Saturday, November 12, 2011

My vocation story

One concrete proposal of Fr. Chavez in his strenna is for the Salesians is to share our vocation stories to the young people.

Allow me this space to share mine.

To begin with, I am a returnee. I left the seminary in 2004 as a novice-to-be on the eve of our supposed flight to the novitiate in Cebu. I worked as a teacher in some school in Manila, and I thought that I’d be happy to live and die working as one.

Along with that teaching stint, I worked for a publisher as a writer of English language textbooks marketed in Korea. I also contributed articles and edited educational materials for a Japanese firm. And because I had so much free time left, I also worked as an English tutor for a language school.

Looking back, I couldn’t believe that I was able to juggle three jobs all at the same time!

Despite the modest salary I was receiving, the glamour of working as a professor in a respectable academic institution in the country, the fulfilment of doing what I liked doing the most, I was satisfied.

There were so many possibilities ahead of me.

Or so I thought. 

One late afternoon, after coming from work, I passed by a mall. I was wanting to treat myself to a fancy restaurant for I was hungry. And modesty aside, because I could very well afford it. While choosing where to eat, out of nowhere, I was reminded of my past life as a seminarian.

I recalled those times in the seminary when there would be unstructured activities by batch, we would just have a quick hike to Tatlong Butas, ordered halo halo and something else, shared stories we would repeatedly delight to talk about over and over and over again.

And that alone was a piece of heaven for me!

That time, I exactly longed for that.

I set aside the idea of eating for I had become hungry for something more, for something greater that could not just be satisfied by any physical food alone. Deep within, I realized, I was completely empty.

That time, God knocked again at my door. And at that moment, He knocked me down.

I got in touch my spiritual director, one year after I left. I told him my situation. And then, we talked about the process of my re-admission. He asked me to volunteer at Pugad once a week. And then after that, we processed my experience.

Irony of ironies, it was on a Good Friday that I got settled with my decision to re-enter. The universal Church was recalling the agony of Jesus that day, but inside me, I found peace at my decision.

On June 1, 2006 I returned to this seminary together with my third batchmates, all first timers, three of whom will be professing their vows six months from now.

I’ve been a Salesian for only three years. Too young, you would say. But that short period has been filled with moments of bliss and faithfulness, although, it has also been marred by pains and infidelity. There were clear moments when I felt that God wanted me to remain by His side;  but there were also times when haunting questions became my sole reason to stay.

I heard Him told me the words "Donnie, come and see," and I did. But I also heard him say "Donnie, go and see." And I did. The other day, I asked him, "would you want me to stay here? For good?" and faintly, I heard the words "Donnie, we shall see."