Seminarian Red Dalogdog - A vocation ‘realised and felt from within’
|Red Dalogdog (back left) with fellow seminarians Thomas Bui Thien Hien and Nino Canete; (seated, from left) Charles Nwaorgu and John Sultana. Photo: Virginia Knight |
By Virginia Knight
For Parramatta seminarian Alfredito (Red) Dalogdog, the journey to priesthood has taken place over many years in, taking the time to discern his calling and understand what role God had planned for him in this life.
“It is always this calling to be part of people’s lives and serving them,” he said. “Vocation is not something to be forced from outside, it is to be realised and felt from within.”
Born in Mindanao in the Philippines in 1963, Red is one of 11 siblings (five brothers, and six sisters) born to Leticia and Alfredo Dalogdog.
He attended the local primary public school and St Joseph’s College for his secondary school studies. After leaving school, he entered the Redemptorist Seminary. His formation activities and programs were mainly taken from the seminary except for his academic studies, which were taken from the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu City.
Red’s family went to Mass on Sundays and Wednesdays and prayed the rosary together every night. He appreciated this closeness to the Church and as a result felt the call to embrace a religious life even writing down ‘priesthood’ as his ambition in primary class.
“Since that day when I was 10, I have somehow been entertaining the idea of becoming a priest,” Red said. “Sometimes I thought of becoming a dentist or a lawyer, but then this vocation thing would always come up.”
He graduated from the university (seminary) with a BA in Philosophy. During the final stages of formation he entered the traditional 30-day silent retreat to discern his calling to priesthood.
“I remember it quite clearly. On the 27th day, I said to myself ‘I want to give myself a chance outside the four walls of this monastery and see how I would cope’,” Red said.
Entering the seminary straight from home and school, insulated and protected, he had never had to make his own way in the world; he wanted to experience what he perceived as the character-building challenges of life, which had helped his brothers and sisters to grow and mature.
Red took a job in the corporate world. “Even so, people seemed to come to my office and want to talk to me. I listened a lot. I learned this from the seminary formation.”
After a brief stint as principal at a Catholic school and part-time teacher at the university, he became assistant director of the BABA’s Foundation where he worked with the poor – the marginalised farmers, small business owners, women and children.
He enjoyed these five years. “Maybe because of my background with the Redemptorists, working closely with people, organising and empowering people, I found fulfilment,” he said.
“The poor in the Philippines are voiceless and empowering them is significant. It gives more meaning to their lives and an appreciation of their own power and how they see themselves.”
Red felt satisfied and thought that perhaps he had found his vocation. Then his brother encouraged him to come to Australia to study, to broaden his horizons and further establish his credentials.
He studied Business Management at the Kent Institute of Sydney but found he was constantly being drawn to the Church. Red recalls discussing his confusion with Rev Ron McFarlane, the Parish Priest of St Andrew’s Parish, Marayong.
But it was not until he read a notice in the Blacktown Parish bulletin, calling people to vocation, that he made the decision to resume his journey.
Red says that life in Holy Spirit Seminary differs slightly from that of a religious community; although you pray and live together in community there is more scope for maintaining your individuality.
The day starts with Thanksgiving Prayer, followed by Morning Prayer and Mass before breakfast. For the rest of the day, the seminarians are either engaged in external study in theology, biblical studies and philosophy in classes held at Catholic Institute of Sydney (CIS) at Strathfield, or remain in the seminary researching or completing assignments.
There is mid-day prayer and in the afternoon more study or housekeeping tasks. Adoration is followed by Evening Prayer, the Rosary, and the Angelis. After dinner there is personal time.
Red found sport was very much a part of Australian culture. The seminarians participate in an interdiocesan soccer competition and last year Red was training to be the goalkeeper. He was injured just before competition and had to retire, taking up cheerleading and waterboy roles on the sidelines.
In his downtime, he enjoys movies, catching up with friends and reading John Grisham thrillers.
Last year, he visited the Philippines after two years away. “It is good to reconnect with your own homeland and people. It is a very nourishing and rejuvenating experience.”
And on becoming a priest, Red said he was looking forward to growing in spirituality working with the people of the Diocese of Parramatta.
To find out more about priesthood for Parramatta, contact Fr Paul Roberts, Diocesan Vocation Director, tel 0419 219 819, firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Vocations for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta
Visit Holy Spirit Seminary
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