God Called Tetzel and He Answered

by Ace Tupasi

Tetzel Umingli is one of the new students of Mount Angel Seminary studying for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.  He is currently in first-year theology.  He was born on January 12, 1988, in Lagawe, Ifugao, of the Philippines.

Tetzel was in the third grade when he said to his parents that he wanted to become a priest.  Moreover, he kept this desire to become a priest.  In 2005 he entered the seminary in the Philippines with the desire to spread the Word of God as a priest someday.

In the seminary, Tetzel said, they were told that "seminary formation is very long because their motives might not be pure, and that through the processes of seminary formation, their motives would be purified."  Tetzel said his first attraction to the priesthood was "through the priests he knew" when he was little.  They were very kind people, and he wanted to be like them.

As his days in the seminary passed, he did not want to be only like those priests anymore, but he wanted to be like Christ himself.  As a would-be priest, he wants to be an alter-Christus to the people he will be serving someday.

Tetzel said, "the heart of priestly life is Christ himself."  The life of a priest should ultimately be patterned on the life of Christ.  A priest should lead people back to Christ and to the Church.  The sacraments that priests administer are centered on Christ.  Through the priest, the rays of Christ's grace should permeate the people he serves.  This is the kind of priest he wants to become - a priest who is effective in inspiring people to return back to God.

He comes from the mountainous regions of Cordillera, particularly from the province of Ifugao, home to the famous tourist destination, the Banaue Rice Terraces.  His parents are both children of mumbakis, pagan priests of the old pagan Ifugao.  However, his parents are baptized Catholics through the influence of the Belgian missionaries who came to Ifugao.  His father named him after Fr. Johann Tetzel, the opponent of Martin Luther regarding the teaching on indulgences.

His family had the greatest influence on the person Tetzel is today.  His mother, particularly, is the teacher in the family.  Aside from his family, there are other people who in one way or another touched his life.  Included in the list, of course, are his formators, especially his formation director and spiritual directors.  Much of his spiritual, human, and academic growth was enhanced in the seminary.  Through the apostolate program, he was exposed to the different life situations of people in the urban poor society.

Tetzel has finished the first stage of formation, the college life of the seminary, and now he takes the second stage, theology, here at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon.  He believes he can reach the end.  According to Tetzel, "I only need love . . . Love attains God."