Father Ricky Masdo brings a spirit of accompaniment to his ministry as a chaplain for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He wants to be there for military members and their families to minister to them — helping them through loneliness and other hardships that can come with military service.
“I just want to go with the sheep,” said Father Ricky, who was sponsored through Unbound as a seminarian and was recently ordained a Catholic priest. “I’ll be the shepherd, and I’ll go with the sheep.”
As a chaplain, he teaches about the faith, leads Bible sharing, prays with military members and visits them in the hospital. He also visits their families.
Now that he’s been ordained, Father Ricky will be assigned to serve as a chaplain in one of the branches of the Philippine military.
He traces his vocation to the influence of his parish priest, who encouraged him as a boy to become an acolyte (altar server) and later to enter the seminary.
Father Ricky left the seminary after his third year of theology studies when his father passed away.
The fourth of seven children, he focused on helping his family. He said his mother, a teacher, never gave up on him returning to the seminary.
“Every time my mother asked me if I was going back to the seminary, I said, ‘Do you know the price of rice?'”
Money was tight but Father Ricky eventually returned to his studies.
“That is what he really wanted, to serve God,” said his mother, Nena.
He learned about Unbound from a friend and applied for sponsorship.
“Ate Minda (Unbound staff member Minda luz Morales) kept telling me to pray hard,” Father Ricky said. “I prayed hard. … Lord, may my application be accepted.”
Father Ricky was sponsored by David and Tina Herbison of Oregon. David is a member of Unbound’s governing board.
The sponsorship support from the Herbisons helped with tuition and books, and served as encouragement for Father Ricky to continue with his studies.
But Father Ricky wasn’t the only one to benefit. The Herbisons found inspiration in their friendship with Father Ricky.
“Through Unbound sponsorship, we have been so blessed and privileged to support Father Ricky on his vocational journey,” David said. “His humble service and deep love of Christ are an inspiration to us.
“While Father Ricky indicates that our Unbound sponsorship provided him the strength to persevere in his vocational development, it is we, as sponsors, who gained strength and inspiration from his Christian example. He will continue to be a source of strength, consolation and inspiration as he courageously serves as a priest in the military diocese.”
In his development, Father Ricky points to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, the former rector of the seminary where he studied, as influencing him in the kind of priest he wants to be, which is one who leads a simple lifestyle.
Pope Francis has also inspired him. Father Ricky had a chance to be part of events surrounding the pope’s visit to the Philippines last January.
“First, it helps me in my prayer life, especially when I am preparing for my ordination,” Father Ricky said at the time of the pope’s visit. “I said to myself, ‘If I become a priest I will be simple.’ I want to be a simple priest.”
Father Ricky serves under the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, which is a diocese for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Its jurisdiction includes military personnel, their dependents and the civilian employees of all branches of the armed forces, according to the media office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
For Father Ricky, accompanying military members means going with them to the hard places, which could mean going into areas where there’s armed conflict.
While the hope is always to avoid war, he said, he wants to minister to members of the military wherever their assignments take them.
“Wherever they are going or whatever they are doing, I want to be with them,” he said.
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