Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 14, 2005
Deacon sees joy in serving God's people
Filipino came to Edmonton to serve as priest
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"Since I was a small boy I had a great desire to be a priest."
- Deacon Nilo Macapinlac
He was raised in a large extended family that taught him the Catholic faith. His late grandmother Custodia was his first catechist and guardian.
He was an honour student throughout his elementary grades but his faith was always first. At age nine he was an altar server and in the Legion of Mary.
"Since I was a small boy I had a great desire to be a priest because our home is pretty close to the chapel. All the priests after Mass would go to our house and eat with us," he said in an interview.
"We give respect to priests. We kiss the hand of priests as a sign of our respect. Even though those priests were old I could see that they were happy and contented and smiling priests and so I wanted to be one of them."
In high school he was a popular boy. Elected almost every year as class president, Macapinlac also served as president of the senior council and of the student government of his high school.
His desire to become a priest became stronger in his second year of high school because his English teacher, a Carmelite nun, told him he had what it takes to be a priest and encouraged him to pursue the vocation.
After completing studies in psychology at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City in 1992, Macapinlac spent the next four years at a minor seminary, where he graduated with a bachelor of arts with a major in classical philosophy.
Then he applied for admission at St. Joseph's Theological School, Iloilo's major seminary. Out of 183 who applied to the seminary that year, he was one of 12 admitted for priestly studies. "So it seems that I belong to the endangered species because many are called but few are chosen," Macapinlac laughed.
He finished his theological formation in 2001. But instead of pursuing ordination he took a position at a Manila college, where he taught philosophy, psychology, social sciences and religion, and served as campus minister and guidance counsellor for more than 1,000 students.
Macapinlac said he took the position as "a pause" to discern further his vocation. "It's like a self-examination," he explained.
"You want to reconfirm where the spirit is leading you."
When a distant uncle from Canada who travelled to Philippines told him of the great need for priests in Canada and North America, Macapinlac knew the spirit was leading him in the right direction.
After further research he found out that the Edmonton Archdiocese was looking for missionary priests. That interested him. He applied and was accepted.
On Aug. 15, 2003, Macapinlac resigned his teaching career to accept the challenge of missionary work in the Archdiocese of Edmonton. Less than a month later, he was enrolled in graduate courses at Newman Theological College for his theological updating and inculturation.
Now he is counting the hours to his Nov. 21 ordination, the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
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