Both Elbert and Jerry are Columban seminarians from the Philippines. They discuss what vocation means to them and what their calling from God looked like. They explain what motivates them to be a missionary and share some of their experiences of mission work around the world.
My name is Elbert Balbastro from the Philippines. I am an upcoming fourth year theology student. Having spent almost 8 years in the Columban Missionaries my experience is a balance of greatness and of challenges. Greatness in a sense that this way of life has taught me to be more human by living more simply and allowing me to engage better with the ordinary life of people. At the same time, challenges have occurred which have required me align myself back to God’s ways. Sustained by the grace of God, I decided to pursue this kind of vocation because I want to respond in total freedom to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Our planet is providing us with enormous graces that we need and in gratitude I want to return the favour by taking good care of our Mother Earth. On the same note, I believe that we are interconnected with one another and I cannot turn a blind eye to the needs of my neighbour. I do feel and believe that the poor refers to my neighbour next door who, regardless of colour, race or religious affiliations needs a listening ear or an abiding presence. Missionary vocation for me is a gift from God which allows me to seek and listen to the yearnings of my heart. It is a life of openness and awareness to the movement of the Holy Spirit in order to see and experience the fullness of life and the goodness of the Creator. God calls us in different ways and in an unexpected manner. In my experience, I felt my calling from God after working for almost ten years in the corporate world. Looking back I have no regret leaving my luxurious way of life and the power that I had in exchange to this vocation. With that, I encourage you to seek and listen to the yearnings of your own heart and don’t be afraid to respond to it because perhaps in the end, you could see and feel just like what I see and feel that being the joy and fulfilment of the Columban missionary life.
My name is Jerry and I am a third year theology student and seminarian of the Society of St. Columban from the island of Mindanao, Philippines. In a special way, I decided to pursue this vocation because of my deep attraction to follow Jesus. I have always admired the images of Jesus, always eager to reach out to people wherever he found himself but most particularly to the poor and the outcast in society. In today’s world, more than ever, the Church needs young men to dedicate their life in the service of the Church. For the past eight years in seminary formation, I have been particularly grateful to God who gifted me this vocation; to people who are guiding me in my journey and to the generosity of many Columban mission partners and supporters all over the world. It is not always a smooth sailing journey, precisely, because following God’s call demands ‘deaths’ of my egocentric tendencies which is a huge area to work out. Yet, God’s constant invitation to me is always to trust Him with my whole heart and will. Through this vocation, I am becoming intensely aware that our God is a God of life, relationship and hope for the world. A world that is becoming less and less concerned with caring for the earth and for peace-building. For me, young men should consider missionary priesthood because it is a journey full of meaning, surprises and joy. It will change their life in a way they never expected.