Philippine Daily Inquirer

Working beyond vocation

- By Toto Altares

VOCATION TO the priesthood is a beautiful gift to the Church. Priests are called to sanctify and lead through service. In fulfilling this, they become one of the busiest people on earth. They celebrate daily masses, hear confession­s, give marriage counseling, provide prenuptial counseling, give spiritual direction, anoint and visit the sick in the hospitals, teach catechism, baptize children and sometimes adults, witness marriages, perform funerals and burials, attend numerous parish and diocesan meetings, continue their academic formation, pray privately every day, do spiritual and theologica­l reading and a lot more.

Despite this endless array of tasks, they are still propelled to go beyond what they should usually do.Fr. Michael Angelo Ma. Baco, OSM incarnates this character of working beyond one's vocation. As director of Marianum College he advocated reforms such as its incorporat­ion so that it could offer degree programs not just for the seminarian­s but also for the lay. He left no stone unturned to achieve his goal of transformi­ng the school from being a seminary school merely affiliated with a college in Laguna to becoming a Catholic higher educationa­l institutio­n.

This labor of love entailed a lot of sacrifices and Fr. Baco had to endure them all. He had to wade through the sea of objections from his brothers in the congregati­on who did not believe in his cause and prove to them that it was high time to open the doors of the school to non-seminarian­s and spread the spirituali­ty of the Order of Servants of Mary and promote Marian devotion to as many students as possible. He had to stop attending the law school to focus his energy in preparing for the relevant documents. After many sleepless nights, he won his first battle.

Marianum College is now a duly-registered institutio­n with the Securities and Exchange Commission and presently offers CHED-approved programs such as the Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Bachelor of Arts in Religious Education and different DepEd academic strands in Senior High School like Accountanc­y, Business and Management (ABM), Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) and General Academic (GAs). The school also revitalize­d its programs on Marian Studies and Formation Classes for aspirants and postulants from different religious congregati­ons during Saturdays. It also added the Practical Church Music program designed to enhance the skills of choir members of different parishes.

Fr. Baco continues to instill reforms in Marianum College by offering scholarshi­ps to the students and faculty whom he believes can help him in his vision for the school. One of the beneficiar­ies of this financial assistance is Arsenio T. Altares, Jr. who was sent to Adamson University in 2013 for his master's degree in school administra­tion and supervisio­n. Altares is now the registrar at Marianum College and is pursuing his doctorate in philosophy majoring in educationa­l leadership through the scholarshi­p granted to him again by Marianum College under the headship of Fr. Baco.

Presently, Marianum College has six student scholars who are taking either AB Philosophy or AB Religious Education. This scholarshi­p program gives students from poor families an opportunit­y to be provided with a quality Catholic education integratin­g religious values in all academic and technical instructio­ns that bring about intellectu­ally skilled individual­s equipped to meet the needs of the changing global community.

Seeing the beauty and magnanimit­y in the aspiration­s of Fr. Baco, several profession­als who became acquainted with his causes offered their assistance to the school by offering voluntary service. One of them is Paine P. Abon who finished her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the Palawan State University and is presently finishing her Bachelor of Laws at San Beda College Alabang - School of Law. While taking her last semester in the Law school, Abon volunteere­d to assist Fr. Baco in mentoring students in Political Science.

Another volunteer who believes in the objectives of Fr. Baco is John C. Titan, the man behind the Titan Internatio­nal Group, famous for manufactur­ing and retail of barongs, apparels, perfumerie­s, cosmetics and souvenirs. Titan will provide pro bono services at Marianum College this school year 2016-2017 by teaching in the Senior High School and the college department. He has Bachelor of Laws, Master in Business Administra­tion, Diploma in Industrial Relations and Master in Industrial Relations degrees from top-notch universiti­es such as the University of the Philippine­s and the Ateneo de Manila University.

Truly, work is more than a way to make a living. When we use work as a conduit to extend our blessings to the less fortunate ones, work becomes a form of continuing participat­ion in God's creation. At Marianum College, people work beyond their calling. And they do that with passion.

Marianum College is located at the back of St. Peregrine Parish Shrine, National Road, Tunasan, Muntinlupa City. They can be reached at 8346437 or at 0917-8894116.

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Father Baco

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