Postscript to Prenovitiate

I wrote this piece when I was a novice myself some eight years ago. I thought of sharing this here as I saw this photo of our incoming novices in the airport today as they gear up for their flight to Cebu for their novitiate formation. 


Bon Voyage! Our incoming novices fly to Cebu this morning. They will be back next year, God willing, as Salesians of Don Bosco. Photo by Br. Jomar Castillo, SDB.

After four long years of labor to earn a bachelor’s degree, an extern student will have a wider choice of exploring the real world after college graduation. Having equipped himself with the diploma, he goes on achieving his dreams, typically of having a brand new car, a decent home, and soon, a family he can call his own.

But for us who graduated from being prenovices and who decided to continue with our discernment in following God’s call in the realm of the seminary, it is an entirely different story. We’re to be uprooted from our first seedbed of vocation (Carreno House of Formation) flown to another island (Cebu) and would be contained in a house relatively smaller than CHF (Sacred Heart Novitiate).

Experiencing novitiate for over two weeks now, I can say that our life is not far from being exciting. Unlike the general majority of male bachelors freshly spawn out of school we may not be able to land a job in our dream company and receive a hefty pay check every month (honestly, I did! But that was ages ago!), or see the latest movies every week, or even date pretty ladies night after night.

Two Saturdays ago, we were given the chance to go to Ayala Mall to buy personal stuff using our own money. The remaining amount would have to be surrendered to our Novice Master. Once upon a time, it was difficult for me to imagine myself penniless. But now, I don’t only imagine it. I live it. And believe me, I struggle. To put it more accurately, each day in the novitiate is a struggle: the pains of starting again, of detaching from people, places, things and relationships we need to set aside, albeit for a while. The fear of what tomorrow brings.

The road to adjustment is still a long way to go.

An e-mail I got from a close buddy strikes some sensitive chords in me, I cannot but get some dose of inspiration from it

issues and crises are part of this vocation. our novitiate initiates us to that. religious life is indeed a cavalry…it’s difficult…not that i am beeing pessimistic (although i am a pessismist)…what saves our vocation is the fact that we are happy despite the difficulties. kung hindi ako masya, hinding hind ako magtitiis ng ganito.

I can very well relate to what he’s saying. But apart from the “joyful serenity” I experience here, what consoles me and what makes me stay is my belief that God is pleased to have me in this place where I am now.

Three years ago, I should have been here. But I begged God to wait. I was not ready then. Now, despite the difficulties, and perhaps especially because of them, I am all the more convinced that God is brewing a special plan just for me. The only thing He asks of me is to rely on His Grace.

Back in Canlubang, I thought that becoming a prenovice was the most thrilling part in all the stages of the seminary formation. I was wrong. On the hindsight, prenovitiate is not that exciting after all, or it is the terminal end of an aspirant’s seminary sojourn. It’s merely a prelude to a new exciting beginning.

True, we may not be able to experience all the perks other may be experiencing at the moment, but modesty aside, we have the best.



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