Fifty-one (51) clerics in Marbel Diocese: Passionist, Diocesan and Redeptorist, attended the monthly recollection on 5-6 October 2009 at Villa Princessita, Koronadal City.
Fr. Rogelio B. Alarcon, OP, facilitated it.
Born on 26 October 1937. Ordained priest: 31 May 1964. First Prior Provincial, Philippine Dominican Province, 1971.
Ph. D. Education. 1972 TOYM awardee. Founded Angelicum Experience, First non-graded school system in the Philippines. Founder and former President of Ethiopia Catholic University of St. Thomas Aquinas (ECUSTA). Presently assigned in Sto. Domingo Convent, Quezon City.
Topic: “OBEDIENCE”. Methodology: Story telling.
Adult life is shaped by childhood experiences. His father was a military officer: exact, strict, but loving. He put premium on punctuality. His mother, a pharmacist, did everything exactly. She was a good cook. Very religious. Two of three children became priest and religious sister.
Obedience for Fr. Alarcon, is easy.
He entered the Order of Preacher because the Dominicans have only one professed vow: obedience. The rest are implied.
First Dominican postulants were trained for mission in Asia. But Fr. Alarcon was sent to study education after his ordination. No problem.
His childhood experience of obedience made him accept willingly all assignments and appointments.
Obedience is fundamentally being CLAIMED. Claimed by God. Claimed by God’s people. Priests are no longer their own.
Priesthood is a choice. A choice to listen attentively to God. Like Mary, priests should answer: “Yes, Lord”.
Thus, at the heart of obedience is a constant attentiveness to God’s voice. This is discernment.
Discerning also means listening to others’ needs. And responding accordingly.
Obedience is listening with the “ears of the heart”, making oneself available and adapting to any situation. St. John Mary Vianney made himself available to thousands of penitents. He easily adapted himself to all kinds of penitents. St. John Vianney’s obedience found full embodiment in his conscientious fidelity to the daily demands of ministry. His Golden Rule is “Do only what can be offered to the good Lord”. Let the Lord do the rest.
Summary. “Obedience is a risky enterprise. It leaves one vulnerable in a way that little else is done in one’s life. It challenges one’s personal preferences, mitigates one’s independence, and engages one’s personal authority at sometimes gut-wrenching depths” (Mary Pellegrino, CSJ).
God’s will is manifested in people, events and places.
Fr. Alarcon’s early priestly experiences were with the rich and powerful. UST was school for the rich.
His experiences in a leper colony later on were totally different. Initially he felt revulsion, fear, uneasiness. Seeing a family of 6 lepers eat from one plate shocked him. He was at first hesitant to touch a leper’s sores. He did touch the sores after a while. The leper was convinced of the priest’s sincerity to help. And Fr. Alarcon’s attitude changed. Now he is comfortable with lepers.
Love conquers all!
Vatican II and PCP II are events of renewal. Up to now, however, there is no substantial change, why? Because priests are hesitant to leave their comfort zones. Unless priests listen attentively to the Holy Spirit who inspired these two events, renewal will just remain a beautiful dream!
Fr. Alarcon’s appointments were always preceded by suffering. He cannot bear pain. But he made a bargain with God. God would remove pain and he would obey completely. 1955 was the first and last time he was hospitalized.
The late Cardinal Sin wanted a Dominican priest to work among the poor. He requested Fr. Alarcon, then Prior Provincial to send a priest to that place. There was no taker. So Fr. Alarcon himself became a chaplain to that poor area: a little chapel, no house for priest, no household help. But he happily ministered to the poor, in obedience to God. Now, that area is a progressive parish.
Obedience, then, should not be associated to any person, but to the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is our model. He was always obedient to the Father. “Your will be done”.
Thank you Fr. Alarcon and Fr. Bien Trinilla, Coordinator of resource persons for priests’ monthly recollection.