Singing priest marks 25th sacerdotal anniversary

Kristine B. Quintas/FPL (The Freeman) - December 7, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Evangelization through music has been the greatest legacy of an Augustinian priest in the Catholic Church.

Known as the “singing Augustinian priest,” Fr. Jonas Mejares, OSA, Rector of the Basilica del Sto. Niño, has recognized music as a powerful instrument in changing and strengthening people’s faith in God.

 On his Silver Jubilee of Ordination to Priesthood yesterday, the 51-year-old Rector, a veteran musician, composer and singer, thanked God for giving him the gift of voice. 

 “Akong purpose mokanta. Ang power sa music lig-on pa kaysa power of talking. Gihatag ang akong tingog as gift sa Ginoo so ako ning gamiton to glorify God, that is my intention,” he said. 

 Mejares has touched the lives of the faithful through his music. His passion for music showed early at the age of five. He had formal training in music conservatories in the University of San Agustin, University of the Philippines, and the University of Santo Tomas.

 “I’ve been enjoying my life as a priest because through the priesthood I was able to touch the lives of other people. Communicating the unconditional love of Christ through singing and music,” he said.

 Mejares, who hails from Loon in Bohol, spent yesterday his 25th sacerdotal anniversary with parishioners and devotees of the child Jesus and officiated mass at the Basilica’s pilgrim center.

He also organized a mini concert at the Mariners Court last night where he performed together with the University of the Visayas Chorale and some Sinulog Idol winners.

 He distributed to the faithful a commemorative CD in celebration of his 25th year in the priesthood.

 The CD, entitled ‘If I Ever Sing Another Song, It Would be Forevermore,’ contains nine songs which Mejares sang. The CD includes songs like, If I Ever Sing Another Song, God is Alive, Sa Pamamagitan Mo, Wagas, Isang Ala-ala Ka, Dinggin, Sermon on the Mount, You Raise Me Up, and Forevermore.

 Mejares said that incorporating songs in his homily is his way to touch and inspire the lives of the majority.

 “Dili ni sa akong kapasikat but para sa katawhan aron ma touch ilang lives somehow,” he said adding that music and singing is his stress reliever.

He said though his life as a priest was not always easy going as there were a range of frustrations, disappointments and even fatigue.

 In particular, he cited his difficulty in studying Canon Law in Italy due to several factors like language barrier, culture, and environment. 

 But while taking his post graduate studies in Italy from 2002-2004, he extended his apostolate to Filipino communities and performed in four concerts with some Filipino artists in Rome and Milan. He recalled that it led him to form and conduct a grand choir composed mostly of about 200 Filipinos during an audience with Pope John Paul II in Vatican City in 2003.

“Didto ko naopaw kay matulog ko two (2) a.m. na but I still enjoyed the experience because I was able to survive and extend my gift of music to Filipinos there,” he said.

 With his sacrifices and commitment, he obtained a Licentiate and Doctoral Degree in Canon Law at the Angelicum in Rome, finishing with honors as magna cum laude aside from graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Theology at UST.

But despite all the trials encountered, he said he will still choose and continue to be a priest and serve the people in all walks of life.

 “If I would be given another chance to choose what profession or vocation to take, I’ll still choose being a priest kay dinhi ako malipayon,” he said.

 Priesthood, he explained, has its own sources and opportunities of showing to people the mercy and compassion of God.

 Mejares was ordained on December 7, 1990 by Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal in Intramuros, Manila. On July 7, 2012, he was installed as Basilica’s Rector by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma. (FREEMAN)


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