by Clyde Ericson Nolasco
Fr. Roderich or “Fr. Rich” is a young priest from the Archdiocese of Cebu.
Ordained by the laying of hands of Archbishop Jose Palma on December 14, 2018, Fr. Rich is currently assigned as Formator-Professor at the San Carlos Seminary College Cebu. He is also a member of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu Safeguarding Ministry and the Sub-Commission on Music in the Liturgy.
Aside from Cebu, he is also part of the tribunal for the Dioceses of Maasin and Butuan.
SON OF OFWs
Fr. Rich, although originally from Cebu, spent his primary years in Maasin in Southern Leyte because of his mother’s work. It was in Maasin where he first appreaciated Catholicism as his parents would bring him to the Cathedral for Sunday masses.
After 6 years, they returned to Cebu. Eventually both of his parents decided to work abroad so he and his siblings were left to the care of their grandmother in Argao. It was around this time, with his grandmother, that his devotion to the rosary was fostered that made him deeply appreciate the beauty of our faith.
THE EARLY YEARS IN THE SEMINARY
In 2001, he took the entrance exams for the Pope John XXIII Minor Seminary for wanting to be with his elementary friends. The thought of having to stay far from them was not a pleasant one for him.
In spite of his initial motivation, it became an opportuniy for him to make an encounter with the "Friend." It was in the seminary where he learned of His great love and mercy through the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconcilliaton.
THE GIFT OF MUSIC
The young Rich entered the seminary clueless as to his skills and unaware of what he could share with the community. He was never even an altar server prior to entering the seminary. He tried to play basketball, although not physically built for sport, and even tried out for the seminary’s soccer varsity but to no avail.
Oblivious with what God had in store for him, during one recreation time, he knelt down in the chapel and prayed. He then saw the Clavinova and started playing it. Though for him it was just a mere noise, his class adviser thought otherwise.
The following formation year, his second year at the seminary, he was assigned to be in charge of music for the class. Afraid of causing trouble to his class due to bad accompaniment, he spent long hours practicing. He received help from his contemporaries in the seminary: Benedict Fabugais and Dale Panigsoro. He was also mentored by Fr. John Burgos and Fr. William Alcalde who are now his co-members in the SubCom on Music in the Liturgy.
Fast forward to his Philosophy days in San Carlos Seminary College in Cebu, he took formal piano lessons under Ms. Vicenta Villanueva, the elder sister of Msgr. Rudy Villanueva. It was also from him where he learned choral direction.
Fr. Rich considers Msgr. Rudy a genius and his inspiration in music. Much later, Fr. Rich needed to fill Msgr. Rudy’s shoes as the mentor delegated much of his work to his apprentice. This included teaching different choir groups in the different parishes of the archdiocese.
EXTRAORDINARY LIFE IN ROME
After his college days, he was recommended for further studies in Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. The scholarship was offered in view of preparing priests who might be able to help in the seminary work.
While studying in Rome, he had the opportunity to serve in the masses of Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. He was the thurifer during the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod in 2012 that Pope Benedict officiated.
In 2014, he also had the opportuniy to serve in the mass of Pope Francis in celebration of the Feast of the Our Lady of the Guadalupe where he was able to personally introduce himself to the Pope saying, “I am Roderich, from Cebu.” After a short monent, to his surprise, His Holiness smiled and replied,
“She is also your patroness!” (“She” refers to the Lady of Guadalupe in Cebu).
Along with all the academic formation and services in the mass, he was also the choir director at the Collegio Internazionale “Sedes Sapientiae '' in Rome from 2015-2018. He had memorable experiences as the group was blessed with opportunities to sing in the Major Basilicas of St. Peter, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls, as well as in other churches in the Eternal City.
JURIS CANONICI LICENTIATA
While in Rome, he was informed of a scholarship for further studies. He called his Archbishop and asked the Excellency’s desires for him. He mentioned his interest in Ecclesiology, Church history and Canon Law, eventually the Archbishop advised him to take Canon Law since there was a need for canonists in the Archdiocese.
These days, as a canonist of the Archdiocese, his ministry includes the office of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu Safeguarding Ministry. The office aims to attend to the reports concerning abuses perpetrated by any member of the community.
Today, as a priest who wears many hats, Fr. Rich constantly reminds himself of these words inspired by Pope Francis:
“No matter what happens during the day, always run to the Lord. Before you go to sleep, drop by the tabernacle. Pray. And remember, you have a mother, Mary. You are not an orphan.”