Josefinos, that’s what they’re called, those young men studying to become priests at the San Jose Seminary. Partying with them does not necessarily mean a peaceful and quiet event. They are fun to be with and are just like other students their age. They have diverse interests and talents—and that includes having good, clean fun!
I met a few seminarians when I was in high school and I remember having heard them tell the most irreverent jokes! That was many decades ago. The ones I met recently are young enough to be my children, so my friends and I are “Titas” to them. This mixed bunch I met were sophomores and seniors, and though I do not really know the equivalent of their year level in the secular world, they seemed like other college students.
Listening to them tell stories about their lives in the seminary reminds me of my own experiences in an all-girls school. Having breaks from studying brings out the child in us, allowing our creativity to shine through. Sometimes, we laugh at situations that seem so mundane to others mainly because we need to laugh. But with these Josefinos, you know that even the funniest jokes they tell are somehow rooted in the life they’ve chosen to lead.
We Filipinos are family-oriented and to me, this makes preparations for their vocation difficult and may require plenty of courage. At a time when other young men are experiencing relationships that would prepare them for family life, these young men are preparing themselves to give without expecting anything back, to be responsible for people they do not even know—or who may not even appreciate them.
Having heard about the kind of training they go through, developing ten virtues that are too complicated for me to understand, much less explain, I feel that though they are no different from us, their laughter and the joy they feel must be authentic and real, not merely a cover for loneliness or doubt. If that is the case, they may not make it.
That night, we “Titas” spent with Nil, Diko, Mark, Wang, Eugene, Dave and Raymond was a joint birthday celebration of a friend and one of the seminarians. For a few hours, it felt like my friends and I had sons having fun before embarking on a difficult yet very fulfilling mission ahead. That night, I said the same prayers for them and my sons: that they would all continue to have fun— the Josefinos, when they are already in their respective parishes and my sons, when they have families of their own.
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