“Young people will draw closer to God if we help them recognize their wounds”

Carlo Emmanuel dy Cabristante is a young 24-year-old seminarian from the diocese of Imus in the Philippines

His bishop has sent him to the Bidasoa International Seminary to train and soak up Catholic doctrine to become a priest of the 21st century, with solid preparation to face the challenges of today’s world.

The Philippines, which has always been the country in Asia with the largest number of Catholics, is going through a difficult time: “Today the dramatic increase in the number of followers of sects, including Freemasonry, is notable,” he states with a point of sadness.

The Philippines, the Asian country with the most Catholics

Carlo Emmanuel, the eldest of three siblings (a girl and a boy) remembers that evangelization in the Philippines has never been easy since the early days of Christianity. The early Filipino Christians were persecuted and sacrificed their lives for their faith. However, despite the challenges and difficulties of evangelization, “a glimmer of hope subtly shines through the silent works of dedicated pastors in every parish, at least in my diocese,” he expresses with emotion.

For this young seminarian, it is possible to bear witness to the faith and evangelize through good example when exercising and professing our faith. «The Lord allows us to do good and collaborate with Him, doing good to others. He grants us the grace to rise from every fall caused by sin. “It is time to be an inclusive Church, because the Lord has saved all humanity.”

The importance of good example to see God

And good example and testimony is what the young people of the 21st century, and specifically those of the Philippines, are looking for. Because, for Carlo, “Filipino youth always seeks integrity. They crave good examples of unwavering faith. They allow themselves to be persuaded by beautiful words that manifest themselves in action. If adults lose this integrity and trust only in empty or sugar-coated words, young people will not believe. Plus, they need company. Accompanying young people has always been the right way to genuinely understand them”.

Listen to the wounds of young people

Carlo Emmanuel knows the youth of the Philippines well. And for this reason, he launches some very beautiful keys to bring young people closer to God that are valid for everyone:

  • Accompany them on their path.
  • Listen to their stories.
  • Acknowledge their wounds.
  • Appreciate their efforts at work and studies.
  • Show them compassion.

“I speak as part of the youth, because I have witnessed numerous wounds that young people carry due to family problems, school problems or due to misunderstandings by part of their friends. This is not just a problem unique to Filipino youth, but affects youth in general around the world”.

Vocation, a gift from God

From his experience, Carlo says that his priestly vocation matured thanks to a good pastor who accompanied him on his path. “For me, it is a gift from God. Every day is an opportunity to do things well, to be faithful in prayer, study and in living with others”.

But in his younger years, he did not even imagine this option in his life. Although he considered his family to be religious, entering church every Sunday was a weekly struggle for him. His childhood dream was to be a teacher, as he always admired his teachers since his days in kindergarten. «They had something special that made learning interesting, a kind of art that attracted us to listen. For me, educating is the noblest profession of all.

A post on Facebook

In the summer of 2014, his best friend from high school invited him to join the altar boy group. «A year being an altar boy was an interesting experience. “I learned a lot about liturgy, discipline, devotion, friendship, humility and obedience.”

After that year, he saw a Facebook post posted by the diocese’s seminary announcing a search program for young people to see and experience seminary life. He ignored it, but a light went on for his priest. “He asked me if he was interested in joining the program. I told him no. However, he repeated and encouraged me by saying that I would not be alone because four other colleagues from the parish would also join. The other three were my colleagues in the ministry. So he convinced me and I started the program”.

“The happiest day of my life”

That year he was in tenth grade and his parents asked him about university studies. But his mind was already on the seminar. When it was time for him to enroll in college, he told his parents that he wanted to enter the seminary.

“They rejected my wish. So, I told my priest about my struggle. He told me to pray and not to worry. In the end, they allowed me to enter the seminary for a year. We had an agreement. After a year in the seminary, they told me to leave it and study another course. But my first year at the seminary was the happiest day of my life. This was in 2016, I was 16 years old”, he remembers.

His family’s return to God

Finally, his parents accepted the vocation to which he had been called. Now, he happily expresses that his priestly vocation is purifying his parents’ vocation in married life and the family has become much more united.

“Little by little, I noticed the conversion of the family. Every time I went home for a family weekend, we would pray the rosary after dinner. I believe that, by the grace of God through good works in each vocation, it helps to improve the person and heal each wound of the past”.

Prayer and accompaniment

The conversion of his family along with the maturation of his vocation would not have been possible without prayer and accompaniment.

Carlo Emmanuel dy Cabristante wishes to end his testimony with a request: to pray for world peace. “We live in a contemporary world where faith often seems meaningless; acts of sacrifice seem meaningless. However, with the help of God, through his infinite mercy and grace, we travel alongside those who suffer greatly due to war, through prayers and acts of charity. We could find ourselves in your situation, but only through faith in Jesus Christ can we endure every circumstance and be saved by Him”.