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It’s dishwashing time here in our household in Manila . We brothers take our customary posts by the kitchen sink to begin the daily after-dinner routine of washing the dishes, the pots and pans, and silverware. There’s some small talk and a bit of bantering. But overall, the whole routine takes no more than 12 minutes. Everyone does his chore – be it soaping, rinsing, drying, or taking care of the leftovers – with a no-nonsense efficiency. Everyone… except, of course, Raoul.

Raoul RoncalRecently, Raoul has been exempted from the communal chore of washing dishes. Instead, the brothers relegated him all to his lonesome in the dining room – there to bus the plates, clean up the mess on the dinner table, and tidy up the dining room. He’s not allowed to join the other guys in the kitchen during the communal dishwashing, a revered brotherhood tradition. Reason? Raoul engages everyone doing dishes in conversations and animated banter that “slow down” the dishwashing process, extending the time it takes anywhere from 10 to 20 precious minutes more.

That’s Raoul. Epitome of the common life. Life of the party par excellence. Winner of the “Brother Among Brothers Award.” He’s so communal that we’ve had to “quarantine” him during regular dishwashing times so that we’re spared from being regaled and taken away from the task at hand by his endless stories, anecdotes, and funny jokes.

Don’t get me wrong. We all enjoy it just as much as Raoul does.

It’s this storytelling gift that makes Raoul “an apt teacher.” A Master’s degree holder in theology, Raoul blends a love for academic theology with a down-to-earth spirituality that makes for gritty pastoral wisdom that young people appreciate. This serves him well in his diverse roles – presently he’s a coordinator in the Ligaya Ng Panginoon Community in Manila; the National Director of Christ’s Youth in Action, the community’s nationwide evangelistic outreach; and a lecturer in theology at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University. And at countless youth prayer rallies, camps, retreats, prayer meetings, and conferences all over the country where he’s frequently invited to speak, Raoul never fails to inspire and capture people’s hearts for the Lord with his preaching.

It’s this uncanny blend of practical spirituality and theology, a keen and endlessly curious intellect coupled with an infectious joy that comes from a heart set single-heartedly on God, that explains the ever-present smile on Raoul’s lips.

Ah, yes! The simple joys of loving the Lord and loving his people… and telling stories at dishwashing time!

Of note about Raoul:

  • Born in February 25, 1966 , to Ernesto and Nena Roncal (only son of three children).
  • Graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering in 1987.
  • Worked as full-time staff with Christ’s Youth in Action (CYA) immediately after college.
  • Joined The Servants of the Word as an affiliate in 1986 and made his lifelong commitment to live single for the Lord in 1994.
  • Loves to run and play basketball and badminton.
  • Earned M.A. in Theological Studies from Loyola School of Theology in 2001.
  • Bakes great banana bread!

Francis Iturralde

This article is from our Easter 2008 Newsletter: View Entire Newsletter (requires Acrobat Reader)

Francis Iturralde
Francis is an associate to the Brotherhood and serves as the house steward of the Ipil household. He currently works as administrator for the Brotherhood and does community-building work for the Asian Region of the Sword of the Spirit. He also serves as head of the worship ministry of the local community.
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