DETERMINATION AND DISCERNMENT
by Jerry Lohera
Jerry is from Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental, a newly ordained deacon of the Missionary Society of St Columban.
At seven years old, I already knew what I want to be. That would not change over the years. When I was a working student in the university, I used to clean the library and rooms every day. I know that education and my family are my priorities, so I ignored any chances of entering into a relationship.
Dreaming to become a priest at that time without considering all the factors at play was foolish and ambitious. I can still remember my father’s desperate voice, telling me, “I cannot afford to send you to the seminary.” We had a small farm planted with sweet potato, ube, corn, cassava, taro and banana that only provides us little income.
I was never shy to say, “I want to become a priest.” Although I was greatly discouraged due to financial problems, giving up on my dream and settling with whatever life offers never occurred to me. I learned to be patient with my situation while slowly taking a step closer to that dream. Through the help of the Columban formation, benefactors, and through the people that I met in my pastoral areas especially in my first mission assignment in Pakistan, this way of life is where I found joy and meaning.
The sudden death of my mother when I was eight, leaving seven children to grow up without her, was a painful experience. I thought everything would fall apart, the exact opposite happened. We carried on. I am forever grateful to God who makes the seemingly impossible become a reality.
It was in June 2012 when I was first welcomed and acquainted in the Columban seminary in Manila. It has been nine years of empowering learnings and experiences since then. By God’s grace, I was ordained as a transitional deacon last June 27, 2021 in the Columban International House of Studies in Quezon City, Philippines. Words cannot express how grateful I am to God, who takes care of me through the wonderful people who continuously accompany and pray for me in my journey. I have been gifted with a loving and ever supportive family and Columban community.
(L-R): Jerry Lohera, Elbert Balbastro & Lydio Mangao II
Jerry before Bp Honesto Ongtioco, DD, Bishop of Cubao Diocese