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The day I lost my halo

05:04 AM September 04, 2018

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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TAGS: editorial, life, man of God, news, opinion, Priesthood, Religion, seminary
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