THE VOCATION TO LOVE
Priestly Ordination of Fr. Elbert Balbastro, SSC
by Arlenne Villahermosa, Columban Lay Missionary
The seed of vocation starts in the family. It is nurtured at home and matures in time as the child grows in stature and wisdom. This is how the vocation to love blossomed in the life of Elbert, and it has come to fruition today.
This is the main message of the Most Reverend Jose Romeo O. Lazo, D.D, Archbishop of Jaro, who officiated the Holy Mass on the ordination of Elbert Balbastro to the Columban Missionary Priesthood on May 21, 2022 at the Immaculate Conception Parish, Oton, Iloilo City.
In the homily of Archbishop Lazo, he thanked the family, relatives and friends of Elbert for the love that has brought the latter to the realization and fulfillment of his dream which we are now celebrating. Elbert is one of the two sons born to Herminia and Wilfredo (+) Balbastro. The brother of Elbert, Christopher, was out of the country at the time of the ordination and could not come home in time for the occasion, but has given his full support and well wishes to Elbert.
The well-organized liturgy and the thanksgiving reception at the Sheridan Boutique Resort in Oton reflected the solicitude of the people – genuine camaraderie, up to the mark place, well-planned program and good food. The presence of his loved ones near and far and the contributions/services they have given freely and willingly echo their appreciation and endearment for Elbert. The Missionary Society of St Columban, the congregation to which Elbert belongs, showed their full support with the presence of the Regional Director, Fr. Paul Glynn, Formator, Fr. Finbar Maxwell, Elbert’s classmate who will be ordained on June 14, 2022, Jerry Lohera, and other Columban Missionaries – priests, lay and staff – from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
At the reception program, testimonies shared by Elbert’s relatives, friends, co-workers and companions from different organizations revealed how organized, warm, generous, kind-hearted, diligent Elbert is as a person and as a friend. For instance, Elbert’s Home Economics aunt-teacher recalled that she taught Elbert in school how to cook, sew and do other house chores to prepare him for the future, much to everybody’s delight.
Tatay Wilfredo (+), who passed away a few months ago, would have been especially happy to witness this great celebration and gratitude to God for the gift of his son’s vocation to mission. His support, coupled with Nanay Herminia’s, has given Elbert the encouragement to pursue his chosen vocation despite all the odds. Though his and Christopher’s presence were missed, their love was felt all the same. Nanay Herminia, on behalf of the family, shyly but graciously welcomed all the guests and thanked them for their presence, both at home and at the Sheridan Boutique Resort.
Elbert thanked each and every one for their presence and for the contributions they had made to make the celebration extra special for such an extraordinary occasion. All ended well with everybody happy, leaving the place with hearts full of praise and thanksgiving to God.