November, like every other month, is devoted to vocation in the Philippines. My vocation was planted in India, germinated in Singapore/Malaysia, groomed & trimmed in the Philippines, and is all now set to bear fruit wherever the Redeemer is calling!
The title of this little article summarizes my vocation story. From my perspective, the phrase “from software to missionware” is a call to action for software engineers like me to use their God-given ‘digital’ talents and skills to take up the challenge to participate in the ongoing mission of the Redeemer that has a positive divine impact in this world of multiverses and artificial intelligence. I believe that such commitment could help take a new meaning in the explicit proclamation of the message of God’s Kingdom. It is a call to move beyond the zone of an engineer and to become a missionary and steward in an apostolic community and make a difference in people’s lives through the charism.
I’m in my last phase of initial formation as a Redemptorist and discerning to become a perpetually professed Religious Missionary. If I could pick three elements of my initial formation thus far that helped me to follow the Redeemer, it would be the following:
Firstly, the formation program itself. I’m based at the Davao Redemptorist Formation Community (DRFC), which is multinational and multicultural in its nature. Through various channels of formation, such as regular spiritual direction, individual colloquium with an experienced formator and mentor, and working with fellow confreres, I was guided to know gradually the movements of the Holy Spirit in my vocation. Above everything else, it is, and it will be forever, the Prayer life, the relationship with Christ and the ability to be adaptable and mindful of the nuances of the community (such as tensions, differences, and working together) that sustained me these eight-plus years. Sipping coffee in an air-conditioned corporate office to washing toilet bowls in the seminary not only humbled me but made me a better person for life. I’m very grateful to all my fellow brothers for their fraternal correction, formators for their affirmations, spiritual directors and my family and friends who supported me and continue to do so in this journey.
Secondly, the immersion experience I had at Vasai Mumbai. Under the guidance of Fr Andrew Dantis, CSsR, Sir Valentine Soreng and Mam Sushma Kiro, I was introduced to the life of Chhotanagpur migrants through Pahunch (an organization of the Province of Majella, Mumbai to reach out to Migrants). The Chhotanagpur Plateau region of eastern India is home to a large population of Adivasi, or indigenous people. Many of these Adivasi people migrate (both pushed/pulled) to Mumbai in search of life opportunities. One of the largest concentrations of Chhotanagpur migrants in Mumbai is in the Vasai suburb. Here, they work in a variety of industries, including construction, manufacturing, and domestic service. Along with the Paunchy team, week after week, I and Br Richard Rodriques, CSsR, travelled in the crowded trains of Mumbai to various slums of Vasai such as Jankipada, Shanthipada, Fatherwadi, Goraipada, Rajiyawali, Sathyawali, Boidapada, Bagralpada, Naigaon East (this is where our community is also present), Bakipada, Nalasopara, Virar and Dhabi. We listened to their stories, ate with them and shared our God-given moments. Despite our language limitations, it was truly a rich experience that I would personally treasure for the rest of my life. These experiences have helped me to know the poor and, through those encounters, see the Redeemer in them and eventually helped strengthen my vocation. As a summary of my 10-month immersion experience, I wrote this missiological paper, which I will soon defend at the Saint Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute in Davao, Philippines.
Thirdly, the Redemptorist confreres in Singapore and Malaysia inspired me in one way or another. The rich tradition of the mission of the Redemptorists in Singapore and the miraculous home of Mother Mary – the Church of St Alphonsus, popularly called the Novena Church has touched many pilgrims like me. I found the treasure of the great pearl through the faith of ordinary people. Through the strength of the Redeemer, I was able to take the ‘stupidest decision of my life’ (in the words of many of my working colleagues) to resign from a permanent job and join the seminary. After being in the formation for eight-plus years now, I can joyfully reecho ‘it’s all worth it’ and would still try to take the same decision if it had to be done all over again. My friends from Christ the King Parish, Ang Mo Kio, Singapore, made a big difference in my life by generously allowing me to be part of their church team for many years, and I owe a lot to them for who I’m becoming today.
This is my journey from software to missionware, and I can’t wait to enter the ongoing formation as a full-fledged Redemptorist missionary. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Antony will make the perpetual profession of the evangelical vows on 7 January 2024 in the Church of St. Alphonsus (Novena Church). We celebrate with hope and joy the gift of vocation to be a Redemptorist missionary.