‘His prayer life was edifying’, Filipino priest says of St. John Paul II who ordained him

‘His prayer life was edifying’, Filipino priest says of St. John Paul II who ordained him

Pope John Paul II lays hands on Gregory Gaston as he ordains him to the priesthood during the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) at the Seville Stadium in Spain in 1993. L’OSSERVATORE ROMANOA

By Roy Lagarde

May 18, 2020

Manila, Philippines

A Filipino priest ordained by Pope John Paul II thinks that the modern day saint’s life and teachings are a model on how Christians should live their faith.

Rome-based Father Gregory Gaston said John Paul II was “truly a father”, caring not only for Catholics but also for other Christians and non-Christians.

“His living of the priesthood was an example for us priests,” Fr. Gaston said Monday as he recalled the 100th anniversary of the birth of the saint.

Wherever he goes around the world, John Paul II, he said, never failed to remind people to put Christ at the center of their lives.

In the World Youth Days, he said that the pope always encouraged the young people to live their Christian life well, by being close to God through prayers, and close to others through a life of service.

“He would always lead us to look into the different realities with the eyes of faith, knowing that it is God who guides each one of us,” said the Rector of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino.

He and another Filipino, Stephen Simangan, were among those ordained by John Paul II to the priesthood during the International Eucharistic Congress in Sevilla, Spain in 1993. Fr. Simangan is now a chaplain at the Philippine Coast Guard.

Fr. Gaston considers his ordination by the pope-turned-saint himself as a “blessing” and the turning point of his life.

According to him, the saint’s spirituality is best characterized by his intense prayer life

“His prayer life was indeed edifying,” said Fr. Gaston, who also served at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family from 2002 to 2007.

“I think that because of his intense prayer life, Pope John Paul was able to work hard, giving himself totally to God and to others,” he added.

John Paul II visited the Philippines twice during his 27-year reign. In February 1981, he beatified the now St. Lorenzo Ruiz in Manila. Fourteen years later, he went back to Manila in January 1995 for the WYD.

Fr. Gaston also noted that every WYD, there was an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

“May Pope John Paul II’s 100th birthday bring many of our young men and women to discover the grace to give themselves fully to the Lord, wherever God might have led them in this life,” he said.