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Happy for Being a Missionary

On the occasion of the golden jubilee of my priestly ordination (June 28, 1968), I am happy with my priesthood and with my missionary life. I thank God for all the gifts he has bestowed on me, for having given me strength in my weakness and renewed my enthusiasm in times of difficulties.

There is a kind of pride against which we must fight because it makes people miss the real meaning of life. We may call it vainglory, narcissism, superiority complex, contempt of others, the conviction that all that is good in one’s life comes only from his/her own dedication to work, without any intervention by God or others.

On the other hand, there is a kind of positive pride we may call contentment, gratefulness to God for the persons we are, for what we have and for what we are able to accomplish. This is the kind of pride we have in mind when we tell a person: “We are proud of you. We are happy for the person you are and for all that you do. We thank God for you!”

A special act of gratitude to God for my mother, remembered by all who knew her as ‘the gentle woman’, and for my father who truly loved the Eucharist. Their religiosity was contagious in the family and outside.

Fifty years of priesthood and missionary life consisting of seven years in the U.S. for further studies, formation and missionary promotion; 20 years in Uganda working with young people who desired to become priests or brothers in the Comboni Institute or as diocesan priests; helping in our missions, teaching in the seminary and preaching retreats for religious, priests and lay people.

Mission Amidst War
Out of these 20 years, 15 were doing mission work amidst war or guerilla warfare. Nine confreres were killed by rebels or bandits. Many times I have thanked God for the courage shown during those difficult times by missionaries, priests and brothers, religious and lay people for the sake of Christ. 

Towards the end of 1995, while I was in Italy for rest, my superiors asked me if I was willing to come to the Philippines for the formation of our seminarians. I accepted, and I thank God once again for the strength he gave me to face the challenges of a new continent with new people and new cultures. I spent nine beautiful years in Calamba, Laguna.

In 2004, I was asked to work in Italy. Here I stayed twelve years working in three main areas: formation of young theologians, animation of a community of elderly confreres, many of them bed ridden, and priestly ministry. 

I share two lessons I learned while staying with my elderly confreres:

1. Some who were serene at all times taught me the importance of starting to learn how to grow old graciously even while still young. Their living in a creative way was a gift from God, but also the fruit of discipline and prayer. A confrere said: “When we are with the Lord, the sunset of life can be as beautiful as the dawn.”

2. I learned never to mystify suffering. Only faith and love can give it a positive meaning.

On August 17, 2016, I came back to the Philippines and lived with my community in Quezon City, committed to the formation of young people who wish to become Comboni Missionaries, and to doing priestly ministry in some parishes around.  

I have had some health problems, the last of which was dengue fever which weakened me for a long time. I thank God for I am well now and my hope is to go on with enthusiasm in my missionary spirit. 

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