Vol. XX No. 99

December 6, 2000

Virac, Catanduanes


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Other Concerns

by the Cathedral Clergy

Prodigal sons?

It was actually more of a joke than in appreciation of its message that I chose Rembrandt’s portrait of the prodigal son to be the invitation logo for the diaconal ordination tomorrow. December 7. So when someone inquired about the choice of the picture, my ready answer was that it fits very well the person of the two candidates to the sacred order - - Randy de Quiroz and Ring-ring Villamartin.

Perhaps only few know that though they will be ordained together as this year’s batch of ordinandi, they were never contemporaries in the seminary. Randy belonged to the fourth batch of pre-college seminaries in Cavinitan while Ring-ring was a member of the sixth batch.

Randy spent his first two years of philosophical studies in Legazpi with (now Fathers) Sid Sanchez, Rommel Arcilla and me. After some crises crept into his formation journey, he decided to leave the diocese and opted to join a religious congregation, which enrolled him at Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Novaliches for the philosophy degree. Not finding contentment in his religious status he reapplied for a diocesan status, which was granted him by the Bishop in 1996. He then entered the Holy Rosary Major Seminary in Naga where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology in March 2000.

Ring-ring entered the seminary after two years of studies at the CSC. So when he enrolled at the Mother of Salvation Seminary in Legazpi after his precollege formation at the Fiat House, he immediately became an irregular second year student and a classmate of seminarians (now Fathers) Joey Tendenilla, Jesus Guinguing and Sandy Anonuevo, (Randy had already left the diocese at that time.) After Ring-ring’s graduation in Legazpi, he proceeded to the Holy rosary Major Seminary for theology. After barely two months of stay in Naga, however, he left the seminary. Later on we learned that he had joined the Archdiocese of Manila and was taking up theology at San Carlos Seminary in Makati. It was on his last year in San Carlos that he decided to return to the diocese.

So both of them are virtual prodigal sons of the diocese. And they are also the last among their respective class members to get ordained - - hence, the motto: “to be the last . . . and the servant of all.”

But did their being “prodigal children” of the local church make them inferior to the rest of us? I certainly believe it did not. As pointed out by the Lord in the wonderful parable, the older son who never left the father’s side was as prodigal as the younger one who squandered his father’s wealth in loose lifestyle.

With all our own personal stories tainted with the characters of the prodigal son, therefore, no one can claim any right to receive sacred orders. All vocation stories leading to the altar find their origin in the forgiving and understanding hands of the loving Father. We, priests and church ministers, are among the first many recipients of God’s forgiving and merciful love.

      That is what I discovered as I was trying to come up with a more appropriate reason for my choice of Rembrandt’s portrait – the prodigal son parable serves as the main line of God’s love story for mankind. Of how God loves us. We, humans, can cease to be children of god. But God cannot cease to be our Father. God is infinitely Father, indefinitely our Father. The story of the prodigal son is, in all reality, the story of the loving Father.

      Let us join together in prayer that the grace of God’s love be bestowed upon Randy and Ring-ring when they are raised to the sacred orders at 8:00 tomorrow morning.

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