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New Carmelite Priest Pays Homage to his Recoleto Roots

Story and Photos by Georgene Quilaton-Tambiga

Ordained as one of the “pandemic priests” last February 2, 2021 in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, Rev. Fr. Aniceto Rodriguez, O.Carm. came home to Colegio de Sto. Tomas-Recoletos to celebrate his Thanksgiving Mass with the Recoletos de San Carlos Community.

A Recoleto by Heart

“Even though I am a Carmelite, the Augustinian spirituality is still burning in me,” Fr. Rodriguez said during his short speech to the Thomasian community last April 8, 2021 at the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Chapel.

The new Carmelite priest is a member of CST-R Batch 2001. He also taught Chemistry and Christian Living Education here before proceeding to practice as a licensed pharmacist at a private hospital.

Fr. Rodriguez joyfully shared that Augustinian Recollects and the Carmelites have a common place in that both orders are instrumental in the propagation of the brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. He admitted to his greatest fear of “not being able to recognize the Risen Christ among the least in the community.” However, he gave credit to his Augustinian Recollect formation which allowed him to recognize Love or Caritas. It is this same Love that has guided him to the path to Carmel.

The Long Road to Carmel

Fr. Rodriguez came late into his vocation and entered the San Alberto Formation Center in Talamban, Cebu City in May 2012. He was already 28 years old. In the quiet of the pharmacy at a private hospital he clicked on a pop-up advertisement to join the Carmelites.

Fr. Rodriguez began his formation through extensive immersion work with sugarland workers or sakadas and fisherfolks in Escalante City, Negros Occidental and in Ormoc City.

Because of his background in pharmacy, he chose to study the spiritual direction of people living with HIV (PLHIV). His thesis later became the basis for establishing the Gabay sa Pulang Laso, Inc. (GPLI)—a registered non-profit communitarian organization that provides psychosocial support and spiritual guidance to PLHIV regardless of their faith. GPLI started with only 50 members who are mostly based in Metro Manila. Members now enjoy free medical-dental services at the Tala Leprosarium Hospital in Caloocan. It has its own shelter for PLHIV who had been rejected by their families and it has livelihood programs for members who were denied access to employment.

Moving On to the Carmelite Mission

Fr. Rodriguez is due to return to Agusan del Sur for his first assignment is as the Campus Minister of the Mt. Carmel College of San Francisco. He will also be seminary formator and assistant postulancy director for the Carmelite college which caters to lumad students or indigenous people.

From His Recollect Family

During his homily for Fr. Rodriguez, Rev. Fr. Rafael Cabarles, OAR, who is now 49 years a Recollect priest, shared his Seven Secrets to priesthood. “Be faithful to Jesus Christ; to Mother Mary, the mother of all priests; to Mother Church; to our vocation; to our prayer life (contemplative); to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; and to a simple lifestyle.”

Rev. Fr. Vicente Ramon, Jr., OAR acknowledged Fr. Rodriguez’s priesthood as “a gift to us Recollects and even to the city of San Carlos.” Fr. Ramon was CST-R director and principal when the new priest was still teaching.

Rev. Fr. Joel Alve, OAR, Rev. Fr. Renier Alviola, OAR, Rev. Fr. Monday Benjamine Edobor, OAR and Rev. Fr. Jorr Rabacal, OAR also concelebrated.

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