An Introduction to “Love”: Meeting the new VP for Religious Affairs

By: Patricia Ramos
September 07, 2017

VPRA Fr. Lovell Javier's first leading of a Holy Mass in the Colegio takes hold during the RSO Mass Induction.

“The challenge for me is how to connect the gap, how to entice the students to be religious, to take them seriously as Catholics.”

This is the vision of Colegio De San Juan De Letran’s new Vice President for Religious Affairs, Fr. Paul Lovell G. Javier, O.P., as he told in an interview with The LANCE.

Fr. Paul Lovell or “Love”, as he addresses himself in select classroom visitations, said that it is his dream to introduce this kind of program wherein he would visit the students in their rooms to have an interaction with them, to introduce himself and to get to know the students more. He also shared that he finds the students of Letran as full of life, full of hope and that the students know how to behave accordingly.

“My childhood was very colorful. I was born in the province of my mom in Balagtas, Bulacan. And then I grew up there until I was four years old and then I joined my family here in Manila because this is where our home is so I transferred here and then I attended school from my kinder until my collegiate level in UST,” said Fr. Lovell of his roots.

Asked if he had any vision of becoming a priest, he was quick to admit his initial reluctance.

“No, I did not. But like any other child, as I entered my adolescence, my dream would change. I would want to become a pilot, I’d want to become a politician, a businessperson, and so on.”

Fr. Lovell has had tragedy in his life, as well.

“I was about to enter the seminary after high school when a tragedy happened to my family. My father, my sister and then my auntie died due to a vehicular accident. My mom asked me not to pursue my plan of entering the seminary since we were just four so she wanted to have more time, bonding moments. So, I made a compromise with my mom, that after I pursue my degree in Economics, if the calling is still there, I would answer the call. After four years, after graduating Economics, the desire was still there so I pursued it.”

Before his ordination on November 7, 2012, at Sto. Domingo Church, Fr. Lovell was assigned in Letran Manila in November 2011. He stayed in Letran for a semester until May before he was transferred to the seminary in Letran Calamba to be the formator—the one who is in charge of looking after seminarians, the young men who seek to become a priest.

After his assignment in Letran Calamba, he went to the islands of Babuyan which he considers as his most memorable experience as a priest. He also mentioned that his experience in the island of Babuyan for two years is the reason why he opted to become a Dominican priest instead of becoming a Diocesan priest which was his original plan.

“Life there is very simple and not everyone will have that opportunity to experience that life, to live in a place where there isn’t always continuous electricity, where there’s no internet, not even a marketplace because I learned how to plant rice, how to harvest rice, how to plant corn, how to experience extreme weather conditions like typhoons to the point that when I arrived there after one month, a typhoon came and then suddenly our roof was destroyed by the strong wind. Those things, and then experiencing how to brace the big waves in front of us are the beautiful things, very simple yet memorable,” he said.

Fr. Lovell transferred to Letran Manila last May 24 in the convent and then assumed office last July 1, 2017. According to him, he was nervous to have the position of Vice President for Religious Affairs because he knows the extent of the work, of the ministry, and it’s not easy to cater to the spiritual side of the stakeholders of Letran considering that they have various personal backgrounds. He also gave emphasis to the millennials because he wants to bridge the gap between these two generations, the Generation X, and the millennials.

“I observed a lot of changes that happened during the time when I was still a student, a college student, and now that I’m the one standing in front of them, maraming bagay ang nagbago,” said Fr. Lovell, questioning himself if he can still connect and relate with the students.

“With the change of this mentality, I’m not saying that the millennials are bad, you’re just unique from my generation. We were raised in a different way, in a different milieu so I have to respect that one and the challenge for me is how to connect that one,” he added.

Fr. Lovell is the youngest priest to assume the position of Vice President for Religious Affairs, which he thinks is the reason why he is different from the previous VPs. For him, being young means he has idealism, enthusiasm, excitement and physical strength which means he can do a lot of things like interacting with the students.

Asked about his future plans for the Colegio, he said, “To strengthen the Catholic faith of all the stakeholders of the Colegio kasi kumbaga ito 'yung isang aspeto na we are unique, this being Catholic makes us unique from other institutions and then not just nominal Catholics but a true practicing one. I want to strengthen that. That’s my dream. To guide the young ones in a very dynamic way, not the conventional way that we know of the Catholic church. Let’s try to reinvent it and to integrate the family in the school.”

Fr. Lovell invites the students of the Colegio to the office of Religious Affairs as he believes it is also a place of refuge for everyone.