I thought I have already given my biography and that it was already published weeks before my arrival here. But, I was told that I need to write more or simply expand my previous write up. So, here it is:
I came from the line of Melecio and Indalicia Docabo on May 7, 1966. Both are natives of Bohol, Philippines, and eventually settled in the hilly and beautiful town of Sevilla. I am the eldest among five siblings, with three brothers and a sister. It is from my father, Melecio, that we, as children, inherited our deep faith in God. My mother, Indalicia, on the other hand, is equally active in doing service in our own parish, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Like most Filipinos, we grew up going to church. Weather and health permitting, we partake in the Holy Eucharist every Sunday and never missed to attend all holy days of obligation.
I entered the minor (high school) seminary in my home diocese at the age of thirteen, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary. It had always been challenging for both my parents and I to be apart from each other. My immediate family were the only ones allowed to visit me once a week, and I got to go home once a month. Although I missed my family, I found joy in my minor seminary years and nurtured my calling to the priesthood in those years. And so, when it was time for me to choose whether to proceed or not, to the major seminary, the decision was a breeze for me to decipher. I was accepted at the very prestigious college seminary in the capital of the Philippines. Yes, I was further away from my family, nevertheless I eventually became accustomed to it. I was admitted at San Jose Major Seminary, inside the Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. After four years of philosophy, I took a leave from seminary life, not because of a vocation crisis, but more for opening myself to other possibilities. I taught in both private and public high schools in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija, north of Manila. I assisted in the parish and did a lot of pastoral works too. Though I enjoyed a year of absence from seminary life, I decided to go back to the seminary and pursued my theology years. After five more years of formation and studies under the tutelage of my Jesuit mentors, I was ordained to the diaconate in August 1992.
In less than a year, on April 21, 1993, I was ordained to the priesthood by our local Ordinary, His Excellency Most Reverend Leopoldo S. Tumulak, D.D. Following my ordination, I served at the diocesan curia as vice chancellor for two years, while teaching philosophy courses at our local college seminary. On weekends, I did my pastoral ministry in a not-so-distant community, which my Bishop asked me to organize and prepare for its parishood. Meanwhile, a new task was assigned to me, to become the assistant oeconomus. This office demanded a lot of work in establishing a new financial system for the entire diocese. As a consequence, I had to suspend my pastoral ministries and focus on my curia duties. It was a strategic move considering that I already became so involved in this community. Within a year, I was appointed eoconomus (finance officer) of the diocese to finalize the study of the financial system towards its eventual implementation in 1997. Simultaneously, my bishop appointed me as the Head of the Commission on Service and as the Director of Vocations. Although I welcomed all these administrative tasks bestowed on me, I really felt the need to be with a community to exercise my pastoral ministry. And so, in collaborations with other priests, I headed the organization and preparation of a nearby community (just seven minutes away from the diocesan center) for almost six years until it became a full pledged parish in 2000. I became its first pastor for a year until I was asked to pursue for higher studies in Europe.
Eight years following my ordination, I returned to academic challenges and took the Licentiate in Sacred Scriptures at the Pontificio Istituto Biblico (Biblicum) in Rome, Italy. At 35 years old, from 2001 to 2005, I never would have imagined going back to school, to face countless challenges, learned new languages, memorize foreign vocabularies, listened to lectures to name a few. While in Europe, I was able to travel to different places, widened my horizon, learned different cultures, and most of all, met a lot of people who eventually became part of my life, to help and to guide me in this journey. I was able to attain academic advancement for both spiritual renewals and cultural diversities.
In the summer months of 2002 to 2005, I served at different parishes in the Archdiocese of Newark, namely: Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, Church of St. John Nepomucene in Guttenberg, and Sacred Heart Church in North Bergen. In those parish communities, I encountered wonderful and interesting people who remain my friends up until today. Moreover, the pastors and priests I worked with were very supportive and generous in guiding my ministries. I found in them the extension of my presbyteral family. I left for Jerusalem, Israel towards the end of summer of 2005 to finish my courses. Then, with the permission of my local ordinary, I went back to the USA to do my four-year ministry at Sacred Heart Church in Bloomfield until the end of summer in 2009. But, since my bishop asked me to proceed for doctoral studies, I left Sacred Heart Church and went back to Rome to finish my thesis paper in preparation for my doctorate, which was supposed to be in Leuven, Belgium. Unfortunately, I was unable to pursue my doctoral studies.
I returned to the USA and served in the Archdiocese of New York at St. Patrick’s Church in Staten Island, from January to October of 2011. In the middle of October, I received my new appointment to become one of the associate pastors of St. Michael Church in Union, where I served for almost five years.
On April 21, 2016, I received my new appointment letter from Archbishop John Joseph Myers to serve in Jersey City. I have only been here for less than two months, but I can attest to the warm welcome of our parishioners. I feel the support and good camaraderie among my brother priests. I am hoping that as I share my priestly life and ministry in the days, months, and years to come, with the faithful of the Our Lady of Mercy and Our Lady of Sorrows, we will continue to grow in the love and service to God and with one another.