When I first thought of becoming a priest, my motivation was simple: I wanted to serve God. In the course of my seminary studies and Franciscan formation, the idea of serving God became more concrete: to serve God is serve the less fortunate (Mt. 25: 34-46). Over time, I came to better understand my priestly Franciscan calling and ministry through my exposure to and immersion with farmers, construction workers, indigenous peoples and urban poor communities.
Through the years of my Franciscan-priestly life, I was privileged to have been entrusted with several provincial offices/positions. The downside to these developments is that it made ministry more complicated and challenging. Over time, I realized that, given a choice, I preferred being
an ordinary friar-member of our communities. I particularly enjoyed my teaching ministry.
But the reality of community life and ministry is multifaceted and perplexing. I am reminded of what Jurgen Habermas once said of “moral sensitivity”, i.e., that in the context of ministerial humility, “one must have the ability to listen, the willingness to be emotionally involved, and the capacity to accept, even encourage, personal uniqueness.” Authentic service allows the minister to accept the person/s whom God has delivered into our care; open and willing to learn from the other and to have the courage to be surprised (Mt. 15, 21-28). I came to realized that God opened the door for me, sometimes into rooms that I had not originally planned on entering.
In my ministry today, I have to humbly acknowledge that I am being ministered as well by the community I am serving and living with, being nurtured and healed by the ministry of others. After all, as a minister, I too have my own weaknesses and vulnerability. I need to allow myself to be challenged, inspired and transformed by the people. For an authentic Christian mission brings out self-transformation.
As published in the March 26 issue of the Parish Bulletin.