The word “vocation” comes from the Latin vocare – to call. In discerning a vocation to the priestly and religious life, there needs to be an acknowledgement that we are only responding to a call to this life from God. It is God who loved us first. He is also the one who called us first. To say yes to a religious and priestly vocation is to respond to the love which God has given us, and respond to the call that he has made.
There might be some misunderstanding regarding the religious and priestly vocation. John Mary Vianney said that the priesthood is the heart of the love of Christ. Priests, by the power of ordination, make present Christ in the world today, in the sacraments, and especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when the bread and the wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. A priest, may he be religious or diocesan, is a priest after the heart of Christ.
Diocesan priests are tasked by the bishop to oversee and care for the parishes in a diocese. It is the task of the parish priests to tend to the parishes and be with the people of God as they journey in life. Examples of diocesan priests are our current and former parish priests, Rev. Fr. Herbie Santos, Rev. Fr. Steven Zabala, Rev. Fr. Jojo Zerrudo, Rev. Fr. Ronald Macale, etc. Meanwhile, religious priests are priests who belong to a specific religious congregation or order. These congregations or orders have a specific charism in which they focus their lives on. Some, such as Jesuits and Claretians, are focused on missions. Others, like the Salesians, are focused on schools, while others, like the Camillians, are focused on serving the sick. An example of a religious priest is Rev. Fr. Ronnie Banaria, CMF who grew up here in Sikatuna Village. As a Claretian missionary, he has extensive experience serving the people of Zamboanga and Basilan.
There are also religious congregations and orders for women. They also have their specific charisms in which they focus their lives on. Some of them serve in schools. Some tend to the sick, street children, orphans, and other sectors of society which need the presence of God. Our parish is very fortunate to have a number of women religious communities in our midst. We have the Claretian sisters, Dominican sisters, and the Maria Auxiliatrice sisters.