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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Father Jovito Rata Being Sent Back To The Philippines

Father Jovito Rata

Age: 30

Today, my friend and our Parochial Vicar, Father Jovito announces with tears in his eyes and a trembling voice, that he just received notice that he must leave America and return to the Philippines in 3 days due to visa problems.

He announced that there had been a change in the laws and he will need to go home for many months, probably a year to work out the problems.

Visa issues are not new for Father Jovito, it was just a year ago that he was notified that there was a problem renewing his visa and that he had to abruptly return to the Philippines.
With today's notification, the parishioners were in shock and in dismay at hearing that their priest was being swept away so quickly once again.

At the end of Mass, prior to the closing prayer, he announced the farewell and the reasons for such, stating that it wasn't any one's fault, not the diocese, nor any particular person.
He stated "I am not from here, and they say I have to go home."

The church was full of emotions and not a dry eye could be seen.

Father Jovito loves the people with all of his heart, and the people love him!
Priests coming and going is not a rare occurrence, typically Pastors are moved every 6 years, and Parochial Vicars every 3 years, but advance notice is usually always given, time to plan, and time to emotionally prepare for the change.

During his farewell address his stated that today would be his last Mass with this congregation. He stated that he asked the Bishop if he would be returning to Our Lady of Mercy when his visa situation was corrected, and then reported that the Bishop instructed him that he would be assigned to a different parish upon returning to the diocese.

It quickly became evident to the parishioners, the reason why Father had become so emotional through out the Mass this morning, his love for his "Church Family" could not be contained, especially with the thought of abruptly be severed from them.

We Love you Father....... We will miss you..... You have touched us with your being, your joyfulness, your holiness, your child-like simplicity, your wisdom, your humility, and your ability to bring out the best in people.

I enjoyed serving with Father Jovito so very much!

Here is a little about this wonderful man we know as Father Jovito:

Background: Born in Tagbilaran City in the Philippines, Father Rata entered Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Tagbilaran City in 1996, where he earned his bachelor of arts degree in 2000. He enrolled at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Ore., in 2002, where he received a master’s in divinity degree and Mount Angel’s St. Paul Award for preaching in 2007.

Call to religious life: When he was six years old, he told his mother he wanted to be a priest when he grew up. “My mom taught me how to pray, to serve people,” said Father Rata, who became an altar server at the age of seven, and found praying the rosary and going to Mass interwoven into the fabric of his life.

Further encouraged by the support of his parish priest, Father Rata entered the seminary after just one year of college.

Pastoral year: Father Rata served his pastoral year at St. Lawrence Parish in North Highlands, where he taught religion at St. Lawrence School, worked with the parish’s Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults ministry and delivered reflections during Mass.

The first time he gave a reflection, Father Rata found himself “just opening up, speaking from the heart, from the mind.”

“I’m an extrovert. I like people,” said Father Rata, adding that pastoral ministry “is all about relationships, how you respect people, how you give yourself to people.”

He also served in ministry at Sutter Hospital in Roseville, which Father Rata found helped bring a balance to his life.

Blessings of priesthood: Father Rata said upon reflecting why he chose to become a priest, it was to be “a sign of hope for people that Jesus is here and now.”

One of the blessings of priesthood became evident to Father Rata while at Mount Angel, during his ministry to the homeless in downtown Portland.

“If you give to others, there is a joy that comes back to you,” he said. “That’s really what the priesthood is all about.”

Greatest challenge: “The challenge is how to be humble, to live as a simple and humble person,” Father Rata said, explaining the challenge is increased when coupled with the power and authority of the priesthood. “Jesus humbled himself,” he said. “I’m going to live that kind of life.”

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