For many priests, becoming one has always been a childhood dream or a vision in their younger years. But such was not the case for Rev. Fr. Rodrigo “Ric” Eguia, parish priest of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Montalban, Rizal, Diocese of Antipolo.
“My ‘real’ dream was to raise my own family,” says Fr. Ric, who just celebrated his 29th year as a priest last November 2020. “I wanted to be an engineer so I finished Electrical Engineering in college. After college, I got a job and had a girlfriend.” (Read: 5 Priests You Should Subscribe to on YouTube)
While he attended regular Sunday masses, that’s about it. Fr. Ric even studied in a Catholic School for Boys ran by priests, but was never attracted to becoming a priest himself. He wasn’t even active in his parish.
A Recurring Dream
Fr. Ric was 25 years old when he started having short, recurring, but interrelated dreams that seemed like calling him to the priesthood. He tried to disregard his dreams, but it bothered him so much so he decided to consult a priest to find out the meaning of his dreams.
The latter told him that maybe was being called to the priesthood. But he ignored the calling and worst, to show God he’s not worthy of becoming a priest, Fr. Ric got a second girlfriend and went on doing sinful things. (Read: 28yo Cebuano Priest Shares Healing Journey From a Rare Disease)
“While we’re drinking beers and watching, I heard the voice of God asking me, ‘Is this the life you want?’. I felt very ashamed to God that no matter how hard I try to hide or how badly I sin, He didn’t leave me,” said Fr. Ric.
Surrendering to God
Fr. Ric felt more confused. He couldn’t focus now on his job so he decided to take a vacation and visited his province. It was Sunday so he went to church and fell in line to receive the Holy Eucharist.
While in line approaching the altar, he stared at this huge image of Christ in the crucifix. He talked to him and said, “Lord, I’m tired of running away. I don’t know where to hide anymore. If you’re calling me, let your will be done. Show me the way.” (Read: Pope Francis Celebrates 51 Years of Priesthood)
He cried to the point of wailing after receiving the holy communion. People started staring at him wondering what’s happening to him, even as he was left alone inside the church, he continued crying. From there, he said ‘yes’ to God and felt relief like a newborn who just came out of his mother’s womb.
Unexpected Phone Call
When he got back to work a few days after, he received an unexpected call from a college friend with whom he hadn’t talked in years.
His friend asked him if he could accompany him to Tagaytay as he was interested to enter the seminary. Startled because this friend knew nothing about his dreams, Ric gladly said yes. (Read: Meet the Millennial Who Gave up Success to Become a Dominican Friar)
When they arrived at the seminary, Ric couldn’t believe what he saw— the name of the seminary was ‘Tahanan ng Mabuting Pastol’ (Home of the Good Shepherd).
“I felt the shivers ran down through my spine. I heard God telling me, ‘You have to be here.’ The truth is, I didn’t want to leave the place anymore. That’s the first time I felt peace inside me,” he said. (Read: 3 PH Schools to Consider if You Want to Become a Priest)
Apparently, after inquiring on how to enter the seminary, his friend decided right there and then that he wasn’t ready yet and had to think it over. He thought it was such a waste if his friend won’t enter the seminary, so he told him he will enter instead.
“My friend thought I was joking. What I didn’t tell him was I actually went back to the seminary and applied,” said Fr. Ric. “The then-Rector, Fr. Luis Antonio Tagle (now Cardinal Tagle of the Archdiocese of Manila), gave me a chance and told me to report to the seminary once a month for vocation direction.”
Joining the Seminary
But joining the seminary was not an easy feat for Ric. While his father and sister supported his plans, his mother, on the other hand, was very angry and felt betrayed about him wanting to become a priest.
“My mother was heartbroken. She cried and turned her back on me. She avoided and refused to talk to me for close to a month,” said Fr. Ric. “[She] felt I’m not fit to become a priest and I won’t be happy there. She thought I’m a very sociable person who loves attending parties and social events.”
So to prove that he’s serious about his decision, Ric broke up with his two girlfriends and resigned from his job. “Many people didn’t believe me. I looked like a joke to everyone. They even made a bet I won’t last a year inside the seminary. But I ignored everyone and left,” said Fr. Ric.
His Vocation Story
A year went by but it never occurred to Ric to leave the seminary. During his first two years, his mother would always talk him out of leaving and convince him to just serve God as a layperson. But when she eventually saw that he’s really happy inside the seminary, she gave him her blessings. (WATCH: Fr. Antonio Molavin on Living a Good Life Serving the Lord)
Seven years have gone by so fast. On November 9, 1991, Ric was finally ordained to the priesthood at the Antipolo Cathedral. Now, he has been serving God for 29 years and is currently the parish priest at the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Montalban, Rizal.