Fr. Gil - silverJubilee

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Fr. Gil T. Manalo, SVD – The Jubilarian

Firstly, to God who out of His steadfast love, have made each day of my 25 years as a priest a day of jubilee where he affirmed that my daily debts/sins have been mercifully forgiven; and that every day of those 25 years had been a moment of freedom to serve Him willingly.  To my Dad who guided me with his adage: that once I reached the rock bottom of my life I have no way to go but up.  To my Mom who instilled in me that one’s education and profession will help a person look, face, and live life from a certain perspective.  To my brothers and sisters who inspired me through the way they live their lives congruent to the Filipino and Christian values that they were brought up with.  To my brothers and sisters-in-law who have whole- heartedly embraced the Manalo Family. To my nephews and nieces who stimulate hope in me by doing their best in finding their social worth through their education and profession.  To my Superiors namely: Fr. Dante Venus, who took time to get out of himself and reach out, with my good memories of the way he guided me as a newly ordained priest.  To Fr. Gaudy Pugat who as a Superior had shared with me a heart of a confrere by having  listening ears.  To Fr. Jerome Adriatico who when the world seemed to be over my shoulders had always offered a different dimension that sheds enlightenment. To Bishop Jacinto Jose and the Diocesan Clergy of Urdaneta who have welcomed us SVD’s to their own flock. To my classmates in Philosophy who have accompanied me in my search for God through reason; To my Ordination Classmates most especially Fr. Nielo, Fr. John, Fr. Lim, who are present in this celebration, who have journeyed with me in facing the challenges of priesthood.  To all my SVD Confreres in the PHN Northern Province who have expressed their solidarity in the different events of my life as a priest.  To my family friends in Manila whom I grew up with  who have made my growing-up years meaningful. To the people whom I worked with, and served in Cagayan, Laoag, Vigan, Abra and Urdaneta who stood as my guides in discovering and in serving God through a dialogue with culture. To all the people who accompanied me in my journey as a priest; to all of you who graced this occasion with your presence, thank you very much, and God Bless You All!  – Fr. Gil T. Manalo, SVD

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By: Fr. Gil T. Manalo, SVD

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FrGil ordained

Fr. Gil’s Ordination 25 years ago

I got ordained on Dec. 12, 1987 at Christ the King Seminary and I belong to a class that had ordination in groups. The actual celebration of my silver jubilee in ordination was last Dec. 12, 2012.  So the question is why are we celebrating it on the 25th of January? This is an instance where several occasion are merged together.  Firstly I had my birthday last January 22, then in fond memory of my father whose birth anniversary was last 21st and death anniversary last 23rd,  And today is the Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul.  I find it providential that I am celebrating the 25th year of priestly life on the occasion when Paul made a 360 degrees turn-around in his life, a total metanoia/conversion from being a persecutor of Christians to an apostle of Christ to the Gentiles.  He shared a significant role in the Church’s missionary journey when he  heeded the call of Christ to go out to the whole world, proclaim the good news to all creation.  Each one of us has his own salvation history and religious experience like St. Paul.  Mine started when I was a kid for having been educated in Lourdes School run by the Capuchins.  I developed a special admiration for priest and religious at an early age.  When I was in grade six I had a chance to go for an exposure to a High School Seminary in Manila but that did not lead me anywhere.  It was after having stopped from school after 2nd year High School, when I seriously sought for the real meaning of life.  It was then that my childhood dream came back and my former Prefect of Discipline at Lourdes High School introduced me to Christ the King Mission Seminary; and that was the beginning of my journey towards becoming a religious priest and missionary at the Society of the Divine Word.  How did my 25 years of priesthood happen?  I would say that I owe it all to God’s graciousness and to the people who journeyed with me.

The first lesson that we could learn from St. Paul is that every conversion is the celebration of the mercy of God.   St. Paul urged the people to make him as an example that though he was a foremost sinner, God has been compassionate and forgiving to him. I remember when I had my thanksgiving mass as a newly ordained priest, in my homily I toyed on the word “Salamat” (Thank You) and derived two words from it namely: “Sala “ (Sin) and “lamat” (Crack/fissure). I stressed on my unworthiness in being chosen as a priest for I am a sinner and empathically, I emphasized the fragility of my vocation.  On hindsight, I would say that I was romanticizing priesthood then.  After 25 years of priesthood I stand here in front of you in humility admitting that those years were not all years of faithfulness to God and worthiness of my achievements, rather they represent the mystery of God’s unfathomable goodness and steadfast love to me.  Yes, I would say that though broken I have been very much blessed by God’s loving mercy.

Fr. gil with Parents

Fr. Gil with his parents

The second lesson is that we have to recognize and be thankful for the Ananiases in our lives. It is to be noted that the grace of conversion came from God directly as Jesus spoke to Paul on his way to Damascus; but the knowledge of his mission came through the humble service of Ananias.  Truly God speaks to us through other people who serve as his instruments.  There had been many ananiases in my life: my parents, family members, relatives, friends, superiors, classmates, people I worked and lived with in my mission assignments and all of them have a common denominator of being God’s eyes, ears, nose, hands, and heart.

Lastly, that conversion is completed by our becoming witnesses to Jesus our Savior.  St. Paul shifted from being a persecutor to a witness; from a sinner to a saint.  The negative experience of St. Paul paved the way for his conversion. Russel Kelfers rightly expressed this in his poem as he stated: “The trauma you face was not easy and God wept that it hurts you so; but it was allowed to shape your heart so that into his likeness you’d grow.” And Rick Warren would say that “when anything in creation fulfills its purpose, it brings glory to God. Yes all of us have been called for a purpose-laiden life.

My priesthood is the instrument that allows me to grow, though slowly, into the likeness of my Savior.  May I invite you then to join me in concluding this reflection with a prayer:

            Lord Jesus, my Savior and friend, you are the Eternal High Priest who bestowed upon me the gift of vocation.  Thank you for being compassionate and patient in moments when I was frail and weak.  Thank you for the encouragement that you have shown when hope seemed to be dim. Thank you for the tap on the back when I was in my finest form and most of all thank you for my family, relatives, SVD-Community, co-missionaries and friends to whom you made yourself real and present, and through whom you extended your constant care and support.  Lord stir up in me the affective warmth of your most sacred heart so I could love you more faithfully and serve you more truthfully through your people. Amen.



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January 25, 2013— is a momentous day not only for Fr. Gil T. Manalo, SVD, but also for the whole DWCU community.

Together with four of his batchmates from Alab Class of 1987, Fr. Manalo, the president of Divine Word College of Urdaneta, commemorated their 25th Priestly Ordination Anniversary. It was also considered as a double celebration for the president as he also an extension of the celebration of his birthday.

Throng of guests gathered for the event, which includes Fr. Manalo’s family, the SVD community, close friends, and the DWCU employees and students.

The festivity started with a Holy Mass presided by the school president himself together with other SVD priests from different parts of the country. During the Mass, Fr. Manalo had also renewed his vows and commitment to his vocation. Testimonials were also given by people who knew him better as a way of giving tribute to his years of priesthood.

After the Mass, a short program was prepared by employees and students of DWCU. Selected high school students, the Sneak Peek Crew, performed an energized dance number. The father and daughter duet of the Romero Family was also a moment worth watching. The college students along with Fr. Tanysun Sunico, SVD and Fr. Elmer Loreto, SVD, performed a song and dance number that quietly cause an entertained uproar of the crowd. To end all intermissions, the DWCU faculty and staff rendered a choral performance of classic songs.

To end this memorable event, the president gave his message of thanks for those who attended as well as declaring the cancellation of classes in the afternoon.