I am Father Benjosef Carlos Raposa from the Philippines. At the age of seven, I followed my older brothers and became an altar server. In high school, I was involved in catechetical ministry and volunteer work.
I finished my degree in Development Studies at the Ateneo de Manila University and went on to have a short stint taking Law at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. However, I did not proceed and instead, I went on to take a job as a Community Organizer with the Urban Poor Associates, a local NGO.
As a trainee, I worked with the Aeta Abellen in the mountains of Capas, Tarlac, helping out in the human rights education of the indigenous people. After an arduous seven months in an area void of electricity and potable water, I was then assigned to work with the informal settler communities along Estero de Quiapo, San Miguel, and San Sebastian–advocating for decent housing rights. We stood our ground that despite being labelled as eyesores, informal settlers too have human dignity and that they need to have their rights for basic socialized housing.
One afternoon, having spent days in mobilizations, I rested in our office and found myself browsing a magazine that contained missionary stories in the Philippines and abroad. My encounter with the World Mission Magazine in a seemingly random way caught my heart month after month. I found an invitation at the back of the magazine, one which I could not just ignore.
It asked me if I wanted to try the missionary way of life, to become a Comboni missionary. A cellular phone number and an email address were provided, to which I reached out to. It was the start of a year-long discernment that clarified my yes to the Lord.
I entered the St. Daniel Comboni Seminary on June 1, 2013. Since then, I cannot stop thanking the Lord for the goodness he has shown me. During the three-year period of ‘Aspirancy’ and Postulancy, I finished my degree in Philosophy at Christ the King Mission Seminary. After which, I was sent to Mexico to have my two-year novitiate.
It was a humbling experience to study the Spanish language with Grade 5 and Grade 6 students, but they were the best teachers, because they were not afraid to correct my mistakes. The novitiate years were providential for me as I never felt out of place. My Latino and European confreres and the Mexican people welcomed me as one of their own.
For my theological studies, I found myself in the Republic of South Africa where I stayed from 2018 to 2021. I can only thank the inspiration of St. Daniel Comboni as he brought me to the African continent to have a glimpse of the beauty of its people. My companions in the scholasticate were mostly from different African countries except for some Latino confreres.
I was the lone Asian. We were a melting pot of different cultures, yet a testament to the Catholic, universal faith. Despite being called ‘Chinese’, especially by children, I never felt different from them and I can only thank them for the experience of having been welcomed with open arms.
After finishing my theological studies, I was recalled back to the Philippines to serve in the Vocation Promotion Ministry, to seek young people who will also dedicate their lives to the mission of the Church.
It is a challenging ministry given the evolving nature of our younger generation but one that is exciting and humbling as we form part in the search for laborers in the Lord’s vineyard. In the end, we can only claim to be God’s faithful servants. With the new ministry that I will be receiving, I ask for prayers as I continue to offer my yes to God.