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Obedience in the midst of crisis

QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES – An empty cathedral – this was the scenario during the Ordination to the Sacred Order of Presbyters of Rev. Fr. Edward Anthony Cometa and Rev. Fr. Mark Anthony Catilogo last June 13, 2020, at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Cubao.

With only four priests, two cantors, videographers, and the ordaining Bishop, Most Reverend Honesto Ongtioco, the ordination rite was viewed live online by friends and families of the two new priests.

Coinciding with the feast of St. Anthony de Padua, the ordination marked the start of a new journey for Fr. Catilogo and Fr. Cometa.

During the Eucharistic celebration, Bishop Ongtioco emphasized that from the very beginning, even before they were born, the Lord had already called them and dedicated them to the priestly vocation. The path they must take for this mission is difficult and dangerous, but he reminded the two that they should not be afraid.

“Today the Lord confirms once more your vocation to the priesthood. As the prophet Jeremiah reminds us in the first reading, “He has called and dedicated you even before you were formed in your mother’s womb… St. Paul warns you about the difficulties and dangers you will encounter, but do not be afraid.  The Lord will be with you.”

The prelate continued by saying that to truly remain in the Lord is to imitate His love for others- “a love that gives one’s life for others.” He said that the love of God is a love that reaches out to those who are in need, to those who have suffered during this time of pandemic. Imitating God’s love means being at the frontlines to give “hope, peace, comfort, and joy to many.”

Bishop Ongtioco ended his homily by asking Fr. Catilogo and Fr. Cometa to continue to serve and minister to the people with “passion, zeal, and enthusiasm.” He exhorted them to continue to be inspired by the holiness of St. Anthony and to follow his footsteps in touching the lives of the faithful and being firm witnesses of Christ’s love.

He left them with an excerpt from one of St. Anthony’s messages: “The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience, and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.”

With much emotion, the two new priests expressed their gratitude and love to their friends and family who were not able to be physically present for this important event but were watching the live streaming of the ordination.

Fr. Catilogo, 29 years old, is originally from Dagami, Leyte while Fr. Cometa, also 29 years old, came from Guian, Eastern Samar. – by Sophia Castañeda/Leahna Villajos

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