My First Fiat To God's Call

By Jude M. Garceniego

The author is now studying in St Joseph Regional Seminary, Jaro. His sister Cherryl is a novice with the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.It was during a high school retreat in Sacred Heart Formation Center, Bacolod, that I made my first ‘fiat’ to God in His calling me to priestly formation.

Our adviser, Ms Alicia Calexterio, now Mrs Alicia Dalanangbayan, the faculty and staff of Our Lady of Lourdes High School, Candoni, Negros Occidental, decided to have the retreat of the graduating class on 6-7 December 2000, with our outing the following day.

A life-defining experience

We left Candoni at 6:30am, 49 students on a bus the school rented for the three days. We were being accompanied by Ma’am Lionela Soriano, our Principal, and our teachers Mr Edwin Vallagomesa, our Math and PEHM teacher, Mr Ronelo Medel, our Filipino teacher, Ms Alicia Calexterio, our Adviser, Mrs Helen Florendo, our Speech teacher, and Sr Ma. Olive ‘Daday’ Elisan OSA as our retreat director.

We arrived at Sacred Heart Formation Center around 10:30am. The retreat began after we’d arranged our baggage and prepared ourselves to encounter God in the midst of our past and present life.

A moment to cherish

Many things happened during that memorable and cherished moment of my high school life – my first retreat. That was my very first time to have an encounter with God through my very self as a person, as a student, and most especially as a Christian. Having gone through all the activities in the retreat, I felt different, with an unusual kind of feeling that I never had in the past. It was as if I was walking on air, with the lightest feeling imaginable. This lasted even until we were on our way to Mambucal, Murcia, a mountain resort, for our outing. I shared my feeling with my classmates and asked them if they felt and experienced the same.

A few among us

For our concluding rite in the retreat, we had Mass with an Augustinian Priest, a friend of Sister ‘Daday’. After Mass, she congratulated us on the success of our retreat. She also asked if there were any among us who wanted to become a priest or religious. Without any hesitation or doubts, I raised my hand and answered, ‘I am’. All my classmates turned their heads and looked at me sitting at the back. Maybe they were wondering why I was able to decide for that vocation – to become a priest.

Yes, I also had a little fear and worry with my decision after that, but I just thought to myself that it was not yet final. And besides me, two of my classmates raised their hands to show they were interested in becoming religious.

God’s hand

This event has marked my life to the present. This was my first ‘fiat’, my ‘yes’ to my unknown vocation at first, because when I raised my hand I was uncertain what priestly formation was and what the priestly vocation is all about. It happened on an overnight retreat, my first encounter with my God and myself. The date 7 December 2000 was a mysterious day for me, when God intervened in my life. This was the first touch of God’s hand in my answering His call to serve His people for His sake and His glorification. God used that memorable day as a day of revelation, annunciation and conversion in my life, as with others whom He called.

Living out my call

The retreat was over but the fruit is still fresh here in my heart, the fruit of God’s grace and intervention in my life – to become who I am now in answering his call by loving and living my seminary life faithfully. That time, day, year and those people who were present at my first ‘fiat’ to God’s call became a big part of my present life  as a seminarian and in the future, if it is God’s will, as a good and holy priest.

Handmaid of the Lord

As the Blessed Virgin Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word’. I too, under the guidance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of St Jude, my patron, and of my Guardian Angel Thaddeus, said, ‘I am your unworthy and poor servant Lord, here I am to follow Your Will’.

You may email the author at jude_g7@yahoo.com.ph

or write him at  St Joseph Regional Seminary,

St Joseph Village, Brgy Cubay Jaro, 5000 ILOILO CITY