seminary stuff

[Video] A Day with a Young Salesian

Are you curious what is a typical day for young Salesians? This is for you!

Kudos to our young Salesians in the Postnovitiate community for preparing this video.


Who wants to be a Religious?


Spot the difference. A Salesian Brother in the midst of Salesian clerics. 


Follow these three tips when you feel you’re called to be a religious
By Br. Jomar Castillo, SDB

Many young people might be asking: “What to do when you feel you are called to be a religious?” Well, I remember a game show that gives you 3 points to verify your answer.

Maybe, we could try this here! Are you ready?

1. Call a Friend

Look for a person whom you think could help you in your journey. A priest, brother or sister could help. Open you heart to them. They have undergone the process of discernment and they are most willing to share the process which they underwent. It is always very good to look for some competent people whom you could discern with so that you can really validate whether God is calling you toward that path.

2. Fifty-Fifty

You need to give up some things. Prioritize! St. John of the Cross says: “You cannot say ‘no’ to others unless you have a burning ‘yes’ to God.” In this world of plurality, there are many choices. But if you feel you that you’re called to religious life, remember that it is one of the loftiest choices a person can make. It is putting into a higher level the promise to love during one’s baptism. Also, which gifts of yours fits the charism of the congregation you would like to join. Just like any app in your phone, check your compatibility.

3. Ask the Audience

You can ask people about qualities that you may have in order to fit yourself to the life you are seeking to embrace. Remember the three H’s? Head: the capacity to prepare yourself for the ministry. Are you able to cope with the demands of the life you are seeking to enter? Heart: the willingness to give yourself totally to God through this particular charism that God has given you. Are you ready to consume your life to work exclusively for the Kingdom of God? And, Health: does your health permit you to go through the rigors of formation and the future ministry?

So, who wants to be a religious? After undergoing the simple 1-2-3 steps, don’t forget to check the great joy within!

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14 New Prenovices!


The Rite of Acceptance of 14 new prenovices was held in the Diocesan Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, Canlubang, Laguna. Ten of them come from the Philippine North Province, while the other four come from the China province (CIN). They have chosen the quotation from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians as their theme – “And the Greatest of These is Love (13:13).”

The newly accepted Prenovices are:

Prenov. Joshua Abel Ayson – Tarlac
Prenov. Janver Wylie Bondoc – Tarlac
Prenov. Bosco Pak Lam Chan – Hong Kong
Prenov. John Ricky Evangelista – Tarlac
Prenov. John Yan Ling – Hong Kong
Prenov. Augustine Ma
Prenov. Jerick Magsino – Batangas
Prenov. Wendell Malabanan – Laguna
Prenov. Daniel Drew Matias – Tarlac
Prenov. Nigeli Erno Mendoza – Sta. Rosa Laguna
Prenov. Paul Nealvin Rodriguez – Cavite
Prenov. Menilio Rosete, Jr. – Tarlac
Prenov. Romeo  Santos – Mandaluyong
Prenov. Joseph Wen

The ceremony took place within the Mass presided by Fr. Gerardo Martin, SDB, the Rector of the Prenovitiate. Fr. Jake Lopez, SDB, in-charge of the prenovices and Fr. Albert Kim, SDB, CIN Province representative, concelebrated. Two newly ordained deacons were also present: Rev. Marcwill Lim, SDB and Rev. Ramil Maranan, SDB. The parents and friends of the newly accepted prenovices made this event special by their attendance.

In the homily, Fr. Gerry talked about the struggle of the follower of Christ that is having a clash between the “me-first” and the “God-first.” The concept is extracted from the Gospel Reading. Also, the presider reminded them of three things: following Christ is not easy, the cross of daily living entails “metanoia” (change of heart) and lastly, following Jesus means being resolute.

Immediately after the homily, the rite followed. It began with the examination of the candidates’ intentions. Then, the Rector blessed the crosses that bear the image of the Good Shepherd, whom they want to follow. The cross is patterned after the very cross of Pope Francis. It symbolizes the prenovices’ aspirations to closely imitate Christ in radiating his light and love to others in the footsteps of St. John Bosco. After the blessing, the Rector received them with an embrace to accept them as his spiritual children who place themselves completely under his guidance.

Written by Cl. Paul Dungca, SDB


“Inangkin kita” [A Vocation Story]

Novice John Joseph Aguila will profess as a Salesian Don Bosco on May 6. Here is his vocation story. 



When I was 5 years old, our home was very fortunate to receive Mama Mary through the efforts of a Salesian priest, Fr. John Andreu, through a block rosary. It was the start of a very good journey with the Lord. It encouraged me to attend Sunday Masses regularly in St. Dominic Savio Parish. In regularly attending the Mass, I found out that the priests are very welcoming, and that their homilies are both practical and inspiring.

It was my first time to feel that I belong to a bigger community because my parents would not usually allow me to go outside our compound. The celebrations are so captivating that I found myself attending Mass even without my parents; most of the time with my friends and on several occasions, just by myself.

As I mature, I decided to join the youth center under the group of the young catechists. Actually, I had no deeper motivations in joining the group aside from the fact that I really felt at home with their company and that I was attracted to a young lady who happened to be a member of that group.

But God had different plans for me; things never materialized for the two of us. True, I fell for her but I also fell for Him and for them. It was a very confusing situation for me. I cannot think clearly until I find myself committing myself to everyone.

In those days, I also became close with the Salesians, with their pastoral works and with the young. I fell in love with Jesus and with the youth. I enjoyed every second I was with them – the kwentuhans (story telling), the laughters, the tambayans (standbys); practically all their activities.

It was Fr. Ben Borja, SDB, who first invited me to try the “Orientation.” I had no clue about it but I said yes. Little did I know that it was vocation orientation and I was completely caught off guard. Surprisingly, I liked the experience and it opened me to an enlarged horizon. Unfortunately, he had to leave for Pampanga for his new obedience and things never materialized as I expected them to be.

Fr. Dante Valero, SDB, took over. He asked me if I was still willing to pursue and I said YES, then we started the admission process to the seminary. Fortunately, I was admitted but not yet in the Pre-Novitiate Seminary in Canlubang. Since I was a college graduate, then Fr. Provincial (Fr. Eli Cruz, SDB) asked me to stay with the Salesian Community of Don Bosco Technical College (DBTC) and had my aspirantate there.

However, things became rough for me. I was in the adjustment process. Homesickness struck very hard and the feelings for that same lady I was attracted to years ago, resurfaced. I lost my focus and I left DBTC in just three days after I entered without even talking about it with my spiritual director. In fact, I was so confused that I did not even bother consulting him about my decision.

After leaving, I told myself not to get any closer with the Salesians or the youth, not even to our parish grounds. I lost my will to pray. I completely felt that I was lost. But God had different things in mind. Fr. Edwin Soliva, SDB, our parish priest offered me to head a pastoral work. For reasons I could not understand, I just could not say “No” to him.

Surprisingly, I became closer with the Salesians and the whole parish community again, but not with God. I felt ashamed of what I have done and lost my will to pray. Ironically, I was serving the parish but without a relationship with Jesus; it was merely functionalism. For some reasons, people around me were not aware of it. I believe this was the primary reason why Fr. Abner Santos kept on insisting that I should go back to my formation – to the seminary.

For the next two years, I just smiled about it.

However, on September 26, 2012, I felt like praying. Unconsciously, my feet drag me to a very familiar place – the Adoration Chapel. For almost half an hour, I was just there in front of the Blessed Sacrament, thinking of how I lived my life in the last 25 years.

Then I felt that familiar call. I knew plenty of things were running through my head and I supposed that it could just be a sudden burst of emotion, so I ignored it. But it was persistent. So I informed my Salesian friends about it and they told me to pray and to seek a Spiritual Direction. With that plan, God brought me to Bro. Mon Callo, who guided me through it until came the part that I finally decided that I want a second chance – I will enter the seminary again. And the rest is history.

If I were to summarize my vocation, it would be God’s Faithfulness. He had been faithful in giving me friends – lay and Salesians – who never got tired of me when I seemed to lose it all. It only shows that He never gave up on me though I gave up on Him on several occasions.

During my discernment retreat for the application for first profession last January 2016, I felt that the Lord has sealed His call. I was actually reflecting of the passage of the Prophet Isaiah when the Lord said “I have called you by name, you are mine” and I felt so much consolation and joyfulness from it. I even translated it in Filipino “Inangkin na kita!” (Literally: I have owned you) because it gave me a deeper meaning and deeper sense towards my vocation.

Thanks to His goodness and mercy, I will be professing the vows as Salesian this coming May 6, 2016 – the Feast of St. Dominic Savio, the patron saint of my home parish, the place where it all began for me.

A Soldier for Christ [A Vocation Story]

Novice Lorenzo Estralla will profess as a Salesian Don Bosco on May 6. Here is his vocation story. 


“Do not be afraid; do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.” St. John Paul II, Cristo es Liberazione (Christ is Liberation)

It was sometime in second grade, around 2002, when I first heard the abovementioned song. At that time, like most kids of my age, I was neither very aware nor paid much attention to the priesthood, let alone the vocation to the religious life. However, my mind never let go of that song since then, not knowing that this would play a part in leading me to the life that I am about to embrace.

The following year, I joined the Knights of the Altar sodality in Don Bosco Makati. While I was fascinated with what they did—being close to the altar and assisting the priest, what completely caught my attention was the white cassock they wore, which made them distinct from all others attending the Mass and at the same time made them look like the priest. Thus, two playful thoughts began to form in my mind: first, would the day come that I would be the one being attended to by these servers? Second, would the day come wherein I would be the one presiding Holy Mass?

In the fifth grade, I met two young Salesians- Fr. Glenn Protacio (Fr. Tutti), who was then a cleric undergoing practical training and Fr. Armando Cortez (Fr. Ding), then a new priest assigned as Pastoral Animator for the Elementary department. Seeing them among the young: Cl. Tutti assisting the students during lunchtime while wearing his cassock, or playing of the violin during institutional masses; and Fr. Ding with his ever-open office full of students during break times, his cheerful disposition and his lively homilies, I could not help but be attracted to become like one of them primarily because they were truly happy with what they were doing.

A year later, in the sixth grade, Fr. Ding started an initiative for a junior vocation team which he called the J-Team (Jesus Team). I was one of the thirty or so students who showed interest in the vocation to the priestly and religious life. There, we were given inputs and exhortations on the nature of this vocation, and even got the chance to witness a presbyteral ordination in the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians in Paranaque.

I started showed more than just a passing interest in entering the seminary after graduation. In fact, I showed a strong desire to become a priest, to the delight of my parents, my teachers and even Fr. Luisito Castañeda, then Rector of Don Bosco Makati- who was very proud that for the first time in a very long time, the school had finally produced a junior seminarian.

However, since the Salesians no longer had a high school seminary, since the Don Bosco Juniorate in Bacolor, Pampanga was flooded with lahar in 1996, I was advised to enter the Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary ran by the Archdiocese of Manila.

Armed with youthful enthusiasm, I passed through the entrance examination and the oral interview with ease, but the three-day orientation exposed me to factors I had not carefully considered: living away from my family, living with people I do not know and whose personalities and characters were quite different from me, and leaving behind the comforts of home that I have grown accustomed to.

I found myself completely unprepared to face these. In a moment of panic, I quickly turned my back on the idea of becoming a seminarian that not even the arrival of the letter on May 2006 confirming my acceptance to seminary, the requirements and things needed and basically their anticipation of me being there changed my mind.

Looking back at it today, I realized that I was probably too naïve and had unrealistic expectations of seminary and seminary life, mistaking it to be a monastery populated with angels and saints. But above all, it was my great fear and reluctance to leave all and let go of my attachments– my family, my home and the comforts I have grown accustomed to—in order to follow Christ.

So I went back to Don Bosco Makati for my secondary studies, to the probable disappointment of the expectant priests. High school life for me—the juggling of studies, social life and various personal issues- became a confusing paradox: I was trying to assert myself as someone trying to go against the flow, to be a cut above the rest and to be above normal; while at the same time, I was also trying too hard to fit in and conform to the secular image of an ‘average’ adolescent.

By the time I was in my senior year, that was in 2009, I finally understood the meaning of the song “In Him Alone.” I found myself asking: “Can the world ever satisfy the emptiness in our hearts?” And the answer was simple yet striking: “In vain, we deny.” Thus, the call which I had turned my back on four years before returned once more. This time, wised up and tempered by experience, I felt more capable and willing to respond to the challenges of this call.

On June 1, 2010, I entered the Don Bosco Pre-novitiate Seminary in Canlubang, Laguna to begin the aspirantate stage of formation—four years of college education along with the holistic seminary formation. Although I still had some doubts and fears whether I could make it, I surrendered them all to the Lord who called me.

In 2014, I took the next step in answering the call of The Self-Giving Lord of All by applying for Postulancy. While it was not very easy, I realized in the end that I was doing this because I was responding gratefully to the God who has loved me in the first place.

I finally put out into the deep on April 30, 2015, when I was accepted to the Novitiate. And the next milestone in this wonderful and colorful journey to and with Christ is on May 6, 2016, when I and nine of my brother novices would be making the first religious profession.

Allow me to conclude with an interesting detail, something which I had dutifully kept track of since I entered the seminary: it has been more than two thousand one hundred forty days since the day I first answered him; and I can honestly say that I have no regrets in doing so.

Ano naman ba ang sa’yo?

Ika-5 Linggo sa Karaniwang Panahon—K
7 Pebrero 2016


Graphics by Asp. Paul Lopez of Don Bosco Seminary. 

Kapag nakakakita tayo ng isang grupo ng mga seminarista, marahil isa siguro sa mga nais nating malaman sa kanila ay kung bakit sila pumasok sa seminaryo. Balot pa rin kasi ng hiwaga ang buhay nila. Sa isang mundong baon sa materyalismo at tukso, may mga katulad pa rin nilang handang tumalikod dito.

Ilang beses na rin akong natanong kung bakit ako pumasok sa seminaryo. Pero sa bawat pagkakataong marinig ko ang tanong na ito, nauubusan pa rin ako ng isasagot. At ang pinakamadaling paraan upang sagutin ito ay sa pamamagitan ng pagsasabing “Isa itong misteryo.”

Ngayong Linggo, hitik ang ating mga pagbasa ng kuwento kung paano tumatawag ang Diyos ng mga taong tutulong sa Kanya upang maihasik ang buto ng Mabuting Balita. At makikita natin ang sagot sa tanong na ito: Ang Diyos ang Tumatawag.

Maganda ang pagkakalarawan sa unang pagbasa ayon sa Aklat ni Propeta Isaias. Punong puno ng usok ang paligid, ang mga anghel ay walang tigil sa pagsasabi ng “Banal, banal, banal ang Panginoong Diyos!” Nagkaroon din ng pagyanig, at punong puno daw ng kaningningan ng Panginoon ang paligid. Sa konteksto ng Bibliya, kapag ganito ang sitwasyon, tumutukoy ito sa pagpapakita ng Panginoon. Sa panahon natin, ang tawag natin dito’y ‘may apparition’!

Sa ganitong tagpo natin makikita si Isaias. Ngunit sa halip na magalak, matindi ang takot niya. Hindi natin siya masisisi. Noong panahong iyon kasi, ang mga taong pinagpapakitaan ng Panginoon ay namamatay. Pero bukod dito—batid niyang hindi siya karapat-dapat na masilayan man lang ang kaningningan ng Panginoon. Kilala niya ang kanyang sarili. Makasalanan siya.

Anupa’t may isang anghel na lumapit sa kanya, may dala-dala itong baga. Inilapit nito ang baga sa kanyang bibig at sinabi sa kanyang “Wala ka nang sala. Napawi na ang kasalanan mo.” At kasabay nito, narinig niya ang tinig ng Panginoong nagtatanong, “Sino ang aking ipapadala? Sino ang aming susuguin?” Sumagot si Isaias: “Narito po ako. Ako ang isugo n’yo.”

Ganito rin ang tema ng ating Mabuting Balita ngayong Linggo—tampok naman ang pagtawag sa unang pangkat na bubuo ng Labindalawang tutulong sa Panginoon sa Kanyang misyon. Ngunit, hindi katulad ng unang pagbasa, hindi ito pambihira. Mapapansin natin ang paraan ng kasimplehan ng pagtawag ng Panginoon: Malansa ang paligid, pawisan ang mga lalaking lalapitan niya. Mga hamak lamang silang mangingisda. Masasabi nating napaka-ordinaryo ng tagpong ito kumpara sa unang pagbasa.

Tapos na daw mangisda sila Simon, Santiago at Juan. Magdamag silang nagpuyat sa laot. Ngunit katulad ng lasa ng dagat, inalat sila. Wala daw silang nahuli. Hinuhugasan na nila ang kanilang mga lambat nang datnan sila ng Panginoon. Sinabihan sila ni Hesus na muling pumalaot, kanilang ihulog ang mga lambat upang manghuli.

Sa tagal na nilang namamalakaya, malamang, kilala na nila ang ugali ng dagat. Bukod pa dito, dahil buong gabi silang nag-puyat, gusto na nilang matulog. Ngunit kung mayroong himalang nangyari, ito marahil iyon: Sumunod sila kay Hesus! At ang susunod na tagpo ay hindi nila inasahan—halos masira ang kanilang mga lambat sa dami ng kanilang huli.

Nakita ni Simon Pedro ang naganap. Katulad marahil ng naranasan ni Isaias sa unang pagbasa, naramdaman ni Pedro kung Sino ang nasa harap niya—at kung ano siya: Isang makasalanan. Pinalalayo niya si Hesus sa piling niya dahil hindi siya karapat-dapat na lumapit dito.

Ngunit nagwika ang Panginoon, “Huwag kang matakot. Mula ngayo’y mamamalakaya ka ng mga tao.” Ang tugon niya at ng kanyang mga kasama sa paanyayang ito ng Panginoon: Iniwan nila ang lahat, at sumunod sa Kanya.

Sa dalawang pagbasang napakinggan natin, malinaw na palaging ang Diyos ang unang nag-aanyaya. At ang pag-nanais nating sundan ang paanyayang ito ay ang ating mismong tugon.

Sa ikalawang pagbasa, binibigyang diin ni San Pablo ang kagandahang loob ng Diyos. Na kahit na hindi siya karapat-dapat na tawaging ‘apostol,’ dahil ito’y nakalaan lamang sa 12 na hinirang ni Hesus, at sapagkat minsan din niyang inusig ang Simbahan, pinili pa rin siyang maging isa sa Kanyang mga hinirang.

Ngunit hanggang ngayon, patuloy pa ring nag-aanyaya ang Diyos. Patuloy pa rin Siyang nananawagan sa ating paglingkuran Siya at ang ating kapwa. Hindi siguro sa pambihirang paraan–pero sa paraang abot ng ating kakayahan.

Nitong linggo lang, natuwa ako nang mabasa ko ang balita tungkol sa pagkakahalalal ng mga taong nakatira sa isla ng Lesbos sa bansang Greece upang tumanggap ng Nobel Peace Prize dahil sa pagtulong nila sa mga refugees na tumatakas mula sa kanilang mga bansa bunsod ng kahirapan at karahasan.

IIang taon na rin nilang tinutulungan ang mga refugees, ngunit dahil sa pagtaas ng bilang nito noong nakaraang taon, nabigyan ng mas malaking atensyon ang ginagawa nila. Nang kinakapanayam sila, nasabi ng isang mangingisdang “Kapag may nalulunod sa tabi, hindi naman maaatim ng konsiyensiya mong panoorin na lang ito. May gagawin ka upang maisalba ang kanyang buhay.”

Itong mangingisdang ito, literal na binuhay ang paanyaya ng Panginoong ‘mangisda ng tao.’

Ano naman ba ang tugon mo?