Imagine that you were lost in a place that you believe you are very familiar of, a certain place that you were accustomed to live yet eventually become totally different. The feeling of excitement and confusion collide with the thought that things will go well. It was the same feeling I felt when I first enter SJVTS after living in 'diaspora' for two years. I felt like I was a stranger to a place so close and meaningful to me. Many things had changed after two years of being away from the care of the seminary, new personalities both from the seminary formators and staff. The sub-community buildings were renovated, the chapel was artistically painted, though I honestly missed the archaic ambiance of it. Some house rules were changed and improved to cater the needs of the seminarians. The change is something very external and I am not greatly affected by it, what is significant for me is I am here with full dedication to continue answering His call. My heart is filled with so much gladness with the thought that I am finally living at home - Vianney
I am now under the Formation Year called the Galilee Year (SPFY).Galilee is a significant place for us Catholic, and Christians in general. It was in this place that the disciple met the person whom the called Christ. It was on that same place where most of the miracles of Jesus happened. Biblical stories of life, miracles and conversion took place on this place. The twelve disciples living and working in Galilee doing their ordinary routine met Jesus and unexpectedly called them for an extraordinary mission.
This year would be a moment for me to pause for a while. Pausing does not mean to waste time doing nothing at all, but rather, it is a moment to ponder, relive and rediscover significant memories from the past that brought me to this noble calling. After nine long years since I first utter my little ‘yes’ with just a handful of knowledge of what kind of life I chose. It is, as it were, a journey to visit an old place of origin. I firmly believe that it would be clearer to trace back my humble beginning and discover new things out from that old concrete experiences before I finally move a little bit forward. There were many consolations and desolations, defeats and triumphs, successes and failures, frustrations and joys that had happened in my life, such experiences evoked in me the desire to go on no matter what it takes so that I would not regret it in the end. I was once lost, a failure, and a loser but those experiences brought me to a lifetime realization how valuable my vocation is. I want to go back to the ‘Galilee’ of my vocation, where I first met God and experience His miracles in my life, hearing the invitation to embrace this extraordinary calling. With all honesty, I am truly excited and at the same time quite frightened looking ahead of what kind of formation I am going to face; I might not able to surpass all of those. What is in my mind is not so much on surpassing but the quality of formation that I might live with. Perhaps, it was just the same feeling when the disciples were asked to go back to Galilee after hearing those kerygmatic stories of Jesus of Nazareth. They were all excited hearing the news that Jesus was resurrected yet confused and frightened of what was ahead of them there.
I was touch by the reflection of Fr. Raul Dael when he spoke about vocation. For him, ‘vocation is being who you are’. Priesthood is not something external, it is not a process of reaching something or acquiring something, rather, it is something deep within that needs to be ignited. It is already in the persons inner being the qualities and potentialities of being a priest. When a person sees some qualities of a priest, eventually it creates a ‘vocation-spark’ in ones consciousness and later on gradually realizes that he has a vocation. This reminds me of how prophet Jeremiah was uniquely called by God. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jer.1:5). The more a candidate to presbyter knows his real self, including the dark shadows of his existence, the more a priest can appreciate his priesthood.
I would like to highlight some important points raised by my formator Fr. Raul Dael, SSJV on our orientation, of which I think very important to remember:
“Galilee Year is a period for the broadening (pagpalapad) and deepening (pagpalawom ug pagpalugdang) fo the seminarians’ perspective and appreciation of their priestly vocation. More importantly, it is a time for more personal appropriation (pagpahaom) and a greater integration (pagpatibook) of the spiritual, human and pastoral pillars of formation towards an authentic priestly life and fruitful ministry (pagpaambit/pag-alagad).
It is on this line of thinking that I realized that this Galilee formation year of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary is all about moving closer to the light because it is more on strengthening ones spirituality and at the same time encountering our personal, and at times, shameful shadows. It is like an imagery of a person standing a lighted candle, the more a person get closer to the source of light the more it creates a bigger shadow of which we don’t even care to look back. Now is the opportune time to tightly hold on to that candle and fearlessly face the ‘shadows’ I created.