Who would have ever thought that a consistent latecomer, a notorious troublemaker, the once very, very noisy yet always sleepy little Wilford will one day zip his mouth shut and embrace religious life? No one! Not my teachers of course (they would not even dare to imagine it). Exclude also my friends (they are far too crazy to be thinking that). Not my parents, not our neighbours, and not even me. But, this is not so for the Daughters of the Divine Zeal (FDZ). Are they blind or something? Are they expecting another miracle or are they in a state of trance seeing a vision of an incarnated “devil” being transformed into an angel? None of that sort, I tell you. These sisters simply have a heart big enough to cover my flaws and imperfections. They have love – a love that does not blind them from the reality but a love that enables them to see further. A love that is unselfishly shared with students and faculty members alike, a love that is continuously expressed and articulated. Yes, believe it or not, these sisters love, and personally I could say that they love me very much. So deep was that “love” that I almost finished my high school for five long years!
Let me share with you something. Once I was caught misbehaving by my teacher, and as usual she sent me to the principal’s office. The principal, perhaps sick and tired of seeing me almost every month, sent me to the Directress. Not surprised by my presence, the sister knew that I had done something wrong again. However, instead of sending me to water the plants or to clean the comfort rooms (for which I am an expert), as a punishment, she told me to be present and join in their regular Thursday adoration for vocations. Stunned by such a remark, I stepped out of her office trembling. I must have been very bad, I thought, for in the confessions, the priest simply told me to recite three Hail Mary’s for all my sins but, this blessed sister was asking me to kneel down in prayer for an hour! Anyway, I did as I was told. I did not mind the continuous heckling of my friends, the embarrassment that I felt and the widening eyes of those present in the chapel. For me it was all a joke, another obligation to fulfill, and another hour to pass. Never did I ever imagine that this would be the Hand of God working through the sisters more – the sowing of the seed of vocation in me.
As I continued with the remaining years of my high school formation I found myself violating one school rule after another. With that I became a frequent attendee in the adoration chapel until I finally started loving it and participated in the adoration even without the sanction. Having seen that the seed had been planted and the soil prepared, the sisters then introduced me to the RCJ Fathers who were then starting their mission in Bolinao (a municipality in the Philippines). Then after a few more months they put me in charge of the prayer group known as the APV (Association of Prayer for Vocations). Still not contented, they brought me to witness different ordinations and let me be involved in other Liturgical celebrations. In short, they got me! I became active and interested until I finally made a decision to enter the seminary. In the seminary, I never felt alone in my journey. The FDZ, represented by some chosen few, never failed to keep in touch. They sent me letters, gave me phone calls and even personally visited me. They really showed me their love, support and affection. They, being my John the Baptists, did not simply lead me to Jesus – they journeyed with me hand in hand, along with their prayers, friendship and love.
My dear sisters, how many times have I heard you saying you are proud of me. This time allow me to express my deepest gratitude and love for you. Thank you very much for your presence, friendship and love. I am not simply proud to have you as my sisters, I am blessed, so much blessed by God to have you in my life! How I wish that in a few years’ time we would be together again at the same table of love, to kneel in front of the same Lord of the Harvest and raise the same banner – Rogate!
Bro. Wilford Urmaza, rcj