Miraculous Medal Quasi-Parish in Talisay declared a Parish

On November 30, 2019, the Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Quasi-Parish in Talisay, Hilongos, Southern Leyte, was elevated to the rank of a parish. The declaration was made by the Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB, D.D., the Bishop of Maasin, during the concelebrated Holy Eucharist.  Also, during the same ceremony, the bishop has installed Fr. Arthur Guevara, SCJ, as a Parish Priest of the new parish. The celebration was a part of the 3rd Feast of the Patron and was preceded with nine day Novena and other activities.

In the Roman Catholic Church, a parish is a stable community of the faithful within a particular church, whose pastoral care has been entrusted to a parish priest, under the authority of the diocesan bishop. It is a territorial entity constituting a division within a diocese.

The parish is where the Church lives. Parishes are communities of faith, of action, and of hope. They are where the gospel is proclaimed and celebrated, where believers are formed and sent to renew the earth. Parishes are the home of the Christian community; they are the heart of our Church. Parishes are the place where God’s people meet Jesus in word and sacrament and come in touch with the source of the Church’s life.

The official SCJ presence in the Diocese of Maasin started on June 11, 2016, when the local bishop entrusted to the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ) a part of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Hilongos,  the St. Pope John Paul II Southern Mission Territory, with its main chapel in the Barangay Talisay, later on Miraculous Medal Quasi-Parish. At the moment there are three SCJs assigned there: Fr. Arthur Guvera, Fr. Christopher Alburo and Fr. Josepatro Gier, Jr.

On January 1, 2018, with the ground breaking ceremony, the parishioners of Talisay started construction of their new parish church, which at the moment is at the stage of its completion.

The celebration was attended by the Regional Superior Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ, the Regional Secretary and Treasurer Fr. Joseph Butlig, SCJ, Fr. Elpidio Luza, SCJ, the Parish Priest of Bagong Silang, diocesan priests, religious from different congregations and parishioners. As usual, it ended at the table filled with the different kinds of food.

Perpetual Profession of Vows in Talisay, Hilongos

On April 10, 2019, two SCJ confreres on temporary vows, Bro. Victor Lingasa and  Bro. Julius Socorro, made their final commitment to God in the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred  Heart of Jesus (SCJ). The ceremony  was held in the under construction new church of Quasi Parish Medalla Milagrosa in Talisay, Hilongos, Leyte and was preceded by the SCJ regular meeting a day before. The concelebrated Mass was presided by His Excellency Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantilias, SDB, DD, the Bishop of Maasin Diocese. In his homily, the bishop welcomed all the SCJs and expressed his wish to have another SCJ presence in his diocese.

The final vows of Chastity, Obedience and Poverty were accepted by the Regional Superior Fr. Lukas Hadi Siswo Sasmito, SCJ. Besides the SCJs, the celebration was attended by some diocesan priests from the area, religious sisters, family members of the perpetually professed and parishioners from different chapels, who worked very hard for the preparation of this event.

The Profession of Final Vows in Talisay was the first part of a larger celebration of 30th anniversary of the SCJ presence in the Philippines.

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.

‘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.

Youth Mission in Talisay Accomplished

Thirty seven (37) young missionaries from the Miraculous Medal Quasi-Parish in Talisay, Hilongos, Southern Leyte, completed the 12-day summer youth mission in the Christian communities of Capudlusan and Hitudpan. The mission, held on May 1 – 12, 2018, was first in the history of the parish and the Diocese of Maasin. The missionaries commit themselves to continue what the Lord has started in them from their generation to the next. God be praised! Thanks to all the parishioners who, in various ways, supported them in both their material and spiritual needs.

Vivat Cor Iesu, Per Cor Mariae!

Pilgrimage in Celebration of Jubilee Year of the Diocese of Maasin

This year 2018, the Diocese of Maasin is celebrating its Golden Jubilee as a diocese. On this occasion, besides the different activities and celebrations, each parish is encouraged to make a pilgrimage to the heart of the diocese. Heading this call by the Most Rev. Precioso Cantillas, SDB, DD, the parishioners of Medalla Milagrosa Parish in Talisay, Hilongos, on April 9, 2018, went to Maasin. On the way to the Cathedral they also visited: San Roque Parish in Macrohon, Monte Cueva and Divine Mercy Shrine in Matalom.

The Diocese of Maasin was canonically erected on August 14, 1968, through a papal decree issued March 23, 1968. In June of the same year, the Most Reverend Vicente T. Ataviado, D.D. who was up to then a parish priest of Masbate, Masbate Island, was appointed as its first bishop. He was consecrated on August 8, 1968, and installed as the First Bishop of Maasin on August 14 at Our Lady of Assumption Parish Church in Maasin, the capital of Southern Leyte.

From 1595 to 1910, the area which now comprises the Diocese of Maasin belonged to the diocese of Cebu. From 1910 to 1937 it belonged to the Diocese of Calbayog. From 1937 to 1968 it came under the jurisdiction of the Diocesan of Palo in Leyte. Today it is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Cebu.

The diocese comprises the entire province of Southern Leyte, and the towns of Matalom, Bato, Hilongos, Hindang, Inopacan and Baybay in the province of Leyte, with the Maasin Parish Cathedral as the seat of the diocese. Distributed within its 2,505 square kilometers of land are 38 parishes and 1 quasi-parish. To facilitate administration these parishes have been grouped under 6 vicariates.

The province of Southern Leyte is located in the southeastern portion of the island of Leyte. And the small island of Limasawa off its southern coast is historically significant as the place where Magellan landed, after having sailed from the island of Homonhon in Samar, to celebrate the first Catholic mass in the Philippines. The chieftain of Limasawa, Kolambu and his men, with Magellan and his men, attended that first mass celebrated by Father Pedro Valderrama on March 21, 1521 . Until 1960, the island of Limasawa belonged to the island province of Leyte.

Leyte and Samar were once considered one single political unit by the Spanish government, falling under the administration of the government of Cebu. They were separated from Cebu in 1735 but still remained as a single province until 1768, when they were finally split into two provinces, with Tacloban as the capital of the entire island province of Leyte. In 1960 Southern Leyte was made a separate province with Maasin as its capital.

The population of Southern Leyte is made up mostly of Cebuano-speaking people because of its closeness, geographically, to Cebu and Bohol. This population has now reached a total of 558,804, of which 90 per cent are Catholics.

Feast of St. James and Blessing of the Community House

On July 25, 2016, new SCJ Community in Talisay, Hilongos in the Diocese of Maasin celebrated the Feast of St. James, the Patron Saint of the main chapel where the community at the moment is residing. The concelebrated Mass was presided by Fr. Conrado “Dodong” Saavedra, who also delivered the homily presenting St. James, the Apostle as a model of faith and commitment.

The Eucharist was followed by the Blessing of the Community House done by the Regional Superior Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ. The celebration was well organized and attended by members of the “St. Pope John Paul II, Mission Territory.” The SCJs were represented by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ and Fr. Patrick Gutib, SCJ, who came all the way from Cagayan de Oro City.