FR. JASON H. LAGUERTA

A Disciple in Love with Christ and the Church

By Margaux Salcedo
September 28, 2019

Father Jason Laguerta is a relatively young (under 50), dynamic priest who heads the Office for the Promotion of New Evangelization (OPNE) of the Archdiocese of Manila.

He is simultaneously the head of the Archdiocesan Institute for Research and Development (AIRD) of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM).

He is also the parish priest of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Sta. Mesa, Manila.



3 HATS
“I wear three hats: evangelization, research, and parish priest,” Fr. Jason shares. Yet he is able to excel in each field.

He attributes his ability to balance all three roles to his love for the Lord.

“I confess I am not a devoted person but I am what is called an affective (with an a) disciple of Jesus. I have simply fallen in love with the person of Christ and that love never wanes,” he shares.



BLESSED CHILD
His love for Christ started at the tender age of 7.

His parents, Pascual and Adelfa, were very active in church. Fr. Jason recalls that his mother was even the caretaker of their church, San Vicente Ferrer chapel in Brgy. Abuyog, Sorsogon, Sorsogon.

“The church was practically my playground,” Fr. Jason recalls.

That is why as young as 7 years old, he already knew he wanted to become a priest.

“For me it was very clear. My childhood dream was to become a priest,” he says.

So as early as high school, his parents, with the guidance of a priest, sent him to the seminary.

At 12 years of age, he enrolled at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary in Makati. Then for college, at the San Carlos Seminary, also in Makati.

“For me it was very clear. My childhood dream was to become a priest,” he says.

FORMATOR
He became a priest on September 8, 1999.

After becoming a priest, Fr. Jason continued to call San Carlos Seminary his home. Instead of becoming a parish priest, he stayed on at San Carlos as professor and formator for 10 years.

He taught Latin, homiletics, and Philippine church history.

Later, he was urged to get a doctorate degree, and he enrolled at the University of the Philippines to study social psychology. He would later teach this subject as well at the San Carlos Seminary.



GOOD EXAMPLE
With his doctorate degree, Cardinal Tagle appointed him as head of the Archdiocesan Institute for Research and Development (AIRD) of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM).

“Cardinal Tagle is very much interested in research,” he explained. “He wants all programs of the RCAM evidence-based. So the AIRD gathers data to make us more effective in our responses to the needs of the people today.”

In 2013, Cardinal Tagle also invited Fr. Jason to be part of the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE) that the Archdiocese had just organized and made him in charge of the exhibit portion of the event. Fr. Jason must have done an amazing job as the following year, His Eminence tapped him to head the newly-formed Office for the Proclamation of New Evangelization, which organized PCNE the following years.

For his part, Fr. Jason considers the appointment an honor as he looks up to Cardinal Tagle. “I see in him a person who really loves Jesus and a person who wants to share the love of God to all. He always tries to find something good in every person and seeks the good news in every situation, trying to bridge the gaps between and among people and parties. For me, he is a good example and model of a disciple of Jesus in our context today,” Fr. Jason shares.

On Cardinal Tagle: For me, he is a good example and model of a disciple of Jesus in our context today,” Fr. Jason shares.

NEW EVANGELIZATION
Fr. Jason has taken his mission in New Evangelization seriously.

“New Evangelization, in a nutshell, is the church proclaiming the Good News of Jesus today. It is the church wanting to be part of the lives of the people today; the church trying to make the memory of Jesus alive in today’s world by making the Gospel fresh and available for everyone to partake in,” he explains.

“Jesus,” he emphasizes, “is still very much relevant. He is the way, the truth, the life; the past, present, and future; the alpha and the omega. But we, His disciples, have to find a way to become his mouth, his eyes, his hands, his feet today.”

Through OPNE, Father Jason seeks to erase the disconnect between the church and the people, especially the youth. “There is no disconnect in the message,” he argues. “Because the message is the same: the love of God and the presence of Jesus. The disconnect is only in the way the Gospel is communicated; the language, the methods, even the images. Jesus used images that were familiar to the people of his time, like the mustard seed, the shepherd and the sheep. So we need to use images that are relevant today.”

He expounds that this is because the Kingdom of God cannot be defined although it can be described. “The parables were stories that Jesus used to describe the Kingdom of God. So we have to find stories today about how the love of God operates in our time; stories and images that describe what the Kingdom is about.”



ETERNAL FLAME
It is clear that the spark of interest that Fr. Jason had as a 7-year old for the church has blossomed into an eternal flame of love for Christ and the Church. “That interest became love eventually,” he admits. “I learned to love the Church, even if there are things you don’t like, but you continue to love.”

His personal patron saint, San Vicente Ferrer, the patron saint of his hometown parish in Sorsogon, whom he would ask to intercede for him, even as a child, would certainly be proud.

“I learned to love the Church, even if there are things you don’t like, but you continue to love.”

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