Most of the times we keep ourselves busy with our career. We want to be on top as soon as possible. There’s nothing wrong about being serious on achieving your dreams. But is this the only thing that matters in life?
I believe each of us is called to a certain vocation. And there are a lot of vocation descriptions. However, for the sake of this article, I’d like to focus on the “priesthood” vocation. I’m blessed to have you here my faithful brother in Christ, Bro. Pepe. Below is his vocation story.
Fasten your seatbelt and read this through.
“Like anyone’s experience, any journey may be too short or too long; any journey may be smooth or rough, or any journey may be easy or hard. A journey may be planned at first but in the long run, unexpected things and uncertainties may happen.” – Pepe Joey
I am PEPE JOEY JARA DINOROG, JR from Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental. I am the youngest child of the family. My father was a police officer; sadly he died last May 2011 because of an illness, almost two years after his retirement. On the other hand, my mother who is now 58 years old was a former High School teacher and now currently working as a librarian at Misamis University-Oroquieta City. I have three siblings in the family. My eldest brother is married with one daughter and now working as a public high school teacher handling science subjects. Next to him (second brother) is a registered nurse working overseas in a government hospital of Oman. My third sibling is my only Ate but she died at an early age because of an illness. It was the first saddest and heartbreaking time for me. But I know that she’s happy now with our Creator and I believe that she is now watching over me as my life’s guardian angel. My family is a typical average Filipino family, trying to live a life with faith and values through God’s guidance.
My vocation journey started when I was young, during my grade school days. Those were the times that some dreams were quite impossible, where most of my classmates dreamt to become one of their idol superheroes while myself was dreaming to become a saint someday. I always admired the life and works of all saints. Later on, that dream “to-be-a-saint” developed into a dream to be a religious person someday. Being too young at that time, I realized that dream was just temporary, an impossible dream that will fade away as I grow older.
I took up my elementary and high school years at Misamis University, Oroquieta City and graduated as the class valedictorian for both levels. With those achievements, I still pursued college with uncertainties. Unexpected and unplanned, I enrolled BS Forestry, which was far from my childhood dream, at Mindanao State University-Main Campus, Marawi City and graduated last April 2009. A year after, I passed the Board Exam for Licensed Forester.
I don’t know what brought me to that course and it was only later I realized that I enrolled it and should stand with that uncertain decision. Even with uncertainties, I still found myself enjoying the course; maybe because of being a nature-lover appreciating God’s creation. And then fate landed me to Camiguin, where I practiced the course that I have chosen. For more than half a decade, I worked hard and stood the pressures. I worked in the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO-Camiguin) in a contractual employee status and after which as a regular item holder. I kept myself busy; I took up Master of Public Administration and handled a part-time teaching job handling Agroforestry subjects at Camiguin Polytechnic State College for one school year but still I felt a desire and a certain call, a desire that was implanted in my heart way back in my younger years and that is still in me.
The Calling Resurfaced
As I diverted myself to other paths and kept myself busy, I thought that my desire for priesthood will just pass away, but as I grew older it never faded, the desire is still in my heart that kept burning like a flame. When there were times that I was with other people especially the needy, serving them made my heart happy. During these times and mostly in my loneliness, I feel that there is a call within me. I want to follow that certain call but fear and doubt also bothered me. In the long run of keeping myself busy, I found myself stuck in a routine situation of waking up, working, eating, and sleeping. I want to go beyond such routine, I long for a life that has meaning and fulfillment. Until one time I felt the courage to go back to myself and reflect about my inner desire.
The Discernment Stage and First Try
When I reached the age of mid-20s, I assessed myself on how far would I make it in my life with big questions. Am I happy with where I am now? Or what life may lead to me after another 10-20 years? In myself, I think that I am happy with the things I achieved right now but there is a feeling of me that I want some changes in my life, there is an emptiness that I want to fill. I want a life that is something meaningful that has a worthy cause, a life that I can share to others and a life that is in accordance with God’s will.
As I make discernment with this call, a strong feeling led me to follow my heart’s desire. I search for a congregation or a group that I believe will help me. I applied to a missionary society (congregation) that is near to our place. I joined their one-year accompaniment program with recollections, retreats and other religious related activities where I learned more about the priesthood, vocation discernment, self-discovery and deeper sense of understanding of faith in God. After a year, I was the only one chosen from our batch for the final qualifying interview in order to join the formation program (seminary stage) in Manila. Unfortunately, I did not pass the interview. Maybe I am not for that missionary group.
The Second Try and 1 Year of Preparation
It was the lowest point in my vocation journey, but I never lose hope. I believe God has something better for me and my faith dictated myself to continue following my heart’s desire. With the advice from our parish priest which also happened to be my spiritual director, I was inspired and encouraged to continue this calling. Until a friend recommended me to a religious congregation that accepts late vocation and young professionals. I believe that this congregation will help me on my journey and will give me hope to fulfill my desire. I was interviewed by their national vocation director and now, I was given a chance to join them, but this time I still couldn’t make it because of some personal reasons. They welcomed my decision and gave me a year to prepare for their seminary and while waiting for next year, I was tasked to help in looking for potential candidates that will join their congregation.
My journey is not smooth and easy as anyone might have expected; this is only the beginning. What will happen next is still uncertain. I always keep on praying that everything will fall in its proper place according to God’s will and grace through His Divine guidance.
Please pray for me.
Pepe Joey J. Dinorog, Jr.
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