A FORMER call center agent was one of 12 deacons formally ordained as new priests of the Archdiocese of Cebu yesterday.
Fr. Jonathan Rubin, 31, who hails from Medellin, Cebu, told reporters that his experiences as a call center agent helped strengthen his decision to become a priest.
Rubin and 11 other deacons received the Sacrament of Holy Orders during a mass celebrated by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma yesterday morning.
Aside from Rubin, also ordained were Fathers Teodoro Baruc, Christopher Cantillas, Renato Destacamento, Severino Escobido III, Kent Dahrel Galo, Erik Orio, Giuseppe Pongase, Arnel Ponce, Florido Rosales, Junrey Siman and Andrei Ventanilla.
In an interview, Fr. Rubin said that during his three-year “regency period” or the period when a seminarian leaves his studies to serve the community, he worked as a call center agent.
Aside from being a call center agent, Rubin also worked as a part-time teacher in a Catholic college in Cebu City.
He admitted that there was a time he was tempted to leave his vocation and become a full-time call center agent as the salary he was receiving was a big help to his family.
“But there was a point in my life nga kapoy nako. Dili man ni mao akong gusto. Makapalit ko but this is not ang akong kalipay, dili didto nakabase (At one point, I grew tired. It was not what I wanted. I could buy things but it was not what gave me joy),” Rubin said.
After a three-year stint in various call center agencies, Rubin returned to the seminary to pursue his vocation.
But Fr. Rubin said that when he was young, he never thought of becoming a priest. He wanted to be a seaman like his relatives.
His attraction to the priesthood bloomed through his grandmother, who instilled in him the virtues of the Catholic faith. These further blossomed when he started serving as an altar boy in his local parish in Medellin.
Now a priest, the 30-year-old former call center agent and his contemporaries were challenged by Archbishop Palma to focus their ministry on the needs of the modern times, including tackling the challenging of extrajudicial killings and illegal drugs.
In his homily during the presbyterial ordination rites in the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Archbishop Palma urged the new priests to treat their new obligations not just as a personal service but as an opportunity to serve their community.
He also urged the new priests to be brave and preach about important issues facing the community, including the rise of extrajudicial killings, illegal drugs and the revival of the death penalty.
“Dapat we are a people aware nga importante kaayo ang preaching (aware of the importance of preaching). So dili lang ingon dili kita kay hadlok kita (We cannot turn away because we are afraid),” Palma added.
Even though he is no longer a call center agent, Rubin said he plans to apply his “learnings” from the BPO industry to his ministry.
“A priest is also the same as a call-center agent. As a call center agent, you need to deal with customers and clients. You need flexibility every time you’re dealing with them. Every time the customer calls the hotline, there will always be problems they want to raise. It’s the same when dealing with a parish. Parishioners will always have different concerns. Even if you don’t have the answer to every problem, you have to be there for them. You have to empathize with your parishioners,” Rubin added.