My Time Has Come
By : Fr. Edilberto B. Cepe, C.Ss.R.
“ How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings Good News.”
This quotation from Isaiah 52:7 was very influential for me in making a detour in my life journey. I was already working at National Steel Corporation in Iligan City as a Planning Engineer (after working for many years as Maintenance Engineer) when I had to make a leap of faith. It was 1996. At that time, I was very active in the Iligan Church as member of the Parish Youth Council in the Cathedral Parish and the leader of the group of working men and women called “ Ang Lingkod Ng Panginoon” (or Lingkod). But how did I come up with the decision to become a Redemptorist? It was not an easy decision. It took me many years of haggling with God.
Just before my graduation from Silliman High School, while looking back at the past four years of my life. I was just thankful to God for the many gifts and blessings He had given me. I sort of asked God what did He want me to do. The idea of serving Him as a priest came to my mind. But I was not sure and ready then. Besides, I did not like the Redemptorists at that time. They were so active in the socio-political scene that they were called “ Redem-terrorists.” So, when my parents asked me what course would I take, I was not able to articulate my desire. They finally asked me to take up Engineering. Being respectful, I said yes to them. Studying Elecrical Engineering in Silliman University gave me the opportunity to go to the Redemptorist Church as often as I wanted especially during Wednesday and Sundays. The desire to become a priest never really left me.
After my college graduation in March 1988, I went to Cebu City for my review classes in preparation for the October Board Examinations. I was again confronted with this desire. While praying before the Sto. Nino one Friday in August, I was faced with the goodness of God. He had led me through the years giving me blessings and successes I never dreamed of. The idea of serving him as a priest came again. But I bargained with God saying : “ Let me finish the Board Exam Lord. This is my last gift to my parents. After this, you can call me.”
But I soon forgot all about it because two weeks later I got recruited by National Steel Corporation ( NSC ) for their new batch of Engineering Management Trainees ( EMT ). After my Board Exams in October, 1988, I went to Iligan for the final interview and was accepted. I began working at NSC in January 1989 together with 42 other EMTs. As an EMT, I was trained for future supervisory/middle management position in the company. My job took me from the classroom then to the different lines in the manufacturing, planning, and maintenance departments of NSC. After one year, I was assigned as Maintenance Engineer at the Hot Mill Division. Having a job and living on my own, I enjoyed life as any young professional would. I forgot all about becoming a priest.
But in 1991, I became part of Lingkod. I was then brought again to my initial desire. But it was different now. I was already “going steady” with a girl. So I asked God to give me a sign, a vision perhaps, or dream. Nothing came. I thought God change his mind so I decided to have a house and enjoyed life. But I was never peaceful with that. It seemed that something was lacking. So I told the Lord that 1994 would be the year to listen to my heart.
At the end of the year, while having my year-end recollection, I told the Lord: “I don’t think I could live happily without a woman in my life. “Magminyo lang ko Lord.” But if you think otherwise, just let me know.” I should not have said the last line. Because God did speak two weeks later.
January, 10, 1995. While I was having my prayer early that day, the two instances when I told God “not now” ( in High School and in August,1988 ) just flashed before me. I did not know what to do. The daily readings for that week spoke personally to me. So, I approach a French missionary friend, Fr.Michel de Gigord, MEP, for help. I also asked Fr. Ramon Fruto C.Ss.R. to help me. Fr. Ramon did not waste any time. He referred me to Ailynne Maravillas, the Vocation Promoter in Iligan, who then asked me to fill up a form, write an essay and take the IQ exams. The next months were a period of guided discernment for me. But it took me quite a while before I finally decided in October 1995.
I joined the Redemptorists as an aspirant in October 1996 in Davao. As an aspirant, I also took some Philosophy subjects at the Ateneo de Davao University. In April 1997, I had my Postulancy in Iloilo which included mission, parish, retreat and vocation works. In January 1998, I went to Iligan as one of the three pioneer novices in the new Novitiate House in Iligan City. I was professed as a Redemptorist in May 7, 1999. After four years of theological studies in Davao and one year of Mission Immersion in Lanao del Norte, I was finally professed in August 15, 2003 and ordained deacon the following day. In April 23, 2004, during the 48th wedding anniversary of my parents, I was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Church in Dumaguete City.
After haggling with God and making many detours, I have finally arrived. Indeed, my time has come to walk the way of a missioner. The family that I thought to be “Redem-terrorists” is now my new family. I chose the Redemptorist because I wanted to go on missions. Like St. Alphonsus, I believe I was called to go to the mountains and barrios to spread God’s love for “He has anointed me to bring the Good News to the Poor. ( cf. Luke 4: 18 )