‘Parade of the Saints’ instead of Halloween Party

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.

“Walk with Mary” 2018

On April 9, 2018, more than 400 parishioners of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro City made their “Walk with Mary.” The walk started at the “Our Lady of Snows” Parish Church in El Salvador City and ended at the Divine Mercy Shrine.

Divine Mercy Shrine is located at the Divine Mercy HillsPSB-Ulaliman, El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental which is overlooking Macajalar Bay. The shrine has a 50-feet long  statue of the Divine Mercy , the biggest statue in Asia.

The pilgrims were accompanied by their parish priest: Fr. Janusz Burzawa, SCJ and the parochial vicar Fr. Niño Etulle, SCJ.

The walk was held a day after the feast of Divine Mercy Sunday and was culminated with the Eucharistic celebration.

For more pictures, please click here

 

Divine Mercy Sunday 2018

Thanksgiving Mass in Aluba Parish

20170226_093621On February 28, 2015, the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro City, started officially the construction of a new parish church. After two years of work, the new church is almost completed and looks impressive. To commemorate this anniversary, on February 26, 2017, the parish held its  special “Thanksgiving Mass.” The Eucharistic celebration was presided by Fr. Florencio Salvador, SSJV,  a former pastor of this parish, who was assisted by Fr. Pedro Sumbilon, also a former parish priest, Fr. Klaudiusz Rokicki, MIC and three SCJs from the neighbor community of the Sacred Heart Formation House.

After the final prayer, Fr. Janusz Burzawa, SCJ, the present parish priest and initiator of this project, thanked all the involved people for their support and countless efforts, that made this dream come true. Fr. Janusz also expressed his hope that in three or four months more, the church can be consecrated by the local bishop Most. Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ,DD.

District Assembly 2012

District Assembly 2012On January 9 – 13, 2012 – the SCJ Philippine District held its annual assembly. The assembly took place in the Sacred Heart Formation House in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro City and was attended by 26 SCJs.

Among special participants attending this meeting was Fr. Paulus Sugino, the General Councilor from Rome and a representative from Vietnam.

The assembly started on Monday, January 9, 2012 at 4:00 PM with the reflection on the “Vow of Poverty”, conducted by Fr. Sugino.

The next two days were dedicated entirely to the personal sharing and reporting by different commissions and groups of interest, starting with the vocation promotion program and ending with the financial matters.

On the fourth day, the main topic in the morning session was the implementation of the strategic plan for the year 2012. In the afternoon the participants of the assembly played a soccer match against the seminarians. The match was won again by the seminarians.

The fifth and the last day of the assembly started with the report from Vietnam and was followed by Fr. Sugino’s time, who shared his observations regarding the Philippine District and information about the Congregation. In the afternoon, the group discussed the yearly plan and some other urgent matters concerning the District, which on March 14, 2012 will become a Region. The assembly concluded with the concelebrated Holy Eucharist presided by Fr. Paulus Sugino.

Flood in Mindanao

At least 650 people have died and more than 800 are missing after the tropical storm Washi or Sendong (local name) swept across the southern Philippines. More than 10-hour heavy rain that started, in the afternoon, on Friday, December 16, 2011, caused a massive flood that affected many places on the island of Mindanao.

The two most affected cities are Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. Thousands of houses were literary swept by the water or were very heavily damaged. Several barangays in Cagayan de Oro were completely under water. Many of the dead were swept out to sea. Others were buried alive as mud cascaded down mountain slopes. Water levels rose three feet in less than an hour, forcing thousands to climb onto the roofs of their homes where they huddled against wind speeds reaching 55 miles per hour. Unfortunately, in many cases only concrete houses could face the damaging force of the nature. The highest death toll is among the children, disabled and elderly people. According to the news, even one hundred thousand people might be displaced. Many of the victims lost everything they had. In Cagayan de Oro City there are 20 evacuation centers full of people waiting for help. At the moment, the most urgent need is potable water, food and cleaning materials.

The SCJ Formation House in Aluba , located in the upper part of Cagayan de Oro City, was not affected directly by the flood, except for lack of electricity and internet connection. However, the compound of Kasanag Daughters Foundations, run by SCJs, was once again under the water. This time the level of the water has gone even higher, reaching at least thirteen feet. Most of the things inside the buildings were damaged and need to be replaced. The flood left tons of mud behind. Fortunately, all the girls and the staff, together 35 people, were safely transferred to the SCJ Formation House and given shelter in the Pre-College building. They will stay with the SCJ community until the facilities of Kasanag will be ready to accommodate them again.

So far, it was one of the strongest tropical storms that ever passed through Mindanao.