Fr Elmer M. Dula RCJ

From a Blessing in Disguise to the Land of the Unexpected

By Fr Elmer M. Dula RCJ

Fr Elmer M. Dula of the Rogationists tells us how unplanned was his entering the seminary and then later on found himself embracing his vocation. Father Elmer continues his mission work as a parish priest in Papua New Guinea.

I believe that everything that has happened in my life is a blessing – successes, failures, joys and pain. They come in so many forms because of a God whose love for me and for the rest of mankind is infinite and boundless. It is by his grace that I became a missionary priest in a land I thought would only be in my dreams. Looking back on my formation years, I can only see that indeed, my missionary vocation has been a ‘blessing in disguise’.

In 1992 I was in fourth year high school. One day a classmate who was seriously considering the priesthood invited me to accompany him to our parish priest. He wanted to be an altar-server as his personal preparation for the seminary. I went with him I don’t know what he said to the priest but after his interview, the priest called for me. My immediate reaction was surprise, ‘Why me?’ I was only accompanying my friend. Out of respect I obliged and also became an altar-server.

Holy Spirit Seminary, Bomana, near Port Moresby
The Diocese of Alotau-Sideia is part of the ecclesiastical province of Port Moresby.

We were the oldest in the group. Our companions were grade six students and first year high school students. I was a bit embarrassed but for friendship’s sake continued serving at the Holy Mass for the rest of our high school days. My friend also invited me to join him for a ‘vocation orientation’ in Cebu City. Wow, an opportunity for me to leave Leyte and see other places. So I willingly accompanied my friend. He was seriously considering life in the seminary, while I was just looking for adventure. As the saying goes, ‘God writes straight with crooked lines’.

Alotau, Milne Bay [Wikipedia]

After graduation, my friend decided to pursue another career and I found myself inside the seminary. I told myself that I would try it for a year only. That one year became two, three, four until I became a novice in 1998. My family was surprised with my decision to become a priest but they were happy and supported me all the way.