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BY FR ANTHONY T. PIZARRO CICM
Father Anthony has written for us a number of times. His ordination to the priesthood by Bishop Prudencio Padilla, Vicar Apostolic of Tabuk, on
My sister Chato made use of the image of marriage. A love relationship is at the very heart of marriage. My love story with God started in this chapel almost ten years ago. Young as I was, idealistic and full of passion, I found myself confronted with the classic question: What do I want in life? A very existential question that could have been answered by: marry your girl, rear a family, and be happy in your career. Or by: use your talents; make a lot of money; travel; be famous and powerful. A strange inspiration dawned on me while I was contemplating the question in this chapel a decade ago. Why not live a simple life dedicated to pure service and unconditional love for the poor and the lonely? The third option was appealing but I knew it was difficult and would entail much sacrifice on my part. Yet I was bent to give it a try, if only to fulfill a dream, if only to accomplish a mission.
So the love story started. From my home in Tuguegarao to Saint Louis College to Maryhurst Seminary and Saint Louis University in Baguio, from the novitiate in Taytay, Rizal, to the Asian Regional Formation Community (ARFC) in Manila. In between I realized that this love for Christ was showing me the real world of those who suffer. I lived with garbage collectors in Taytay, prayed with troubled fisher folk in Rizal, saw the plight of evicted, dispossessed and poor farmers in Tarlac, cried with the slum dwellers of
Then I left for
I saw how the world needed some relief and, more importantly, hope. I saw Christ, my beloved, in tears and deeply wounded and prodding me to offer my hand and my heart that I might be an instrument of his salvation and love for all. Nine years of getting-to-know-you, of ligawan, of tampuhan and selosan, of ups and downs, of deep engagement and of being soul mates. Nine years of formation putting on the heart of Christ and seeing the world as it is and trying to become a religious missionary relevant to this world in pain and in sorrow. It was a difficult journey to be formed by the One who called and sent me. It was difficult to sacrifice myself and always try to be of service to the people God loves most – the poor and the downtrodden. My love story was tough and very demanding.
Yet God showed me his wonders and his saving hands at work. He never failed to show me his love, to embrace me, to assure me, to care for me. I felt all this as I met people who unselfishly worked, toiled and plodded for the cause of the poor. I met generous and selfless government servants and civil leaders. I met religious sisters and missionaries, priests and lay collaborators who left home and comfort to help change the world. I met lay people who gave their time, effort and resources that the mission to alleviate the plight of the poor might continue. I met you, and all who time and again had thought of, prayed for and sacrificed a little of what little you have for the missions. I lived with Muslims, Christians and animists who, despite differences in color, culture, language, religion and convictions, share the same vision of a better, just and peaceful world. I was deeply touched by the testimonies and witness of thousands of men and women who tried to live to the letter the Good News of Christ’s salvation for every living creature, for every troubled soul, for this tired world of ours.
More than anything else I saw God in you. That has made this journey, mission and pilgrimage of mine, not only bearable but lovely, wonderful and very enriching. I came to know kind and beautiful people, to visit places I never imagined I would go to. I witnessed life-giving events that will forever mark my humble life. God was there, as He is here right now. The God who called me is the same God who has sustained me all through these years. And He continues to sustain me, enrich me, and surround my life with good friends. He clothes me with dignity and honor, and despite my human frailties and shortcomings, entrusts to me his mission to continue his plan of salvation for his people. What more could I ask for but to pray that He continues to do the same.
He continues to surround me with your support and friendship as I start my priestly ministry. God was and is and will always sustain me through you. And so accept my heartfelt gratitude to all of you who inspired me, challenged me, formed me, prodded me, gave me the gentle push, supported me, cared for me, trusted me, believed in me, comforted me, soothed me, loved me, prayed for me, and all who are here today to renew friendship and brotherhood with me. Surely God was and is and will forever be present in my life through you.
From the very bottom of my heart, I dedicate to all of you this ordination and this humble consecration of mine to the priesthood. I am marrying Christ, his Church and his missions, and forever I will consecrate my life to him. I want too to have you as major actors in this continuing love story with my beloved Christ. Do continue praying for me that this love story with our God may continue to be of service and be life-giving, and that it may make this world a wonderful place of peace, love and hope for our children.
Ta nikamu ngamin Dios mabbalo;
Ta nikayu ngammin mabbalat;
Kadakayu amin Dios ti agngina;
Sa inyo pong lahat, maraming salamat po;
To all of you, thank you very much;
A vous tous et toutes, merci beaucoup;
Ngir yen nepp jerejef bu baax- a-baax.
You may write Father Thony at: Parish of Saint Michael, BP 41, .