D-DAY for me was on June 10, 2014!

I was asked to speak to the diocesan priests of Baguio-Benguet during their regular meeting last June 10, 2014 at Maryknoll Sanctuary.

I had always looked forward to such an opportunity to talk to them.

Imagine, being able to talk to many of Christ’ earthly representatives at one time!

A week earlier, I had asked Fr. Jeff Habado what they would want me to talk about. After consulting some of his brother-priests, he mentioned: “the laity: married life and the family; and the priest in a layman’s eyes (pastoral, spiritual, social)”

That was heavy stuff. For a whole week, that was what I was thinking and praying about. I felt the heavy burden and responsibility God gave me.

I asked Fr. Jeff and other friends to pray for me.

As Doc Rene Manalo was out of the country at that time, I did not ask him to pray for enlightenment for me. But knowing him, he would have simply texted back his usual: “Matthew 10:20” ("for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.") If only I had his faith and confidence when he speaks locally and internationally! I do not wish to put him in a spot, but Doc Rene would be a great speaker the next time the priests would like another layman to share insights.

Two nights before the talk, I “consulted” my youngest daughter, Jessica. We had a “heavy” discussion till 2 a.m. On one or two issues, her comment was “Dad, you don’t have the “K” (Karapatan) to talk about that”. I was humbled. Yes. It is challenging to “walk the talk”. Credibility comes when others see you doing what you preach or talk about. I definitely could not share on “time management”, or rather, “task management”. I had wanted to talk about priests having too many responsibilities, and thus it would help them if they focus on what is important and urgent. Actually, focus on what is important, so that important tasks do not become urgent and important. (“firefighting” is the term used at McDonald’s). Jessica reminded me that I was “always late” and thus did not have the “K”. Yes, I was undeniably “guilty” of poor tasks management.

In fact, being frequently late for Holy Mass, was one of the sins I had confessed to Fr. Jeff a few days before my talk. And I shared with the priests that the penance given me took two days to accomplish! I must have committed more than plunder! Actually, my family was waiting for me when I went to confession after Holy Mass that day. I had rushed out from the Blessed Sacrament before completing my penance, and forgot to finish my prayers the day before. So, when I remembered it the next day, I finally completed it. Thus, the two days!

I shared how challenging it is to be a parent and to be responsible for the lives of our family members. Thus, the Church, in its wisdom, does not allow priests to take on that added role. There would be so many conflicts on how they would prioritize their priestly responsibilities as against family challenges, if they could have both worlds.

I quoted Fr. Tchang’s oft repeated homily on Matthew 10:8, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

I also talked about the effectiveness of Fr. Tchang’s advice on giving homilies: “keep it short and concise, deliver the message, and have a call to action”.

My Dearest Priests,

All of us need God’s special graces to help us accomplish our purposes in life.

You are specially blessed. And you have been given the special graces to fulfill the responsibilities of your position. You are His specially chosen people. For many are called, but few are chosen.

May we, the laity, continue to pray for wisdom, courage and strength for each of you, that you may faithfully fulfill your priestly vows and commitments. We need you to perform all the Sacraments. May we pray and understand you, our priests, rather than criticize and gossip. May we support you in words and in deeds.

Thank you for listening to Jessica, when I put her on the spot, and asked her to share her sentiments on “connecting” with the Church.

Thank you, Fr. Jeff Habado and Fr. Manny Flores for delivering powerful “demo” homilies; and with great humility, for allowing my wife, Angie, to give you her feedback, in front of other priests, as is done in Toastmasters.

May God be glorified in all that you and I do, in our everyday lives.

As 1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and power forever and ever. Amen.”