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By Fr Galbert Albino, assistant priest, St Aidan’s Parish, Rooty Hill
When I was quite young, I felt I had the desire to serve God and become a priest.
I started in the seminary back in the Philippines for five years and then the former rector of Holy Spirit Seminary came to the Philippines and invited us to be a priest here [in Australia] particularly in the Diocese of Parramatta.
It took me more than a year before I made the decision because I don’t want to leave my family behind.
But I felt that serving the people of God is not only exclusive to where you are. The call of the priesthood is our willingness to answer God’s call wherever He leads us.
And this is my response to His call with a belief that this is what He wants me to do.
The Holy Spirit Seminary nurtured me quite well, especially with the transformative psychology class of our rector, Father John Hogan.
He actively helped us not just to understand what other people are going through in life, but it also helps us in how to understand ourselves and understand other people’s trials and struggles well.
The transformative psychology of Father John is helping us not just for ourselves but both ways, both the person we are trying to give advice but helping us understand other people who have some trials and difficulties in life, especially with regard to their spiritual need.
This is the place where I was fostered. This is where my vocation grew more and more every day.
I said to Father John before I was ordained, this is the place where I fell more in love with Jesus.
This is where I was being moulded well with my personal relationship with God and with others.
People here are comfortable to be with great respect. We build a good camaraderie with each other with a thought that we walk on the same journey.
This has actually become part of my family. If we have our own family at our particular home, this is also part of our family.
I remember when I first came here. It was the first month of the year when Father John started. We had our first community meeting and Father John [was] talking about looking after also the seminary. One thing that struck with me when he said that ‘this is our home, we also have to look after it.’ That means to say, we have to also look after each other.
That’s one thing that stays with me, and that’s why I keep coming back because I feel at home here.
We have been provided with education and not just our spiritual needs. We are prepared to be sent to the parish as part of our pastoral works.
Now that I’ve become a priest, people are coming to me not just for advice but for sacraments like confession and I enjoy doing it. In that sense, I am able to nourish their faith and relationship to God. I’m quite happy with the ministry I’m doing.
It didn’t feel that so much has changed, what they see in me, but people would somehow think that since I am ordained, I am a holy person now. That’s what people would normally think that once we were ordained, somehow, we know a lot about spiritual things.
I reminded them that holiness is not exclusive to the ordained ministers. It is a call for each and every one of us, as Pope Francis would put it. So that’s the thing that I keep on reminding them.
The scripture says we are created in the image and likeness of God, and we have to be reminded of this always – that we have this divinity within us that we need to nourish. I think that people also forget that sense of sacredness.
That’s why we priests keep reminding them that they have also to look after the gift of God that has been given to them. The sense of holiness, of sacredness within us.
You’re not just there to help them seek it, but you are also guiding them how to recognise it themselves.
I love doing my ministry here because this is where I was nurtured, where I grew more of my faith and my vocation. I really feel at home here.
Please give generously to the Bishop’s Good Shepherds Appeal to support our seminarians on their journey to the priesthood, so they can prepare for a life of service to our community.
To donate to the Parramatta Catholic Foundation Bishop’s Good Shepherds Appeal, visit yourcatholicfoundation.org.au/appeal.