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Called to Serve

My First Parish Ministry in Lima

By Erl Dylan J. Tabaco

That encounter inspired me to be more with the people with my true self. You don’t have to pretend because people would notice it. People would be grateful to you if you stay true to yourself by means of accepting your limitations and utilizing your gifts. I began to widen my horizons by establishing good relationships with the elderly men and women in my community. They have been very accommodating especially when I visited them in their houses. Regardless of economic status they always offered something to eat and they always tell me “esta casa es tu casa” (this house is your house).

Through the people I have encountered, I’ve learned to value the meaning of what sharing is all about. There was one particular old woman, a widow with a special needs child who really captured my attention. Every Saturday when I cleaned our chapel, she dropped by after collecting some empty bottles and newspaper as her means of livelihood. She would always greet me by hugging and after that she would extend her hand with a candy and bread in it. Her simple gesture overwhelmed me, and she has influenced me to be more generous. Every time I think of her I am reminded of the old widow in the Gospel, who, even in her poverty, gives everything she has.

Through my involvement with the Columban mission in Peru, my experience has helped me to become more committed to my vocation as a future missionary priest. May all the values that I have learned from the people who have touched my life in various ways continually inspire me to be grounded with the values of the Gospel. As our community grows in number may the spirit of camaraderie hold us together even if we are miles away. Like the Peruvian dance, “Huayno” that you taught me, by holding our hands together it will be a constant reminder that I was once there in your beautiful country called by God to serve in love, joy and humility.

Erl Dylan Tabacco is a Columban seminarian.