August 12, 2013, the death anniversary of Fr. Dehon, was a very special day for the SCJ Community in Vietnam and the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day a new SCJ District was established in the territory of Vietnam. The ceremony took place in Ho Chi Minh City in the new house that was dedicated last April 30, 2013. During the Holy Eucharist, presided by vicar general Fr. John van den Hengel, Fr. Paulus Sugino, the general councilor for Asia, read the act of erection of a new SCJ District in Vietnam. The new district has its own administration and is composed of 17 religious, of which 14 were members of the Philippine Region The erection of this new district was preceded by a special assembly that was held on August 11, 2013. The celebration was attended by two members of General Curia in Rome, provincial superior of EUF Province and three representatives from the Philippines.
March 14 is the anniversary of the birth of Fr Dehon, the founder of our congregation. This year March 14 has another special meaning for the SCJs working in the Philippines. It is the date of the inauguration of the Philippine Region. It was a meaningful celebration for all of us here in the Philippines as well as for the whole congregation. At the center of this celebration was a Eucharist celebrated by many priests from the Philippines and abroad. The main celebrant, Fr. Claudio Dalla Zuanna, vicar general, who came as the delegate of Fr. General, officially inaugurated the region and installed the new regional administration. [Fr. Tom Cassidy, provincial superior of the U.S. Province, was also present.] During the mass, after the gospel, Fr. Francis Pupkowski, the new regional superior, made his profession of faith, and together with his council, was installed for a three-year term. March 14 is traditionally marked as a day of acceptance of new postulants to the formation program as well as a day of accepting new Dehonian youth. Therefore, after communion, six candidates were accepted to postulancy and 12 young men and women dedicated their lives to the Sacred Heart. They will study and follow the charism and way of life of Fr Dehon. During the mass we remembered in our prayers Fr. Jerry Sheehy, Dehonian priest and missionary, who died a few days ago in Scotland. He was in the first group of the missionaries that arrived in the Philippines 23 years ago to start the SCJ mission here. He worked in the Philippines for several years, and then began a new SCJ mission in Vietnam. This meaningful celebration ended with a dinner and a joyful gathering of all the priests, brothers and friends. There are 20 missionaries working in the Philippine Region from seven countries. Among them there are already seven young local priests, two deacons and 25 young religious in temporary vows. The region includes seven communities, three formation houses and five parishes. There are also social projects, many students on scholarship, and lay and young Dehonians who take an active part in the work, projects and SCJ missions here. The Sacred Heart Formation House in Cagayan de Oro is our center for candidates who apply to the congregation. We have three stages of initial formation: pre-college, aspirancy and postulancy. There are together 57 students in this house. In Manila is the scholasticate with 20 students of theology in temporary vows. The SCJ Philippine Region is open to our other entities in Asia and throughout the congregation. Thus, there are many students from Vietnam and India here for their initial formation and studies, and a few religious from Indonesia and other countries who spend their sabbatical time in Manila. The region is also a place of preparation for missionaries who will go to other areas in Asia. We are glad that we can be helpful to others, especially those who seek advanced study and formation. In this way we fulfill the wishes of our founder, Fr. Leo Dehon, and Bl. John Paul II, that the Philippines becomes a center and a source of evangelization of Asia.