Fr. Noel D. Vasquez, S.J. on the Death of Fr. Reynaldo F. Ocampo, S.J. (1949-2009)

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.

Wake:

Oratory of St. Ignatius, Loyola House of Studies
Daily wake Masses will be celebrated at 8:00 p.m.

Funeral Mass:

Church of the Gesú,
Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Q.C.
Saturday, March 7, at 2:30 p.m.

Interment:

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

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About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

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