News and Events‎ > ‎

Unity Amidst Diversity by Sem. Francis Anthony F. Abaquita

posted May 29, 2016, 10:11 PM by MOIC SMSC
(This article was published in the Lingganay, the seminary’s official publication, last November 2015. The contributor is a first year theology seminarian from the Diocese of Butuan. A neophyte in the community of Caloy, he writes his story of adjusting to a new culture and how he is able to cope with it.)

“Decision is the beginning of all things.” – Paolo Coelho (The Alchemist)

Six years ago, I made a decision, a decision that was to shape my life: I took an entrance examination at to Saint Peter College Seminary in Butuan City. It was there where I spent my four years of Philosophical studies. When I was in my fourth year college of the said seminary, I decided to continue my chosen vocation which led me to Cebu City – here in Seminario Mayor de San Carlos. Those decisions were the results of who I am today: a neophyte again in this new (foreign?) home. Nonetheless, these decisions are the initial steps of actualizing my dream. My goal!

As a neophyte both here in this seminary community and here in Cebu, there are many things that are new to me. Somehow I have had an experience (a little bit) of culture shock. I remember this kind of feeling way back when I was still in pre-college at Saint Peter’s. There are lots of adjustments in culture differences, variations of language, variety of seminary traditions, an array of personalities, environmental divergences, and the schedule in this seminary.

The fact that all of us came from different diocesan orientations might sometimes create divisions and dissimilarities. I remember those first days in this institution when, we, first year theology seminarians, were grouped together according to our dioceses of origin like the Archdiocese of Cebu, and the Dioceses of Butuan, Dumaguete, Tagbilaran, Talibon, and others.

There was an instance where I was able to join with some seminarians, coming from another diocese, who were cracking jokes. I really felt out of place because I was the only one who did not laugh. However, when it was my turn to share a joke, I felt awkward and somehow ashamed because nobody laughed. I thought, since we’re all seminarians, they would understand that joke – but apparently, I was wrong.
Sem. Francis Anthony F. Abaquita on a Tuesday vespers in the seminary chapel.
It’s true, sometimes our language differs. Take the word ‘ngilngig’ for example. In our place, it is commonly used as ‘hadlok’, ‘lu-od’ or ‘bidli’; often, it connotes negative presuppositions. Here in Cebu, people around me use it to mean ‘abtik’, ‘bright’, ‘maayo’ or ‘unique’; they take it positively. Even so, no matter how we differ in language, there is a language that existed before the world began which unites us, the language of love – the language of God. He created the world out of love and saved us through His Son out of love. Likewise, culture also somehow divides us but there’s a culture that we all share with – the culture of brotherhood. We may have distinct personalities but we have shared unique personalities, a personality towards service as we strive to imitate Christ as he says, “I am not here to be served but to serve.”

Above all, there is one beautiful thing that unites us, the summit and foundation of our unity – the Eucharist. “Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God” (CCC 1325), for it is the “sum and summary of our faith” (CCC 1327). Here in SMSC, everyday and especially on Tuesday evening, all of us gather together (priests, seminarians, guests, and workers) for the invitation of Jesus Christ, “Come and follow me”. “Let them come to me” (Mt. 19: 14) so we hear Christ inviting us. Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, tells us that “no one should think that this invitation is not meant for him/her, since no one is excluded from the Joy brought by the Lord”. Thus, unity amidst diversity is materialized in the mystery of the Eucharist.

Sem. Francis Anthony Abaquita
Theology I
Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte