My vocation story

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To begin with, I am a returnee. I left the seminary as a novice-to-be on the eve of our supposed entry to the novitiate. I worked as a teacher in some school in Manila, and I thought that I’d be happy to live and die working as one.

Along with that teaching stint, I worked for a publisher producing English textbooks exclusively marketed in Korea. I also contributed articles and edited educational materials for a Japanese firm. And because I had so much free time left, I also worked as an English tutor for a language school.

Looking back, I couldn’t believe that I was able to juggle three jobs all at the same time!

Despite the fat pay check I received, the glamour of working as a professor in a respectable academic institution in the country, the fulfillment of doing what I liked doing the most, I was not satisfied.

There were so many possibilities ahead of me. Or so I thought.

One late afternoon, after coming from work, I passed by a mall. I told myself that I could treat myself to a fancy restaurant for I was hungry. While deciding where to eat, out of nowhere, I was reminded of my seminary days.

I recalled those times in the seminary when there would be unstructured activities by batch, and we’d just have a quick hike to Tatlong Butas, order halo-halo and something else, and share stories we would be delighted to talk about over and over and over again.

And that alone was a piece of heaven!

It was not just the tasteful flavor of the halo halo served there, but the unique friendship, and yes, the warm brand of brotherhood that bonded us as one batch.

That time, I longed exactly for that.

I set aside the idea of eating for I had become hungry for something more, for something greater that could not just be satisfied by any physical food alone for deep within, I was completely empty.

That time, God knocked again at my door. And at that moment, He knocked me down.

I got in touch my spiritual director, one year after I left. I told him of my situation. And then, we talked about the process of my re-admission. He asked me to volunteer at the street children center Pugad once a week. And then we processed my experience.

Irony of ironies, it was on a Good Friday that I got settled with my decision to re-enter. As the universal Church recalled Jesus’ passion that day, I relished the soothing peace in my decision.

I’ve been a Salesian for only six years. Too young, you would say. But that short period has been filled with moments of bliss and faithfulness, although, it has been also marred by pains and infidelity. There were clear moments when I felt that God wanted me to remain by His side; but there were also times when haunting questions became my sole reason to stay.

I listened to him when He told me “Come and see.” When I wanted to explore, He allowed me to “Go and see.” And now, that as I look forward to my ordination, in three years’ time, God willing, He tells me “Donnie, we shall see.”

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