Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 28, 2005
Priest fulfills a childhood dream
Even as a child in the Philippines, Fr. Macapinlac wanted to be a priest
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Nilo Belvis Macapinlac has finally fulfilled his dream of becoming a priest, a dream he had harboured in his heart since childhood.
Archbishop Thomas Collins ordained the Filipino man to the priesthood before a jam-packed St. Joseph's Basilica Nov. 21. More than 60 priests and seminarians assisted the archbishop in the celebration.
Macapinlac, 33, is the second Filipino seminarian to be ordained a priest for the Edmonton Archdiocese. The first was Father Joselito Cantal, ordained in 2002. The rest of the Filipino priests currently ministering in the archdiocese came here already ordained.
The basilica was packed with a congregation comprised for the most part of Filipinos, who made no secret of their delight at having one of their own become a priest.
Also present at the ceremony was Macapinlac's mother, Magdalena, who travelled from the Philippines to be with her son.
A call from the Lord
Calling the ordination ceremony a "great event," Collins reminded Macapinlac that the call to priesthood is a call from the Lord for the service of the Lord.
"We don't do what we do for ourselves but we do all we do for the Lord Jesus Christ," he said. "To be called to the priesthood is to be called to give your whole life to the service of God's people."
Noting that priests have busy lives, the archbishop called on Macapinlac to be an "active and energetic" servant of the Lord. "That's the only way to be a priest for Christ," he said.
In addition to hearing confessions and performing baptisms, weddings and funerals, priests are called to "preach the Gospel to us, to bring healing, to bring love, to call us to be disciples of Jesus," Collins told the priestly candidate, who nodded in agreement.
Priests must also have a rich prayer life. "The busier we are the more we need to pray," the archbishop said.
"So it is very important that everyday you spend time in prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament."
Kneeling before Collins, Macapinlac placed his joined hands between those of the archbishop, promising obedience to him and his successors.
As the congregation implored God's blessing on Macapinlac, he prostrated himself on the floor as a sign of complete surrender to God.
"In your sight, we offer this man for ordination: support him with your unfailing love," the archbishop said. "We ask this through Christ our Lord."
At the high point of the ordination ceremony, Macapinlac knelt before the archbishop, and in a powerful and simple gesture which goes right back to apostolic times, Collins placed his hands upon Macapinlac's head ordaining him a priest forever. All the participating priests joined in laying hands upon the newly ordained priest as a sign of their fraternal unity.
At the end of the Liturgy of Ordination, each of the priests gave Macapinlac the traditional kiss of peace and a hug, thus welcoming him into the priesthood. The congregation welcomed the new priest with a standing ovation.
Macapinlac then joined the other priests in assisting the archbishop in celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
"This is a very joyful day for me," the newly-ordained priest said after the Mass. "I thank God for choosing me and helping me to fulfill my vocation.
"God shared with me his amazing grace and I can now totally fathom his blessing and the great joy he has given me."
Macapinlac's mother, Magdalena, who helped vest her son with Mass vestments, struggled to find the words to express her emotions. She had wiped tears from her eyes several times during the ceremony.
A gift to Jesus
"I'm very happy now because I gave my son to Jesus Christ, the Saviour," she said. "He told me he was going to became a priest when he was in Grade 3 or 4. I said 'yes' because he was always looking for God (as a child); he was always in the church.
"As a mother I allowed him to follow his heart."
Macapinlac began dreaming of the priesthood while serving as a junior altar server back in the Philippines.
As a boy, he loved to listen to the homilies of the late Cardinal Jaime Sin and delighted in the presence of the priests from the nearby chapel who would come for dinner at his home.
A college instructor, Macapinlac completed his priestly formation in the Philippines, but did further studies at Newman Theological College following his arrival in Edmonton in September 2003.
He did his parish internship under Father John Hesse at Holy Family Parish in St. Albert following a brief stint at Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove.
He has been at St. Theresa Parish since Aug. 6, when he was ordained a deacon, and expects to remain in this parish as an associate pastor for the foreseeable future.
Born in New Lucena, Iloilo, Philippines in 1972, Macapinlac was raised in a large extended family that taught him the Catholic faith. At age 9 he was already an altar server and member of the Legion of Mary.
He completed his theological formation in 2001 but instead of pursuing ordination, he decided to take a teaching position in Manila.
When his uncle William Angeles travelled to Philippines from Edmonton and told him of the great need for priests in Edmonton, Macapinlac decided to apply to the Edmonton Archdiocese. He was accepted.
"I know he is going to be a great priest; that's why I urged him to come," said Angeles, his uncle.
"He is devoted to prayer and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I thank God for choosing him as a priest. He loves people: He is a people's priest."
At a reception in the cathedral's basement hall, the outgoing Macapinlac was a hit among the faithful, who flocked around him as people normally flock around celebrities.
They wanted his touch.
They wanted his blessing.
A blessing priest
One man fell to his knees to receive the priest's blessing. He blessed everybody. As soon as a group dissolved another group formed immediately around him.
"I think it is obvious how much he loves God and serving the people," commented Esther Law, ministry coordinator at St. Theresa Parish.
"St. Theresa Parish is very lucky to have him."