December 2, 2023

Priesthood or nunnery as a vocation is not magic. It starts from something and somewhere, and from God himself. He calls people to qualify them.
Vocations start at home. St. John Paul II had emphasized that vocations start in the family. Hence, it is a moral and social responsibility to build Christian families, not merely biological families. “The family is the seed bed of life and seed bed of vocations.”
It is just like the seed sown by the sower. The seed will certainly grow robustly and yield good fruits when planted on fertile soil and with sufficient water and loving care.
Jesus transcended the value and level of a family. He opened the eyes of the apostles and the crowd that family relationship must upgrade to the level of the Lord. The mother, father, sister, and brother of Jesus are those who listen to his word and live it out.
We ponder on the gospel of Matthew 12:46-50. While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him.
Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you,” but he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
The life of Arnel Nafortic is a moving story for us to learn and to be inspired.
Arnel was officially enrolled as rectory boy at Sta. Rita Parish in Bontoc, Mountain Province. He started as grade 7 after graduating from Bontoc Central School. The boy left Barangay Betwagan, Sadanga to hunt support for his life and studies. He was encouraged by good friends to serve as a rectory boy in the parish.
Prior to his being a rectory boy, through the goodness of Tomasa Longbabe, the catechist of Bontoc Catholic Mission, Arnel received Jesus through the first holy communion. The boy then braved to approach the parish priest and expressed his desire to become a rectory boy. The first question asked, “Why do you want to become a rectory boy?”
He was honest, “Because I want to study.”
The second question, “Can you wake up at 5 a.m. every day?”
He was smart, “Even 4 a.m., Father.”
Arnel was tested by circumstances. His mother died while he was young, followed by his father some years later. At a young age, he was orphaned.
Arnel did well at the rectory and school. He learned discipline through listening, prayers, and good practices. He is loved by the old folks and the young ones because of his humility and honesty. He treated corrections as essential aspects of human formation and development.
On July 14, Arnel and companions took the entrance examination at St. Francis Xavier Seminary. I solicit your prayers that this young man may pass the test and that he will continue to heed the calling of God. “The harvest is great but the laborers are few.” (Matthew 9:37)
Indeed, we need to help the young people discover their vocations. The church is encouraged to creatively introduce spiritual and religious activities for the young to see their calling, discern their decisions, and respond well to the invitation of priestly service. Music ministry and altar serving are common avenues for the young to serve at the parish. The young people can channel healthily their energy through music, charitable services, arts, prayers, and basic social concern activities.
Our contemporary situation is telling the church the need for more vocations. We must pray for vocations and we must encourage the young people. We make creative activities for them to know and realize their vocations. They need to grow in love, respect, and appreciation not from hatred, anger, and bashing. The young people need good leaders and counselors whom they can listen to and learn from to grow integrally. Let us lead the young people.
When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like a sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34)
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