VIRIDITAS2: GREENING OF THE SOUL
Interviewed by Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP
Catholic Herald of Hawaii
Ordained for 17 years and professed for 22 years as a member of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, I can say that the gifts of the priesthood and of the consecrated life are the source of my joy and my hope. As a priest, I always yearn for more meaning in life and direction to fulfill my responsibilities. This is why I always pray for the perseverance and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I was born in San Mateo, Isabela, Philippines to Amante Arellano and Estrella Castillo; and have an older sister. As a mid-life missionary priest, I sometimes feel like a person who left the safety of the earth and now finds myself in the middle of the sea. Sometimes, braving fearful waves, I nervously ask myself, “Why did I embark on this journey in the first place?” Panicked, I ask further, “How can I reach my destination as quickly as possible?” Personal challenges and difficulties in ministry often seem insurmountable.
However, I know that I am at the mercy of God. And, God stands quietly beside me; I’m not alone.
I have God with me and my brother priests in the community of La Salette and in the diocese of Honolulu. We all have our seas to cross. But because we share our love for the priesthood, despite the challenges of these waves that endanger our ability to be better ministers, we always say courageously like Mother Mary: “Be it done to me according to your word.
For example, religious scandals and loss of trust can discourage anyone. Some don’t care what we do as priests. The good thing is that they are few. Despite the demeaning arrogance and holier-than-you attitude of some, I find fulfillment when I see people tirelessly coming to Mass, praying their devotions, and wholeheartedly offering their time, talent, and treasure to the community. Above all, I find my satisfaction when I can see and hear the truth in people’s lives in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I feel honored and privileged when people allow me to hear their struggles, see their vulnerability, and be an instrument of their reconciliation with God.
This year marks my 12th year of ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu. My first assignment was at Christ the King Church, Maui, where I met the most respectful and dedicated people. After eight years, I was assigned to the Catholic Community of Kula where I met simple, enthusiastic, generous and faithful people. After three short years there, I was asked to be an associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Waipahu. These 12 years have been full of learning and blessings that make me thank the Lord every day for calling me to be part of His ministry.
Despite my difficulties and my personal and ministerial shortcomings, I continue to be inspired by the words of reconciliation of our Blessed Mother during her appearance at La Salette: “Make this message known to all my people. “Reconciliation is a living force capable of opening up the future to individuals and peoples by renewing the bonds that selfishness or fear have broken or weakened.”
Father Arellano is parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish, Waipahu.