VeritasPH

The Word, The Truth

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Dear Niño,

You are now a seminarian. You are in the same seminary where I spent all my years preparing for the priesthood. I am so proud of you. I cannot resist telling you how I was when I was your age. I admired one extraordinary priest as a teenager. I am sure you have met him already. He is Fr. Albert.

As a high school student at Letran College, I used to see him at many church functions, especially at Rizal Park and at the Manila Cathedral. I harbored a secret admiration for him, after witnessing his liturgical gracefulness, his sense of direction, and his discipline at the sanctuary. When I entered San Carlos Seminary, I came face to face with this man I admired from a distance, the man whom everybody reverently called Father Albert.

As a sixteen-year-old college student, I had great difficulty pronouncing his surname (Meerschaert). Spelling his name was an impossible feat at that time. I always missed an “S” or added another letter somewhere.

Fr. Albert chose me. He chose me to be an altar server, a pontifical server. He taught me many things about liturgy, about discipline, and about prayer. I was flattered by his choice; I did not ask him why he chose me. Later on, as we became more familiar with each other, I asked him, “Why did you choose me to be a pontifical server?” He replied, “I asked the choir director who among the seminarians was useless in the choir and he pointed at you. So I chose you to be a server to prevent you from doing more harm to the choir.”

I returned the favor by choosing Fr. Albert and making him my spiritual director. As a spiritual director and confessor, he was a stalker. He would not allow a month to pass without me seeing him in spiritual direction. He would literally go and search for me—in the refectory, on the basketball court, in the bathroom or the dormitory—to make sure that I received proper guidance in my spiritual life. As a spiritual director, he was kind and gentle. You would know that he was serious about what he was saying in spiritual direction when you felt his breath right before your face. He would look me straight in the eyes, three inches away from my face, as I smelled his tobacco, he would tell me “Stop that!” That was it. If I dared not stop, there was the threat of another close encounter with the smell of cigar and “other things.”

I chose him a second time to play another important role in my life. He is my regular confessor. I always try to confess to him in his room. In his room, I am assured of privacy. His voice is loud but low. If you confessed to him in the chapel, the seminarians in line would know your sins because his soft voice was still loud enough to be heard by the seminarians ten feet away.

That voice has mellowed through the years. It has become sweeter and more brilliant with the passage of time.

I know that in choosing Fr. Albert to be my confessor and spiritual director, I would be guided by a holy man. Isn’t that what we all look for in our spiritual director? If God would give me a second chance to be a seminarian, I would still choose for my spiritual director and confessor this man whom Popes and Cardinals obey at the altar.

That priest is MY Father Albert.

Niño, when you need an example of holiness in the priesthood, look at Fr. Albert.

MY FATHER ALBERT
Looking For Jesus

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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