a simple and caring person, and a very devout Christian.

In the morning before going to work, Isidore would usually attend Mass at one of the churches in Madrid. One day, his fellow farm workers complained to their master that Isidore was always late for work in the morning. Upon investigation the master found Isidore at prayer while an angel was doing the ploughing for him. Continue reading