During this month, Patrick Milan Napal for many of us became just as close as a family member, so to speak. And these sincere conversations with him … it is a pity to come to an end*. But, on the other hand, when people who are close to us come to an important moment that changes everything in their lives, we rejoice. And today is just such a day. Patrick became a priest. But we cannot part with him without knowing what awaits him and us now.
* Those who have not yet begun to follow Patrick’s journey can do so here: beginning, part 2, part 3, part 4.
– What does it mean for you to be a priest in Kazakhstan?
– Here the priests have a different image. In the Philippines, in view of the fact that there are so many lay people who help, the priest does almost nothing except celebrating the Holy Mass and giving the sacraments. But here the priest himself has to take care of everything, even to the extent that you need to buy the flowers to decorate the altar. Here you have to be a good example for people. Through our lives we can preach.
– What are your responsibilities in the current ministry?
– I do not see any responsibilities. If a person accepts his ministry and vocation, then he doesn’t take it as a duty, because it is part of his life. I don’t even know how to answer this question, because the word “duties” sounds like something negative. I quite easily find a common language with people, I know how to listen. Now I see the need to find the beauty of those people in whose midst I have appeared, to realize their dignity. In English there is the expression “step by step”. We need to accept people as they are. Maybe right now someone can only say the phrase “Glory be to Jesus Christ.” So from here we need to start and go further. I have to accept the fact that there are 17 people in my parish now and not feel bad about it.
– Do you plan to devote yourself to serving in Kazakhstan, or would you like to go somewhere else in the future? We are already convinced that you love to travel.
– Now I can say that I want to stay in Kazakhstan. Of course, it depends not only on me. But humanly, we may have desires. And I have a desire to stay here. It will be so or not, we will see. I can go to any place. I am not afraid to go anywhere, because, as I mentioned earlier, when I was small and prayed to the Lord, I said: “Lord, I want to go to any other country in Your name, I want to be Your servant. And not for material gain, as many Filipinos do when leaving the country. ” Therefore, I will go wherever He will direct me.
– Is there a desire in your heart to return home one day to serve as a priest there?
– Of course, I want to visit the Philippines to see my friends and relatives. But I do not want to serve there. There is a duty to take a calling. He gave us a name and called us. In the Philippines, of course, there is also a need for ministers, but it is not as acute as here.
– What do you think you can bring into the Catholic Church of our country?
– It also does not depend on me. I just can live here and be attentive to those people who live nearby. For example, when I was in Karaganda, I started the works of mercy there. I asked the rector if I could visit poor, lonely people, that is, to do the same things I used to do in other countries. He not only allowed it, but also wanted other seminarians to join me. For this I am very grateful to Fr. Peter. This is God’s grace. Another thing that may turn out to be is to give some kind of face to the Church in Kazakhstan. Because often the Church here is very similar to the Church in Europe. People who come to serve here bring their culture with them. And it is good that people begin to pray. But this is Kazakhstan, and there is a culture here. The greatest temptation for a missionary is when a person thinks that his culture is better than the local culture. Therefore, I want, with God’s help, to try not to succumb to this temptation and try to uncover the beauty of the local culture and the possibilities of its use to worship and praise the Lord.
There is no doubt that Patrick will again and again become the hero of the materials on our website. But this cycle ends. And this is good. Because its ending means that now one Filipino has indeed already become a Kazakhstan priest.