I came to New Zealand in 2020 to prepare to enter the Seminary for the Archdiocese of Wellington. In the Philippines I was a mental health practitioner and teacher. Prior to my professional jobs, I worked as a pastoral assistant to a hospital chaplain while I was studying for my Bachelor’s degree. I helped the priest in almost all of his pastoral works, in the Mass, anointing of the sick, etc. Those were the years that priesthood seemed interesting to me.
One day I watched a video of Pope Francis about vocation. I cannot exactly recall what he said, but what I remembered was, “If you have that sense of the vocation, cultivate that, it’s actually God himself who puts that in your heart”. It struck me and I was emotional. After watching it, I searched for information about vocations online. I also emailed some religious communities to seek help… some kind of spiritual direction.
I got a reply from the Jesuits, and for years I discerned with them.
At the same time, since I had an idea about priesthood in New Zealand (because a few years back, I met a Filipino priest who is based there), I also sent an email to some priests in NZ. And to my surprise I received a reply from Fr David Dowling from Wellington! After several years of communicating on email, I got an invitation to come and see what it was like. I arrived just before the world started going into lockdown.
Coming here has made me realize that responding to God’s invitation is not about being worthy or having the resources, but rather it is about taking a leap of faith and having the courage to go on an adventure with Him, even to places out of your comfort zone. Likewise, as that line in a 2016 movie entitled “God’s Compass” reminds, “God doesn’t choose us because we are confident in our preparation to go and do what He’s called us to do. He chooses us because He knows what we are capable of. Follow God’s north for your life’s calling…” Being here in NZ is my God’s north.