NEVER, I dreamed to be a priest! My very intention in entering the seminary was to be equipped about the Bible and to acquire skills in teaching the Bible in our parish, St. John the Baptist, Tabuelan, Cebu.
So involved in the parish life like being a very active youth leader and trying hard to be a teacher during Flores de Mayo or the Summer Vacation Church School (SVCS) and the the only youth in attendance to Adult Bible study. My church involvement did not limit in the parish only but down to outstations or chapels and up to diocesan level. Committed myself every summer (April-May) to teach the monthlong Flores de Mayo/SVCS which was not only offering flowers to the Blessed Mary but made the whole afternoon similar to having classes. It turned out to be like afternoon schooling for 30 days. While Protestant churches called it: Bible Vacation School (BVS) or Vacation Church School (VCS)or whatever names they have for a weeklong classes. We named it SVCS (courtesy of a brother seminarian assigned to us one summer) to differentiate it to Flores de Mayo to the Roman Catholic Church nearby.
The SVCS Class was like this:
The day before May 30 was the Final Day: Oral Exam for all prayers from Lord’s Prayer to the Creed, questions about the Bible, and some memory verses. Those who top the given exam will receive honors and awards at the end of SVCS/Flores de Mayo, every May 30. The closing activity started with a mass then a procession and the awarding of honor students afterwards.
So committed in the SVCS, with limited knowledge led me to attend a one week Bible School in a Baptist Church during April to learn new song, Bible Stories, etc… In short, to augment my deficiency since there was no seminar or training received those days. Little by little I was able to improve the SVCS imparting some learning. I divided the children/students according to age bracket and taught them IFI Church History from the readings of limited materials I got and from attending seminars. So first timer would listen to Bible Stories but those who had listened from the past years were encouraged to be in Church History class.
In summer when there was no seminarian around, and when the parish priest was out for chapel services, I had the burden to teach. To systematize, we hold seminars and introduce SVCS to the youth during April and conduct preliminary listings for the SVCS participants as well as list of sponsors for the snacks. In my third year in High School I was elected youth parish president. I started to organize the youth in nearby chapels/ outstations and held All Leaders Youth Seminar 3rd week of April. SVCS was spread to 6 outstations and the following years, we were able to reach out more chapels. Since we grow in numbers,we held the closing activity then in the town plaza after where all participating chapels came for the Holy Mass and procession.
Recalling those days, made me smile and sometime could not stop my tears. How could I forgot when I had to carry my younger brother and tagged along my younger sister in order I would be present in the SVCS. My mother asked me to stay at home and watched my younger siblings, but I did not want to miss my responsibility. The hardest part when I was forced to go to outstations, walking three to four kilometers carrying my brother and tagging my sister. And after that I had to walk backed home hurrying to reach by 6pm because we had an agreement that when the ‘Oracion” or the 6:00 0″clock in the afternoon church bell, all must be in home. Besides, I had to cook for supper. Well, as the eldest of the family I was expected to do household chores.
From three years old, I started attending Flores de Mayo. Maybe that was the reason that drove me to upgrade the Flores de Mayo and did not stop to look for more improvement. Sorry to say, but as far as I could remember, our parish priest had very little help in the youth efforts to liven up the education program in our parish. The longing and the drive to develop a more updated learning process and the desire to learn more so that I could impart more knowledge about the Bible and the church pushed me to want more information and knowledge so that I would be more effective in our SVCS program.
I even subscribed to Plain Truth (Church of God with Armstrong as its head)that time, because it was free and I read a lot about the Bible. But the more I read the materials sent to me, the more questions in my mind. I began asking so many questions in our Bible study facilitated by a lay who seemed to memorize the whole Bible but was always told to just listen by some elderly in the group. (to be continued)