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Filipino seminarian among world’s Catholic youth leaders

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Br. Karl Tolentino (left), Philippine representative to the International Observatory of Young Catholics, with the Most Rev. Bp. Jesse Eugenio Mercado of the Diocese of Parañaque. (Photo: Courtesy of Bro. Karl Tolentino)

PARAÑAQUE City, March 7, 2014—A Filipino from Lucena, Quezon is making a difference within the Catholic youth sector through his involvement with the Rome-based International Observatory of Young Catholics.

The International Observatory of Young Catholics is the offshoot of the “We’re4thePope” (Noi per Benedetto in Italian), a movement which took root during the pontificate of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on June 2012.

Members of the movement are young Catholic males and females of all races between the ages of 15 and 45 who have been “inspired by the words of the Popes calling us to be an active and courageous Church, free from any ideological connotation, but not indifferent to what is happening in today’s society”.

With a meeting by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, they gathered at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome in 2013 to form what would become the Observatory.

This Observatory seeks to be “a door that connects the youth with the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches and that, in the person of the Roman Pontiff, becomes the cornerstone and guide of all Christians”.

It also aims to empower young people to “become active voices for a just society and encourage them to feel at home in the Church by discovering the beauty of Christ and the nourishment offered through the faith”.

The We’re4thePope movement remains as the Observatory’s backup which will hone the skills of the youth in their “central role in the life of the Church”.

These skills include the “new evangelization, the continuous renewal of the Faith, the support and help they provide to the periphery (both material and spiritual) of the young generations, and the defense and promotion of the Faith through the wisdom and zeal flowing from the Gospel and the Social Doctrine of the Church.”

The movement also prepares young people for dialogue with the secular reality, to enter the debate on the issues of greatest interest in the social and public realm, and active involvement in various local contexts.

It uses modern media and other social instruments of communication, action awareness-raising through social networks, and especially the enthusiasm of the young people who it sees as the “global force with which the Church must be united in order to face the tsunami of secularization”.

Seminarian Karl Tolentino, in an interview with the CBCPNews, said he was flattered to have been handpicked to represent, not only the Philippines, but all of Asia (with Arun Joy of India) in the prestigious worldwide organization of young Catholic professionals who have a zeal for the faith.

The logo of the International Observatory of Young Catholics.

But being accepted to the Observatory was not as easy as a walk in the park.

Tolentino explained that he had to undergo a thorough screening process before he was considered for the position.

In essays he had written in English and Spanish, Tolentino, citing his many accomplishments as a youth and church leader in the Philippines, had to prove to the Observatory’s director, canon lawyer Domenico Musso, that he had the necessary credentials.

Tolentino, who is known in his circle as “Brother Karl”, majored in philosophy as a college undergraduate, and has a master’s degree in management and business administration.

He was an instructor at the Southern Luzon State University, and was the manager of FT Monte Carmelo Farms which he partly owned.

The well-rounded Tolentino also dabbled in stage and movie acting, and did hosting gigs for various social events on the side.

In 2011, he entered the San José Seminary in Quezon City where under the Jesuit formation he pursued theological studies majoring in pastoral ministry.

From 2012 to 2013, Tolentino served as the national treasurer of the Seminarians’ Network of the Philippines (SEMNET).

His professional profile also includes working in a surety and insurance company as executive assistant to the vice president, and as director and adviser of the International Center for Youth Development in San Martín de Porres Parish in Parañaque City.

Even when Tolentino had already made it to the tough application, he still had to make sure that his rector and bishop were with him, spiritually at least,  on his “journey to Rome” where the “First International Meeting of Young Catholics for Social Justice” was to take place from March 20 to 24, 2013.

But with much regret, Tolentino was not able to attend the Meeting explaining that perhaps it was not yet the right time.

As a seminarian preparing for the priesthood, he has duties and obligations to see to in the Diocese of Parañaque where he has been assigned.

He is grateful to couple Brig. Gen. Andrew and Carmel Francisco of Parañaque who Tolentino said “practically became his second parents”.

He also thanks Fr. Rodel Paulino who had introduced him to Bishop Jesse Mercado and was instrumental in his assignment to the Parañaque Diocese.

Tolentino is looking forward to visiting Rome soon to meet up with fellow delegates from different countries, and discuss with them more deeply what they could do together for the growing number of the world’s young Catholics.

For now, Tolentino, who is currently on regency, told CBCPNews he busies himself devising means to bring back to the Church’s loving arms young people, in particular those working at call centers, who have been waylaid spiritually, but who are thirsting after God. (Raymond A. Sebastián)


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