Primitivo Ochoa, Bheer to friends, 42, was a Religion teacher. But there were a number of reasons he did not practise what he taught his students..
But even as he practically abandoned his Faith, in time he found out God never abandoned him.
I cannot remember exactly when in 2009 that I became lazy and disregarded going to Mass. All I know is that I felt like dragging myself to church every Sunday. There was no joy performing this religious obligation so I abandoned it altogether.
I surmise, the root of my laziness must be any of these four excuses: I just didn’t like our parish priest; I thought some priests were hypocrites as they condemned homosexuals when some of them were; I didn’t agree with the Church stand against the Reproductive Health bill; I observed some lectors or commentators didn’t meet standards of godly living.
I admit, I’d been quite judgemental. But in time, my conscience bugged me. And why not? You see, I am a Religion teacher and head of my school’s Religion Department. But I wasn’t practising what I taught my students, especially about attending Mass.
I was also president of a Catholic schools association in Laguna where I lived. But I simply wasn’t walking my talk in this group.
When I didn’t attend Mass, and people in the parish asked me where I was, I told them I heard Mass somewhere else. Yes, and somehow, I’d feel guilty about it.
But shame and remorse were not enough to bring me back to Church. I rationalized that I was praying to God anyway, and that the Lord understood me well enough to forgive my “petty” shortcomings.
Finding The Feast
I wasn’t actually looking for a way back to Church. But one time, I had to look for a speaker to inspire students during my school’s Youth Fest. My search led me to one motivational speaker named Bo Sanchez.
The next thing I found out was that Bo leads this Sunday prayer gathering at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) called The Feast.
Then, in September 2011, I had to go to Manila to attend a retreat. So I thought I might as well check out The Feast.
The first time I attended Feast PICC, I really felt God’s Presence inside the hall. During Worship, I felt the warmth of God’s embrace. It was then that I realized that He is truly alive. I felt like a changed man after that.
I began to have enthusiasm not just for worshipping the Lord but for life as a whole. Even my friends and colleagues saw the difference in me. Back in Laguna, someone even remarked how zealously I clap my hands now.
I believe the Lord spoke to me through Bro. Bo. Since I didn’t want to miss any of his Feast talks, I drove two full hours every Sunday from my residence in Laguna to PICC in Pasay City just to listen to him.
To me, there was no other way to show my gratitude to God but to serve at the Single Men’s Ministry.
God promised that whatever you give will come back to you a hundredfold. True enough, God has given back to me much, much more than what I’d given to serve Him.
You see, I had two big dreams: one, to get married and have a family of my own and two, to go and work abroad.
I saved up to be able to go abroad, but every time I had enough savings, something would come up and my earnings would be spent. I was then already 39 years old, so I gave up on both dreams and surrendered them to God. I even told my nephews and nieces that I had no more prospects of getting married.
“You will have to take care of me when I am already old,” I told them in jest.
But little did I know God had a 2-in-1 plan for me. In 2012, I had to organize my school’s reunion. In the process, I met an alumna and family friend, Mrs. Milagros Punzalan-Galang, who in turn introduced me to her daughter, Mafie, who was single and available— like me.
Mafie and I became friends online and eventually, we got married in October same year. That’s Dream #1 come true!
Mafie, by the way, is a Canadian immigrant and so after our church wedding, I went with her to Vancouver where we now live, and where I found a good job. That’s Dream #2 come true!
Back to The Church
Yes, since I’ve opened myself to God at The Feast, miracles have poured down on me.
But the best of all blessings is God had guided me back to my Catholic Faith. Little by little, I found myself devoting time to hear Mass again and now, I am a regular weekly attendee.
I’d been a lost sheep but God has found me. And I’m not ever letting go of Him because He never let go of me.