I turn eight years old today as a Salesian of Don Bosco. This piece below I shared with those who witnessed that moment when I offered all my life to the Lord.
Please keep me in your prayers.
Fr. Julius Sanchez, SDB, Provincial of the Southern Philippine province,
Fr. Danilo Torres, SDB, Acting Provincial of my very own Northern Philippine province,
Fr. Ronel Vilbar, SDB, Rector of Don Bosco Formation Center,
Fr. Honesto Geronimo, Jr. SDB, my novice master,
Salesian lay brothers,
Pre-novices and aspirants,
Dear friends and guests,
Dear young people in our midst,
A happy feast day of St. Dominic Savio to each of you!
My heart only knows how to speak the language of gratitude at this moment. And when, I mispronounce or commit grammatical flaws in this speech, please accept my apologies.
The great year of my novitiate has quickly come and gone. Even up to this point, as I take a deep breathe and as I marvel on the omnipotence of God’s grace, I could not believe that in a couple of days from now, I’ll be heading back to my post-novitiate formation in Canlubang—as a professed Salesian of Don Bosco. And I would have to leave Cebu which has been my home for the past year.
Novitiate has been a wonderful year, not because I enjoyed the extraordinary attention given only to the novices, nor because I am enriched and edified by the shining example of St. John Bosco as I delved into his life and in his numerous writings.
My novitiate has left in me a sweet after-taste because it has been a concrete intimate experience of God. And I guess, this is what has made it extraordinarily remarkable.
I encountered God in the Salesians of the South who, despite the difficulties in the mission due to the scarcity of resources and manpower, continue to function remarkably well, excelling in the field of journeying with the young people—especially the poorer ones!
I encountered God among my three companions then: Miguel, Boni and Noble. In them, I saw the distinct movement of His Love and Grace. Their bearing up with my intricacies and human weakness is more than a proof that God is patient with me by giving me co-journeyers who stand to mirror His bottomless understanding and love.
I encountered God among the lay associates I interacted with, whose firm faith and devotion to the Almighty never failed to amaze me. Through their lives, these lay people taught me concrete, practical application of what Pastoral Charity is.
I encountered God among the young people of Lawaan—of whom I worked with and for, whose very tongue spoke a different sound—but all the same, He invited me to journey with them, not because apostolate called for it, but because it was for my greater edification as a future apostle in their midst.
Finally, I encountered God in moments of difficulties and spiritual droughts.
Five months ago, my mother was diagnosed to have a malignant cancer in her right kidney. It needed to be removed right away. This came to me not only as a bad news but it has shaken all of me—my vocation, included. It’s one of the most difficult tests I took during the novitiate.
I wanted to question God what were His motives for such, but I did not. I could not. He has been amazingly good to me. And I could only trust in His wisdom. I have come to embrace the fact that His Grace is enough for me. I could only thank Him for the strength He breathed into me and to my family.
Let me end this speech by expressing my gratitude to my novice master, Fr. Honesto Geronimo, Jr., SDB, foremost for his effort to lead an excellent Salesian life following the spirit of our Constitutions, the subject he also efficiently taught us. He has been an outstanding teacher and an amazing spiritual guide.
Please continue to entrust Br. Noble and me so that we may be able to respond always with generosity and love all the days of our Salesian life.
Thank you very much for being with us in this event. Happy Feast Day once again.