Bro. Yosep Undung, SVD
Brother Yosep Undung, SVD, is from Ruteng, Indonesia. Bro. Yosep professed his first vows in 1992 and perpetual vows in 1999. During his years in temporary vows, he was sent to the Philippines to earn a college degree. After perpetual vows, Bro. Yosep returned to the Philippines to work and do graduate studies. He earned his doctorate in 2008.
Vocation to Brotherhood: A Shining Star that Never Dims
By Bro. Yosep Undung, SVD
Becoming a Divine Word Missionary Brother is a unique vocation. Looking back at the seeds of my vocation, I see a lot of beautiful and inspiring experiences. I came from a simple family of three siblings and two parents. My dad died when I was three years old. It was a very difficult time for my mom as she faced the challenge of caring for the three of us. With the assistance of relatives from my mother's side, I grew up and received an elementary education. These early years strengthened and shaped me and gave me confidence in the direction of my life. My basic formative and educative years ended in 1989, when I finished senior high school in Flores, Indonesia.
Inspired by an invitation “to work in the Lord's vineyard,” I entered religious formation to become a Divine Word Missionary Brother immediately after high school. Brotherhood is not considered an attractive vocation by most Indonesians, since society still perceives brotherhood as secondary to priesthood. This perception did not in any way weaken my spirit to become a Divine Word Brother. I was accepted by the community and spent four years as a Brother candidate. I professed my first vows on September 8, 1992. From the sixteen “junior Brothers,” two of us were sent to study for professional training in the Philippines in 1994. I studied education for four years at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City.
On June 2, 1999, I professed my perpetual vows. I was appointed to the Philippine Central Province and assigned to teach in the high school attached to Divine Word College of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro. My desire to pursue more education never faded. I felt the college degree which I had just acquired was insufficient to do the supervisory work I was given. I realized I needed further studies. Fortunately, I received a scholarship and completed my program in less than two years. I earned a master’s degree in education, with a major in educational management.
In 2003, I was assigned to the Divine Word College of Calapan (DWCC) in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. I was entrusted with several responsibilities, such as director of the education department, coordinator of community extension services, and finance officer of the college. I realized that working in an educational institution was very challenging and inspiring. I learned much from the people with whom I worked. Still, after some time, I felt the need to pursue higher studies in order to better prepare myself to work with the educators and students at the college.
A generous benefactor provided scholarship funds, so I enrolled as a part-time student at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, where I began my studies for a doctorate in educational management. I worked from Monday through Thursday at DWCC, then traveled for five hours to reach Manila. I took weekend classes for two years. In 2007, I requested permission to finish my degree while going to school full-time. Thus, in one and a half years, I successfully fulfilled the remaining requirements, including research for my dissertation.
Working in the Philippines has been my first love. I have been working primarily in the midst of other educators to serve the most financially disadvantaged students. I am always thankful for the grace that God has bestowed upon me. He has allowed me to advance from a very humble beginning to the highest academic level.
I am now back in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, the place where I was first assigned. I am ready to serve the provincial students who have many limitations and constraints. I am very grateful for the continuous support, motivation, and prayers of my benefactors, family, and friends. I thank God for His continuous love, graces, and blessings as I am guided to hold on to the shining star that never dims, my vocation as a Divine Word Missionary Brother.