+Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales
I came from a very religious family and given a religious education. I studied at St. Bridget, Batangas and I was an altar boy until the outbreak of the war. Gusto ko mag-pari bata pa ‘ko. (I wanted to be priest since I was young.) I entered the seminary in 1947, I was just 15 years old. My mother was very happy. On the other hand, my father, a physician, opposed. But one time he said, “you’ll be a doctor. But if you become a priest, I ask you one thing: be a good priest.” Finally he gave me permission.
Mother Lilia, an Irish sister, mentored us. She was very much behind my vocation. Nagising akong puro Good Shepherd ang mga madre. (I just woke up every nun is an RGS.) They accept us the way we are. We were naughty boys. Napapalo pa kami ng mga yan. Ako, malimit mahila ang patilya. Hindi ko masabing, “masakit, sister!” Hindi kasi maiintindihan kasi most of them are foreigners. Pero kapag binihisan kami ng pang altar boy, pupulbohan ka pa ni Mother Lilia tapos hahalikan ka pa niyan, naku. (We would get reprimanded sometimes. I often get my sideburns pulled but you cannot say it hurts because they can’t understand Filipino as they were all foreigners. But when they don us our altar boy uniforms, Mother Lilia would even apply talcum powder and kiss us like we are the nicest boys.)
Later on, I was ordained, pinagturo muna ako sa seminaryo. (I was assigned to teach in the seminary.) It took 12 years before I became a parish priest and brought to the smallest and poorest parish. When I was in Batangas City, a little less than two years, I was made a bishop. And then, Cardinal Sin brought me to Antipolo and became a resident bishop in-charge for 6 years. Afterwards, they brought me to San Carlos Seminary, and I became director. Then, for some reason, they transferred me to Mindanao at the height of the violent expressions of the MNLF, then the NPA. The religious people were tested but I learned back then that in evangelization, ayos lang ang magkamali, kasama ‘yon. (It is okay to commit mistakes, that’s part of it.) You cannot evangelize without being very, very, very human. Yan ang gitna’t pusod at kaluluwa ng Incarnation. (That is the center, core, and soul of the Incarnation.) Jesus became human precisely, not only because He will become like us, but the only way to save us is for someone to show us how it is to be human.
Later on naging obispo ako, pumunta ako ng Roma. Pagbaba ko, sinong nandoon? Sinalubong ako ng madreng namamalo sa amin noon pero mahal na mahal ako - si Mother Lilia. Sabi sa akin, “that’s my boy! That’s my boy!” (Later on as a bishop, I went to Rome. Upon arrival, who was there? I was greeted by the same nun who would reprimand us but loved me deeply – Mother Lilia. She told everyone "that’s my boy! That’s my boy!”)
Dala ang sigla, dala ang pag-asa, dala ang lakas, dala ang biyaya, dala-dala ang kahinaan at sala. I experienced all these as a priest, as a bishop. But I suppose as a young child, doon nagsimula ang paghahanda. May itatanim ang Panginoong Diyos na pagyayamin ng lupa. Ibig sabihin, pagyayamanin mo itong sariwang buhay, at dito siguro makikita ‘yong tinuro ng mga naunang guro, and in my case, mga madre. (With all the vigor, hope, strength, blessing, with weaknesses and sin. I experienced all these as a priest, as a bishop. But I suppose as a young child, the preparation begins there. What the Lord sows enriches the land. What I mean to say is enrich your young life, and there you will see the teachings of your very first teachers. And in my case, the nuns.) I really thank the Good Shepherd sisters.
Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales became the 31st archbishop of Manila in 2003, succeeding Cardinal Jaime Sin . He is currently at St. Joseph Seniorate, Lipa City, Batangas.