Joy to the world! The Lord has come! Let earth receive her King!

Christmas is a special time when we come together and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Jesus is the gift God wants us to have. It’s the miracle of God giving himself to us; in a sense, inviting us to hold him in our hands and to discover the joy that living with him brings.

The joy of Christmas and the gift of Emmanuel – God with us – gives us the confidence to face the future with hope. This hope is born of our faith in the Living God.

Christmas is, first and foremost, about Love, God’s Love. God loves us so much that He gave us the most precious gift, Jesus, His own Son. That’s the heart of Christmas.

This great and wonderful love calls us to love one another. We share love in and through our human relationships; love is a commitment and a decision to stick by others, come what may, through thick and thin, when the going is easy and when the going gets more challenging. The love that we share in our human relationships is a reflection of the love of God, calling us to give of ourselves for others.

Jesus left us an example to follow. So we need to always be learning from his life in the Gospels. From the crib of Bethlehem to the cross of Calvary, he gave his life completely as a gift of love. That is how we should live. By loving others as Jesus has loved us. We are all brothers and sisters, members of one family.   “What you do to one of these little ones, you do it to me.” What we do to each other, good or bad, we do it to God.

At Christmas, we remember that Jesus was born in poverty, in a stable among the poorest people and the farm animals. What does this mean for us today? We are called to look for the face of Christ in the poor, those at our own door and in places far from here. Love can look like a cup of coffee offered, a hand held, a smile shared, and a story heard. In the end, we will be judged by how we care for the poor. Let us welcome him with joy and generosity, giving space in our lives to the others: refugees, migrants,   poor, sick, and weak, lonely, abandoned those at the margins of society.

Christmas is also about repentance and forgiveness. Love takes commitment and work, and sometimes we don’t get it right. We’re not perfect. But with God there is mercy and forgiveness, and second chances. And so must we offer those gifts to others. Christmas is a time of renewal, of fresh starts and coming together. Because our time is so precious, it is a beautiful gift. So let us try to be more generous with our time and more ‘present’ to others; less distracted. Let’s try to turn off our phones and computers more often so we can really pay attention to the people we love.

Christmas is not a day or a season; it is a lifetime of growth in holiness by generous giving of oneself to the others, by making a difference in the world.

May this Christmas celebration bring us peace and joy in our hearts and homes. And may God’s blessing be with us through thick and thin in the coming year 2019.

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.

Family Day celebration in Aluba

On December 2, 2018, the First Sunday of Advent, the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro  City, celebrated its Family Day. As seen on the pictures the celebration was attended by many parishioners and it included different presentations, fun and of course common meal. The Family Day is an annual event and a part of preparation for the Parish Feast of Immaculate Concepcion on December 8.

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

Feast Day of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Talisay

On November 27, 2018, the Quasi-Parish Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Talisay, Hilongos, Southern Leyte, celebrated its second Patronal Fiesta. While last year the celebration was held in the Barangay Hall, this year the Holy Mass was offered in the new, although not yet finished, church. The feast was preceded with nine day Novena together with various  activities.

The main celebrant was the Bishop of Maasin Diocese, Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, DD. As of now, the new church, which construction started on January 1, 2018, is completed in around 55 percent. The community is going to use it during the Novena de Gallo and Christmas celebrations.

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