I was scheduled for an exit interview last March 2009 in Lear Corporation. The Plant Manager asked me what I planned to do in the future. I answered that I wanted to become a Priest. The manager replied: “Well, if that is your decision, I don’t want to argue with that. In fact, I will support you when the right time comes.” Why I am saying this to you? It is because I am going to share with you my past experiences. How did I persevere in my vocation of becoming a priest? I found three revelations of my priesthood vocation before I entered the seminary. These are attraction, desire and perseverance.

        According to the Webster dictionary, “an attraction draws one object towards another one. The term may have specific meanings.” In the context of my priesthood vocation, this was my first inkling of becoming a priest. I was attracted to the “white vestment” of a priest at the age of eight. This attraction made me go to mass every Sunday. I was always on the church that time and thus, was drawn near to the saints specifically to Saint Anthony of Padua. I then realized that my attraction to the vestments results to another attraction to the saints, and this attraction burns a desire of becoming a priest.

        The second revelation happened when I was in high school, when some seminarians visited our school during their vocation campaign. I was really struck by the lyrics of the song “Here I Am” which they played. The lyric goes: “I who made the stars at night, I will make their darkness bright. Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?” In that instance I felt a passionate desire to follow Him, and be the instrument that will bear His light upon His people. For me, a person who initially answers His call is the person who continues to walk the steps of Jesus Christ here on earth. Becoming a priest is just like Martha’s sister, Mary who chose the right path which is to sit beside the Lord at his feet and listen to Him speak. That is what I wanted to be, to live life with a purpose, to do something great for God and to answer His call and say, “Here I am, Lord!” Thus, this desire burns more and more that even a strong wind, I believe, couldn’t put it off.
       
        True enough, strong winds from the different corners of the world came. Way back at the age of eleven, believe it or not I had been a scavenger once. I remember one time that I ate food thrown into the garbage because of hunger. And the money I earned from that scrapped materials I picked up supported me in my studies until I completed high school. I had lost a loved one, my mother, whose death took me a long time to recover from. I became the breadwinner and sending my siblings to school, supporting them financially and giving them the motherly care were my priorities. I also encountered heartaches when I got busted by the woman I loved. I worked during the day and studied at night. To make my story short, I was able to reach my studies in 3rd year of Industrial Psychology. I had experienced much sadness and hardships but all these paid off. I got a job as a production operator. I was awarded as Best Production Operator of the Year in 1993. And not only that, I had also been promoted to engineering aide, then to Process Engineer, and lastly to Engineering Car Leader in the program management position.

        Now that all of my siblings had their own job and some of them have their own family, I have felt free like a bird, to fly in any direction. I quit my white collar job in Lear Corporation in which I had served for 18 years in service and chosen not to work again for but I had preferred to serve God by pursuing my long-time dream in life despite that I’m already 38 years old (late vocation).

        That was the three revelations of my priesthood vocation: attraction, desire, and perseverance. My attraction to the vestments and saints burns my desire to become a priest and this desire helped me persevere. Until now I am still persevering in terms of my academic life in the seminary. It may be hard but I believe that God is there to help me for I know that He is calling me. I believe that every human life has a God-given purpose and I have definitely known my own. In fact, I am so happy and at peace spending my siesta time for meditation in my sacred place (in our oratory). My day is not complete without prayers (in the chapel 5 times a day). God is so good and generous. He used some individuals as instrument to provide my needs in the seminary. The manager who promised to support me is now one of my benefactors. You should be patient; it could be that your time has not come yet. It is a life system that captures God’s wisdom for coping with our most difficult problems. Keeps that burning desire in your heart in flame because God will use not only what is in our head but He will use what is in our heart also.

Seminarian Marcelino A. Rapayla, Jr.
From San Carlos Seminary College, 12th January 2011