Heavy rains completed the shower of blessings for Fr. Michael Syjueco’s Thanksgiving Mass at the Angelo King Center at Xavier School that late afternoon of June 29, 2013. It was a Mass of gratitude to the Xavier family as Fr. Mike capped the culmination of a life-long vocation that involved a long and winding journey that began more than 40 years ago.
Michael Syjueco graduated in 1980 from Xavier School but his vocation began long before. The first spark came when Mike was inspired by the story of St. Therese of Liseux when he was still in elementary or grade school. Mike, as a result, began daily visits to the school chapel and started developing a closer relationship with the Lord.
Mike was also inspired by St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits which ran Xavier School. The school’s mantra of “Men for Others” was enough to motivate Mike to apply to the Society of Jesus a few years after graduation from high school. He was accepted to the Jesuit novitiate program.
Mike, however, had to discontinue his novitiate program due to family issues. He entered the private sector afterward and over the next so many years, advanced from one lucrative position to the next. Everything was going well for his career.
When he went to a mall one day, however, he saw a poster in a chapel that read “It’s never too late to serve the Lord as a priest.” As Mike would recall: “The poster pierced my heart so much.”
Mike steadfastly re-pursued his vocation but not without difficulty. The Jesuits declined his re-application as he was over the cut-off age of 40 at the time. Mike moved to the United States and entered the Rogationists but saw later that it wasn’t the “right fit” for him. He then became a Carmelite but after four (4) years, his spiritual director advised him that the active ministry of diocesan priesthood might be Mike’s true calling. Mike then proceeded to study as seminarian with the diocese of San Jose, California. By December 2012, Mike announced to former Xavier classmates he will be ordained in June 2013. Mike’s long and winding journey was nearing a fulfilling ending.
Mike’s journey, however, would not be all that smooth even towards the end. In April 2013, Mike’s father passed away and Mike had to rush back to Manila. Despite the sad event, the San Jose diocese via its bishop, Rev. Bishop Patrick McGrath, affirmed 100% support for Mike; he was encouraged to push through with this ordination.
On the morning of June 22, Mike was finally ordained and became Rev. Fr. Michael Syjueco. The community at the packed Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary
Church applauded their first ever priest from their parish. Priests and clergy from the Diocese of San Jose and from Xavier School embraced Fr. Mike. Xavier alumni from Batch 1980 welcomed with moved hearts their first batch-mate priest.
One week later, Fr. Michael Syjueco, together with Fr. Aristotle Dy, Fr. Xavier Olin, Fr. Arturo Borja, Fr. Joseph Ly, and Fr. Jimmy Liao concelebrated a Thanksgiving Mass for the Xavier Community at the Angelo King Center. Alumni, their families, and former teachers, attended the momentous event.
After the Mass, Fr. Michael bestowed blessings to just about everyone who attended. Heavy rains didn’t dampen the anticipation and joy of both Fr. Michael and those who received his blessings. It was after all a once-in-a-lifetime scene that aptly fulfilled a lifelong journey.
Fr. Michael Syjueco returned to the Diocese of San Jose where he has begun his ministry as priest and servant of God. He is very grateful to the Xavier School Community for all the support that he received in his long journey to the priesthood.
For more details about Fr. Mike’s vocation, please refer to the following link: http://www.dsj.org/vocations/vocation-office/meet-our-seminarians/rev-mr-michael-syjueco