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Being at the Front Row of the Lord's Work

Raoul Roncal was your goody-goody teenager back in 1984 and was feeling quite okay with life when he happened to attend this CYA retreat he was invited to attend. He was an Engineering student at Don Bosco Mandaluyong. At that time, the question about life's meaning was starting to knock a few times on his mind's door. He realized then that he wanted to have more in life and by the end of that retreat, he decided to give his life to the Lord.

He did find a lot of joy and meaning in helping young people like himself because that retreat led him to active service with Christ's Youth in Action around 1987. By the time, he got invited to teach with the Department of Theology at the Ateneo de Manila University in 2006, he had already been a veteran in serving the youth. The 1984 retreat made him realize the powerful connection he had with them because he could relate with their concerns.

Raoul Roncal

When one offers to the Lord, more often than not, the Lord takes what is offered and blesses it further. More often than not, it feels like the Lord and His servant had both hit a terribly good a-ha moment. At the Ateneo, despite a reluctance to fill in the shoes of a teacher in the classroom, Bro Raoul Roncal became a magnet for young people who needed help in finding their life's path. He takes such great joy in the opportunity given to him to influence young people who are now successful in their lives. His teaching technique of having them connect their personal lives to topics and lessons have always worked wonders

One such young person who crossed his path was Bro. Bobby Quitain himself. Many of us in the community have heard Bro. Bob talk about his conversion story and would refer time and again to that significant invitation to attend a CYA retreat back in his UP fraternity-crazed life back then. Maybe not a lot of us know the detail about Bro Raoul being his Discussion Group Leader (DGL) in that same retreat and would turn out to be one important mentor in his life. The two have remained to be such great brothers in Christ indeed.

Raoul with the Servants of the Word brothers

Not one to take all the credit to such work in young people's lives to his own brilliance, Bro Raoul humbly refers this as more like being given permission to be at the front row of the Lord's handiwork. He says it is truly amazing to see a life changed and to be part of that is truly a privilege more than anything.

With a firm assurance that this was the work that was cut out for him which started with the spark back in his own CYA retreat of 1984, Bro Raoul further investigated ways of life that he had been called to live out following this pattern of service for the youth. Aside from being a covenanted member of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon and having also served Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon, its affiliate community for young professionals, Bro Raoul is also with the Sword of the Spirit.

with students

When asked to comment about the generations of young people he has met all these years, he said young people are all looking for the same thing – meaning in life, purpose and what can make them happy. Quite alarmingly, there is a growing number of them who do not even know that it is God whom they are looking for. There is a God who wants to have a relationship with them and that their ultimate fulfillment is to find Him. Finding oneself is always connected to finding God. One can always check in on so many Psychology books or self-help materials or attend seminars and webinars on the topic of finding oneself but according to Bro Raoul, it will never be enough to find oneself. But when a young person does, another terribly great a-ha moment happens between that young person and the Lord. One can never tell how far the Lord can go in transforming a person's life.

"It is never really about us. It is about how the good Lord uses us beyond expectation."

Having been a young person once himself and now an adult who has weathered seasons of hardships as well, Bro Raoul, like St. Paul, sees his faith as the sure anchor of his soul. A Christian's faith gets deeper and much stronger in the face of whatever storm life has to offer. And when speaking about his life purpose of serving and teaching the young, he says, "I should walk my talk. If I say that God is the source of my meaning so I should make this evident in my life. The world needs God so I should also show that I need Him."

✍️ Therese Pelias

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