A tribute to Arnold, SunStar Cagayan de Oro’s long-time columnist

(File photo)

ARNOLDUS Josefus Josef Bekkering van Vugt, known to us as Arnold or Fr. Leopold, age 86, passed away peacefully on the first Saturday of the month, April 6, 2018 at 1:15 a.m.

“Sabbatine Privilege of the Virgin Mary...those who die wearing the Brown Scapular can obtain early liberation from Purgatory, through the special intercession of the Virgin Mary, on the day consecrated to her, first Saturday.” Until his last breath, he was surrounded with his loved ones and family.

He was born February 5, 1933 in Halfweg, the Netherlands, to Christian and Arendina Elisabeth. Middle child of nine, he was known by his sister and brothers as a loving and thoughtful brother. At 14, he entered the seminary of the Order of the Carmelites in Holland. He finished his philosophy and theology classes and was ordained priest in 1960. In 1961, he volunteered to go to the Philippines as a Carmelite Missionary.

His first assignment was in Escalante, Negros Occidental where he was exposed to the extreme poverty and exploitation of the people; he was working with the farmers and fishermen. His 2nd assignment was in Iligan City as a social action director under the Diocese of Ozamiz.

He was strongly involved in the Labor Movement of the people, working for social justice and equality. He was imprisoned, deported and was considered an undesirable alien during the Marcos regime. He came back still as a missionary with zeal and burning passion to be with the Filipino people on their struggles against the dictatorship of Marcos.

He was the Superior of the Carmelites in the Philippines in early 1970s to mid-1980s and became a member of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP). In 1985, he was assigned in San Fransisco, Agusan del Sur. He left the priesthood in 1987, and married Angging, his wife in 1988. He adopted her six children and was blessed with a child of his own in 1991. He set up a non-government organization, Horeb Center, in 1988 to 2002 in Cagayan de Oro City which focused on Basic Christian Communities-Community Organizing. He remained to be a Carmelite (associate) and a member of the Cebu Carmel Community.

In his later years, he devoted his time in writing and translating books and articles; inspired people through his columns about Spirituality and social concerns with theme “Kairos”, which means “the right time” which was later changed to “The living Spirit,” because he strongly believed in the presence of God’s Spirit with him and with the whole of creation.

He is remembered to be a sincere, generous and principled man with so much passion for the people and reverence to God; a good and loving husband and father... a servant of God... a true Carmelite. He has a strong yet kind, compassionate and pure heart.

He is survived by his wife, Angging, his seven children and seventeen grandchildren, two brothers, and nephews and nieces.

He may be gone, but his spirit and legacy lives on... He will always be in our hearts...

Funeral mass was held at St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Calaanan. Burial ceremony will follow at Greenhills Memorial Garden, Bulua.

“Do not yield to hatred. We are here in a dark tunnel, but we have to go on. At the end, an eternal light is shining for us.” – Bl. Titus Brandsma


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