TACLOBAN City, Sept. 18, 2016 – “If you hear his voice, harden not your hearts” is a resounding cry for Palo’s seminarians, clergy as well as lay people this month as the archdiocese observes Vocation Month this September.
Theology students in the diocese have been initiating fora for lay vocation promoters, going around various communities and schools this week to invite more “laborers into God’s vineyard.”
Fr. Manuel Baybay Jr, a formator in St. John the Evangelist School of Theology, stressed that Vocation Month is an “opportune time for us to thank God for the many graces of vocation in our archdiocese to both priestly and religious life.”
‘Lord of the Harvest’
“Over the past few years, we have seen blossoming of vocations [for] the archdiocesan seminary,” he said in a social media post.
Three theology graduates will be elevated to the deaconate in a solemn ceremony at the Palo Cathedral on Sept. 26.
He added, this is a cause “to give thanks to the ‘Lord of the Harvest,” by committing “ourselves to promoting a culture of vocation in our local church.”
In Tacloban City, several fourth year theology students held a vocation vigil attended by young citizens and religious sisters.
All about generosity
Goldie Kenn Zabala, a soon-to-be deacon in the Archdiocese of Palo, was the main speaker at the vocation vigil.
In his talk, he stressed three points in encouraging the young singles in the congregation to heed God’s call to either the married life, religious life, or life as consecrated virgins.
“Vocation to priesthood is not about wealth, intellect, physical appearance but all about generosity,” he said.
“[It means] giving your ‘yes’ to God and leaving behind things for the sake of that ‘yes’, your self-denial is your way of being generous to God,” explained Zabala.
“Generosity in terms of vocation to the priesthood is something that we just don’t hear the call but rather we respond to it,” he added.
He also pointed out that vocation to the priesthood is a relationship which entails commitment of the totality of oneself.
Priests are born not made
Zabala explained that no one is born a priest as “it takes a good community to raise a priest from families who pray together, to [a] priest who models Jesus’ loving service, and to parishioners who inspire one another in faith and love.”
He stressed though that responding to God’s call is not limited to saying “yes” to the priesthood or to the religious life.
“We may not all be priests and nuns, we might not all be benefactors of … seminarians, but we can be agents in promoting more vocations to the priesthood and the religious life,” he exhorted.
Zabala believes that being a priest or a nun is at par with other professions and should be considered by young people.
Besides prayer, catechism, and financial assistance to those who heeded the call to priesthood and religious life, SJEST seminarian Ronnie Obong of Calbayog City said promoting vocations can also be done “by not judging a person by his looks.”
He added that one’s obligation and dedication should lead to their hearts’ formation that will later bring them to “humility and bended knees.” (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros / CBCP News)