PUBLISHED ONJul 2023
I am Benjosef Carlos Raposa, the youngest of five siblings born to Juan Carlos+ and Ma. Patria. I grew up in Naga City in Bicol (Philippines) to a family whose nightly activity is to pray the rosary. At the age of seven, I followed my older brothers in becoming an altar server. In high school, I got involved in the catechetical ministry, doing volunteer works in far-flung barangays and in the jail.
I must have a penchant for random readings when my attention was called by a reflection of a Jesuit, with whom I practically grew up in high school and college. It was an account of the Annunciation, wherein a simple young lady, despite her initial fears, gave her yes that changed the course of humanity. I felt the same call from this God who was asking my yes, though its form was yet to be clarified at that time. As the Lord has blessed me with more than enough, after having been granted with scholarships in the grade school, high school until university level, I can only respond with an open heart to the generosity that the Lord has shown me.
I finished my degree in Development Studies at the Ateneo de Manila University and went on to have a short stint taking Law at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. However, I did not proceed and instead went on to take a job as a Community Organizer with the Urban Poor Associates, a local NGO.
As a trainee, I worked with the Aeta Abellen in the mountains of Capas, Tarlac, helping out in the human rights education of the indigenous people. After an arduous seven months in an area void of electricity and potable water, I was then assigned to work with the informal settler communities along Estero de Quiapo, San Miguel, and San Sebastian–advocating for decent housing rights. We stood ground that despite being labelled as eyesore, informal settlers too have human dignity and that they have their rights for basic socialized housing.
Encounter With World Mission
One afternoon, after having spent days in mobilizations, I rested in our office and found myself browsing a magazine which contained missionary stories in the Philippines and abroad. My encounter with the World Mission Magazine in a seemingly random way caught my heart month after month. I found an invitation at the back of the magazine, one which I could not just ignore.
It asked me if I wanted to try the missionary way of life, to become a Comboni missionary. A cellular phone number and an email address were provided, to which I responded. It was the start of a year-long discernment that clarified my yes to the Lord.
I entered the premises of St. Daniel Comboni Seminary on June 1, 2013. Since then, I cannot stop thanking the Lord for the goodness he has shown me. During the three-year period of Aspirancy and Postulancy, I finished my degree in Philosophy at Christ the King Mission Seminary. After which, I was sent to Mexico to have my two-year novitiate. It was a humbling experience to study Español with Grade 5 and Grade 6 students, but they were the best teachers for they will never fear nor be ashamed to correct my mistakes. The novitiate years were providential for me as I never felt out of place. My Latino and European confreres and the Mexican people welcomed me as one of their own.
For my theological studies, I found myself in the Republic of South Africa where I stayed from 2018 to 2021. I can only thank the inspiration of St. Daniel Comboni as he brought me to the African continent to have a glimpse of the beauty of its people. My companions in the scholasticate were mostly from different African countries except for some Latino confreres.
I was the lone Asian. We were a melting pot of different cultures, yet a testament to the Catholic, universal faith. Despite being called ‘Chinese’ especially by children, I never felt different from them and I can only thank them for the experience of having been welcomed with open arms.
Finishing the theological studies, I was recalled back to the Philippines to serve in the Vocation Promotion Ministry, to seek for young people who will also dedicate their lives to the mission of the Church. It is a challenging ministry given the evolving nature of our younger generation but one that is exciting and humbling as we form part in the search for laborers in the Lord’s vineyard. In the end, we can only claim to be God’s faithful servants. With the new ministry that I will be receiving, I ask for prayers as I continue to offer my yes to God.