30 Years Anniversary of SCJ Presence in the Philippines

Thirty years ago, on May 17, 1989, the first group of SCJ missionaries arrived in the Philippines. The group was composed of eight (8) priests representing five (5) SCJ provinces and seven (7) nationalities.

After six months in the language school in Davao City, they were entrusted with three parishes: Kumalarang and Margosatubig (Prelature of Ipil) and Dimataling (Diocese of Pagadian). As they say “the beginnings were very simple and challenging.”

Today, the SCJ Philippines Region has 44 members: 34 priests (22 Filipino priests), 1 religious brother, 7 scholastics on temporary vows, and 2 scholastics on final vows. In addition to this 3 novices will profess their first vows on June 28, 2019. At the moment they run 3 formation houses and 8 parishes.

The celebration of this special anniversary started in the morning with the meeting of the families of the Filipino SCJs. The visitors were introduced to the activities  of the Philippine Region and the Founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Venerable Fr. Leo Dehon.

In the afternoon, the activities resumed at 4:00 PM with the Eucharist presided by Mons. Perseus Cabunoc, VG, SSJV, at the Immaculate Conception Parish church in Aluba.

The Holy Mass was followed by the Special Program held on the grounds of the Sacred Heart Formation House and was composed of the cultural presentation, message of the regional superior, Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, and two testimonies given by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, member of the first group, and Fr. John Karl Cabaluna, SCJ, the first SCJ Filipino priest.

The celebration was attended by the family members of the Filipino SCJs, representatives from different SCJ parishes and local benefactors, visitors from Germany, Poland, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, different religious congregations and Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, D.D., who joined the second part of the program.

The participants were given special tokens: t-shirt and a mug with the logo of the celebration. The elements of the logo include: a boat which signifies the Philippine Region. The boat sails on blue waves shaped like an open book, which is the Gospel that guides the journey of the region. On the boat there are three passengers, who represent the members of the region and different communities who raise their hands in jubilation and thanksgiving. There is also so called “Dehonian Cross”, the symbol of an SCJ identity and the theme of the celebration: “Sharing Dehonian charism, serving the Gospel and living in the community.”

The Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Philippines are thankful to God for all His blessings and protection and all the people of goodwill, who became a part of their success and helped to prepare this beautiful celebration.

Priestly Ordination in Cagayan de Oro

On May 16, 2019, two SCJ deacons, Rev. Joel J. Bolo and Rev. Ruel C. Paalisbo, were ordained priests. The ceremony of ordination was held at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro and was presided by the local archbishop Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, D.D.

Fr. Joel C. Bolo, SCJ, comes from Ugyaban, a part of Dansolihon Chaplaincy served by the SCJs, while Fr. Ruel C. Paalisbo, SCJ from Bacolod, Lanao del Norte, where the SCJs were in charge of the parish from 1994 – 2003.

The ordination to the priesthood was a part of bigger celebration of 30 years of SCJ missionary presence in the Philippines. The ceremony was attended by Bishop of Pagadian, Most Rev. Ronald Lunas, D. D., all members of the SCJ Philippines Region, SCJs from: Germany (Fr. Horst Steppkes), Poland (Fr. Zbigniew Chwaja and Fr. Bogdan Kuta), Indonesia (Fr. Titus Purbosaputra and  Fr. Vincent Sri Herimanto), Vietnam (Fr. Loc Nguyen and Fr. Luong Van Nguyen) India (Fr. Anthony Sundar Raj Mallavarapu), diocesan priests from Pagadian, Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, lay volunteers from Poland, parents and family members of the Filipino SCJs, parishioners from Quezon City, Dumalinao, Kumalarang, Bagong Silang, Talisay, Tandang Kutyo, Dansolihon, Aluba, Margosatubig, Bacolod, family members and friends of the newly ordained priests and other guests.

The ceremony started at 9:30 in the morning and ended with a common meal.

Viva Señor Jesus Nazareno!

Feast of the Black Nazarene, a miraculous statue of Jesus Christ carrying his cross, is one of the most popular religious celebrations in the Philippines. Every January 9 thousands of people join the celebrations in Quiapo  Manila and  Cagayan de Oro City, where the replica of the original statue is located.

The Black Nazarene represents Christ’s passion and suffering, and through the centuries it has become the Filipino people’s symbol of struggle and faith. Devotees have experienced numerous instances of answered prayers and miracles, making the devotion to the Black Nazarene one of the strongest spiritual and religious phenomena in the country.

It is said that the Black Nazarene was carved by an unknown Mexican sculptor from a dark wood in the 16th century in Mexico and then transported via galleon from Acapulco, Mexico to the Philippines on May 31, 1606. According to some stories, a fire that broke out inside the ship reached the statue and blackened even more the image.

It was brought by a group of Augustinian Recollect missionaries who brought it to the Church of San Juan Bautista in Bagumbayan (Saint John the Baptist Church at Luneta). After a couple of years, the Black Nazarene was moved to a bigger church near the area.

On January 9, 1767, the image of the Black Nazarene was transferred (Traslacion) to Quiapo Church (Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene) whose patron is also John the Baptist. Since that time, the annual feast day has been celebrated by millions of devotees thronging to touch the icon and lasting for around 20 hours.

Black Nazarene is also the patron saint of the Chaplaincy in Dansolihon, Cagayan de Oro City, administered by the SCJs. The feast, which is also  celebrated on January 9, was preceded with 9-day novena as a spiritual preparation for the main celebration. Each day, there was a special Novena Mass and procession with the little statue of Black Nazarene around the village of Dansolihon.

The main celebration on January 9, 2019, was held in the new church and was presided by Monsignor Florencio “Boy” Salvador, SSJV, the parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Pueblo, Cagayan de Oro Cty. The day before, on January 8, 2019, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Most  Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ,DD. administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to the 220 young Catholics from different communities of the chaplaincy.

Priestly Ordination in Cagayan de Oro

On July 10, 2018, two SCJ Deacons, Rev. Nathaniel D. Robilla and Rev. Rogereve U. Pausanos, received the Sacrament of Priesthood. The ceremony of ordination was held at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Cagayan de Oro City, run by the Priests of the Sacred Heart, and was presided by the Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD, archbishop of Cagayan de Oro.

Fr. Nathaniel Robilla, SCJ, comes from the Diocese of Tagum, while Fr. Rogereve Pausanos from Balongating, Diocese of Pagadian. Until June 27, 2018, Balongating was a part of Dumalinao Parish run by the SCJs.

The new priests will continue their present assignments, Fr. Nathaniel in Parokya Banal na Krus, Sitio Bukal, Barangay Tandang Kutyo, Tanay, Rizal (Diocese of Antipolo), and Fr. Rogereve in San Isidro Labrador Parish in Kumalarang, Zamboanga del Sur.

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.