“Would you like me to accompany you to the seminary?” My father asked while I was preparing my things. I said, “No, there is no need,” because I did not want to compromise my father’s health and wanted to avoid being emotional in our goodbyes. The parting words that my father told me were “Maging masaya ka doon” (Be happy there!) It was also my prayer. I prayed for happiness as I was about to be separated from my family—my security blanket. Entering the seminary was a difficult decision, but the circumstance made it even more difficult due to the pandemic. My “Yes” to God in this vocation was a whirlwind of emotions—happiness, sadness and excitement, knowing that my life will change as soon as I step in the seminary.
Our “Entrance Day” was straightforward. No long ceremonies with few family members to accompany us, and few brothers and members of the staff to welcome us. But I really felt welcomed.
I arrived at the seminary Sunday afternoon and was welcomed by our rector Rev. Fr. Roy Rexelle Decena. I was a bit emotional when he said “Welcome to your new home.” His greetings touched my heart, because I realized that on that day, I was now part of a new family; a new community. It is my “new home” for I am no longer just a “son of my father” but also a son to my formators and a brother to eighteen other seminarians.
Since we were quarantined for 14 days and had limited access within the seminary, my first experience of a “community prayer” was in the corridor just outside our room. It felt strange at first, but I felt what “perseverance” was. If the virus can persist that long, so much more can our vocation. It must continue; it must persist. I have yet to experience the “normal way” of formation in the seminary, but experiencing the “new normal” helps me to embrace uncertainties and changes with an open heart and a new perspective. I know that these experiences prepare me in my future ministry to be always welcoming to changes, and that no “virus” can stop the plan of God.
Sem. Ericson Austria is from the Diocese of Malolos, and a graduate of Electronics and Communications Engineering prior to his entrance to Holy Apostles Senior Seminary. Sem. Ericson is in his first year of seminary formation.