Rev. Fr. Vhon Rudolf C. Villacarlos will be celebrating his 17th year as a priest in November this year. But looking back as a young kid, he had always wanted to become a priest.
“Bata pa lang ako, gustung-gusto ko nang nasa altar. Gustung-gusto ko na ‘yung mga ginagawa ng pari,” says the Parochial Vicar of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Rodriguez, Rizal.
In this exclusive interview with My Pope Philippines, Fr. Vhon shares his experience in the seminary, the challenges he faced as a new priest, and his ministry as a pastor for God’s creations. (Watch: Exclusive: Fr. Eldrick Peña Shares His Vocation Story)
Entering the Seminary
Young Vhon entered the seminary in 1994, right after high school, under a scholarship. He admits that his parents didn’t want him to become a priest— only his grandmother was supportive of his decision. (Read: Fr. Ric Eguia Shares His Journey to Priesthood)
“Andun ‘yung enthusiasm sa pagpasok [ko] pero malungkot kasi maliwanag sa’yo na ‘di ka suportado ng pamilya mo. Pero walang nagawa ‘yung parents ko kasi talagang gustung-gusto ko [maging pari],” says Fr. Vhon.
A year into the seminary, he finally felt his father’s acceptance of his chosen vocation when the latter father visited him one early morning at the seminary.
After 10 years, Vhon was ordained as a piest on November 30, 2004. After three years of being a member of the Dominican congregation, he transferred as a Diocesan and finished his Theology at the University of Sto. Tomas.
Life as a New Priest
Fr. Vhon considered his first three years as a new priest as the “happy” stage. His first assignment was as the Secretary of then-Bishop Gabriel Reyes, then after a year, he became the Parochial Vicar of Antipolo Cathedral for five years.
“Sabi nga noon sa amin ni Bishop Gabriel, amoy Diyos pa daw kasi kami kaya kahit anung dumating na work, ministry, o pagsubok, nalalagpasan nang gan’un kabilis,” he says.
After his stint at the Cathedral, Fr. Vhon became the Pastor of Santo Domingo Parish Church in Talim Island— the largest lake island in Laguna de Bay. The area was far from the mainland, so it was the least favorite assignment of every priest.
But for Fr. Vhon, the assignment was both challenging and promising. There, he experienced the wrath of Typhoon Ondoy and the elections, but still felt the faith of the people and the support of his brother-priests and the Bishop.
“That started my ministry: To be a pastor to the people, for the people, and with the people,” says Fr. Vhon.
Love for God’s Creations
Apart from his commitment to serve the people, Fr. Vhon expresses his love for God’s creations by caring for animals— especially dogs. (Read: #AdoptDontShop Trends Online After Death Row Dogs Rescue in Bulacan)
He admitted that part of his love for dogs was influenced by San Roque (patron saint of dogs) and Santo Domingo who are known for having a dog beside them.
“Iba ‘yung binibigay na happiness or joy ng aso sa akin. Ire-reciprocate ‘yung pag-aalaga ko. Alam nung mga aso ko kapag malungkot ako. Kasi uupo ako sa salas, nagtatalunan na ‘yun. Lalapitan ka nila. Pagagaanin ang pakiramdam mo,” he shares.
At present, Fr. Vhon has seven dogs who are all staying with his parents. But even with his limited presence, he makes sure to groom them and give them treats whenever he visits his family.