Rjoy Ballacillo believes having a strong relationship with God is what lies at the heart of his wanting to become a priest.

“God extends his great love and compassion to all of us, and I wanted to be a channel of his love and compassion to his people as well,” he said.

After 15 years in the seminary, Ballacillo will reach a milestone in his journey to the priesthood June 20 when he is ordained a transitional deacon by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

“It’s a great blessing,” said the 25-year-old Ballacillo, who was born in Abra, Philippines, as he reflected on highlights of his vocation experience, which included entering St. Joseph High School Seminary, Abra, at age 11, followed by college studies in San Pablo Seminary, also in the Philippines, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy.

He was 21 when he decided to relocate to the United States and prepare to serve as a priest for the Diocese of Trenton. His formation has included earning a master of divinity degree from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa.; serving summer parish assignments in St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Wanaque, and St. Mary Parish, Colts Neck, and his current pastoral assignment in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown.

Ballacillo said he was inspired to become a priest after seeing his two older brothers, Rex and Roy, choose a priestly path.

Because of COVID-19 and travel concerns, Ballacillo’s family, including parents Fernando A. and Marilyn B., brother Rex, and sister Honeylet, won’t be able to attend the Mass of Ordination, set to begin at 10 a.m. in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. Though he will miss their physical presence, Ballacillo said he is heartened to know that come 10 p.m. Filipino time, his family will be logged on to Trenton diocesan websites to watch the livestream coverage.

“Pray for me,” Ballacillo humbly requested, as he noted that following his ordination, he will serve a diaconal year assignment in St. Theresa Parish, Little Egg Harbor.  “This is something that I’ve been preparing for since I was a kid. Pray for me that I will be faithful to God and serving God, his Church and the ministry to which I have been called.”