For Father Genaro Daguplo, being a priest has been a source of tremendous joy in his life. But after 25 years, his true mission remains bringing that happiness to the people of God that he serves.
“The most important thing (about being a priest) is that you love your priesthood and that you enjoy your life,” said Father Daguplo, parochial vicar of St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton.
“The rest is how you serve others,” he added. “Christ said you must be the light of the world. As you bring Christ to people, you help them find their lives enjoyable. And that’s what Christianity should be, a life of joy.”
Originally from the town of Labason in the Philippines, Father Daguplo was raised in an active Catholic family with a strong faith. The 11th of 12 children of the late Inocentes and Albina Daguplo, he said that he was inspired by the faith of his father, who was very involved in their parish, and his sister, who is a Carmelite nun.
During his second year of high school, Father Daguplo made up his mind that he wanted to be a priest. He had already served as an altar boy in his parish and during high school was a volunteer catechist, teaching religion to local elementary school children. He recalled telling his pastor that he wanted to join the seminary but was encouraged to finish high school first. His pastor did, however, share the news with the parish community, who were very supportive of his decision, he said.
“I was supported by the pastor, the principal of the school, my family, friends – they were all so happy that I decided to enter the seminary,” Father Daguplo said. “Our parish was really very active and vibrant, so I had help in growing my faith and my vocation.”
After graduating high school, he entered Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, Tagbilaran City, Philippines, to study spirituality. He then studied theology at University of Santo Thomas Central Seminary, Manila. He was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 28, 1984, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, a date he chose in honor of his father.
Following his ordination, Father Daguplo returned to the seminary to serve as rector for the next six years.
During a visit to the United States in the early 1990s, he learned of a need for priests in the Diocese of Trenton while staying at Visitation Parish, Brick Town. He applied to fill an opening and was accepted as an adjunct priest at St. Dominic Parish, Brick Town, in 1997.
Father Daguplo said that while there was some adjustment to being a priest in the United States, he was quickly able to adapt. He took weekly speech therapy classes to improve his English but said that his main goal was to be of service to the people, which was no different in the United States than in his native country.
In particular, Father Daguplo said that he especially enjoyed visiting people who were ill during his years at St. Dominic.
“That is the most rewarding apostolate, to be able to bring to the sick the assurance that they are not alone, that Christ is with them and that God, through his mercy, will help them heal in body, soul and spirit,” he said.
In 2000, Father Daguplo was recalled by his bishop to the Philippines, but he was allowed to return to the Diocese of Trenton in 2004. He was assigned to Holy Family Parish, Keyport, until transferring to St.Raphael-Holy Angels Parish earlier this year.
In his current assignment, Father Daguplo said that he most enjoys being able to hear confessions on a daily basis.
“It is part of our life as priests to be able to benefit the soul of the person, guiding him and bringing him back to God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” he said. “It’s a blessing here in the parish to have that every day.”
St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish is currently planning a celebration to mark Father Daguplo’s anniversary in December.[[In-content Ad]]