Por ALBERT V. MIRANDA
The topography of the place where I came from contributed much in shaping me into what I am now. I was born and raised in one of the island-provinces in the Philippines called Catanduanes. It is situated close to the Pacific Ocean and it is one of the six provinces comprising the region of the Bicol peninsula on the south eastern side of the country’s main island of Luzon.
I basically grew up in a very Catholic family. My mother was a single parent and I am her only child. My mom started to work abroad when I was 3 years old so I was left to the care of my grandparents in our ancestral house with the rest of my mom’s siblings. It was hard to grow up without parents by my side but my relatives did the best that they could to give me a good Catholic upbringing.
When did you first think about becoming a priest? The very first moment that the idea of wanting to become a priest dawned on me was when I was in the third grade. Since then I have kept that thought in the subconscious part of my mind. I think that my desire to become a priest was in part influenced by the religiosity of my grandmother who took the responsibility of teaching me about God and the Catholic faith beginning with my first childhood prayers. The passage in Isaiah 43:1 which says: “I have called you by name: you are mine,” also helped me believe that I am being called by God.
Did you have a priest you looked up to in your youth? I have two priests that I looked up to in my youth. The first was Father Henry Vega, a relative and also my baptismal godfather. The second one was the late Father Sancho Sison, OSJ, my psychology professor when I was in college. Both of them in one way or another taught me the idea and value of serving God and the people through the ordained ministry.
What do you envision your priesthood to be? I envision my priesthood as a personal and communal ministry of prayer, service and religious instruction because I want to take part in Pope Benedict XVI’s efforts to revitalize our Catholic identity that we tend to lose (or had already lost) because of so much secularism nowadays. It is not enough that I am just present in all of the liturgical celebrations and parochial events. I also deem it significant to consider every moment I’m with the people as a great opportunity to teach them the ways to know God and how to get to God just by fulfilling their roles using their God-given gifts in the everydayness of their lives. In this vision I cling to God’s promise in Psalm 32:8 who says: “I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you.”
What is your greatest joy as you contemplate the priesthood? My greatest joy as I contemplate the priesthood is the sheer fact that God chooses me, unworthy as I am, to serve Him as a priest. Just the slightest idea of it entering my mind consoles me with astounding gratefulness that in calling me to this path the Lord will providentially fortify my personal strengths and supplement for my human weaknesses through His empowering grace. This brings me to a humbling realization that God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
What do you tell someone who is considering the priesthood? When somebody comes to me who is authentically considering the priesthood I advise him to talk to his pastor or any priest he knows and tell him to ask the priest to help and guide him in his vocational discernment. Moreover, I make it clear to the person that it is not a matter of feelings or emotion but a firm resolve to weigh every detail that needs to be considered. Finally I counsel him to listen to God’s voice in his heart when in prayer because the discernment process is not a very easy task to do.
Do you have a favorite devotion? One of my favorite devotions is spending time alone with the Lord in front of the Blessed Sacrament because the quiet and stillness makes me appreciate the mystery of Jesus’ presence. The silent moment that we spend to be alone with “The Alone” is a profound gift of God for us. My Marian devotion is also important for me especially the Rosary and the different feast days of the Blessed Virgin Mary under her various titles. Mary exemplifies the perfect example of humble obedience to God’s will, even though at first she didn’t understand everything.
How do you relax? Do you have a favorite vacation and/or retreat spot? I relax by taking a walk around the lake at the seminary or if the weather is fine I ride my bike. I don’t have a particular retreat spot but when my schedule permits it I usually spend my vacation with my family in California. Another opportunity for me to relax is when I drink my tea at night while listening to soothing music.
Describe a good day at the seminary. A good day for me at the seminary is when I have accomplished everything that I need to do beginning with the communal recitation of the Lauds in the morning followed by the Holy Mass, attending all my classes, and finishing all of my assigned readings at night, then peacefully going to bed knowing that I diligently fulfilled all my day’s tasks.
Finish this sentence: “It would surprise people to know … I love singing in the karaoke. For me it is one of the best ways to release stress by belting out a tune and at the same time enjoying good times with friends. It’s also a way of exercising my vocal chords before choir practice.
Albert V. Miranda is a first-year theology seminarian at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois.
Albert V. Miranda es un estudiante de Teología en el Seminario de Mundelein Seminary en Illinois.
Alan Valencia is a 4th year college student at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon..