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.
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.
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!
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.
“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.”
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