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.

Dedication of the New Parish Church in Aluba

On December 2, 2017, the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro City, celebrated the dedication of its newly constructed church. The construction of the new parish church officialy started on February 28, 2015, and in less than three years has been completed. It looks impressive! All the details has been studied and implemented by the construction committee under the supervision of the parish priest Fr. Janusz Burzawa, SCJ, who was the initiator of this project and also fundraiser. By the way, this is the third project that Fr. Burzawa is involved. In his past assignments he built a new church in Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur and prepared complete plans for the new church in Dumalinao, also in Zamboanga del Sur, which now is in its final stage of completion.

The construction of the new church went in pair in building of the local Christian Community, which Fr. Burzawa considers as the most important. There is a number of pastoral initiatives introduced by him such as home visitations, special catechesis, pledges, retreats and recollections for all the faithful, and recently “Parade of Saints” replacing the pagan Halloween.

The ceremony of dedication was presided by Fr. Florencio Salvador, SSJV,  a former pastor of this parish and delegate of the archbishop Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ,DD, who was assisted by several diocesan priests from the vicariate and SCJs from the neighbor communities.

After the Eucharistic celebration and lunch together, the parish community celebrated its “Family Day”, which in the future will be held   on the first Saturday of December.

Elevation to the Rank of Quasi-Parish and First Feast Celebration

On November 27, 2017, the Chaplaincy of St. Pope John Paul II in Talisay, Hilongos, Southern Leyte, was elevated the rank of Quasi-Parish, with a new name Miraculous Medal Parish.

According to the Canon Law:

A Parish is defined as a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor under the authority of the diocesan bishop (Can. 515 §1). This canonical definition expresses the important elements of a parish as follows;
1. It is a community of the Christian faithful. The sacred church building does not constitute alone a parish but rather the Christian Faithful that has been called together to be nourished and to bear witness the Word of God in the community.
2. It is territorial in nature belonging to a particular church which is the diocese. Hence it does not act as an autonomous entity. It follows certain ecclesiastical boundaries in order to establish the competence of the pastor and to give convenience to the faithful.
3. It should have a proper pastor who is in charge of the pastoral care of the faithful. He should see to it that Christian faithful are well guided and nourished with the Joy of the Gospel through the pastoral and spiritual programs of the parish.
4. The pastor acts under the authority of the diocesan bishop. The pastor should always maintain his good relationship with his bishop. He should never make any decision nor action that are in contrary to the statutes and practices of the diocese especially in terms of legal matters.

Unless the law provides otherwise, a quasi-parish is equivalent to a parish; a Quasi-Parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful in a particular church, entrusted to a priest as its proper pastor but not yet erected as a parish because of particular circumstances (Can. 516 §1). The definition of the quasi-parish almost follows the same important elements as that of a parish, though it is not yet decreed as such for some pastoral reasons. It is temporary in nature for it may be a preparatory stage for a parish, if all the requirements and conditions prescribed by the diocesan bishop, through his prudent judgment, had been fulfilled.

The “Decree of Establishment”, signed by the Bishop of Maasin, Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD,   was read at the beginning of the Holy Eucharist by the Chancellor of the Diocese Fr. Alexes Villarubin, JCL. The concelebrated Mass was presided by Msgr. Oscar A. Cadayona, the Vicar General from Maasin. Among the concelebrants were Msgr. Antonio M. Gaviola, PC, the Pastor – Moderator of Hilongos Parish, Fr. Conrado C. Saavedra, Jr., Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, Fr. Joseph Butlig, SCJ, Fr. Patrick Gutib, SCJ, Fr. Arthur Guevara, SCJ and Fr. Christopher Alburo, SCJ.

Remembering SCJ Martyrs in Cagayan de Oro

Each November 26 is a special day of remembrance of all SCJs who have died in the field as martyrs. Since November 26 this year falls on Sunday, the SCJ community in Cagayan de Oro celebrated the SCJ Memorial Day on November 25, 2017. The main celebrant and homilist was superior of the community Fr. Patrick Gutib, SCJ. The celebration was attended by the SCJs from the area of Cagayan de Oro, members of the Dehonian Family and friends. At the end of the Holy Mass took place a 10 minute presentation about the SCJ martyrs. As usual the celebration concluded with a common meal.

Installation of New Lectors

On November 20, 2017, seven (7) SCJ scholastics were installed to the ministry of Lector. Three (3) of them belong to the SCJ Philippines Region and four (4) to the District of Vietnam.

The new lectors were installed during the Holy Eucharist by the Regional Superior Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, which was attended by SCJs from the Philippines Region and District of Vietnam. The ceremony took place between the meeting of formators of both entities and regular meeting of the Philippine Region.

Prayers for the Dead on All Souls Day

God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.

Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.

In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.




V. Do not remember my sins, O Lord.
R. When you come to judge the world by fire.

V. Direct my way in your sight, O Lord, my God.
R. When you come to judge the world by fire.

V. Eternal rest grant unto him/her/them, O Lord, and let your perpetual light shine upon him/her/them.
R. When you come to judge the world by fire.

V. Lord, have mercy.
R. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Our Father…

V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. From the gates of hell.
R. Deliver his/her soul, O Lord.
V. May he/she rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to you.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with you.


Let us pray. Lord, welcome into your presence your son N. (daughter, N.), whom you have called from this life. Release him (her) from all his sins, bless him (her) with eternal light and peace, raise him (her) up to live forever with all your saints in the glory of the resurrection. We ask this through Christ our Lord


Almighty God, you command us to honor father and mother. In your mercy forgive the sins of my (our) parents and let me (us) one day see them again in the radiance of eternal joy. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.


God, our maker and redeemer, in your mercy hear our prayer. Grant forgiveness and peace to our brothers (sisters) N. and N. who longed for your mercy. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.