An Interview with Father Rhett Sarabia, O.S.M.

by Gordon Nary



Gordon: Where did you attend seminary and what was the most challenging course that you took, and why was it so challenging?


Fr. Rhett: After obtaining my degree in college Bachelors in the Sciences of Commerce and after working for a while in a Private Bank in the Philippines, I decided to enter the seminary. In entered the Servite in 1986. I consider biblical courses the most challenging because you had to read and research a lot and at the same time study biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek) in order the comprehend the context and the background of the biblical text. I found my masters in education another challenging course because it prepared me in my work as a formator and director of seminarians. It is a multi- disciplinary science that involves sociology, psychology, theology, pedagogy and methodology.


PHILOSOPHY UNITS

ROGATIONIST FATHERS SEMINARY (1986 -1987) PARAÑAQUE CITY, PHILIPPINE

SAN CARLOS SEMINARY (1987 -1988) MAKATI, PHILIPPINES


BACHELOR IN SACRED THEOLOGY – BENE PROBATUS (1993)

DON BOSCO CENTER OF STUDIES ( Affiliated to the Salesian PontificalUniversity, Rome)

PARAÑAQUE CITY, PHILIPPINES


BACHELOR OF SCIENCES IN EDUCATION MAJOR IN METHODOLOGICAL PEDAGOGY (1995)

MAGNA CUM LAUDE

SALESIANPONTIFICAL UNIVERSITY

ROME, ITALY


LICENTIATE OF SCIENCES IN EDUCATION MAJOR IN METHODOLOGICAL PEDAGOGY (1996)

MAGNA CUM LAUDE

SALESIANPONTIFICAL UNIVERSITY

ROME, ITALY


Gordon: Why did you choose to be a Servite?


Fr. Rhett: I chose to be a Servite because of its MARIAN DIMENSION. The Philippines is considered as a "pueblo amante de Maria" and I grew up having a great devotion to our Blessed Mother. What pushed me continue in the Servite journey is the fraternal life style. Living in fraternal way in community is a very challenging aspect of Servite life, but nevertheless it is the most rewarding. I never imagined myself growing old alone. The brothers in community sustain me in all my undertakings, they are my support system and my they serve as my compass whenever I am at lost sometimes. In the Servite, one is allowed to grow and serve according to one's gift. We serve in the whatever the need of the local Church may be.


Gordon: What are your responsibilities as Vicar General Order of Servants of Mary?


Fr. Rhett: As a Vicar General, generally my responsibility is to support the Prior General at all times. To represent him in important events, meetings and gatherings whenever he is not available. To lead and manage the General Curia in his absence. To preside meetings and take important decisions in consultation with his office and the general Councilors in his physical absence. To accompany him in canonical visits most especially in the regions where I am the Councillor of reference.


Gordon: What are the major challenges to the Catholic Faith?


Fr. Rhett: The major challenges to the Catholic faith today is the massive abandonment especially among the so-called "millennials" of this generation. The current global situation influenced by globalization, hedonism, consumerism posed a great challenge in today's faith life.


Gordon: Could you comment on the political challenges to Catholics in the Philippines?


Fr. Rhett: The ensuing and continuous altercations between the Philippine president and Catholic Church leaders have apparently blurred traditional secular and religious boundaries. The emergence of Rodrigo Duterteas a national political actor has ushered in a new period in government relations with the Catholic hierarchy. With the advent of modern and social communications, an increasing proliferation of fake news does not help the State-Religion relationship. The current pandemic situation propelled in the increasing culture of corruption amongst the government officials which resulted to a very poor delivery of social services to the masses, where a huge percentage live in abject poverty. The culture of life promoted by the Catholic Church against the backdrop of the drug campaign of the government continues to a battle ground in the love-hate between Catholic hierarchy and the State. These socio- political backgrounds and the understanding of Church-State relations divide the Catholic faithful in putting into practice their faith. There seems to be a dichotomy when it comes to being catholic and a citizen of the land.


Gordon: What is your favorite Servite prayer?


Fr. Rhett:


SUPPLICATION OF THE SERVANTS

Grant, Mother of all goodness,

that we, your servants, be filled with hope.

Strengthen us in the difficulties

and trials ahead;


keep us faithful in your service.

Renew our sacred, timeless commitment

to follow Christ.

With you as guide may we serve you,

and our brothers and sisters, with love.

And at the end be our gateway

to unending life.


Gordon: Thank you for a great interview.