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.
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.
Hail Mary (3x) …
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
On this day, we are called to remember those who have died,
We pray for their joyful reunion with you, their loving creator.
As your son taught us to call the stranger
neighbor, our fallen are many.
Names we will never know,
Voices we have never heard,
In lands we may never visit,
Yet brothers and sisters all.
And so we pray.
For victims of war, caught in the crossfires of
conflicts we could not quell,
for soldiers and civilians,
adults and children, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
For those migrants who have died seeking a
haven where they hoped to find safety
and opportunity for themselves and for their families, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
For victims of hunger, denied their share in the
bounty you have placed before us, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
For victims of AIDS, Malaria, Ebola, and other infectious diseases,
who died before adequate care could reach them, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
For those refugees seeking asylum from war,
who died in a land that was not their home, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
For victims of emergencies and calamities everywhere,
who died amid chaos and confusion, we pray …
Grant eternal rest, O Lord.
Lord, as you command, we reach out to the fallen.
We call on you on behalf of those we could not reach this year.
You raised your son from the dead
that all may share in his joyful resurrection.
In Jesus’ name, we pray …
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace.
In the Church’s liturgical calendar, November 1 is the Solemnity of All Saints. The preceding eve is known as “All Hallow’s Eve” or Halloween. The root word of Halloween – ”hallow” – means ”holy.” The suffix “een” is an abbreviation of “evening.” It refers to the Eve of All Hallows, the night before the Christian holy day that honors saintly people of the past. Unfortunately, the Western influence took away the “Holy” in Halloween through dress up parties on October 31 where people wear costumes to look like monsters, ghouls, and other evil entities. Whether they willfully know this or not, the practice of dressing up like creatures of the night and demons have pagan origins.
In what is seen as a “counter-cultural revolution” to the Western Halloween observance, Catholic parishes around the country dress up their faithful followers in costumes that are of the complete opposite of vampires and zombies. Instead of wearing terrifying and bloody costumes and masks, the Church encourages the faithful to hold “Parade of Saints” or let the children wear costumes of Saints.
Meaning and Origin of All Saints Day
In the early years when the Roman Empire persecuted Christians, so many martyrs died for their faith, that the Church set aside special days to honor them. For example, in 607 Emperor Phocas presented to the pope the beautiful Roman Pantheon temple. The pope removed the statues of Jupiter and the pagan gods and consecrated the Pantheon to “all saints” who had died from Roman persecution in the first three hundred years after Christ. Many bones were brought from other graves and placed in the rededicated Pantheon church. Since there were too many martyrs for each to be given a day, they were lumped together into one day. In the next century, All Saints Day was changed by Pope Gregory III to today’s date–November l. People prepared for their celebration with a night of vigil on Hallows’ Eve — Halloween (possibly because of the strong holdover influence of the Celtic Samhain festival which many Christians in Ireland, Britain Scotland and Wales had continued to observe).
In the 10th century, Abbot Odela of the Cluny monastery added the next day–November 2nd–as “All Souls” Day” to honor not just the martyrs, but all Christians who had died. People prayed for the dead, but many unchristian superstitions continued. People in Christian lands offered food to the dead–as it had been in pagan times. The superstitious also believed that on these two days, souls in purgatory would take the form of witches, toads, or demons and haunt persons who had wronged them during their lifetime. As happens so often in Church history, sacred Christian festivals can absorb so many pagan customs that they lose their significance as Christian holidays.
“Parade of Saints”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Laity (CBCP-ECL) on Saturday, October 27, 2018, called on the faithful to refrain from participating in “secular” activities, including the celebration of Halloween and wearing of scary costumes.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of CBCP-ECL, said such event is not a Christian celebration as Halloween is a “celebration of death” while All Soul’s Day and All Saints’ Day are “celebration of life”.
In an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas, the bishop explained why the two-day observance is more about life than death.
When people visit the dearly departed during these days, they say prayers, offer flowers, light candles and bring food, which are all signs of life. “It is really a celebration of life,” he said.
“Let us go to the cemeteries to remember and pray for our departed,” Bishop Pabillo said.
“The Parade of Saints is a reclaiming of the Eve of All Saints day for Christ. It really belongs to Christ because it is the beginning of All Saints’ Day, the feast of all who have washed their robes with the Blood of the Lamb.”
The “Parade of Saints” was also, not for the first time, organized by the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro. As usual, the celebration started on November 1 at 7:00 am with the Holy Eucharist and was followed by the “Parade of the Saints.” around the parish.
Similar parade was also held the day before, on October 31, at the Medalla Milagrosa Quasi Parish in Talisay, Hilongos, Southern Leyte, during the culmination of the Month of Holy Rosary.
To reclaim the sacredness of the eve of All Saints, we need to create a counterculture that will serve as a Christ-centered alternative to Halloween by starting a tradition of our own. The Parade of Saints is a fitting tradition that can be firmly established in every parish and diocese to bring back the sacredness of All Saints Day and to give back the glory to God.
On October 5, 1938, a young religious by the name Sister Faustina (Helen Kowalska) died in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow, Poland. She came from a very poor family that had struggled hard on their little farm during the terrible years of WWI. Sister had had only three years of very simple education. Hers were the humblest of tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or the vegetable garden, or as a porter.
On February 22, 1931, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ appeared to this simple nun, bringing with Him a wonderful message of Mercy for all mankind. Saint Faustina tells us in her diary under this date:
“In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, ‘paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'”
Some time later, Our Lord again spoke to her:
“The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous;the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at
that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross….Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him.”
“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
On September 10 -13, 2018, 32 perpetually professed religious and 2 on temporary vows, members of the Philippine Region, participated in a four day on going formation seminar, held at St. Camillus Pastoral Healthcare Center, 18 Nicanor Reyes Street, Loyola Heights, 1108 Quezon City.
The first two days of the seminar was facilitated by Rev. Fr. Lauro V. Larlar, OAR, School Prior of the Recoletos School of Theology. The theme of his input was about “Renewed Servant-leaders for the New Evangelization” using the Dehonian ways of evangelization focusing on how to strengthen the spirituality and Dehonian identity in doing our mission in the Philippines.
The other two days of the seminar was facilitated by Sr. Julie Micosa, MCSH, board member of the Galilee Center and CBCP center for Human and Spiritual Development, Tagaytay. The focus of her input was more on self awareness in connection with emotions, thoughts, mood, anger, loneliness, sexuality, intimacy and anxiety that would allow the participants to come up with an effective features of on-going programs that members of the Philippine Region need to go through to address the different needs in order to become more effective Dehonian missionaries.
The seminar was concluded with a regional meeting to discuss important matters of the region.
By: Fr. Joseph Butlig, scj
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
On August 12, 2018, the formation community of Cagayan de Oro, together with the SCJs from nearby communities, members of the Dehonian Family and friends of the Congregation, celebrated the 93rd Death Anniversary of Fr. Leo Dehon, the founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. The concelebrated Mass was presided by the Regional Superior, Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, while the homily was delivered by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ. Fr. Francis recalled the last moments of the life of Fr. Dehon, summarized his activities and reflected on the challenges lying ahead of his spiritual sons and daughters. As usual the celebration was concluded with a common meal.