Fr Bernie Rosinski, who is in the last two weeks of teaching English in the Philippines, writes about the recent first-vows celebration:
Four candidates professed their first vows as members of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart for the Philippines Region at the novitiate in Dumalinao on the Island of Mindanao.
Bros. Joel, Ruel, and Alex are native Filipinos while Bro. Huan is from Vietnam. These four men were surrounded by their parents except in one case where the father was deceased. The mother and father of Bro. Huan came from Vietnam. Many, though not all of the men, also had brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces present. Additionally, many SCJs came from various places: the scholasticate in Manila, the seminary in Aluba, and parishes in cities near the novitiate. The ceremony took just about two hours , including the celebration of the Eucharist. Fr. Francis Pupkowski presided. He is the regional superior of the Philippines Region.
The ceremony concluded just about at midday; it was time to banquet and we did that royally. We even feasted on a whole roast pig. The banquet was conveniently catered and served buffet-style. People could grab a plate and eat inside in the dining room or roam outside to find table-and-chair settings under awnings and shade trees. During the course of the meal, which lasted several hours, an instrumental group of six elderly Filipinos played native Filipino music with its distinctive rhythms on three guitars, a mandolin, and two banjos. A number of guests danced, even two of our SCJs. However, not this blogger!
While I have not visited all the novitiates of the congregation, I don’t think there is a more beautiful setting for a novitiate or for the celebration that we witnessed. Imagine an evenly shaped slope on a long ridge of a low mountain running east/west. Imagine that slope with areas cleared of trees except for coconut palm trees sparsely planted. Then imagine a set of connected one storey buildings built like a Chinese rice terrace up the side of that slope in one of the clearings. At the base of the terrace, imagine a chapel being made almost entirely of sliding glass panel walls facing East, West, and North with an immoveable glass wall facing South and looking out, down the slope, across a lengthy valley to another slope on an opposite mountain ridge about a mile and half distant and running parallel to the slope on which the novitiate is located.
Any novice who has to spend 14 months in this location must almost necessarily turn his mind to the Author of so much beauty, and prepare himself for a commitment that is total and unlimited.
When the ceremony and celebration ended, many visitors had to leave for their homes or work. Two SCJ parishes had parish feast days immediately following profession day (May 13): St. Matthias (May 14), and St. Isidore the Farmer (May 15). So they all scrambled. The afternoon, therefore, was almost novitiate-like in its quiet. This blogger spent nearly four hours reading, and looking, and wondering, and recalling his own novitiate days…