As the year for priests draws to a close, I am thankful to the Lord for the opportunity to meet my first parish priest. Last Monday, I offered Mass at St. Andrew Parish Bel air whose pastor is Msgr. Emmanuel Sunga. After the Mass, he met me at the sacristy and invited me to have dinner with him. That was a moment of grace for me because it was the first time that we had a lengthy conversation. I was his altar boy when I was in the 5th grade. When I got ordained as priest, he called me "my sacristan" during the kiss of peace. He remembered me as his altar server. He told the people around us that whenever we had holy hour for first Fridays, I would be kneeling beside him. Whenever people ask me about the beginnings of my vocation, I would always tell them of how as a little boy, I would see this priest in his cassock walking aroung the church as he prayed the Rosary at four in the afternoon. Msgr. Sunga smiled when I told this to him and he said that even until now, he would walk around the roof deck at that time to pray the Rosary. Towards the end of the evening, Msgr. Sunga confirmed that at about the time I was born, he was the assistant parish priest of San Felipe Neri. Therefore, it is true that this priest who inspired me to be a priest is at the same time the priest who baptized me. He said with great surprise: "Tingnan mo nga naman! Ako pala ang nag-anak sa iyo!"
How thankful to God am I for this wonderful priest! My life was indeed touched by this man. Holy priests leave their mark on people.