Rev. Ike Tarabi and I met at Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City in 1990. It was in my second year in Jesuit formation when he entered as a first year novice. We became close because of our constant conversations at the novices’ library. I was then the community’s librarian, and it was I who re-arranged the library to make it more inviting and cozy. Ike was one of those who loved reading and lounging at the library’s sofa.
He was in Juniorate when he left and pursued Jem, who eventually became his wife. I had a role in their story. The video below will give you an idea of how our friendship and our deep faith led us to pursue our vocations: I as a Jesuit priest, and him, as a permanent deacon (yes, Catholic and married).
He got ordained at 10 AM (US Time) on 19 December 2020, St. James Cathedral, Archdiocese of Seattle, USA. I attended his ordination virtually at 2AM (Philippine Time), 20 December 2020.
Here’s our story in broad strokes.
When you told me that you were considering the diaconate, I was very excited. The reason was more personal: You and I will be sharing the same apostolic ministry as ordained ministers. You will perform sacraments as I do; and with the memories that we already have as friends, we can add more memories of ordained service.
We’ve come a long way since 1990 when you entered the novitiate. Our conversations, and yes, including the spiritual and not-so-edifying conversations in the library that I re-designed for people to linger and love reading; the story about how you liked this girl named Jem, a daughter of an administrator in Tala Leprosarium where I was assigned prior to yours. And how you wanted to send letters to her, and I without reluctance, volunteered to be the conduit between you and her. Well, until we were caught and reprimanded by our superiors. Of course, I apologized to them as an obedient Jesuit. But honestly, I lied: I did not regret it. It will remain as one of my fondest memories of you. It is my claim to fame that I had a role in bring you and Jem together, and with Cielo, it is an honor to have my life intertwined with your family.
I will not forget your manner of discerning in the early 1990s: We were lying side-by-side in the middle of Masterson’s Road in Ateneo de Manila University at midnight. You said that if a car would appear heading straight at us, it would be a sign that you were to pursue another vocation; and if not, you would stay as a Jesuit. Well, no car ever appeared, thank God we are still alive, but you still left and forged your own path.
I am happy that God has shown you clearly what you were meant to be and to do. And may I say this with great conviction: God works according to our hearts. I have known you as someone who thinks and reflects, sometimes too much, (just don’t overdo them, ok?). However, your magnanimous and generous heart successfully tempers your mind. And rightfully so in your call as a married deacon: May your heart love Jem and Cielo intimately and passionately, as it expands more to accommodate others as well.
I stand before a mural of Pakighinabi or Dialogue in English. I stand here to bring Mindanao, your home to where you are now, so that you will not forget the beauty of Zamboanga as you celebrate your ordination. Pope Francis emphasized that we are all brothers and sisters, and that no one should be excluded. Mindanao is multi-cultural and diverse, thus may your shepherding be marked by inclusivity and acceptance of others.
So, congratulations Ike. I share with all those who are here how blessed we are to have someone like you; and how blessed I am to have a lifelong friend like you. And may I say this with audacity that the Church is blessed too as she welcomes you into the ranks of the ordained. You already know that I have always kept you in my masses and prayers. Congratulations too, Jem and Cielo. I love you all! And, cheers to more memories!
Here is a photo of his first preaching.