29 April 2009

The Proactive Prayer

Lord, bless my dreams
for they are big and mostly selfless.
Guard me from the corruption of
little minds and my bigger ego.

God, grant me the clarity
to recognize the things that cannot wait,
the discipline to accomplish them, and
the indifference to trust You
in everything no matter what happens.


On Celibacy

advice to a friend on facebook:

some priests & religious are celibates by nature.
the majority, i believe, are not,
but they still choose the life
because through it they find
the fullest, greatest, most fruitful
expression of themselves.
this for me is what a "calling" means.

add to this the celibate advantage
of being more for more people,
thus, exposing love for what it really is,
a process of self-emptying, so one will
have more space for persons and grace to come in;
of becoming a sign of contradiction,
proclaiming the values of eternity
to a world that puts more premium
on seizing mostly, only, the here and now.
this for me is what our sacred tradition says
"celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom".

24 April 2009

In Defense of Davao City's Peace?

Below is my email response in our ehemplo group to a member who forwarded the email of one Salvador "Doy" Valbuena, a businessman from Davao City ranting against a Commission on Human Rights who should have better things to do other than minding Davao City and its popular mayor. His email "In Defense of Davao City Mayor Duterte" was thought-provoking and apparently indicative of the sentiments of a large segment, if not the majority, of the city. When another replied "well said", I was even more provoked. Thus...


i wish to be understanding to somebody
who has witnessed a lifetime of killings,
but should his standards be also followed
by a whole city, or a nation, for that matter?
peace and a city's livability
may have different meanings to different people,
but truth and right, remains true and right
no matter whether a majority,
or a plurality vote, dictates otherwise.
it is understandable to defend a man
who has made his people enjoy a measure of peace.
but it also comes with a price -
it is not just the summary execution of suspected criminals,
it is how general apathy and tolerance for bigotry
is killing the soul of the city.
there is more to humanity than just settling
for lesser evils and moral evasions.
there ought to be room for dreaming
of better ways of waging peace.
and what good is there in dreaming
if it is only within your reach?

but hey, who am i to judge?
i am not from davao. i have not lived their history.
i am just a dreamer from faraway bicol
who has said masses to fallen soldiers
and to activists who fell victims to extrajudicial killings,
who has witnessed a whole unwilling island
sold out by their government to foreign miners,
who has seen failure after failure of our vote-ed campaigns
for people not to sell their votes,
who has lost our valiant efforts to clean-up our electric coop
to the machinations of corrupt politicians.
so, much as i wish to let the good people
who wish to represent davao remain in their peace,
i will also keep dreaming and working
that their kind of peace will not infect the whole nation,
and those in davao who still stand otherwise.



On Mon, 6 Apr 2009 10:54:16 +0800 (SGT), "Salvador Valbuena" salvador.valbuena@ yahoo.com> said:



To the Editor,

I am Doy Valbuena, an Ilocano who happens to love Davao City so much, the most livable city in our country and in the world (this is my humble opinion). I love this city so much that it pains me to see outsiders come and tell us what to do with our very own Davao City. Imperial Manilans, Americans and Europeans come here and lecture us about morality, about what is right and wrong before God, about human rights, what is right and wrong governance.

The power of Mayor Duterte emanates from the people who elected him. It is just but proper that the people of Davao City must have the first chance to judge him. But have we not judged him by electing him for the longest time as Mayor of this city for about two decades now? Is this not the best indication that the will and the voice of the people have spoken? That the people of Davao City approve of his way of governance?

Why doesn't the Commission on Human Rights conduct a survey or referendum whether we, the people of Davao City as a whole, like how the mayor conduct himself on the issue peace and order and even specifically on the issue on human rights? I am very sure that majority of Davaoenos will come out voting yes in affirmation that will shame people from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) or shall I say Commission on Hypocritical Rectitude (CHR) masquerading as saviors of the people of Davao City . To tell us that we do not approve how Mayor Duterte runs Davao City is a great insult to the intelligence and courage of Davaoenos. If the Mayor is truly abusive of his power and has no respect for the rule of law and the right to peace and decency, I should be one of those who should be on the streets leading a rally of protesters as we wont to do during the First Quarter Storm when we fought the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos whom we thought then was the worst president this country ever had, only to find out that the worst were still to follow. (I led several street protests when we complained against the DPWH and the Union Cement when I was president of the Davao Constructors Association Center Inc.)

I heard the Mayor mentioned many times over, that Davao City is a city for peace loving citizens. If you are not a peace loving citizen, this place is not for you because you will not last long to enjoy living in our city. His paradigm of drug pushers and drug addicts are people who can rape their sister or mother or an 18 month old baby girl or kill their father or brother or friend or neighbor in wild abandon. Now, I myself ask the question, why do these people who have no regard for the life of others continue to live or how can these so called human rights advocates even favor their existence over that of peace loving citizens?

Am I saying that I favor summary executions? Of course not, this is against the commandment of God “Thou shall not kill”. How I wish we can all live in peace altogether living in pursuit of the summum bonum, the highest good for all. But alas, we are now left to choose by force of circumstance and select between lesser evils, whether to allow people who have no respect for life and the right of others to live and do it in wild abandon or to allow them to rest in peace forever and let peaceful loving citizens live happily ever after..

Now am I accusing the Mayor to be behind the killings? Of course not! That is for the court to determine. What I know is Davao City is the most peaceful and livable city I have seen on Planet Earth. (I have also traveled in several countries and continents of the world.) On the other hand, I am one among the many who believe that the Mayor is doing extremely and exceedingly well in the conduct of his duty in which he was elected for.

Madame Chairperson De Lima, you need not have traveled far. You should have looked around and you would have your hands full investigating cases of human rights violations in Manila . Aren’t you not the proverbial character in the bible that the Lord would have aptly put, "why can you see the mote in your brother's eye and not see the log in your own eye”. The truth of the matter is, you just wasted valuable public money by coming here to Davao City to investigate and tell us what is good for us… Is this not the height of self righteousness and presumptuousness? Is it not stealing from the budget of education and printing misspelled books resulting to higher rate of illiteracy and lack of good education, a higher form of violation of human rights? Is it not dipping one’s fingers on the coffers of government finances depriving people of food, medicines, basic necessities and other social services; teachers of their rightful pay and soldiers of their shoes, combat allowance and guns to fight insurgency, a higher form of human rights violation? Is it not the inability of government to provide employment for its people and allowing Filipinos to work abroad as slaves of the first world countries who often times maltreat them and who sacrifice their own well being, just so they can provide for the needs of their loved ones, resulting in the breakdown and disintegration of the basic unit of society - the family an institution we value so dearly, a higher form of violation of human rights? Is it not the promotion of government officials with dubious and proven record of malfeasance and wrongdoing because of loyalty and subservience, so that they can deliver the goods to the powers that be, a higher form of human rights violation?

For a young man who grew up and seen almost daily killings during my elementary years in Badoc, Ilocos Norte and having witnessed blood flowing down in my direction and with dead people all around during a town fiesta at a very young age of 11 when somebody sprayed 3 banana type magazines of his carbine rifle and emptying them all at the people in the auditorium…For a college student during the First Quarter Storm to have witnessed summary killings like that of my fraternity brod Billy Begg riddled with bullets from one whole Armalite magazine emptied in his lifeless body and street demonstrations from 1969 to 1973, culminating in the so called BARIKADA in 1971….. For a new college graduate to have worked in the hinterlands and logging areas of Mindanao in the 1970’s at the height of the operations of the MNLF, Ilagas and Bangsamoro Movement and having experienced being attacked from land and sea, and knowing a life of killing and being
killed almost on a daily basis…..

For an executive having seen Davao City during the time when Agdao was called Nicaragdao, during the height of NPA operations when policemen were killed in broad daylight and when a grenade was thrown at the inner sanctum of the San Pedro Cathedral wreaking havoc and causing the city populace to cower in fear… to name a few…..Madame Chair de Lima, I know from whence I speak. I know the difference between war and peace, between death and bliss. To consider Davao City as barbaric and a dangerous place to live in, is farthest from the truth. Davaoenos would be the first one to know. Leave us alone in peace in this place you abhor for I repeat it again, Davao City is the most livable and peaceful city in the world. To us, this is a place closest to paradise. A Paradise in the East.

Salvador "Doy" Valbuena

12 April 2009

The Joy of Easter

The joy of Easter is in seeing things with new eyes,
through Jesus who is the fullness of revelation of the Father.

The joy of Easter is in living the new life in Christ,
whose resurrection dispelled the fear of the great unknown: death, indeed, dispelling death itself.

The joy of Easter is the chance of a new beginning,
symbolized by the rite of renewal of our baptismal promises in the Paschal Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses.

Maogmang Pasko nin Pagkabuhay-liwat!

Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do

First Word: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Lk 23,23)

The seven last words of Jesus start on the theme of forgiveness. He is crucified on the cross, severely bruised and in terrible pain, mocked and shamed by his tormentors, and the first words ascribed to him are “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do”.

These are words that do not fail to inspire and perplex. Even in the worst of suffering, Jesus still preached and embodied the Father’s mercy. The magnanimity of His expression is made more manifest if we reflect upon our own responses to situations of unjust suffering. Would we be so similarly instantaneous, Christ-like in our dispensing of forgiveness? Or would we view such response as an expression of giving-up too early, of resignation to the futility of our quest for justice?

I remember Rapu-Rapu and the sufferings of its people. The Diocese of Legazpi and many concerned groups and individuals, fought alongside them in resisting the large-scale mining operations of Lafayette on their island since 1999. Nowadays the mining operations project themselves as RRMI and RRPI. I remember the series of fish kills in 2005, 2006, and 2007. The fish kill in 2006 happened within the period of a DENR mandated test-run. I remember the arrogance and callousness of many government and mining company officials. I remember the suffering of the people – the dwindling fish catch, hunger, harassment, health problems, uncertain future, and the pain of hearing hard facts twisted and their sentiments misrepresented on national media.

Should the residents of Rapu-Rapu, and we who help them, also have to be so willing and ready to dispense forgiveness as Jesus did? How would such act benefit our cause? Forgiveness seems so out of touch with our situation. Or is it really? There is an admittedly strange attractive power, a sense of liberation even, when a victim utters Jesus' line.

To forgive doesn’t necessarily mean to give-up. To forgive may also mean to let go, or more precisely, to let God. To forgive is to acknowledge that though we seek justice and resist oppression, we can still go beyond our human claims and dispositions and seek affinity with the divine. To forgive is to trust that the power and providence of God is greater than the evil that resides in the hearts of those who do us harm.

To say that they do not know what they do does not mean being co-opted to our oppressors’ web of lies or dismissing their acts as mere human failings. For indeed they are still responsible for their actions. It is an acknowledgment rather that, despite their skills in manipulating truth and handling morally dubious negotiations, they are still practically ignorant of the great power of God working in all things. In short, it is an acknowledgment that there is hope for them still.

Am I just fooling myself when I say this? Am I in a state of wishful thinking? Let me tell you what is clear and present to me about the current mining situation in our country. It is the DENR that identifies sites as suitable for mining; and advertises those sites for mining investors, conveniently downgrading environmental harm. It is the DENR that grants MPSAs without consulting local residents, and ECCs even without social acceptability. It is the same DENR that admits it cannot sufficiently monitor the operation of mining companies; and then connives with mining officials to cover-up incidents of mishaps and fish kills. When a company like Lafayette fails, it is the DENR that scurries to look for other investors in order to “save” the project. And should we seek legal action, it is the DENR who will first receive our complaints and judge their merits.

Could we actually dream of receiving a fair hearing from the current DENR? Maybe not yet in the present nor in the near future, but I am still filled with hope that the situation can and will change for the better. Otherwise, the options left would either be indeed giving-up, or going over less enlightened paths.

Lastly, “Forgive them for they do not know what they do” are words spoken by Jesus to victims and their advocates as well. It is a gentle reminder that even as we fight for justice we cannot lose the best parts of our humanity. It is a solemn promise that just as Jesus Christ transcended hate and injustice, and then triumphed over sin and death, so we too will find our victory in the end.

What I Learned from My Batchmates

Rev. Fr. Francis D. Alvarez, SJ's Valedictory Speech
Commencement Exercises
Loyola School of Theology, AdMU
March 18, 2009

I am thrilled just knowing the many more homilies, retreats and reflections Francis will be giving as a priest. LST, the Society, and the Church in general, are "not any less blessed".

Congrats batch 2009!

Thanks to Weng Bava, SJ, for posting on LST's facebook group.


The fear of rigor, the fear of ugliness, the fear of change: At the beginning of the school year, during the Mass of the Holy Spirit, our then newly-installed Vice-Chancellor, Fr. Jojo Magadia, warned us of these three fears. At the end of the school year, as I graduate from Loyola School of Theology, I fear I have to add to his list of three.

What will happen when I am neck-deep in ministry? When my arms are weary as I try to juggle parish financial statements? When my chest is heavy as I listen to the pastoral council bicker yet again? When my legs buckle as I run from baptism to wedding to funeral, from labor meeting to sick call to children’s catechism, from evaluation seminar to beauty pageant to charity event? When, where once I tread with bright-eyed expectation, I find myself trudge with broken-hearted frustration, where will I be? What if I start cutting corners? We have been trained how to browse through the books in the library to nuance a complex article of the faith. This we need to do in order to come up with what Dr. Yap has always insisted on—accountable speech—even for just a Sunday homily. But what if instead of doing this, I just type words into Google? And what if Google fails me? What if I fall back on my class notes from my days in LST and realize that I had not paid enough attention in class? What if I misinterpret a precept of canon law and give the wrong advice? What if I blurt out the wrong thing while giving penance and a penitent who has not gone to confession for five years decides this is why he will not go again for five more?

As these fears ran amok in my head, what mercifully calmed them down was when I remembered how we prepared for the ad audiendas, that “board exam” future priests have to pass to receive faculties for confession. I remembered how at first we forgot to address serious sins. We forgot to give penance. We even forgot the formula of absolution. But slowly we learned. And soon, we were not just doing confession-by-the-numbers. Soon, we were giving sound pastoral advice, untangling the most convoluted cases Frs. Richie Genilo, Cel Reyes, and Rex Mananzan tried to ensnare us in. Many times, I found myself nodding—not off to sleep—but in agreement and in wonder. And I dreamt about the kind of wise, gentle, and understanding priests you, my batchmates, will surely be.

You, my co-learners, have taught me a lot. In the comprehensive exams, I had the opportunity to show what I learned from our professors. This morning, as we say goodbye to each other and to LST, I hope you allow me to share what I learned from you, my co-seminarians and co-religious here in LST.

In a famous homily, I never actually heard—only heard about (that’s how good it was)—Bro. Irvin Morastil, OMI supposedly struck a refrain that resonated not only with Fr. Manny Flores but with the rest of the Advanced Pastoral Methods class: “God is NOT good. He is very good.”

I spent the better part of the last Christmas vacation working on our graduation pictures for our yearbook. I was digitally reducing eye bags while also trying to recover from the sleep deprivation of Simbang Gabi. With Adobe Photoshop, I magically erased acne scars, deleted visible strands of nasal hair, and gave free electronic face lifts Vicky Belo would charge thousands for. I fiddled with hues, saturation, and luminosity to give each portrait a soft tone of angelic purity. Needless to say, I was proud of my handiwork, and as I showed you your pictures, I could tell that you all were impressed—except for Bro. Jonald Panganiban, OCD.

I handed him the hard copy of his grad. pic., and he asked, “Phinotoshop mo? (Did you Photoshop this?)” I puffed up my chest and declared, “Yes.” He scratched his head and suggested, “Baka pwede mong bawasan. (Maybe you can lessen what you did?)” I was aghast! Why? Who would want their pockmarks and their pimples and their warts seen?

But later that night, I realized that the blemishes and flaws I hid under pixels were so much a part of us, as much us as our dimples and clefts and other outstanding characteristics. Who would want to see these pockmarks, pimples, and warts? Well, God. The God who called us in spite of, maybe even because of, our imperfections. The God who has made use of and will continue to make use of our shortcomings and weaknesses for his greater glory. The God whom Bro. Irvin described so eloquently: The God who is not just good, but very good.

I remember serving at the diaconate ordination of Bros. Chris, Stanley, Rey, and Mark, CP. The joke, during our practice for the rite, was: With Stanley’s big tummy, would he be able to lie face-down during the litany? Would we have to alter the rubrics and allow him to lie on his side so that he will also be allowed to breathe?

During the ordination, I caught myself sneaking a peek at Stanley, and there he was, big tummy and all, yes—back slightly hunched, but head on folded arms, lying prostrate on the ground, asking God for mercy. And my thoughts went back to my own ordination. My stomach might not have been as big as Stanley’s, but my head was perhaps bigger. But overstuffed ego and all, I, too, was able to lie prostrate on the ground and beg God to accept my humble offering. Why? Because God is not good. He is very good.

I attended the diaconate ordination of Bros. Francis Ledesma and Topher Tejido. But before they even lay prostrate before God, Bishop Soc Villegas reminded us: We may wax lyrical about this great sacrifice that we make, but before God, we really have nothing to give. Yet when he accepts what we have to offer, we will have nothing more to ask. Why? We go back to the wise words of Bro. Irvin: Because God is not just good. He is very good.

Let me tell you about one other diaconate ordination. The first in our batch, actually: Seminarian Jayvee Zuñiga’s. On the day when Jayvee was entrusted with the Book of the Gospels, we were all excited, but I could not really decide whether “Congratulations!” was the appropriate greeting. Many of us knew why Jayvee was getting ordained ahead of schedule, earlier than the rest. His mother was dying of cancer. As Jayvee took his place behind the altar, I wanted to jump up and down, but I couldn’t. A few steps away in front of the same altar was his mother. And in a few days, she would be gone.

Rev. Jayvee’s thanksgiving speech then was all about the mercy of God. But what kind of mercy was this, I asked, when on a day meant for rejoicing, the air was heavy with foreboding farewell. On a day your spirit magnified the Lord, your heart was also troubled. “Our hearts are troubled.” And these very words were the ones Jayvee used when he later preached at his mother’s funeral. Bittersweet—as descriptive as that word is, it still does not capture what we experienced on the day of Jayvee’s diaconate ordination, when the alleluias and hosannas struggled to float but were drowned in the somber melody of “Inay.”

Later that night, I sought consolation in prayer. And I realized that many times in our ministry, this is how things will be. As we live out our ministry, we will find joy. We will find fulfillment. But we will not really be able to jump up and down because many times, our ministry will simply be to journey with people in their pain—an awesome privilege, an awful responsibility. In this, we will be confirmed in our vocations; in this we will find our purpose. Amidst pain. Bittersweet? As descriptive as that word is, it will not capture the experience.

But Jayvee’s story does not end there… because today is Jayvee’s mother’s birthday. And today, the son she dreamed so ardently to see ordained graduates summa cum laude. Watch that in a Hollywood movie, and you would say it’s too contrived. Read that in romance novel, and you would say it’s corny. But witness it happen in real life, and you can only say, it’s grace. It’s God.

This is not just Jayvee’s story. When Elmer gets ordained a priest tomorrow and begins his ministry, when our OCD brothers profess their final vows and live out their Carmelite vocations, when Irvin and Randy are sent to Basilan, Jolo, or Tawi-Tawi with or without military escorts, when Thomas goes back to China, Tran to Vietnam, and David, William, and Salai to Myanmar—places where the Church thrives in circumstances less friendly but not any less blessed, when the fears grip us and shake us and pound us prostrate to the ground bitter, there will be sweetness. There will be an amazing turn of events we could have never predicted, a summa cum laude ending that will tell us that God was in charge all along. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.”

It will be as Fr. Manoling Francisco taught us in Eschatology: We don’t know what will happen. But we are sure that it will be good. Because, as Bro. Irvin has been teaching us all morning, God is not just good. God is very, very good.

Two weeks ago, I was in front of the computer, dialing down Photoshop settings, as Bro. Jonald requested, on our graduation pictures. They will never see print, because LST Batch 2009 will not have a yearbook. Because of the financial crisis, it seems too much of a luxury. Instead, we will have a cheap CD-ROM alternative at one-tenth of the cost. Why? Because the rest of the allocated budget, LST Batch 2009 has decided to give to scholarships. I will never forget the text messages I received when this idea was floated around. Messages which basically said: “Of course, I want a yearbook I can hold and flip through. But I have grown much from the formation I received here in LST. I want others to experience the same blessings. What is memory when you can leave a legacy?” Until the very end, you, my batchmates, are still teaching me.

As I undid the digital retouching on our photographs, and the flaws and imperfections of each face started asserting themselves again, I couldn’t help but remember the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same…
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.
[But] I say more…

Looking at your faces, relishing what you have taught me, I knew why Hopkins could say more. And I say more with him:

…the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places

(I know of at least forty-two.)

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Men’s faces: Be they wounded, be they scarred, be they imperfect, God can still work perfectly through them. Through us. Because… from Hopkins we return to Bro. Irvin’s words one last time: God is not just good. He is very, very, very good.


06 April 2009

Remembering Tom Green

(March 19, 1932 - March 13, 2009)

From Fr. Danny Huang's Facebook:

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.

Funeral Mass:
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