NEVER ONE TO a miss a moment when it presents itself, Monsignor Romulo Rañada, as soon as his Gospel reading was done, stepped down from the ambo and commenced his homiulogy. He thanked God for the legacy of Fidelis Ruben Limcaco: four female communities (Handmaids of the Holy Trinity; Missionary Sisters of the Monsignor Holy Trinity; Carmelites of the Holy Trinity; and Rural Missionaries of the Holy Trinity); and 1 male (Emmanuel Servants of the Holy Trinity) founded by Monsi; 1 lay (Tertiary of the Holy Trinity); and the 9th which is the Knights of Columbus).
There was a slight drizzle when we arrived (at 7:30 pm) at the Good Shepherd Cathedral Shrine and proceeded to Monsignor Fidelis Hall, where the wake was understandably assigned. The place was only starting to fill but at 8 pm, all seats were taken, and Mass started on schedule.
“When I heard he passed away,” Monsi Romy continued, “I recalled April 2002, when Fairview had a rural ambiance, full of trees and tall cogon grasses, and everyone knew everybody. It was on an Easter Monday that I first met Monsi Fidelis. I had my appointment letter from the Cardinal, found two sacristans (Frederick and Edgar) there, who asked me if I was the one replacing him. When I came face to face with Monsi, he became sad but toured me in his church, the pastoral center, courtyard, school, and he said that his birthday is on August 1.” The sadness was an implicit referral to the three months between then and the turnover. “I told him I’ll be back on August 1 so (he) enjoy the remaining months, feel the love of your people. And I left him smiling.
Addressing the congregation, he went on, “April to July were precious months he spent with you. I learned many things from my predecessor, the beautiful garden and plants, the antique furniture, the pastoral center and parishioners, PREX.” And he paused to let the last word sink in. “Not just the weekend seminars but also the experience together. His desire was the renewal of parishioners to be evangelizers, evangelized Catholics now are evangelizing Catholics, no one knows the Son except the Father and vice-versa and the ones to whom He reveals the Father. Monsi’s gift to us is evangelization, Evangeli Nuntiandi and Fr. Gallagher’s writings, which Monsi’s genius turned into a manual, that spread all over the country, in 2,000 parishes and 80 local churches. All of you who are here knew him through PREX, were renewed through it, were evangelized through the same. Let us propagate this gift, use our charisms which he awakened, and we will be one family, no envy, just love and cooperation, consecrated people of Monsi, don’t only continue but claim, like Bishop Tobias said of Monsi, let’s take care of PREX. Since 2007, I feel his legacy, from the ranks will rise preachers of the world, like Brothers Bo (Sanchez) and Mike (Velarde). PREX was his gift to us, to be preachers of the world, inspired by his passion, let us breathe PREX into it. Let us summon the world with love, the Word of God. Imagine the Emmanuel Servants listening to lay Ates and Kuyas, our gift to Monsi, learn more from the Spirit, to be able to preach as he did. On Mt. Zion (referring to Monsi’s final resting place), let us tell Monsi, ‘I will preach God’s Word.’ Now he will be with Ate Imelda and Kuya Rene (the illustrious Isidoros, faithful patrons of PREX) and other brethren.”
It was heartening to see some BF Homes (PREX graduates) residents among the mourners, the Tamase couple, specifically. The thick throng could not have attested more convincingly NAPPS and NDAPPS rallying their ranks to pay homage to their PREX icon and promoter one last time. People emerged laden with food and drinks to make sure they were proportionate to the crowd that milled the wake. As my San Jose ang Tagapagtanggol companions and I prepared to leave, I was certain that the multiplied loaves would more than suffice for those who choose to remain, as well as the others who are still on their way to stay.
Facing the casket, Monsi Romy went on, “We thank you (Monsi Fidelis) for PREX, for summoning us to join you in the blessed undertaking. Bless this community, and may preachers of God’s Word rise, with the most Holy Trinity, thanks to PREX.”
After him, Fr. Eric Estrada, on behalf of their Fr. Founder and his fellow Emmanuel Servants, thanked the presider. Said he, “If you only knew our hearts, we cannot speak enough. Sa fb pa lang, baha na ang sympathies and condolences. Mt. Zion will be the final test, his presence will be felt in our abilities and availabilities, and action, most of all. At this point, his voice cracked as he continued, “We cry not of hopelessness but gratitude reverberates in our hearts.”
As we joined the multitude on their way out, it occurred to me that, it was not only artist Araceli Dans, sole kin of the dear departed who was there with us, who will survive Monsi Fidelis, but a whole lot of loving souls whose hearts he had touched with his PREXworthy legacy. And his memory lives on with each weekend encounter from now on. Amen.