Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 1, 2009
Fr. Nilo grateful pope declared Year for Priests
Priests must themselves be holy before they can sanctify others
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
VEGREVILLE - As a child, Father Nilo Macapinlac was pleased to be in the company of priests from his village's nearby chapel.
"Priests used to come to our house for meals and sit with us. I could see the beautiful smiles of these priests. They are happy and self-fulfilled, so I said, 'Why not? Why don't I become like them in the future?'"
So that is exactly what he did.
Macapinlac, 37, was born in the central Philippines. As a child on the island of Panay, he served as a junior altar server and was a Legion of Mary member. Even at age 9, already he dreamed of the priesthood.
Blessed with a loving family, his mother taught kindergarten and his father was a painter, who set off for Saudi Arabia to support his family.
"They were looking for work, always for our good, for our education and our bright future," Macapinlac said.
As a boy, he was inspired by the homilies of Cardinal Jaime Sin. Besides his parents, another strong influence was his grandmother who played a key role in the family's catechetical instruction.
"We were born Catholic, but our faith and love of God were intensified more because of our catechesis, of teaching us the faith, basically within the family."
He completed his priestly formation in the Philippines, but instead of pursuing ordination he accepted a two-year teaching position in Manila.
At a family funeral, he met a family member from Edmonton who was an ex-seminarian and who encouraged Nilo to come to Canada where there was a great need for priests.
He applied and was accepted. In 2003 he arrived in Edmonton, where he took further studies at Newman Theological College. He was ordained Nov. 21, 2005 by Archbishop Thomas Collins.
He did his pastoral internship under Father John Hesse at Holy Family Parish in St. Albert. He was associate pastor at Edmonton's St. Theresa Parish.
Today he serves the parishes of St. Martin of Tours in Vegreville, St. Gregory the Great in Holden and Holy Heart of Mary in Viking, as well as seven mission churches in Prague, Polska, Haight, Krakow, Mundare, Ryley and New Kiev.
"I am humbled by the pope declaring the Year for Priests because the responsibility of priests is so great, especially here in the eastern part of the Archdiocese of Edmonton," he said.
As a priest, he is blessed with the gift of presence and helping others discern what is the will of God for their lives.
"Foremost, we have to listen to the voice of God, and what God really wants for us to do in this ministry.
"I think I have the gift of listening to people in their depression and their loneliness. Some people during this recession time, they need to pour out their heart to God through the priests."
CONSOLE THE GRIEVING
Blessing the sick, consoling the grief-stricken and anointing the dying are duties that Macapinlac takes seriously. With eight nursing homes and three hospitals in the communities he serves, pastoral care keeps him busy.
The Year for Priests is an opportune time to focus on Jesus, the eternal high priest, said Macapinlac. Jesus is the only priest, but because of his generosity he allowed the 12 apostles to be ordained. Today's priests participate in that collaboration.
"Without the priesthood, there is no Eucharist. Without the Eucharist, there is no priesthood. So I admire Pope Benedict XVI for declaring the Year for Priests for their sanctification because as St. Thomas Aquinas was saying, 'We cannot give what we do not have.'
"How can we sanctify the people of God with the blood of God entrusted to his pastors if they are not sanctified themselves? If we are not building ourselves as a community of priests, how can we become builders of faith communities?"
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