Don Bosco looked for me

A reflection penned by Rainier Marquez on how he has endeavored to search for Don Bosco … and how Don Bosco has looked for him.

St. John Bosco inspires not just young people but Catholic faithful from all walks of life. As we continue with the novena days in honor of The Saint of Youth, #HappyBirthdayDonBosco team shares with you reflections of various professionals who have been influenced by our beloved Saint. Graphics by Mark Anthony Ramos.

St. John Bosco inspires not just young people but Catholic faithful from all walks of life. As we begin the novena days in honor of The Saint of Youth, #HappyBirthdayDonBosco team shares with you reflections of various professionals who have been influenced by our beloved Saint. Graphics by Mark Anthony Ramos.

As a youth minister, I accompany my fellow youth in their joys and triumphs, as well as in their difficulties and sufferings. It is not an easy task for you have to be literally with them, even to the extent of what Don Bosco would say “Run, jump, and play but do not sin.” You really have to immerse yourself with them so that you get to empathize with their difficulties and problems. It is quite challenging yet fulfilling on my part for their life continues to be and is an inspiration for me to respond to my priestly vocation.

In fact, it was through youth ministry that my priestly vocation gradually took shape.

It was also through this ministry that I met Don Bosco in my life, albeit gradually.

In my first four elementary years, the school I attended was run by the Salesian Sisters (or FMA Sisters). During that time, it was undergoing transition to become a parochial administration. I had the foretaste of the Salesian style of education which I will later recognize later as influential in my vocation. And what’s more interesting is that Don Bosco was the patron saint of our class from Grade 2 to 4.

When my family migrated to Ilocos Norte, I joined the Knights of the Altar and the handbook that we used was that of the Salesians. Even with such instances, I saw how I took for granted Don Bosco’s coming into my life.

Don Bosco concretely came into my life when I had my first encounter with the Salesians during the 10th Saint John Paul II Catechetics and Youth Ministry Conference held last year. I was already an incoming 4th Year theology seminarian still searching for the meaning of my mission to my vocation. I was also preparing a draft of my thesis on the youth as apostles of New Evangelization and so my coming to the conference was part of my study.

In that three-day conference, I saw gradually how I found myself in a group of young men whom I didn’t know but whom I share the same charism. I realized that my study of youth ministry would lead me to greater things. Yes, I wanted to serve the youth and to uplift the dignity of the poor. I realized how I took for granted my Salesian identity and how Don Bosco was guiding me all over in my life and in my ministry.

I did not search for Don Bosco. He looked for me.

And in my three-day silent retreat I had last June 2014, it was there that I realized that my priesthood meant being and serving the youth and guiding them to the fullness of life. I realized that God wanted me to be an instrument for them in the spirit and charism of Don Bosco.

I eventually left the diocese after seeking permission from my bishop so I could be given the opportunity to undergo the process of discernment. I was well prepared for the unfortunate consequences I had to face with my decision to transfer from the diocesan to religious life. Yet, the grace of God and the fatherly love and care of Don Bosco sustained me well, thanks to the deep psycho-spiritual processing that I underwent through which provided me a strong and firm foundation to make a stand. It gave me a sense of freedom and peace.

Yes, indeed, Don Bosco continues to live his dream for all of us. His love and concern continues to live up to this day. And I know deep in my heart, as I have testified, that even if he is not present among us, he continues to search for the youth of today in their difficulties and bring them to the fullness of life.

Rainier Flor Someo Marquez is a musician, writer, journalist, blogger, a youth minister, and a passionate worker in God’s vineyard. Currently discerning to become a Salesian, he spends most of his time in prayer, meditation and reflection and looks up to Don Bosco as his mentor and spiritual guide.

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