Sa Dom Bosco! (A Vocation Story)

By  Prenovice John Paolo Romero

“Sa Dom Bosco!” was my answer every time I was asked where I wanted to study for high school.

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I always dreamt of studying in the Don Bosco Academy (DBA) in Mabalacat, Pampanga not because I knew what was there but because almost all of my male cousins were studying there. This dream seemed to be just that, a dream.

But it finally came to a reality when my aunt, a Salesian Cooperator, asked me if I wanted to study in Don Bosco as a scholar or part of the Don Bosco Youth Center (DBYC), all I needed to do was to pass the entrance examination and talk to a Salesian. And with God’s grace, I did it! I got the scholarship, and the other expenses and fees were covered by my aunt and other sponsors. Indeed, when God gives, He gives more than what you asked for.

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With Fr Ding Cortez, SDB, his then spiritual moderator in DBA.

In DBA, I was forced to “do my ordinary duties extraordinarily well.” As a member of DBYC, on top of studying, we had some other responsibilities and tasks. We cleaned the library and the classrooms; we had study periods daily after classes. We had games like basketball, volleyball or badminton. I enjoyed doing all these with the Salesians.

It was also in DBA that I first reached various places in the country like Laguna, Batangas, Tarlac and even Metro  Manila. One time, we were invited to attend the ordination of a Kapampangan Deacon, then Rev. Kim Simbulan. And I would like to believe that it was there where my yearning to enter the seminary was planted. But just like any plant, when it was transferred, it would die first and later on would bloom again.

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Cook out in the seminary.

This ‘wanting-to-enter-the-seminary” thing faded, maybe because of some strong attractions of the world, like money, girls, and whatnot. But anyhow, after a year and a half, that desire grew, and this time, much stronger. God tests those whom He calls, but not up to the point of making them go astray.

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Then aspirants Jonas and Paolo with then Rev Jake Lopez, SDB.

In the summer of 2011, after graduating from high school, I was in a dilemma whether to pursue architecture and be a successful architect in the future, or enter the seminary, and be continually unsure of my future.

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Finishing high school means he is up to a new adventure. His parents join him on stage.

My parents were indirectly opposing my desire to enter the seminary, maybe because I am the only boy and the youngest among their children.

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The Blessed Mother has welcomed these young men in the seminary.

But when I finally decided to be a seminarian, God again intervened, but this time through a not-so-good experience. I met an accident during our outing as cousins, and I had a six-hour short-term memory lost (amnesia). When I got home to rest and sleep, my mother slept beside me and she was praying, “Lord, pagalingan me mu ing anak ku, keka ne” (Lord, just make my son well, and he is Yours).

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Paolo and his mother after his college graduation.

The next day, though I was still feeling a bit dizzy, told my mother, “Ma, okay na ku, pwede na kung lungub seminaryu ne? Sabi mu nabengi?” (Ma, I am well now, so I already have your blessing regarding my decision to enter the seminary? You told God last night?) She did not know that I was awake, listening to her prayer. God is very clever, He will make a way.

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This photo is 5-year old! Paolo and his batch were welcomed to the seminary.

Now that I am a postulant in Don Bosco Prenovitiate Seminary–Canlubang, and about to prepare for another big decision – whether to go for novitiate or not, God is again bothering me with so much troubles and distractions. But I am sure that whether I will apply and be accepted for novitiate or not, God will surely tell me, “Your mother already gave you to me, you are mine.” And whatever my “unsure future” would be, God will surely be at its center.

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Paolo and his batch were accepted to the Prenovitiate stage. In their midst is the rector of Don Bosco Seminary, Fr. Gerry Martin, SDB.

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