Archive for March 16th, 2009
If the Lord did not take Fr. Rey from us last Monday, he would have been 60 years old on December 2, and he would have been happy to get his senior citizen card. Matipid si Rey, matutuwa yun sa 20% discount. Then he will ask his friends to celebrate with him using the card. But then the good Lord had other plans. Instead, he made Rey a citizen of heaven. He told Rey there is no need to wait further, “Time na Rey, tayo na, come now and share in your Master’s joy.”
“Well done good and faithful servant… come and share your Master’s joy”. These were the words of the master to each of the three servants who invested and doubled the talents he entrusted to them, in our Lord’s parable of the talents, so familiar to us. In the version of Luke, one servant returned ten-fold, another five-fold.
When I was asked what Gospel reading I wanted for this funeral, this parable in Matthew immediately came to mind as the most fitting way to describe in encapsulated form, how Rey lived his life and did his mission as a Jesuit and a priest. An amazing thing happened. When I opened the Bible to check the exact chapter and verse of this parable, there it was, with just one flip of the pages, Matthew 25. Now I feel even more certain that this indeed is the most apt reading to apply to Fr. Rey. Maybe that is the way the Lord is confirming the aptness of this parable.
Given the very fruitful mission of Fr. Rey as director of the Philippine Jesuit Aid Association (PJAA) for 17 years, since 1992, you will say “Yes, it is obvious how the parable applies to him.” Each year, he was able raise millions to cover the increasing cost of the formation of young Jesuits. And in his annual report to the Jesuit Province and donors, he also accounted for each centavo. True, Fr. Rey did all that. But the point of the parable is more than simply the return on investment, more than just the money brought in. Luke’s version of the parable makes this clearer — that it is the spirit in which the mission is undertaken, not the amount of money. Big or small, the servant receives the same words from the Lord: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The greater value is in doing the Lord’s mission in fidelity and in humble service.
Yes, Fr. Rey lived his Jesuit life in faithful and humble service. He did what he was told, did what was expected of him, without fanfare, “walang pa-drama,” never drawing attention to himself.
He did his best, even if he would rather not be the one given a certain mission. In 1992, soon after he finished his Masters in Development Management at the Asian Institute of Management, a very demanding course, I asked him to be the Director of PJAA. He reluctantly said yes. After all, his degree, to which he applied himself so assiduously as a 42-year old student (Mahirap to be a student at that age, studying with students just about half his age, and in such a field, parang si San Ignacio) opened him to more prestigious work in our other institutions. But having said yes, he cleaned up the system, took care of the staff, and did his best. There was no need to check on him. His superiors had great confidence in him. Each year, he published a report to the Province of an accounting of the PJAA expenses and income.
And so he was director for 17 years. As far as I know, there were no plans yet to change him as director. He had been doing very well. He probably would have continued on for another 3 years at least. Good and faithful servant, that was Fr. Rey.
If Fr. Rey had a choice, he would have preferred to do pastoral work or be in a parish. He enjoyed his years as a newly ordained priest in the parishes of Mabuhay and Buug, in the hinterlands of then Zamboanga del Sur, and in San Jose Manggagawa in Marikina, from 1979 to1983. Instead, he was pulled out of direct pastoral work, and was assigned all sorts of work: as director of the then Service Bureau of the Jesuit Province; as minister of the Xavier House community; and for a brief period, even editor of the Jesuit monthly bulletin, the Clipper. The Service Bureau took care of many things for the Province, like purchasing and shipping of supplies for our institutions and houses. To be minister meant to be serving and providing for the busy community of the Provincial curia, which then probably numbered 12-15 Jesuits. These were not easy jobs he had, from 1983 to 1986. And he did them all well.
After his tertianship in the US in 1987, a brief respite from active work, he was assigned to be minister, and eventually vice rector of the newly established St. John Vianney Seminary in Cagayan de Oro City. I guess it was because he did well as minister of Xavier House (XH) that he was then given an even bigger job of serving the needs of the seminary which had close to a hundred seminarians. Since the seminary was new, he had to set up a working system and to train the staff to provide for the material needs of the seminary.
Fr. Rey liked being with people, and serving them. That is why he preferred direct pastoral work. It is good that he also was ecclesiastical national director of the Apostleship of Prayer (AP) and the Adoracion Nocturna (AN). Kung hindi baka nasira ang ulo niya being Director of PJAA and being superior of XH. It kept him in touch with the men and women, who in their simple devotion to their faith, many parishes nationwide. Many of you are here now at this Mass. I know he was happy to be with you and derived much joy serving you, and was inspired by the faith he witnessed in you. He was recharged by that same energy you have in your service.
Fr. Rey was also a humble and simple servant. These qualities made it so easy for him to be endeared to you. Very few of us know the extent to which he exercised humble service.
When he was minister of Vianney seminary, he took care of a sickly and elderly Jesuit father, who had periods of incontinence and could not control his bladder and bowels. Laundry was done only once a week. You know, Fr. Rey himself sometimes washed this father’s underwear so replacements would be immediately available. It is indeed a rare Jesuit who would take on such a humble and dirty task. OK lang siguro maglaba ng lampin ng baby, pero iba na kung underwear ng kapwa Jesuit. Yes, Fr. Rey was a humble servant.
Fr. Rey was a simple person. We all know this. Sa pananamit: ok sa kaniya to look like an ordinary man in the street, sometimes too ordinary: naka-tsinelas, naka-T-shirt, taong-kalye talaga. Wala siyang luho sa gamit para sa sarili. I will not be surprised if up to now, for music in his room, he will still have a portable radio-tape deck, while many of us already use CDs or MP3s.
He did enjoy eating, you all know this, pero walang luho, and more as a social event. He enjoyed the usual fare many of us enjoy: crispy pata, litson, pancit canton. He rarely stepped into a fine dining place. He would find that very expensive, and not feel at home in those places any way. Gusto ni Rey mas maingay, more laughter, and more kidding around. His ways of recreating were simple: pasyal around Manila; on few occasions, a movie; and trips out of town when he joined local AP events.
He was also simple in the sense that he was forthright, “diretso magsalita.” He spoke his mind in a clear and direct way, and could tell you what irritated him. When he admonished his staff at PJAA or XH, though direct, he was never rash nor hurting. Often he would phrase his words in such a way that he injected humor with it. He was like this to the staff of PJAA and XH. He scolded them if they needed scolding. But he also provided for them, and cared for them as much as he could. He knew their financial difficulties. He was at home with them, partying and drinking with them, during his or their birthdays. Driver, janitor, cook, accountant o ano man: he treated them all equally.
I enjoyed the kind of rough language of Ray, something I grew up with also. Yun bang parang mura na hindi mura, like “taragis naman” or “nang tutsa.” He probably learned this in the streets of Balic-balic, which made me recall my youth in Kamuning. These two places, Balic-balic and Kamuning, 50 years ago, were notorious for their street gangs.
And I saw how street-smart Fr. Rey was. Mahirap lokohin o maisahan. One of his favorite phrases was “Niloloko naman yata ako,” and then he would laugh. He knew how to handle the tough guys who wanted to take over the charging of parking fees in the vacant property of La Ignaciana. After getting rid of them, he set a fair and effective system of parking fees. He was also able to get rid of some “squatters” who were brought in by legitimate tenants of the vacated La Ignaciana building. Walang takot. Maliit nga, pero may asta naman.
It was with this simplicity that made him well-liked by members of the AP and AN. It is easy to understand why. Hindi siya mayabang. At home siya sa kalye, at home din siya sa altar. At home siya sa inuman, at home siya bilang supervisor ng workers at staff, at home siya bilang isang kainuman. He enjoyed watching his own staff enjoying a simple party.
And yes, for some six years, in the 90s, when XH was also my residence, we enjoyed play mahjong with Rey. Aside from being a good player with a poker face, he would also chide, or make what we call a “pasundot o patama” to a member of the XH community playing with us. And we would all end up laughing, including the one who was subject of the ribbing. Kasi nga totoo, pero hindi nakasakit.
There is also something the two of us share. He cut his own hair; I cut my own hair. Sometimes we would ask each other’s technique. Pero di ko kaya gawin and gupit niya. He cut his hair so neatly, you would think he used a razor, when he used only a clipper and a small pair of scissors: malinis at masinop. Of course that was Rey, especially at work.
Fr. Rey also kept his needs for work simple and efficient. With all the funds he raised for the Province and the Jose Seminary burses for the education of scholastics and seminarians, he kept his own office operations lean and efficient. I think he changed his service vehicle only once or twice over a 17-year period. With great confidence in him, he was one of the three Jesuits I recommended to take over my work as Province Treasurer.
I believe that underlying this fidelity and humility in service is that more fundamental fidelity in his spiritual life and humility before God. In the same way that he was a quiet worker, he was also quiet about his spiritual life. We lived together for some six years. I do know that he was faithful in his daily spiritual activities. And every year, he attended the Province 8-day retreat during Holy Week at the Jesuit Residence in Ateneo. We will miss his quiet presence this coming Hoy Week.
So my dear friends, that is Fr. Rey: masipag, seryoso, mapagkakatiwalaan, hindi mayabang, simpleng tao, madaling makilala at lapitan, at masayahin. Kaya, madali rin siyang mapamahal sa marami. He could be demanding, but be gentle at the same time. Sa dami niyang hinawakang tao sa trabaho, walang may-galit sa kaniya. Lahat, kasama ng mga retired na, still joined him for celebrations at PJAA and XH. And many of them were here at his wake the past evenings, and are here now to commend him to the Lord in this Mass.
These qualities of fidelity, simplicity and humility are qualities the Lord asks of his disciples, qualities our Lord Himself exemplified in His Person. These are the qualities that give credibility and effectivity to us as persons, as Jesuits and as priests.
It is now time to say farewell to Fr. Rey. I am sure each of us will miss him in many different ways. I pray that our own memories of him become part of us, inspire us to be what he had been to many of us alike, Jesuits, relatives, co-workers and friends: a Jesuit and priest who went about his life and work in faithful and humble service, who imitated the Lord as he worked in His vineyard, and who very joyfully did all of these.
As we say farewell to Fr. Rey, we thank the Lord for the time Rey was with us. We thank the Lord in showing us that indeed, in His grace, each of us can be a faithful servant of the Lord, and that we, too, will hear words of the Lord: “Come my beloved servant, enter and share your Master’s joy.”
We are confident that as he enters and shares the joy of his Master, Fr. Rey will also bring whatever good he knew in each of us. Fr. Rey will be in another grand banquet. Go, Rey, in peace and love, with our affection, and enjoy in the Lord’s presence. Please prepare a place or seat for us around the table of the Lord.
- Fr. Noel D. Vasquez, SJ
March 7, 2009
Source: The Philippine Jesuits
Fr. Reynaldo F. Ocampo, S. J. died on Monday, March 2. Fr. Rey, 59, had developed septic pneumonia and was confined for the past week in the I.C.U. of The Medical City. He entered the Society on July 30, 1969 and was ordained a priest on March 10, 1979. Requiescat in Pace.
Oratory of St. Ignatius, Loyola House of Studies
Daily wake Masses will be celebrated at 8:00 p.m.
Church of the Gesú,
Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Q.C.
Saturday, March 7, at 2:30 p.m.
Sacred Heart Novitiate Cemetery, Novaliches, Quezon City
immediately after the Funeral Mass.
Fr. Rey, 59, was an alumnus of Ramon Magsaysay H.S. in España, Manila and studied for two years at U.P. Diliman before entering the Society in 1969. He spent Regency in the Ateneo de Naga and was ordained a priest in 1979.
After several years of parish ministry in Zamboanga del Sur and Marikina, he was Director of the Service Bureau at Xavier House. He began special studies at AIM and did Tertianship in New York and then served four years as Minister and Vice-Rector at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Cagayan de Oro. He completed his M.A. in Development Management at AIM in 1992 and began a long stint as Director of the Philippine Jesuit Aid Association [PJAA] and, shortly thereafter, as National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer and of the Adoracion Nocturna Filipina.
He continued in those positions till the present, adding also for the past ten years the duties of Superior of Xavier House. A week ago, Fr. Rey was admitted to the I.C.U. with septic pneumonia, from which he never recovered.
Source: The Philippine Jesuits
Remembering Tom Green
(March 19, 1932 – March 13, 2009)
When I woke up this morning, I was shocked to discover—from Facebook updates, of all things—that Fr. Tom Green had passed away. I had known, of course, that he was sick; but the suddenness of his passing away still came as a sad surprise.
Soon after I had texted my condolences, the present Rector of San Jose Seminary, Vic de Jesus, kindly called me up long distance to inform me of the details of Tom’s passing: how Tom had come home from the hospital last night; how one of the seminarians had peeked into his room this morning and found him sitting in his chair, with his pipe on his chest. He went very quickly, which is a real mercy.
I first met Tom Green thirty years ago. In my senior year at the Ateneo, school year 1979-80, I was in Fr. Green’s philosophy of language class. It was a wonderful course, and thirty years later, the fact that I can still remember so much—of the logical positivists, of Wittgenstein, that language is inescapably metaphorical, that some concepts are essentially contested—is surely testimony to the outstanding clarity and excellence of Fr. Green’s teaching.
My second encounter with Fr. Green was through his books. Opening to God, which I read twice—once as a college student, and more seriously, as a novice in the Society—was a deeply influential book in my life. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that it taught me how to pray. I read all his other books too, but my personal favorite, the book which I think is his best and wisest, is When the Wells Run Dry.
Two key insights from that book have remained with me through the decades. The first insight: that darkness happens, not just in prayer, but in life, to move us, in his words, from “loving to truly loving.” I still recall, more or less accurately, a sentence from the book, in which he reflects on a married couple’s promise to love each other “for better or worse”: “The better, the good times are there to teach us the joy of loving; the worse happens to teach us to love truly.”
The second insight: at the end of the book, Fr. Green uses the image of floating (as contrasted with swimming) as a metaphor for the mature life of faith. You give up control over your life (“swimming”); you remain active (otherwise you would sink), but you allow yourself to be led; you let go and entrust yourself to the unpredictable flow of the sea of love that surrounds you, and you let it take you where it wills.
My third and most lasting encounter with Tom Green happened in the eight years, from 1996 to 2004, when we lived together in the same community and worked on the same formation team in San Jose Seminary. At that time, we were also co-faculty members of Loyola School of Theology. From 2000 to 2004, the years I served as Rector of San Jose, Fr. Green was my Vice-Rector. He had the room right above mine in those years.
For eight years, we shared meals and attended many staff meetings together. With the rest of the Jesuit team, we processed hundreds of applications to the Seminary; sat through hours of semestral and yearly evaluations of seminarians; discussed and occasionally argued over Seminary policies. Almost every Monday evening, for eight years, we had common prayer together in the BVM chapel on the third floor of San Jose, and after prayer, shared a special meal in the Jesuit community recreation room.
When you live that long with another Jesuit, you get to know him quite well. I got to know about Tom Green’s legendary regularity of life. He followed the same schedule or cycles almost every day, every week, every year. If it was 130 PM, he could invariably be found in his rocking chair on the fifth floor reading the papers. If it was the third (I forget which, actually) Sunday of the month, he would have Mass in Balara or for the L’Arche community. If it was summer vacation, then he would be giving a retreat somewhere in the United States. And woe to you, if you moved that rocking chair, as one unwitting minister did!
I remember pleasant and witty Jesuit banter from those rec-room meals involving Tom Green. Once, Roque Ferriols was talking about Jesuit Bishop Honesto “Onie” Pacana, but kept on referring to him as “Honey Pacana.” The rest of us—Art Borja was there, I remember—corrected Fr. Roque and told him that the bishop’s nickname was pronounced “Onie” not “Honey.” When Roque said that he had always thought the bishop’s nickname was “Honey,” Tom Green quipped in a deadpan way: “Oh, I thought you were just close.” That brought the house down.
Tom was not perfect, I discovered. (His devoted lay friends, “the Golden Girls,” who took such good care of him, also knew that.) He tended to want things his way. He got cross and cranky when things did not go the way he wanted them to. He could express his opinions a bit too dogmatically. He did not admit his mistakes easily.
And yet, I appreciated his presence in the community and on the Seminary formation team. He was a very generous (he had so many directees!) and wise spiritual director. He was a man of very good and balanced judgment where persons were concerned, and I always valued his perceptions of applicants or seminarians. When I consulted him as Vice-Rector on issues of the Seminary, I usually received very sensible counsel.
By the time I got to San Jose, Tom was a grandfather figure to the seminarians, and his cheerful and easy manner of dealing with them, and the personal witness he gave of a man who had grown old—and happily so—in the priesthood was something, I think, of inestimable value for San Jose. Having been part of San Jose for over three decades, he had become for generations of Josefinos, an icon, a living link between the past and the present, a symbol of their happy years in the Seminary. With Tom’s passing away, an era in the history of San Jose comes to an end, a presence that cannot be replaced has been lost forever…
In all my years as Rector and as Provincial, Tom always told me that he hoped he could die in San Jose. He got his wish. I am glad for him. Now, I trust that he is in the presence of the One whom he wrote about, spoke about and served so faithfully and generously for so many years. Now, I trust the darkness has become light for him, and, with a joy no words can describe, he can let go and, at last, float.
FR. THOMAS H. GREEN, S. J. died on Friday morning, March 13, at San Jose Seminary. Fr. Tom would have been 77 on Thursday. He entered the Society on 7 September 1949 and was ordained a priest on 19 June 1963. Requiescat in pace.
San Jose Seminary Chapel
Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Heights, Q.C.
Daily wake Masses will be celebrated at 8:00 p.m.
Thursday, 19 March at 8:00 a.m.
University Church of the Gesù, Ateneo de Manila University
Sacred Heart Novitiate Cemetery
Novaliches, Quezon City
immediately after the Funeral Mass
Source: The Philippine Jesuits
I woke up this morning to the sad news of yet another senior Jesuit of legendary stature passing away. Fr. Miguel Bernad died today in Cagayan de Oro at the age of 91.
I had the privilege of living with Fr. Mike when I was regent in Xavier University, from 1983 to 85. I know he had his flaws, as we all do; but he was always kind to me, and always, very thoughtfully, sent me his annual Christmas card and new issues of Kinaadman, the journal he had founded at Xavier U.
In his honor, I share this speech I gave in December 2007, at Xavier University, on the occasion of the conferment on Fr. Bernad of an honorary doctorate.
I hope you will not mind if I speak somewhat personally. I am proud to say that I was a student of Fr. Bernad. Twenty five years ago, when I was a Jesuit junior, I asked for and was granted permission to enroll in a Shakespeare course Fr. Bernad was teaching at the Ateneo de Manila. This was the first time I got to know Fr. Bernad “up close and personal,” as they say. He was a marvelous teacher, leading us to depth of insight, and helping us appreciate the greatness of Shakespeare’s poetry by his own dramatic readings of excerpts from the plays. Dr. Edna Manlapaz used to ask me, “How was last night’s performance?” –referring to those famous dramatic readings of Fr. Bernad! I also came to realize that Fr. Bernad is a man of excellent judgment, because, at the end of the semester, he gave me an “A”!
From that time on, Fr. Bernad has continued to influence me. Let me just mention three points of influence. First, as a scholastic, I tried to read any book of Fr. Bernad that I came across, first of all because of the beauty of his writing. Whether reading The Lights of Broadway and other Essays, or Tradition and Discontinuity, I found myself in constant admiration of what I can best describe as Fr. Bernad’s “chaste prose”. This was writing that was deceptively simple, even spare, without a single superfluous word, but utterly clear and always elegant, graceful, persuasive.
Second, in 1988, during my first year as a priest and on my first assignment as assistant parish priest in Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur, I read Fr. Bernad’s slim volume entited Rizal and Spain. That book’s discussion of Rizal’s life and activities in Dapitan during his time of exile there helped “save my life” that first difficult year of priesthood. I was a Manila boy, and had never been assigned to as rural, as lonely and culturally unfamiliar a place as Ipil. Reading Fr. Bernad’s descriptions of how Rizal redeemed his time of exile in Dapitan with many and varied projects in the service of the people of Mindanao inspired and challenged me to overcome my self-absorption and to aspire to imitate the spirit, if not the achievement, of Rizal.
Finally, in 2001, when I was Rector of San Jose Seminary as the seminary was preparing to celebrate its 400th year of existence, I invited Fr. Bernad to give a lecture on the history of San Jose. His lecture was a model of impeccable historical research. But in the space of an hour or so, Fr. Bernad also captured the color and drama of 400 years. He opened our imaginations, expanded our vision, helped us glimpse past identity and future possibility. For many of us, Fr. Bernad’s lecture was the highlight of our quadricentennial celebration.
I have taxed your patience with my personal testimony of Fr. Bernad’s influence in my life as a way of making more concrete my sense of the fittingness of this historic honor being bestowed on him. When Fr. Samson first broached the idea at the Board meeting of the Ateneo de Davao, and when his initial idea was enthusiastically received and amplified by the Presidents of the Ateneo de Zamboanga and Xavier University, I also gave my full support. At that time, it seemed to me a most appropriate way of honoring an eminent Jesuit scholar.
Fr. Miguel A. Bernad, S. J. died on15 March, around midday in Maria Reyna Hospital, Cagayan de Oro City. He started feeling unwell in late morning, and was brought to the hospital with low blood pressure. The heart was just too weak and he went home to the Lord at about 1:00 p.m. Fr. Bernad, 91, entered the Society 7 June 1932 and was ordained a priest 24 March 1946. Requiescat in pace.
Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Xavier University
Cagayan de Oro City
Mass will be celebrated each evening at 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 18 March at 9:00 a.m.
Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Xavier University
Manresa Jesuit Cemetery
immediately after the Funeral Mass
Source: The Philippine Jesuits