The year 2020 is truly a year to remember because this is the time when a pandemic struck us. Life has never been the same. Even our seminary formation is treading on unchartered waters. The extraordinary formation year presented us with a lot of changes in our usual formation set-up brought about by the health crisis we are experiencing. Our seminary formation this year started from what we call “formation away from the seminary”. Adjustments were made by the seminarians which included making their homes a place conducive for seminary formation. We were allowed to stay in our homes due to the threat of the pandemic. I am blessed for the opportunity to stay with my local ordinary, Archbishop Florentino G. Lavarias D.D., during the start of the formation year.
Our day would begin at five in the morning with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist followed by the Eucharistic Adoration. This moment of prayer and solitude is one of the things that I am grateful for in my stay in the Arzobispado de Pampanga. Spiritual formation is an essential part of seminary formation. Then follows our hearty meals where we get the chance to deepen our relationship with our Bishop and for him to get to know us better by our exchange of stories. I was also grateful for the moments of journeying with two of my brother seminarians, Renz and JP. Despite the demands of the online classes, the simple moments of sharing always served as breathers which further strengthen our “Jesus experiences” in the time of the pandemic crisis.
“The gift of suddenness”—this phrase captures my experience of “formation away from the seminary”, Archbishop Dong admonished us to always remember that there is always the “the gift of suddenness” that waits to be discovered, despite the challenges that the pandemic crisis has brought us. Through the constant prayers and reflections in our moments of solitude, and by living out our lives daily in the spirit of gratitude, we discover that the suddenness of this pandemic crisis has given us the gift of hope that God is always with us, the gift of joy when we learn to see the graces He abundantly bestows on us, and the gift of fortitude which enables us to face tomorrow with renewed zeal and enthusiasm anchored in our faith in Him.
Sem. Justin G. Gatus is in his sixth year in formation. Sem. Justin was a government employee prior to his entrance to the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary. He is from the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga