"The priestly vocation is essentially a call to sanctity, in the form that derives from the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Sanctity is intimacy with God; it is the imitation of Christ, poor, chaste and humble; it is unreserved love for souls and self-giving to their true good; it is love for the church which is holy and wants us to be holy, because such is the mission that Christ has entrusted to it. Each one of you must be holy also in order to help your brothers pursue their vocation to sanctity." (JP2, Rome, Italy, October 9, 1984)
Father Ben Barrameda, who is currently assigned to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus Parish in Salmiya, Kuwait, is blessed to be one among the “hundredfold” (the 100 living priests) of his home parish of St. Rose of Lima in Bacacay, Albay, Philippines.
He was honoured to have the opportunity in August 2016 to be present at the “Centuplex” celebration with his former Bishops of the Diocese of Legazpi City (seated at the center), priests and parishioners of his local church while he was recuperating from surgery. (“Centuplex” is the Latin term for 'hundredfold').
According to Fr. Ben, it was a great occasion and a memorable experience to be with his priest-friends from all over the world, encouraging and supporting one another as brother priests. All had returned home for the celebration of this event. The little town of Bacacay with a population of 70, 000 is known as the Vocation Capital of the Philippines. It is famous for its 100 living priests and soon there are expected to be more vocations adding to the number. Most of the priests graduated from the private school, Zamora Memorial Institute.
Indeed, God has blessed his home parish with richness in faith and an abundant harvest of priestly and religious vocations! Father Ben is full of appreciation for his townsfolk and local parishioners, especially the parents of the priests, who are so devoted to the Eucharist and make regular visits to the Blessed Sacrament. He said, “I was moved to see their faith, and also their love and devotion to the Blessed Mother invoked as Our Lady of the Abandoned and to their patroness, St. Rose of Lima.”
The prayers of the priests and the faithful are invaluable for the life and mission of the Church. Priests, as Representatives of Christ are always in need of the support and prayers of the faithful in their goal towards sanctity and to endure trials in their priestly and personal life. Above all, they are in need of God’s love, mercy and compassion to help them to be holy and to serve Him more intensely and with great devotion.
It is only when we feel and experience God’s compassion and forgiveness, that we can be more like Him who has called us to be loving and merciful to others.
Let us thank and praise God for His gift of the sacred priesthood, a vocation that radiates Christ to the world. Every action of a priest shows Christ's unconditional love and mercy to all. The priest is a living witness to Christ as he journeys along with others towards life eternal in heaven.
May we always remember to pray for more priestly and religious vocations to spread God's word and love in the world. “Lord, make us channels of your grace and salvation to all men and women.”
The priest, according to St. Charles Borromeo, is the representative of the person of God on earth.