As soon as our formators handed us a bulk of study materials, we know the tribunal is on the air. For those who do not know, the tribunal is an open oral defense on Catholic doctrines and liturgy. It is an ordeal every second year and pre-theology seminarians should go through before he is invested with the cassock and elevated to the ministry.
I looked at the coverage of our tribunal, there were lots of it. This calls for additional sleepless nights. We were given reference materials on the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Basic Prayers in Latin and English which we need to memorize, a copy of the book entitled How to be a Better Catholic which includes basic Catholic doctrines, a copy of the Ministeriam Quaedam, Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, plus resources on Bible studies which we need to find on our own. We were given one month to digest all these materials before the Day of Judgment comes.
And studying it is not that easy, besides the tribunal we were also preparing for the incoming semi-final examination which falls on the preceding week. From time to time, we scan our materials and commit as many facts as we can to our memory. Time management was a big factor during those trying times. We must know how to budget our time studying our major subjects and then shift to our references.
I wasn’t eager to study at first and even relayed my intention of not taking the tribunal to my peers. They already spent three years in the seminary and more or less have studied previously some of the topics during their previous years. In my case however, I haven’t even reached a semester, mine was like an instant plunge into the deep waters. I was reluctant and anxious.
I can’t imagine the sight of me facing the community and my five formators. Each of them will then ask me questions; I dreaded the possibility of failing to answer their questions in front of the whole community. It could be a great shame.
However, telling my formators of my intention not take the tribunal is another thing. I just can’t do it, I’ve attempted once but then I stopped the idea. If they ask me why, what will I tell them? That I am not ready? Such answer would be too shallow and irresponsible. Maybe I will just give them a bad impression about me. In the process, I’ve answered my own doubts and solved my own problem. So what if I can’t answer all their questions, besides it would be very impossible not to be able to answer even a single one.
And then there is the issue of believing in yourself and trusting God, if you don’t believe in yourself how will you expect others to believe in you? A priest should not be a coward especially in matters of his cherished faith.
The next thing that happened is that within the remaining week I delved into my materials, burned candles, endured sleepless nights, and cherished fervent hope. There were still anxieties and reservations within me, a natural part of being human. It’s just that they were getting lighter and lighter every day.
It’s a thing I didn’t expect; during our tribunal I was able to answer all of the questions on Catholic doctrines. I had lapses on the GIRM and I admit I weren’t so grounded on it. Overall, as one of my formators told me, it was a good performance.
We had our tribunal on September 30, 2009. It started from 8:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon. At 5:00 o’clock, our formators posted the result on our bulletin board. I searched for my name, it was written this way—Quincy Jones L. Ondona, grade 1.5, magna cum laude.
One important lesson I’ve learned: Don’t listen to unfounded fears.
“For with God, nothing shall be impossible….” -Luke 1:37
I am looking forward for my investiture this coming November 12, 2009 at 10:oo o’clock in the morning at the Cor Jesu Seminary, Dipolog City. There will be 12 of us who will be invested coming from the Diocese of Pagadian and Dipolog while there are two of us from the Archdiocese of Ozamiz. The Holy Mass and investiture ceremony will be presided over by the Most Reverend Jose R. Manguiran, D.D, bishop of Dipolog.
I am inviting all of you who will be able read this blog entry and those who are interested to witness the investiture. I will be very thankful for your presence.
To God be the glory!