It was 4 April, Easter Thursday, when Fr Joel Castillo invited us to the Parish of St Anne in Piddig for a simple Easter gathering and to join him in thanking the Lord for the graduation of seventy students of St Anne’s Academy, where he is the Director. Two of the graduates were his scholars. There was also the blessing of a small building adjacent to the school intended to be a Chapel in the future for the teachers and students. The Chapel is to be built in memory of Hanna, his niece, who died at a very tender age. As he said in his introductory remarks, it is a way to revive and inculcate among the teachers and students – and possibly for all those in the vicinity – the spirit of prayer.
After the blessing, lunch was served and a short program followed; some songs were rendered with the accompaniment of musical instruments by the graduates, there was a showing of their pictures, and a faith-sharing experience from the parents of the two scholars of Father Joel who were present at that time. They shared their life and the experience of how God helped them through Father Joel. In spite of the difficulties they had, particularly financially, they never lost faith and hope in God – they had tried to find ways to send their children to school. God saw the pureness of their heart and their sincere desire to give their children a better future through education, so He sent help through the person of Father Joel who was ready to support them. The parents were very grateful to God for this and were truly happy and proud for the success of their sons.
As a sign of their gratitude to God, they generously offer their sons to Him as they gave their full consent for them to enter the seminary. Through the guidance and assistance of Father Joel, two vocations to the priesthood had been nurtured. We are grateful for this priest, he touches the life of people, he brings people closer to God. We, the novices are blessed to have him as our confessor and we are fortunate to have participated in this simple gathering that gave us the opportunity to give praise to God as we listened to the different sharing and witnessing of this simple harvest in the Parish of St Anne, Piddig in the Philippines.