The year 2008, which is bound to be a thing of the past in just a matter of hours ,will definitely occupy a special space in my heart. It’s been one of the most important years for me and before it’s gone, allow me to wax nostalgia about the year 2008 in transit.
Yes. This entry will be the last I’ll write for 2008.
For us in the initial stage of formation, January is the month-long period to intensify our discernment. And before the last day of this month seizes us, we should have written our decision to apply for the next stage of formation, or ship out.
I remember writing in my application letter that "I will be happy to accept the decision regarding my application as a concrete expression of God's most holy will."
Discernment is a tough process. And as I see it, when a "superior" (in the religious life, we call our big bosses that way) speaks his mind, I believe that God uses him as His instrument to make known His will. It is in this regard that the process of discernment, on the part of the formandus (like me), lightens.
The announcement of a classmate that he’d be leaving devastated me. I put on a mask and pretended that I was far from being affected. I'm not sure if I was successful, but I tried to be as cerebral as possible. No tinge of emotion should betray the real me. I saw the announcement as a joke. I played with it. But I knew that I was on denial.
This added up to my personal burden of worrying about how my mom was fighting the big C. She was still recuperating from a fresh surgery which resulted to the plucking out of her kidney. I didn’t have to tell myself to stop worrying. It was in my unconscious.
But somewhere along that the dreary month, I was able to draw out some strength to go on from my mom herself. In one of our phone conversations, her soothing voice eased up my worries: "You know, 'Chin, whenever I pray, I always tell the Lord that when you're no longer happy there [in the seminary], I ask Him to just return you back to me."
Her words melted my heart a hundred times.
The first week of this month ushered in congratulatory messages which reached me through the Internet (e-mail, instant messaging, etc.). Without me telling the world the result of my application (for the first vows), the "news" found its way to the right channel.
This string of well-wishers took shape as early as Christmas day when Br. Jun, who stopped by for a quick visit, gave me his word that he would be around for my profession.
Of course, I would profess some months after, but he wouldn’t be around to fulfill his promise.
I remember that I have not told anyone from Manila about the result: not even to my very own biological family. In the first place, nobody knew that I applied save for three individuals in the congregation whom I had written discussing the content of my application letter. On the hindsight, I thought that it's better that way since It'll spare me from humiliation just in case my application would be turned down.
But it wasn't.
My application to become a cleric for one year was accepted.
Noble and I have been accepted to profess in two months time. It was glorious. But the dirty work of preparing for that event would have to be divided between the two of us. Sure thing, the rest of our would-be confreres (my big thanks go to Fr. Nioret, Fr. Wilbert and Br. Dominggus!) but the horrifying thought that it would just be the two of us made me anxious.
We finished sending our profession solicitation letters the first week of March. Noble, the other professandus, did his part in following up the houses of the FIS. The Philippines is divided into two Salesian provinces, FIN (where I belong) and FIS (where the novitiate house is located).
The task could have been easier, I guess, if Migs and Boni were here. They're the more outgoing ones and talking it out with people is just a piece of cake for them. I guess I would enjoy it calling the communities I know some Salesians in, but for most of the houses, this is not the case.
My fear of returning to FIN after my profession had been evident, and for the first time, I was able to let loose in public. The reasons, I am not sure if I can write here, but knowing that there are great Salesians waiting for me there, I am inspired to return home.
Commitment, I realized, horrifies me than numbers. It puts me in such a debilitating state that I feel so helpless. It paralyzes me; it conquers the best in me. I recall sharing this dilemma with a close buddy, I was consoled because he helped me name the enemy: pre-wedding jitters.
I really prayed so hard during those days that I may be able to live up to the challenge of setting aside all the rest so that I may only have Christ in my heart. And nothing else.
Time flies fast. But during those days, it was a lot speedier.
This thought became apparent when I saw that my place in the study hall and dormitory bear already a name that is not mine. I’d bid goodbye to the novitiate house sooner than I expected. Not to mention the fact that the past days had ushered in moments of arrival.
This streak goes on, albeit for the next couple of days, as the novitiate house opened its humble portals to well-wishers—and yes, even to curious onlookers!—as the tide of change took place in the only Salesian novitiate house in the Philippines.
In the year of the 26th General Chapter with the theme "Return to Don Bosco," two young men professed to "remain with Don Bosco" as they embraced a poor, chaste and obedient life with firm intention that this be forever, following the footsteps of our great Father and Teacher. Br. Donnie Duchin Duya (FIN) and Br. Noble Lal (FIS- Pakistan) made their First Profession as Salesians at the Don Bosco Missionary Seminary, Lawaan, Cebu.
The two new Salesians made their profession before Fr. Julius Arthur Sanchez SDB –FIS Provincial. Fr. Danilo Torres SDB–Acting FIN Provincial was present to witness the occasion. The event was likewise attended by other Salesians, Cooperators, Religious Sisters, aspirants, alumni, seminary workers and many young people among whom the two new brothers have carried out their Sunday apostolate for the past year.
During their novitiate year, this batch of newly professed Salesians had called themselves "GC Novices" in allusion to the current General Chapter. But the initials GC stand for "Grace of Christ." Hence, on their First Profession, they had taken inspiration from St. Paul who wrote "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Cor: 12:9). After their First Profession, Bro. Donnie and Bro Noble would continue their Philosophy in Don Bosco College.