The March-May 2016 issue of The St. John Bosco Today, the Salesian Family Magazine of the two Philippine Provinces, wraps up with the Philippine celebration of Don Bosco’s 200th birth anniversary. The pages of that issue contain a splendid comprehensive coverage of the festivities which had begun on August 16, 2014 held at Don Bosco Caritas up to the conclusion of the celebration at the Ynares Coliseum in Pasig City exactly a year after.
That magazine’s issue coincides with the month I was ordained as a Salesian priest, as if to indicate that a gift of a Salesian priestly vocation tops all the festivities to honor the 200th birth anniversary of St. John Bosco. After all, for the Salesians, vocation is the crowning glory of the youth ministry.
I write this reflection nearly three months after that special commemorative issue was released, and after the date of my ordination which fell on May 14, Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle.
Initially, I wanted to be ordained on April 2. I chose the date since it is the liturgical feast of St. Pedro Calungsod, a young Filipino saint who was canonized some four years ago. Although liturgical law would prevent me to celebrate his feast on that day since the day fell within the Easter Octave this year, I wanted a date that has an importance for me, not just any random date chosen out of convenience.
But when I proposed this to Fr. Paul Bicomong, SDB, my Provincial Superior, he did not approve of it. He reasoned out that the time to prepare for the ordination would be limited, and he did not want the ordination to be haphazardly organized. I did not merely obey him, I agreed with him for I only had a month left if I would push through with that date.
The next thing I caught myself doing was to scan again the calendar. I realized that I was back to square one. A seminary companion helped me look for the next possible date. It was then that we considered May 14. But more than just being a feast of St. Matthias, our research led us to appreciate its value inasmuch as the life of the Salesian congregation is concerned.
Apparently, on that day in 1862, Don Bosco received the vows of the first members of the Salesian congregation which was at its budding stage.
Likewise, we look back into that same day, too, when Don Bosco, through his dream, received a vision, about the two pillars, on which the Salesian congregation anchors its most important devotions on—the Blessed Mother and the Holy Eucharist.
In retrospect, that day when I was ordained a priest, though a celebration of the Church, is at its finest, a deeply Salesian event.
My prayer is that the grace I received through my priesthood may give birth to another Don Bosco.