By By Rev. Fr. Rommel M. Arcilla
Thank You, Lord, I’m Alive and I’m a Priest
posted 6-Aug-2019  ·  
457 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

For the past years in my life, I celebrated joyfully my birthday with people I call my family and friends with all the food and drinks that I was able to prepare. Those celebrations in the past were centered on eating and drinking and merrymaking. It was my way of celebrating the gift of life. It was my way of showing that I really appreciate being part of this world and, maybe, part of other people’s lives.

There were also moments in the past when I considered my birthday to be an insignificant day. Those were the times when I had regrets being born, maybe because I failed to see the meaning of my own existence. Those were the times when I felt that I was a non-entity and I felt God was punishing me especially during my birthdays immediately following the deaths of my beloved ones. How I wished, then, I never existed if my life would just be filled up with those pains and emptiness inside of me.

I can say that, in general, I did appreciate the gift of life but I did not really come to the point of feeling grateful to God that He let me experience life here on earth with significant people around me. I was just celebrating joyfully but never truly joy-filled.

I can describe my life to be as turbulent as the stormy seas. I have done terrible mistakes which I know I should have not done especially as a priest. In my younger years, I got involved in crazy stunts using my first love - the motorbike. I had the propensity to drink with no limits or, at least until the last night owl store owner finally put herself to deep slumber and dreamt about all the money I threw at her in exchange of gin or beer. I also got entangled in relationships for riding on fairy tales that were too good to be true but with me, perhaps because of the disillusionment I have in life, caught unaware and unprepared to keep promises from being broken.

Living in this world was not that easy for me. I know I had successes in life and I know I was able to help a lot of people appreciate their life when they were despairing and in trouble, and I also know that I was able to help others find for themselves the right direction to take. But, I was not even sure if I was on the right direction or not and I was also despairing and hopeless and in a lot more trouble than them. If I had my trophies for helping people who sought my help, I also had my share of misgivings and may even had scandalized and caused others to sin. I laughed and I cried, I enjoyed life but then I also experienced regrets to have been born and all those pains, physical and emotional and even more. With all these, packed all along with me in my journey called life, I can surmise that I am but a normal human being, just like everybody else.

However, in a sudden twist of fate, something happened to me which brought me on the crossroads of life as a priest. I had to make a decision whether to continue my priestly ministry or say goodbye to the life to which I was trained to live since my high school days. I actually entertained the idea of leaving the priesthood two years ago. But then, my superior and friends in the ministry would not just let me out of the priesthood knowing for a fact that my initial decision was so clouded and unsure. I really am so thankful to them, most especially my bishop, Manolo A. de los Santos, for not losing trust and confidence in me even during those moments of uncertainty and confusion.

Now, at this very day, I thank God first for the gift of life and vocation. I really hope that I can still be that wounded healer, as Henri Nouwen puts it, who can help souls find their way to God’s Kingdom even with all my unworthiness and sinfulness. I am forever grateful for the gift of family, my sisters Margie and Malou, and my +Papa and +Mama and +Monette, of a happy memory. They never gave up on me and they remained focused on the bright side of me while refusing to look at those bad things that I did. Without them, I will not be standing here right now. Thank you so much and I love you so very much.

I also would like to thank the presbyterium of the Diocese of Virac, especially Frs. Butch and Boyet, for owning me even during those times when I was in hell. They extended me a helping hand and pulled me out of trouble and accepted me just like in the story of the prodigal son. Thank you so much but I won’t utter now any promises because I don’t want to break one in the future. Let me just assure you that I am very happy seeing us all together as real brothers who are always there to help one another back on our feet in our journey to His cross. The bishops and the clergy of the Diocese of Novaliches, especially Bishop Tony and Fr. Jim… thank you for accepting me and for trusting me that I can be a collaborator in your mission.

Lastly, thank you my dearest friends for all the love, support and acceptance that you have given me. I may not be a perfect friend but I always tried to show you the real me, with all my strengths and weaknesses, and you still accepted me with your whole heart. I will always appreciate those fun memories that we had until my last breath.

Life is worth living and I am determined to continue what I had begun for God’s greater glory. I am still unfazed in my efforts to cooperate with God’s grace and be an alter Christus to other people, not because I can do miracles but because I can live like the “Suffering Servant” in the midst of this world gone crazy because of materialism, power and recognition. I will continue to be a priest of Christ and always be proud to be one because I know that He understands my unworthiness and unfaithfulness. Anyway, I am just a priest called to cling not on my own worth or honor but only in Jesus, the only High Priest, my Lord and Savior, my brother.

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