I AM from a family with deep religious devotion. I was taught and exposed to the Church and its teachings early on in my childhood. I received my first rosary from my paternal great grandmother. On the other hand, I was taught how to pray the rosary by my aunt from my mother’s side.
Even my mother used to be an active member of the local presidium of the Legion of Mary and the Cursillo Movement, although she had to lay low because she had to take care of her children while my father worked overseas. With my family background, I think it was natural for me to be drawn into the Church. I became a member of the Legion of Mary, altar servers, readers, and parish choir. I was also an active member of pastoral council and youth ministry. I even worked as a church cleaner, organist and parish secretary. My parents and, indeed, people from my village thought I was going to be a priest. I love the church, but I also knew very early that I wanted to have my own family.
I first heard about the permanent diaconate from one of my discussions with my parish priest who informed me that there are permanent married deacons in other countries. I felt an interest ever since. Unfortunately, the permanent diaconate has not yet been introduced in the Philippines.
I came to Australia with my family in 2004. I worked in an abrasive manufacturing factory as assistant leading hand for seven years and in a pasta-making factory for eight months. I was also involved with the Filipino choral group “Pangkat Pinoy”.
During a family visit to the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bendigo, I saw a little booklet about the permanent diaconate. My interest was again rekindled. I showed the booklet to my wife to see her reaction; since then the diaconate had been at the back of my mind. However, at that time the program was not yet available in Melbourne. My wife at that time had “warmed up” to the idea and helped me get in touch with the Archdiocese to get information as well as with our local priest. I wrote to the Archdiocese all the while opening in prayer my fate to the diaconate with God.
I began my diaconal formation as one of the first batch of inquirers when the permanent diaconate was restored in the Archdiocese of Melbourne in April 2007. I started my theological studies in 2009 at the Catholic Theological College-University of Divinity (CTC) in Melbourne.
On November 15, 2014, I was ordained deacon for the Archdiocese of Melbourne by Archbishop Denis Hart and appointed to the Catholic Parish of Caroline Springs (St Catherine of Siena).
My ministry involves preaching every other week, helping with baptisms, presiding at Monday Liturgy of the Word with Communion, visiting the sick and the elderly, and coordinating our Parish RCIA process and a fortnightly Lectio Divina. In 2016, my then parish priest gave me a salaried job as pastoral associate, which enables me to really be immersed in parish life and still provide for my family.
I hold a bachelor degree in Journalism (from the University of the Philippines) and worked as a journalist and editor before coming to Australia. In 2015, I obtained a graduate diploma in Teaching-Secondary from the Australian Catholic University (ACU). I am currently teaching part-time at the Catholic Regional College-Caroline Springs.
Asther and I have three beautiful kids, Sanyata, Sanghaya, and Elessar.