Requiem for a priest-A A +A
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
YESTERDAY morning was like other Wednesday mornings when I would wake up at about five o’clock to attend the first mass in our church. Wednesday masses are for devotees of the Mother of Perpetual Help.
Two years ago, a new parish priest was assigned to our town. I had met the said priest when he was still a seminarian, along with other students for priesthood, some of whom were from our town. Saturdays and Sundays, instead of going home, they would drop by our place in Lahug to have lunch or dinner.
For about two years, Father Raul Gallego had been the hard working parish priest of our town, and since we knew each other many years back, there were times when I would use his computer when my own laptop broke down.
The priest celebrated only the high Sunday masses, so I would meet him only during parish meetings when he sought our attendance. When he planned to build a new parish church, like what he did in Toledo City where he was assigned, he had asked me to attend the planning meetings.
Lately, however, Father Raul was the one who was celebrating the Wednesday dawn masses. But yesterday morning, another priest officiated the dawn mass. I was shocked to learn later that Father Raul had a heart failure at past ten o’clock the night before.
Tuesday, so I was told, he had gone to the city in the morning and did the routine things he does when he was in the city. Late evening, according to information, he attended a meeting, after which he went home past ten o’clock.
Along the way, while he was driving his own car, he suffered a heart attack. A kin, who was reportedly with him in the car, brought him to the district hospital. But he was already dead when they reached it.
This was what I pieced together yesterday about Father Raul’s death. He had unduly left a beautiful unfinished parish church project in our town to which he had dedicated most of his life the past two years.
The portrait of the new church stands in all its splendor in front of our old church that is slowly changing “face” as work on it goes on. I feel bad thinking that the man who conceptualized it would not be able to see the finished beauty of the edifice.
But I think it would be a fitting symbol of the life and devotion of the man who caused it to be re-created and renovated like the many lives of the people in our town that Father Raul may have “renewed.”
I truly bid a tearful farewell to a man who showed many of us how to live life despite an environment of uncertainty and social turbulence.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 14, 2013.