Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CFC as the Seedbed of Vocations: From Couples for Christ to the Society of Jesus

by Tina S. Rodriguez 
CBCP Monitor Vol. 15, No.3, Jan 31-Feb 13, 2011–02–17 

WHEN one thinks “vocation” a lot of times images of priests and nuns would come to mind. The truth is though, “vocation” according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, is defined as: 

1. A regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualifed 

2. An inclination, as if in response to a summon, to undertake a certain kind of work, especially a religious career; a calling. 

Indeed, every person alive can be considered to have a vocation; a calling to do a particular thing, equipped with one’s own talent sand abilities. Oftentimes however, many people don’t get to discover what it is that the Lord is really calling them to do, and so end up not living their lives fully according to the calling which they have received. What a blessing that CFC is then! A lot of people – married, single, and religious – have come to realize their true vocations, and learned to live them out, through the community. Here we take a look at two young men, who have discovered their vocations as members of the Society of Jesus, through their life experiences, especially as members of CFC Singles for Christ. Firmo N. Bargayo, Jr., or Jun-G, was born on November 17, 1978,in General Santos City. An only child, he remembers an unhappy home life – culminating in the family being bankrupt. Their family problems would have been enough for other youth to go wayward, but Jun-G finds it fortunate that he studied in a Catholic school where he was introduced to God, and taught about faith and the value of prayer. Jun-G relates that “becoming a priest was not part of my dreams during my childhood.” In high school though, he was attracted to the life of the Marist Brothers (his teachers then). This was when he underwent a change in his perception of Jesus – from being merely an important historical figure to someone to emulate, a model on how to live an exemplary life. 

Then something happened –his parents joined CFC and this led to the transformation of his family. Jun-G acknowledges that this was crucial in his vocation discovery. God became alive in his life and he felt God’s love so much that he “fell in love with Him” and wanted to love Him back. Becoming a member of CFC Youth for Christ when he was 15 years old provided Jun-G with a venue where he could know, love, honor and serve God even more deeply, intimately and passionately. He says, “YFC made me a man after God’s own heart. My deepest desire is a life of praise and thanksgiving-- a life exclusive for God and inclusive of all.” 

It was because of YFC, andlater on, SFC, that Jun-G decidedto become a fulltime pastoral worker for the youth. One of his mission assignments includeda two-week long mission trip to East Timor (Timor Leste). It was there where he first felt God’s calling to the priesthood. Originally desirous of being a diocesan priest because hewanted to be able to serve where his family was, he eventually discovered the Society of Jesus. He attended their vocation seminar, became active in their vocation direction program, and finally entered their candidacy program. After going through the process of discernment in the candidacy program, he ap-plied and was accepted into the Society of Jesus. Jun-G’s decision to become a Jesuit came as a sweet surprise to his parents. In fact, it was an answered prayer. In the end, the family that had caused him much pain and suffering as a child ended up becoming a source of strength and support for his vocation! Jun-G advises the youth who are discerning their vocation to “Nurture your desire and actively find opportunities that can keep alive the desire for religious life. If the desire continues to flourish, it is a sign that you are called to religious life. Pray about it a lot and cultivate that personal relationship with God for it is only in the sacred space of prayer that His voice becomes clear, and His courage is found. And finally, just say YES.” 

Felipe B. Yohan, Jr., also known as Philip or Flip to his friends and family, was born on April 26, 1970 in Pasay City, the youngest of three children, and the only son. Growing up in a simple household, Flip recall show his parents put up a small sari-sari store business, which his mother would manage, while his father worked as a room boy in a small hotel in Libertad. During weekends the family would go to Derham Park in Pasay, and Sunday mornings were always spent attending mass in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Shrine in Baclaran. His parents always insisted on praying the rosary together as a family at 6o’clock every day, and taught their children how to pray right from the start. Discipline and diligence were traits instilled in Flip at a young age, shown by the fact that he and his sisters were not allowed to watch TV in the evening during weekdays, and were trained to help out in household chores. All in all, Flip considers his childhood to have been a happy one, although priesthood never entered his mind then. Back then, Flip thought of Jesus as being more like a super-hero, though he had the sense that He was more than that. Flip came to know Jesus in a deeper, more personal way when he joined CFC Singles for Christ in1988, when he was working as an architect in Brunei Darussalam. Looking back, Flip believes that it was providential that he was able to join a very supportive community like CFC. He says that it was in the context of living in community that he was able to discern his vocation. Through the CFC community Flip was able to recognize God, who is ever personal, present and involved in our lives.

When the thought of entering religious life came to Flip, he realized that it was not the kind of decision one can make overnight, so he decided to ask around about it. He read books about vocation and spirituality in general, talked to his elders in CFC, and also sought the advice of the priests around him. He found time to know himself and to have a dialogue with others. He prayed a lot. He looked at the status of his life with regard to his career, the activities he was doing, his relationships with others, the community, and his family. He weighed the pros and cons. Ironically, Flip says that it was at the happiest point in his life that he decided to ‘leave everything behind’ and respond to the call of entering religious life. However, just thinking abou this decision gave him consolation and peace.

For those who may be discerning about their vocation in life, Flip suggests attending Mass regularly, even “when you feel bored and lazy to go.” He believes that it is through the Eucharist where one can really sense and embrace one’s vocation in life. This is one of the important dialogues one should engage in when discern-ing for a vocation. He also says one should talk to people – your parish priest, the elders in your community (if you’re part of one) or somebody who is close to you, and vocation directors. If possible, seek spiritual direction, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Jun-G and Flip are both 2nd Year Philosophers, and belong to the Jesuit Philosophers Sub-Community. They are only two of 15 Jesuits (and would-be Jesuits) who come from the CFC family. The others are: 

Fr. Javy Alpasa, SJ – President of Loyola College of Culion, from SFC Makati 
Manny Amanense, SJ – 1st Year Theologian, from SFC Cebu City 
Eric Escandor, SJ – 1st Year Theologian, from YFC IliganCity 
JR Orbeta, SJ – 1st Year Theologian, from YFC/SFC Cebu City 
Neo Saicon, SJ – 1st Year Theologian, from YFC/SFC Cagayan de Oro City 
Rico Adapon, SJ – 2nd Year Regent, from SFC Batangas 
Arnel Ong, SJ – 2nd Year Regent, from SFC Davao City 
Ro Atilano, SJ – 2nd Year Philosopher, from YFC/SFC Zamboanga City 
Tootsie delos Santos, SJ – 1st Year Philosopher, from YFC Naga City 
Kim Buñag, nSJ – 1st Year Novice, from YFC Ateneo de Manila 
Marlon Fabros, nSJ – 1st Year Novice, from YFC UP Diliman 
Ed Colminares – Candidate, YFC Ateneo de Manila 
Mark Medrano – Candidate,YFC Iligan City 

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