Monday, September 25, 2023
I am Fr. Aldrin Janito, one of the pioneering Filipino Comboni Missionaries. I was born in Kiamba, South Cotabato, in the south of the country. [Comboni Missionaries]
In June 1991, I started my journey with the Comboni Missionaries. While undergoing my postulancy formation, I also graduated in Philosophy. Then I went to the Novitiate in Calamba, making my first profession in May 1995. I continued my theological formation in the International Scholasticate in Nairobi, Kenya.
I was ordained into the priesthood on June 7, 1999. After my ordination, I served as vocation promoter from 1999 until 2003 in my country. I was assigned to Sololo missions, Diocese of Marsabit in Kenya from 2003 to 2004. This two-year missionary service marked my life after witnessing the killing of my Kenyan people, who were mostly church leaders and infants. It was a horrible experience but it did not kill my missionary spirit. My last assignment was in South Africa where I spent 16 exciting years in two parishes, Waterval and Acornhoek.
Serving in these two parishes as the priest-in-charge was not easy. Some challenges I met included ancestor worship, several languages spoken in the area, sustaining the spirit/church commitment of the youth during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, the poor service delivery of the local government, rampant alcohol and drug abuse, criminality, such as stealing, teenage pregnancy, poor literacy, HIV/AIDS, and unemployment.
As a parish, we tried to address these pressing issues by using alternatives, such as mobile catechesis (reaching people whenever they are), supplementary education and tutorial services after school, HIV/AIDS support group, setting up orphanages and drop-in centres, promoting ecumenism with other sects and local churches, Sunday school, etcetera.
As an administrator of these parishes, I learned how to listen and exercise patience. As a Swahili saying goes, “hara haraka haona baraka,” meaning he who runs fast runs alone. The spirit of “Ubuntu,” of working together with the people, is essential. A missionary who learns several languages without learning the local culture and customs of the people risks becoming a fluent fool.
My participation in the Comboni Year in Rome, Italy (2013-2014) strengthened and renewed my missionary spirit in Limone, Italy, home of our founder and father, St. Daniel Comboni.
Coming back home to serve the Philippines, in my delegation of origin as the new mission promoter, is fun and challenging. As postulants, we learned this service from our previous formators–Frs. Alberto Silva and Victor Dias. Basically, to share one’s missionary experience with the people, to stimulate interest, and lift their spirit by supporting and sustaining the mission of Christ, near and far.
Promoting the World Mission magazine to all parishes around Metro Manila as an instrument in forming missionary conscience and awareness is exciting. What made me happy was to find missionary collaborators/volunteers who for several years now, have been working with us, sharing their time, talent, and treasures freely.