02 June 2006

bishops and deacons

“I cannot as a priest but be poor. It is in being poor that we can better live out our vocation and be more effective in our ministry. People can see Christ better in us and can have a clearer idea of who Jesus really is if we are poor priests."
bishop-elect broderick pabillo, auxiliary bishop of manila, speaking at the national clergy congress 2005.

last sunday, 28 may, i read the happy news on pdi, via my favorite columnist (and future presidential candidate?) randy david, of the election by benedict xvi of two new bishops - fr ambo david (randy's brother) and fr broderick pabillo. fr ambo is well-known in my circle - alumnus of san jose, scripture scholar & prof at LST, sought-after talk-giver and retreat-master. unfortunately for me, i never had him as prof in any scripture course at LST (it was a tough choice between him & fr vic salanga, sj).

fr or bp-elect broderick is also an in-demand talk-giver and retreat-master. i only know him from afar. but whatever distance there may be, what i know of him is enough to leave me highly edified. he was an sdb priest who left the relative comfort of his don bosco community to become a diocesan, devoting himself to one of the poorest parishes of palawan. it was his experience of poverty & sanctity in palawan that was the context of this blog's intro quote.

last 24 may, my bishop ordained 4 seminarians to the diaconate. rev deacons dok arroyo, gboy avila, joey baranda & roque patanao. incl myself, there are now 5 of us, deacons, serving legazpi - yey!

the recent ordination brings back memories and insights from discernment and prayer periods past. i remember finally getting over the fear of not choosing the 'better option' in favor of the road less traveled. i remember struggling over celibacy before getting to accepting it, first, as a means that i need to appropriate in order to realize a life lived more fully, then, at last, as God's gift to me. i remember one contemplation: on the feeding of the 5000 in matthew - Jesus speaking, 'these are my people and this is my work, from them will rise my dream, the coming of the Kingdom; would you dare join me in this dream?'

after almost 9 months as a deacon, i still shudder at all these remembering. at present, with the realities of ministry in my diocese gradually, sometimes jarringly, beginning to unravel themselves in ways perceived only vaguely before, remembering becomes an exercise that brings both comfort and perplexity. most return journeys, this one a return to ideals, are both comforting (because it brings us back to places and states we have become accustomed to, to our comfort zones) and perplexing (because our lofty ideals get measured up by how we have fared so far in taking on 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune', otherwise known as - reality).

my ideals regarding the ordained ministry:

1. it is the choosing of a life less ordinary - of becoming agents of the sacred, purveyors of hope, firesetters for the Kingdom.

2. it is all about making a sacrifice. & by sacrifice i mean not just enduring the regular hardships that accompany any self-giving, but more about 'making holy' one's humble efforts because they are, after all, but a sharing in Christ's work.

3. it is a witnessing to that 'something more', i.e., that there is something more than the usual pursuit of power, prestige, or financial gain. it is about how one strives to be poor and to serve in a church that professes to become one with the poor, indeed, become poor itself. sadly, in this regard, many of us, ordained ministers, have been measured & found wanting.

that is why, frs david and pabillo becoming bishops is a happy occasion. for we need more men like them to make us pause & reflect & get fired up once more in our own witnessing and sacrificing. we need to attend more ordinations so we may remember how, for every deacon, priest and bishop, his ordained ministry started by dreaming Christ's dream.

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