Father Rhobby Mojolou, 31, has been sent by Archbishop John Wong to take up a licentiate course in Sacred Scriptures. From Urbino Rome he writes:
As the parish was approaching the Solemnity of Pentecost, the readings on the last discourse of Jesus during the daily and weekend Masses accompanied me as I prepared to make my exit from parish life.
After three years in the priesthood, God gave me the blessed opportunity to embark on a new journey, which is to go and further my studies. This sounds daunting and people have often asked me how I felt? I could only say that I have mixed feelings – excited, worried and sad. Allow me to explain what I mean.
First of all, I am excited because I have been deemed worthy to undertake such a big task – to seize this once in a lifetime chance to immerse into the Sacred Scripture. To accomplish this, I am required to learn different languages, namely Greek, Hebrew, Italian, and Latin. Besides these, what other languages are there in store for me, I have yet to find out.
For now, I am in Urbino Italy to undergo a 3-month Italian language course. Just to apply for this course through the scholarship of Propaganda Fidei has not been easy. My sincerest gratitude to Archbishop John Wong for having the confidence in me to give it a shot.
Secondly, I am worried because I may disappoint the hopes of everyone, being fully aware of my weaknesses and limitations.
The archbishop has given me assurance during my last meeting with him, that he would continue to pray for me, and has encouraged me to just enjoy my studies and gain as much experience as I could. In short, I am to try my best and God will do the rest.
Having journeyed for the past five years in the parishes of Sacred Heart Cathedral and St Paul Dontozidon, I am confident that all of you will continue to journey with me in prayer and in spirit during my four years’ of studies, as you have always done during my time in the parishes.
Lastly, I am sad because ‘every good thing must come to an end’. With a heavy heart, I have to leave everything behind and embark on this new journey. You may not be with me but we are never apart. I may lose you for now but you are not lost to me. You may be gone but never missing from my heart.
Having been with all of you in these past five years, we have forged a close bond with each other that has given me a keen sense of belonging. There have been ups and downs but they were there so that we could learn to manage them and put our differences aside for the glory of God. Yes, there were arguments and misunderstandings but that is how families are. We “fight” but we reconcile and continue to experience God’s love and mercy.
During the last priests’ recollection in preparation for the Day of Sanctification for Priests, our recollection master quoted Pope Francis being asked about what he enjoyed most before being a pope. He answered that he actually enjoyed being a parish priest, doing parish work.
I reflected on it, ‘what do I enjoy about being a priest?’ Well, I enjoyed having the greatest opportunity to experience God’s love in the people I serve. A priest may not be married but he is not alone. Well, he is practically alone but he is not lonely. As I I have experienced, it has been a joy to serve each and every one of you.
Many say that the Cathedral parish is not an easy parish; that it is a demanding parish. But I was not walking alone; I always have someone to walk with me along the way; someone to always push, encourage and affirm me of my identity as priest; even at my lowest point when I felt I did not prepare well for my homilies, and when I was stressed. God always sent someone to just say, “You are doing well” or “Thank you for the good homily” or “Thank you for being a priest” or “Don’t give up”. These may seem simple but I do appreciate these gestures and I am sure all the other priests also experience these same wonderful moments.
As I penned my thoughts, I have already spent a week or so in Italy. It has been difficult because many priests from all walks of life and from many different countries are also here to study. It is a joy to meet all of them, but also a challenge to communicate with them because of our different languages. Not all could speak English. Some could only speak French, or Chinese, or Spanish, or Italian, or in their own native language. But everyone is eager to learn Italian so that we could really share our thoughts and experience.
Now that I am in Urbino, the place for my intensive Italian course, I am looking forward to experience more of God’s love through my studies. This place is truly amazing. The atmosphere, scenery, architecture, and culture – there is so much to take in for the moment. Words could not express what my senses perceive. Seeing is truly believing.
Someone once shared with me “We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere”. As I bid “arrivederci” (“goodbye” in Italian) to all, once again I say ‘thank you,’ and please continue to pray for me. Be assured of my prayers for all of you. (7 July 2017)