by Jean Paul Z. Tabasa, C.Ss.R.
Beginnings for me highlight the geneses of another set of challenging journeys for all of us in the Redemptorist Province of Cebu as we embark the new quadrennium as “Witnesses and Missionaries of God’s Plentiful Redemption.”
When Fr. Nico, the Provincial Superior of Cebu, asked me if I am willing to take over for one year this Vocation Ministry of the Province, I had some hesitations at the beginning for three reasons. First, experience-wise, I have practically so little. Second, I had this notion that it is a special gift. Third, my mind was set for CRUMT. But what made me accept this wide-ranging, demanding, noble, and humbling ministry anyway is because of two intertwined reasons. One, I have this consciousness, gained from understanding and living the Redemptorist way of life, of making myself become available to the congregation when there is a need, and; Two, I sensed within me a willing heart to give and learn more about this ministry. I recall a lesson I learnt in the last days of my retreat in the Aspirancy Program to approach this life I now live like a little child who entrusts his cares and concerns to his loving Father. This is not about me but about God’s work being realized in our province.
As a greenhorn to this ministry, making itineraries, travelling to different places, finding a room to sleep in the night, establishing contact persons in the area, sudden change of weather conditions, or being given false promises by some contact persons to announce requests in parishes, or waiting for participants to come to a gathering are but some of the concerns I share with those who are involved directly in this ministry. But I see these concerns and events as part of our special mission.
What really gives me consolation in this humbling ministry is the hospitality I experienced from different people from the different walks of life in the different places I had visited.
At one time in Cotabato City, as I made a courtesy call to the Cardinal and to the Archdiocesan Vocation Director, another priest surprisingly offered me one of their guest rooms without me requesting for it. He knew I was staying in a base house so far from the city proper, making it impractical for me to travel home in late afternoons.
At another time in Bohol, as I asked a parish secretary to help me sequence my visits to the different churches and parishes in the Diocese of Tagbilaran, a candle vendor heard us and he came and volunteered to accompany me in all the churches I have in my list. He said he knew most of the priests in the Diocese. With him as my guide and with his tricycle, we were able to go all the city’s churches in less than a day. At the end of the day, he said to me, “Tinuod gyud nga misyonaryong buhat kining imong gianhi dinhi!” (I gave him “Pahalipay” to defray also his fuel and other missed opportunities had he opted to remain selling candles.)
These are but only some of the many encounters of hospitality I had in my vocation work. If I should look at the beginnings of my vocation work, I find the various ways God shows His HOSPITALITY in welcoming me to this vocation ministry.
Because of the K-12 program there will be no high school graduates for the next two years. The focus group now of most of our Promotions for Vocation to the Redemptorist are the Young Professionals.
There have been a variety of approaches being done so far in the Provincial level. Aside from making announcements and posting Redemptorist posters in churches and parishes in various parts of Visayas and Mindanao, OMPH stickers and a booklet entitled, “Launch into the Deep”- Stories of YPs were already produced and distributed to different communities for their promotional use.
We are also conducting, “A Moment with the Redemptorist” not only in OMPH, Cebu but also outside Cebu. As of the present, we have formed the Redemptorist Advocates (Red Ads) whose main goals are to help us in promoting Redemptorist Vocation and at the same time serve as link persons between us and their respective organizations (SFC, school, work). So far there are 6-8 young professional men residing in Cebu City. We gather once a month for enrichment activities. Last August 2, 2015, we invited them to join in the Opening Mass of the Mini Mission in Sudlon by the CRUMT.
Last July 6, 2015, a meeting was also held in preparation for the Seminar-Workshop on the Promotion of Brothers’ Vocation. It was attended by Bros. Dodong (Cebu), Joel (Mla), Fr. RJ (Mla) and myself. The scheduled dates for the 3-days Seminar workshop will be on Feb. 15-19, 2016 in RRH. This coming September 24-27, 2015 we shall hold our Vocation Mid-Year Gathering in Tacloban. This will be attended by all Redemptorist In-Charge for Vocation and also all Lay Vocation Promoters of the various Redemptorist-Cebu Communities.
On October 23-25, 2015, we have scheduled our 1st YP Discernment Retreat to be held in the Redemptorist Retreat House. Fr. Martin Tobin, CSsR will be the Retreat Master.