Fr. Poly Villalva
IN HIS PROVIDENCE
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I said; ‘send me!’”
– Isaiah 6:8
God’s calling is always a mystery, but once answered, one’s life obtains its greatest joy and fulfillment. Just like how Fr. Pol Villalva achieved his, by answering the call of the Lord to the priesthood.
Fr. Apolinario Villalva, or Fr. Pol to many but Poly to his family, is now on his third year as an ordained priest currently assigned as a Fulltime Spiritual Director in St. Augustine Seminary at Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, where he also spent most of his time as a seminarian. Oriental Mindoro is also his hometown, where the rest of his family also lives.
After graduating from college in 1995, Fr. Pol was just one of those typical teenagers who spent their idle time playing and hanging out with friends and staying at home. With a lot of free time, he got involved in a Charismatic movement in his hometown at Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro. This taught him much more about praying, and it gave him the spark of interest in the Word of God. As a regular attendee, he prayed about wanting to have a job to help his family.
With God’s grace, he was able to land his first job at a supermarket in Alabang as a bagger, where he earns 1000 pesos per month. Although he earns little, he was still able to give some to his family back in their province. After some more months, he was promoted to different jobs until he became a collector for a lending company in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
While working in Manila, he also did not forget his commitment to the Charismatic group he attends. In attending prayer groups and assemblies during the weekend, Fr. Pol also discovered a youth group in Makati City where they instituted another prayer group called “God’s Chosen Treasure Community.” Fr. Nanding Carpio guided the group, serving as their Spiritual Director.
The mysterious calling starts when he realized that there was an inclination to be a fulltime servant at that youth group; and so he did. He resigned at his current job, carrying with him the dreams of becoming a Catholic preacher that will spread God’s word to the world. While working fulltime at the youth group, they attended daily masses at the Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Las Piñas City. There, he met God’s instruments for this calling; people who will ask them if they are going into the religious life; a young co-volunteer that calls him “Fr. Pol” even before he thinks of becoming a priest; a stranger that asks if he is a seminarian; and a family that is willing to sponsor his priestly studies long before he decided to become a priest.
At first, he did not mind these signs and providence from the Lord, believing that he is called to become a preacher of the word. When he consulted this to their youth group’s guardian, that person just said, “Just be open, hayaan mo ang kaloob ng Diyos sa’yo.” (Just be open, let the will of the Lord in you.) With this advice, he continued his daily life praying, asking God’s will in his life.
At one Holy Thursday Homily he attended in their parish, God’s calling to Prophet Isaiah re-echoed in his heart, saying “Whom shall I send?” His heart answered “Here I am Lord, send me,” but his mind still struggles with the desire of having his own family. With the uneasiness that was bothering him, he consulted Fr. Nanding wherein he presented with the beauty of different vocations that made Fr. Pol realizes that not a lot of young people hear God’s voice, and he was blessed to have this calling through the people that served as His instruments for the past two years.
Lo and behold, after all the struggles and uncertainty that this calling brought him, Fr. Pol finally entered St. Augustine Seminary at Calapan, Oriental Mindoro in 2006, and braved an 11-year seminarian formation. After finishing the 1-year initial formation year and a regular 4-year Philosophy course, he proceeded to study Major Theology in Divide Word Seminary at Tagaytay City for 4 years. In those 11 years, a lot of people and foundations helped him with CFC ANCOP as one of the benefactors. He was so blessed that he was not able to spend his own money at all. The providence he experienced affirmed that this is what he is called to do as if God prepared everything for him. In those 11 years, he was able to receive three diplomas for AB Philosophy, AB Theology, and Ecclesiastical Theology. He also graduated Cum Laude in Theology and finished a Master's degree in Pastoral Ministry. All of these happened because God called Fr. Pol and he answered.
“We will be fulfilled in life when our will and God’s will have met; ang mahigit na mahalaga ay ang tawag ng Diyos sa ating buhay,” Fr. Pol would remind the young people about reaching their dreams and the beauty of vocation. (We will be fulfilled in life when our will and God’s will have met; what is truly important is the calling of the Lord in our life.) In His providence, Fr. Pol can now say that he is living his to the fullest. In the long and uncertain process that he endured, he is now at peace that this is what the Lord wanted him to do.
May Fr. Pol’s story inspires us to discover God’s calling in our life. Let us keep in our hearts that when God calls, His providence surely sustains. – PB, ANCOP Communication
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