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Philippines: Birthday of Fr. Pedro Gonzalez Tejero, OP.

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The community of Santo Tomas de Manila Priory, or the University of Santo Tomas, celebrated on Sunday, August 30, the birthday of Fr. Tejero, as we refer to him. The mass presided over by the Prior, Fr. Rodel Aligan, concelebrated by all members of the community and some Filipino brothers from the Santo Domingo´s Priory of Quezon City. Due to the situation of the quarantine, the community of the Convent of San Juan could not attend this celebration.

After mass, Fr. Tejero was honored with a special meal. He greeted everyone present, but due to his poor eyesight and limited hearing, he was unable to participate more actively in the celebration.

Fr. Pedro Tejero, O.P., Dominican

My first assignment in this University was to be Vice-Rector for Philosophers in the UST Central Seminary for one year. Then I was Prefect for Theologians for eleven years. With me in the Seminary were the late Fr. Frederick Fermin, Fr. Jesus Mancebo and Fr. Pedro Tejero who was the Spiritual Director for the Philosophers. My room was next to his room in the 4th floor.

Fr. Tejero may look strict and stern from the pictures but he would always say “Kumusta ka, Kaibigan?” He would even greet the barber in his way. He can even crack jokes during seminary gatherings especially during his birthday when the seminarians would cry in chorus “joke, joke, joke.” Behind his apparent mean appearance, he is a jolly good fellow.

Fr. Tejero was a formator. He has molded many young Spanish Dominicans to the priesthood. He even inspired Bishop Teodoro Bacani to become a priest. He was the first prior of the Sto. Domingo Convent in Quezon City.

Fr. Tejero was a missionary. He labored in the Dominican mission among the Chinese in Binondo from 1983 to 1990 and documented the Order’s work in his 1993 book, “Binondo: 400 years of Dominican Apostolate.” I remember that now being assigned to the UST Central Seminary as Spiritual Director he made it a point to take a paseo walking alone to Binondo on Sundays. His love for the Chinese mission never wavered.

In November 2008, together with two other priests, Fr. Fidel Villarroel and Fr, Pedro Traquena the University of Santo Tomas has bestowed on them a lifetime achievement award for their years of service to the University as models of selfless dedication.

A climb to self-dedication is a tug of war with the self. There will be tuft days. It is not a straight line rise from one level to another. Even if we approach the journey from different directions, the journey’s characteristics are common to all of us, they are a series of steep climbs and flat plateaus, then further climbs. Going higher, you mature, you change. Climb with humi9lity to honor God.

This is how Dominican missionaries are made of. Whether they be in this university or in our mission stations they are made of sterner stuff. Just like Jesus in today’s Gospel reading, who absolutely committed Himself to God’s purpose, nothing can prevent them from fulfilling the will of God, even if troubles, obstacles, challenges come, pandemic or not come their way. In all adversities they are able to say “Get behind me Satan” I am doing my Father’s business. That’s why they can live a hundred years.

Happy birthday, father. You are a priest forever and you will even exceed your one hundred years of service to the Lord.