The day I lost my halo
I was always exposed to the church ever since I was a little boy of 9. I became a sacristan in our parokya from that age, serving the church with devotion and commitment even though I was only a kid. I served as a sacristan for almost nine years, and also joined the youth ministry in the same church. After a co-youth member invited me to join them in a “vocational search-in for priesthood,” I decided, with the permission of my parents, to enter the seminary of a religious order.
At first, I was not really keen on pursuing this kind of life; I just tried it because my friends were in it. But I found out that life inside the four corners of the seminary was exciting! It was not the life most of the people outside thought; it was not all Bible study, all prayer, all Mass, all holy things. Life inside the seminary was vivid, beautiful, colorful, fun. It was not a utopia.
After a while, my two friends who invited me to enter the seminary was asked to leave by my superiors, and I was left alone. But, this time, my conviction had grown vivid and strong. I believed I was being called by God to be His servant.
After rigorous studies, I graduated with a degree in philosophy. I was recommended to pursue the novitiate life in one of the towns in Quezon province. A year of religious intensification of my vocation followed, then 6 out of us 8 novices were recommended to take the first profession of vows, now as a definite friar of a religious congregation. My superiors soon decided to send me abroad to pursue my theological studies.
Until then, everything seemed perfect. My friends were in awe of my achievements, and my relatives were happy for me. I was a source of pride for all, and I received much respect and love.
But it was all a false halo.
After my studies, I decided to abandon the life that I thought I was called for; I went home and left the seminary for good. Something eventually told me this wasn’t the life I wanted for myself, so I decided to change direction and make a U-turn.
That’s how I saw the sad reality that all the perks that came with supposedly being a man of God were just illusions, a product of my false halo.
As I restarted my life, I was really confused, not aware of the things I needed to do. I still had a hangover from my routinary religious lifestyle. I began again from scratch. There was a time I didn’t have even a single coin in my pocket, or food to eat and gadgets to use.
A number of my friends, admirers and brothers in the order—those people I considered family—turned their backs on me when I had a change of heart and did not pursue my religious calling. I was confronted by the reality of how life treats people.
But I decided to move on and just accept that things had changed. Now, I am happy and contended with my life, happy with the vocation of teaching I am pursuing, and happy to know that I don’t need a false halo to be who I am.
Jherwin P. Hermosa, 28, is an instructor at Laguna State Polytechnic University-San Pablo City Campus, father to George and husband to Tricia.
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