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Posted May 23, 2019
Because of its lush climate, many things grow in the Philippines, including much of the produce that the world loves. But sometimes, it's necessary to leave the tropical climate of that archipelago for the snow of Buffalo for something that was planted to bear fruit.
Such was the case for Mario Gemar Racho.
Growing up in the Philippines, Mario was a regular kid, going to school, participating in sports, and planning for the future. Throughout it all, he prayed, asking God what plan He had for him and what He wanted him to be. The answer didn't come right away. Mario finished high school and went off to the Philippines Maritime Institute, graduated, and took a job with a chemical company.
Still, he prayed, giving himself to God and asking for direction. "Lord, wherever you see me grow and bear much fruit."
The answer turned out to be a calling to the priesthood 8,000 miles from home.
In Buffalo and at Christ the King, he found cold like he couldn't imagine and warmth he never anticipated. As his first winter approached, his new family at Christ the King informed him that it was time to go shopping. At the time, he didn't understand why...not until he experienced the joy of a Buffalo November. "Before I need it, the people here provide it for me," he says of winter clothing but referring to much more. "The people of the diocese have been a great joy for me. They have welcomed me like I am their own son."
He also found a closer relationship with Jesus, in part because of his own devotion and prayer, and in part because of the mentors and colleagues. "I have grown a lot, not because of me, but because of the people around me. I have grown closer to Jesus because of my time at Christ The King."
After ordination, Mario will take his place serving the people of the diocese who have provided such warmth and welcome. "I can see myself ministering to the homeless, the hopeless, the young, and the old—planting the seed of the love of God in their hearts." His long conversation with God and his long journey have proven that, in all seasons, fruit grows in Buffalo.