My life’s vocation as a guidance counsellor

Photo: Marilou Borje

Something people would be surprised to know about me is that I was a Columban lay missionary for three years in Peru. It was there that I discerned my vocation, which was to become a counsellor. My story of becoming a counsellor started in high school when I was interviewed by Ms Faith Mabutas. That routine guidance interview made me realise that it was nice to have someone to listen to you without being judged and without giving you a sermon.

Coming back to the Philippines after my term as a Columban lay missionary in Peru, I got more training in counselling at the CeFam (Centre for Family Ministries), where I met wonderful people who took the risk to share their life stories. While studying at CeFam, I was also involved in REPRO (Resilience Program). This is a program that teaches resiliency skills to rescued street children. This was another rewarding experience for me to interact with rescued kids who hunger for connection and understanding. Whenever time permits, I still join the REPRO team in going to centres for rescued street children.

Now, as a school counsellor for sixteen years, I love seeing my counselee’s growth, their “Aha” moments, and just being the person who simply listens to their journey. A message I want to extend to our students is this: honour your feelings. There might be more to that. Your counsellors are just a message away to help you discover what those feelings might be telling you. Please know that our office is open to all students who want to talk about their different concerns. Pre-pandemic, our office was not just a sanctuary for students who wished to be helped to process their thoughts and feelings. To some students, our office was also a place to lie down, sleep, doodle, and simply lounge around. Post-lockdown, we hope to bring back the dogs that students can interact with, and once again serve hot soup during midterms and finals week to soothe the students’ stomachs during these busy times.

A colleague muses, “A missionary by heart, Bordj, has sought her calling in so many ways and has been affirmed in all those as well. Her dedication to taking care of people can be seen in her care for her mom and her students. The missionary in her, at times, does not count the cost of the mission but continues to give service, for she serves not just humanity but God. With this grace bestowed upon her, she stands as someone who will do her best to give the kind of service due to the people assigned to her. It extends to tasks beyond the call of duty.”

And so, the mission continues …

Marilou Borje, fondly called by many "Bordj", was a Columban Lay Missionary in Peru from 2001 to 2004. Currently she works as a guidance counsellor at Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines.

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My life’s vocation as a guidance counsellor


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