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Discerning vocation is essential to the living of the Christian life


HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : “Every Catholic needs to develop a sense of vocation and not just think about it as something that happens to brothers, sisters or priests,” Father Toter Resuello, the vocation director for the diocese of Lipa, as well as being the national vocation coordinator for The Philippines, told Mabuhay on February 17.

Father Resuello was in Hong Kong over the Lunar New Year holidays and spent three days with vocation directors for the diocese and various religious congregations from February 13 to 15 at the Sacred Heart Canossian School in Central.

“I was really impressed with the enthusiasm people showed and the sincerity of the search being made for vocations in Hong Kong,” Father Resuello said. “The first day about 90 people came, but I did not think that they would all come back for the full three days. But they did.”

Reflecting on his own work, he noted that while The Philippines has suffered from a drop in religious vocations, it is not as drastic as experienced in Hong Kong or most other parts of the world.

“All our seminaries still have reasonable numbers of students and people are still joining religious congregations,” he explained.

During a special afternoon session for migrant workers held at the school on February 17, Father Resuello stressed the importance of both recognising vocation in each individual life and promoting vocation to the religious life in our communities.

Representatives from the Sisters of the Servants of the Lord were present at the afternoon accompanying a group of some 10 migrant workers who are currently considering the life of a religious as a vocation.

Maria Daisy Tamani, who has worked in Hong Kong for 20 years, and Cecily Pino have already made their decision to join the congregation. Tamani will return to The Philippines in April to begin her formation and Pino in July.

Father Resuello is adamant that the Church should never write off any group of people in its search for vocations, adding that special attention needs to be given to young people.

“They may be a bit rambunctious, scattered, boisterous, rude and even surly,” he said, “but I have found that despite the rush and glitter of modern life, they are open to searching for something definite in their own lives.”

He explained that it is essential that they are encouraged to reflect on what it means to be themselves—the person they want to become—as a Catholic in the society of today, surrounded by a culture of materialism, instant gratification and huge temptation.

In this context he said that spiritual direction can be a powerful influence in their lives, “But the challenge of discerning appropriate and appealing ways of offering this service does require more imagination from the Church and those who minister among young people.”

Father Resuello explained that from within this group in The Philippines significant numbers still respond to the call to religious vocation, saying that they are attracted by the simplicity of the life of a priest, brother or sister, and have what he called “the desire to live with empty hands.”

He added that he especially wanted to spend time with migrant workers as there is also a challenge to them to respond to the universal call to holiness.

“The dynamic of vocation is to help discern and describe the nature of the vocation that they are following now,” he noted, is the basic call to holiness.”

He explained that the importance of vocation in the lay life has been underlined in The Philippines by the fact that the only two saints from the only Catholic country in Asia are laypeople.

“St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Pedro Calungsod are both lay people,” he pointed out. “Both had discerned specific vocations for themselves in their lives, which is why they were able to develop such a profound and recognisable holiness in their lives.”

St. Ruiz was a lay missionary, who was martyred in Japan, and St. Calungsod had ventured to Guam, where he was martyred for the faith.

Thirty-eight-year-old Father Resuello grew up in Lipa as the fifth child in a family of seven children. “I have three sisters and three brothers,” he said, “and our parents encouraged us all to be aware of vocation in our lives. I discerned that mine was to be a priest.”

He joined the local diocese and was ordained in 2000.

He currently combines his work as vocation director for the diocese with being present among the students at the Francis de Sales Minor Seminary.

He was impressed by his first trip to Hong Kong in the cool of the winter and was intrigued with the dispensation from fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday, because it fell during the New Year holiday.

“It was a first experience for me!” he laughed.

He spoke to the 120 who attended about the importance of knowing yourself and the role that prayer can play in this process.

He said it is important to understand what we bring with us when partaking in any activity, as well as being able to describe our relationship with God at that moment.

“We can only know this through prayer,” he explained. “But if we pray regularly, we will be able to answer these questions for ourselves and that is the fundamental way in which we can change cultures.”

He concluded, “Constant prayer is the most powerful dynamic we have in changing a culture.”

An enjoyable afternoon came to an end as some 14 sisters from The Philippines, China, Singapore, the Netherlands and Malaysia introduced themselves briefly and gave a short description of the ministry that they are involved in.

Canossian Sister Vicky Ramos said that they organised the afternoon as everyone is called to discern their own vocation in life and, those who are not called to a religious vocation can take up the challenge of promoting it among their families, friends and acquaintances.

“I hope this afternoon will help them to do it effectively,” she said.