MY NAME IS Beda Aboloc. I was born in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines, on May 27, 1928, and was baptized in Roman Catholic. My Father, Hilarion Aboloc, from Tubigon, Bohol Philippines and my mother, Irenea Huerta, from Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, both Roman Catholic Church. I have one brother, dead; five brothers who are all married, and four sisters who are all married also except one. From grades one to four, I studied in the Public School. From grades five to seven, and from first to fourth year high school, I studied in the Catholic School in my hometown.
After finishing High School in April 1947, I decided to become a priest. My father died in 1945, so I had to ask only the permission of my mother, who, having entertained hopes for me other than the priesthood was not in favor of my becoming a priest. But at last I succeeded in persuading her to give the priesthood a try. After obtaining a recommendation from my Parish Priest, I took no time in seeing the Bishop of Surigao, Msgr. John C. Vrakking, M.S.C. or Sacred Heart Missionaries, one hundred and twenty kilometers away from my hometown. My interview with the Bishop resulted in the rejection of my application for the priesthood due to financial reasons. Down east I returned home and found my mother only too happy to know the failure of my interview with the Bishop.
I did not waste time in planning my next move. I decided to attend the summer classes in a Catholic College in Surigao, Surigao del Norte, where the Bishop was residing, to prepare myself for a teaching career. I was boarding in the convent of the Parish Priest. Towards the end of the summer course, the Bishop ordered me to go home and prepare for my departure for the seminary, because he had found a benefactor to help me shoulder the expenses of my seminary studies. My mother had to give in to my ardent desire to become a priest.
With three other seminarians, I left for the Sacred Heart Seminary in Tanawan, Leyte, Philippines, a diocesan minor seminary run by the Fathers of the Society of the Divine Word. Classes started in June of that year, 1947. After taking up regular and special courses in Latin for two years together with the older boys and other high school graduates, I entered the newly opened major seminary department, a college course for four years, recognized by the government, leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts (A.B.). Consequently, aside from the studies of the Bible and of the rudiments of Greek, I had to comply with the government requirement for credits in Philosophy, English, Latin, Spanish, Mathematics, Science, Education, Sociology, and Physical Education. In 1950, I was one of those who were vested with the clerical garb, the cassock, and then outer garment to be worn from then on. The black cassock was worn on special occasions, and the white cassocks for daily ordinary wear. In April 1953, I graduated from the college of Liberal Arts.
After studying for six years in Sacred Heart Seminary, I was sent by my Bishop to San Jose Seminary in Quezon City, Philippines to study Theology, a four-year course. Within this time, those who were qualified could work for a Master of Arts degree (M.A.). I did not qualify for M.A. Degree. Before classes started in June 1953, my Bishop was then in Quezon City had a stroke of cerebral hemorrhage, and having lost in speech, he was incapacitated to go on his work as a Bishop. So in 1955, a new Bishop of Surigao was consecrated, Bishop van den Ouwelant, M.S.C. The subjects I studied in the Theology course were Fundamental Theology, Moral Theology, Dogmatic Theology, Sacred Scriptures, Canon Law, Church History, Sacred Eloquence, Hebrew, Rites, Pastoral Theology, Liturgy, and Ascetical Theology.
In the two seminaries where I studied, seminarians are allowed to go home for their yearly summer vacation. During my vacation in summer 1954, I met Dr. Cesar Castro in his clinic in R. Papa Street, Manila; my elder brother Baudelio, who was still single, introduced him to me as a minister of the Church Of Christ. But during my last vacation after my third year in Theology, I did not go home but I stayed with my elder brother Baudelio and his wife, Lolita Jermina, both members of the Church Of Christ or Iglesia Ni Cristo, who were then residing in Aguado Street, San Miguel, Manila. In the course of my stay, I wanted to win my brother and his wife back to the Catholic Church. Therefore I was anxious to see personally the Administrator of the Church Of Christ, namely Brother Felix Manalo, and also the other ministers. With my brother and sister-in-law, I succeeded in meeting personally Brother Felix Manalo, his son Brother Eraño G. Manalo and Brother Teofilo C. Ramos at Riverside, now F. Manalo Street, San Juan, Rizal. I even had a picture taken with Brother Felix Manalo and Brother Teofilo C. Ramos. That was in 1956.
My Brother and I agreed that Brother Cipriano P. Sandoval, a minister of the Church Of Christ, be invited to the house to teach me about the Church Of Christ. But my intention was to discuss with the minister and to refute and disapprove the doctrines of the Church Of Christ. Indeed Brother Sandoval and Brother Sulpicio Villanueva, the Head Deacon of Quiapo, Manila visited me regularly. I asked questions and argued. But one thing struck me was this: whenever I asked questions or whenever I argued, Brother Sandoval would take the authority of his answers not from his own lips but from the words of the Holy Bible. And it was amazing how he could find the answers so easily and quickly in the Bible.
I told Brother Sandoval and my brother that in case I would be convinced of the teachings of the Church of Christ, I would not return to the seminary anymore. My vacation came to an end but I was not yet thoroughly convinced of the doctrine of the Church Of Christ, so I returned to the seminary and finished my last year in Theology. During that last year of my seminary training, I received the tonsure, the four Minor Orders, and the Two Major Orders of Sub-diaconate and Diaconate. So after studying for six years in the Sacred Heart Seminary and four years in San Jose Seminary, I received the last Major Order, the Priesthood, in Surigao, Surigao del Norte on March 24, 1957. Since then I was addressed Reverend Father Beda Aboloc. I celebrated my first Solemn Hymn Mass in my hometown on April 7, 1957.
After my ordination, I was assigned assistant priest in several parishes of the Diocese of Surigao, namely, in Surigao, Surigao del Norte, Cabadbaran, Agusan; Buenavista, Agusan; Bacuag, Surigao del Norte; Madrid, Surigao del Sur; Bayogan, Agusan; and Dapa, Surigao del Norte. I was assigned Parish priest in Carrascal, Surigao del Sur, and in Claver, Surigao del Norte. I was assistant secretary to the Bishop of Surigao until my resignation from the priesthood.
I must confess that, in spite of the quietude of life supposed to be sufficient cause for contentment of a priest in my position, I could not – summoning all arguments with which I was trained – dislodge the Biblical passages read before me which punctured and pointed to me the falsehood of Roman Catholicism. Inwardly, I could not beat peace. My conscience was incessantly disturbed.
I decided to quit priesthood for the sake of salvation of my soul. To go on living the life of a priest would only lead me to eternal damnation. As a priest, I could not see the will of God in the discipline of the Catholic Church forbidding priests to marry. I happened to discuss with some of my fellow-priest about the possible changes in the Catholic Church during the Second Vatican Council, which was then being planned. We made several guesses as to what would finally be decided regarding the celibacy of priests. One guess was that the Catholic Church might make marriage at least optional for priests. Some of my fellow priests said that even if it were optional for priests to marry, they would not care to marry at all, but others said that for them marriage would be perfectly alright. But I could not wait for the decision of the council for this matter.
After the first session of the second Vatican Council, I decided to quit the Priesthood in the proper way. Proper way I said, because nobody on earth could have prevented me from taking off my cassock and severing all connections with the Priesthood anytime, anywhere. I could have run away and lived together with any woman of my choice after, say, a civil marriage. But in the eyes of the Catholic Church this would not only be improper but even illegal. The Catholic Church could have me branded with all sorts of ill names, such as, an ex-communicated priest, a renegade priest, an immoral and sinful priest, a fugitive priest, a scandalous priest, a crazy priest, and so forth.
Therefore in February 1963, with the help and recommendation of my Bishop, Msgr. Charles van den Ouwelant, M.S.C., I sent my resignation from the priesthood to then reigning Pope in Rome, Pope John XXIII. Not long after my resignation had been received in Rome, the Pope John XXIII died, and a new Pope, Pope Paul VI, was elected and crowned. While waiting for the reply of the Pope, I informed my elder brother in Manila about my resignation from the priesthood. He was glad to know about it, and he reminded me of the Church Of Christ. With his answer to my letter he included texts from the Bible sent to me by Brother Cipriano P. Sandoval. But I did not mind those texts. My mind was preoccupied with nothing but quitting the priesthood.
In October 1963, having received no decision from Rome, I told my Bishop who was going again to Rome for the second session of the Council, to please follow up my letter of resignation and see the Pope personally for a speedy decision. Faithful to his promise to help me be the best way he could, my Bishop succeeded in obtaining for me the decision of the Pope which he communicated to me in writing immediately. I received my Bishop’s letter in December 1963, stating the Pope’s approval of my resignation and the dispensation from all my obligations to the priesthood including celibacy. I was very happy. But since in my application for resignation I stated that I intended to remain an ordinary Catholic layman, my Bishop advised me to set an example of a good Catholic life to other Catholics whom I might get in contact with. He instructed me what to do in case of a possible marriage to be contracted presumably with Catholic woman.
After taking off my cassock, I went home for a few months’ vacation. On April 7, 1964, I proceeded to the house of my elder brother Baudelio, intending to stay with him while looking for a job but not intending to join him as a member of the Church Of Christ. As a Catholic layman, I could look for a Catholic woman to wed. On April 12, 1964, my brother and sister-in-law invited me to attend the services of the Church Of Christ in the Chapel at F. Manalo, San Juan, Rizal. We did not know it was the first anniversary of death of Brother Felix Manalo. After the services, we met Brother Eraño G. Manalo, Brother Teofilo C. Ramos, Cipriano P. Sandoval, Benjamin Santiago and other brothers in the Church Of Christ. I requested Brother Cipriano P. Sandoval, with whom I used to discuss religious matters way back in 1956, to teach me about the Church Of Christ.
On April 13, 1964, Brother Sandoval began my Bible Study but after two lessons, another minister, Brother Angel Casanova took over, because Brother Sandoval was too busy to have a fixed schedule. In the course of my bible Study, I discovered a world of difference between the doctrine of the Catholic Church and the doctrine of Church Of Christ. After serious thought and consideration, I was convinced of the truth, the way, and the life of the Church Of Christ, so much so, even before my Bible Study was over, I took part of the campaigns of the Church Of Christ in Calapan, Mindoro, on May 1, 1964 and in Naga City, Camarines Sur, on May 15, 1964. My Bible Study was finished on May 27, 1964, my thirty-sixth birthday. On May 29, 1964, I took part for the third time in another campaign of the Church Of Christ in Pasig, Rizal.
During the campaign, I told the public that I found the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church to be wrong especially the prohibition imposed on priests to marry and the prohibition to eat meat, which are doctrines of the devil, according to the Bible. I exhorted all Catholics, including priests, to go out of Roman Catholic Church and enter the Church Of Christ if they want to be saved on judgment day. On May 30, 1964, Minister Brother Balmores baptized me in the Church Of Christ, in the chapel of Baclaran, Rizal.
Now I am happy and at peace after my quest for the truth, the way, and the life and I hope one day to be at rest with my God. In closing, let this be clear to everybody. First, that I was not expelled in Priesthood, but it was I, myself, who quit the priesthood. Secondly, if my quitting the priesthood were just a question of getting married, I did not have become a member of the Church Of Christ, or of any other religion for that matter. As an ordinary Catholic layman I could have chosen any Catholic woman for a wife. But my becoming a member of the Church Of Christ is a question of doctrine and principle, and conviction. And since members of the Church Of Christ forbidden to contract marriage with non-members, I hope someday, somewhere, sometime, somehow, to find a partner for life among my marriageable sisters in the Church Of Christ.
Brother Beda H. Aboloc entered the ministry and was ordained as a Minister of the Gospel. He became a writer and editor of the PASUGO magazine. He was an active member of the Church and remained in themininistry until his death.
[Published at PASUGO 50th Anniversary Special Anniversary Edition, July 1964, pp. 194-196.]