Frater Marlon Bobier Vargas, left, undertook his Profession of Perpetual Vows with the Society of Divine Word (SVD) beside three other young men in their Chicago Chapter in Techny, Ill. on Sept. 21. Photo courtesy of Paula Ducepec

To teach is to serve, to serve is to learn

By  Paula Ducepec, Youth Speak News
  • October 2, 2019

Frater Marlon Bobier Vargas knew that his calling was to teach and to serve, but what he didn’t know was that his classroom went beyond the confines of four walls. 

“I see God’s work’s, God’s calling, little by little, gradually, and deepening my response to God,” said Vargas. “That ‘OK, Lord, I am gonna try this and then try it again. Try it again.’ ”

Vargas knew that he had a mission, but as to what that was exactly, was not so clear.

He was a teacher for more than a decade at the most prominent high schools in the Philippines. He majored in Religious Studies and guidance counselling, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. 

He was teaching at the Ateneo de Manila University High School in the Philippines when he was first invited to work abroad. He saw it as God calling him to do something different; maybe someone else needs him more in a place completely unknown to him. 

So he went to the small Pacific island of Guam. But all the changes made him feel lonely and confused, so he began to question if God really had a plan for him. Back home in the Philippines, he had all a person could ask for to live a happy and healthy life: friends, family, a good profession as a teacher. 

Vargas felt God’s presence around him. He knew that He was not done with him just yet. 

“I felt that… God is really disturbing me, bothering me, that ‘Marlon, I need you to … move forward. I need you to go to surface to a place which is farther from where you’re at,’ ” said Vargas.

The 38-year-old undertook his Profession of Perpetual Vows with the Society of Divine Word (SVD) with three other young men in their Chicago Chapter in Techny, Ill., on Sept. 21. This North American chapter trains and teaches future missionaries in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean Islands. 

Vargas, filled with nervous excitement, sat in his pew with eyes fixed on the altar. He had a smile on his face as his life-long preparation for the mission of God was being realized. At the altar, he stood proud and with a loud, clear voice professed his vows. 

Being the largest Roman Catholic order that focuses on missionary work, Vargas feels that through the SVD his experiences in teaching, in giving retreats and recollections, his passion for learning cultures and language will be put into God’s work. 

“There are only three reasons why I would leave the Philippines: One is to teach, and I should teach religion or (the) Catholic faith. Second, I would leave Philippines if I would pursue studies…. And then third, if I would become a missionary,” said Vargas. “I didn’t expect that I’ll become an SVD. It’s more of, I felt .… at home. I felt accepted.”

(Ducepec, 21, is a Bachelor of Science undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Anthropology.)

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