Recent Posts

Breaking News

Farewell to the Healing Priest Fr. Fernando Suarez

By DEEDEE M. SIYTANGCO

fr suarez

ANGEL THOUGHTS

All of a sudden, he was gone. At 2:24 p.m. last Tuesday, healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez’s life was snuffed out by a single, first-time, massive heart attack.

We all mourned for this charismatic, man of God with the gift of healing.

He was just turning 53 last Friday, and so many projects here and abroad were lined up for him and his ministry for the poor, marginalized, and the sick.

Flashback to Suarez’s story: A barrio boy, he had a normal childhood. To earn extra money he used to rent out salbabidas, inflated rubber tires to beach goers near his home.

He first realized that he had the gift of healing when he was 16 when he prayed over a lame woman he saw at Santa Cruz Church. Suarez laid his hand on her head and prayed for healing, and as he opened his eyes, he was shocked to see the woman walking away.

He kept this “gift” to himself, afraid people would think him crazy. He went on to finish his chemical engineering studies at Adamson University in Manila and worked for a multinational firm. He then went to Canada upon the invitation of a friend and there entered a seminary to answer a persistent “call.” He was ordained a priest by the Companions of the Cross.

His superior, upon seeing how strong Fr. Suarez’s healing gift was, asked him to share the gift with more people, so he was given permission to go back to the Philippines. In his native Batangas, news of his gift of healing spread like wildfire, which eventually reached people outside the province. Since then he became known as the “healing priest” but he would always heal within the mass.

“My gift of healing is from God,” he would always tell the devotees. “I am but his instrument. Have faith in Him.” Interestingly he was one of the six Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines awardees several years ago. He was in the batch of former senator JV Ejercito who became a good friend.

His ministry was not without problems. He was able to attract mass goers by the thousands during his healing masses. His fame grew with every healing. He went to Europe and the US on the invitation of believers. As his fame grew, however, so did the doubts and malicious envy of some of his co-priests and church superiors. He started his own congregation with the permission of the Companions of the Cross. He founded the Missionaries of Mary Mother of the Poor and began building healing centers.

84640441_2503897233206328_7183342904323080192_o

Controversies hounded him. The lands donated to the congregation encountered so many problems he had to pull back, leaving the some of the projects half-completed.

He would remind me, “Jesus said if they don’t welcome you in a particular place, shake the dust off your sandals and move on.” He did, but still the persecution worsened. Some dioceses would ban him from saying mass for the flimsiest reasons. The final nail on the cross for him was the accusations of sexual assault without formal charges or evidences. He was even prevented from saying mass in America as his critics in the Philippines wrote the parishes abroad where he was invited to ban him.

Still, his healings continued, even reaching India where he was invited to start a congregation. Believers from all walks of life approached him. He accepted everybody.

Very recently, he was informed of the historic decision of the Vatican to absolve him of the malicious accusations of sexual assault on two young boys supposedly committed six years ago in Illing, Mindoro. His reaction was, “God be praised!” The Vatican decision has been sent to the CBCP here.

“Thank you Lord, I am humbled.” He told me. “I forgive all my detractors, the gossipmongers, the false friends, the bishops who chose to believe rather than ask me, some of my fellow priests who doubted my integrity. I will continue to serve in my ministry to help the poor and marginalized and spread God’s Word. I love being a priest and a servant of God.”

Everyone, of course, was overjoyed, relieved that this very dark cloud that used to hang over Fr. Suarez and his healing ministry had been dispersed with the Vatican’s Congregacione per la Doctrina Della Fedde’s decision to declare him “Not Guilty.” The doctrine was signed by its secretary, Gacomo Morandi, Titular Archbishop of Cerveteri.

The document was sent to the Bishop Emeritus of Novaliches, Judicial Vicar, NTA, Dispensation, and Dismissal Office of the CBCP, Bishop Antonio Tobias. On Jan. 6, Bishop Tobias wrote Fr. Suarez that “he has been falsely accused of these crimes, and therefore, nothing now stands in the way for him to exercise his healing ministry provided it is done properly in coordination with the ecclesiastical authority of every ecclesiastical jurisdiction.”

20200204_170800

Fr. Suarez with his successor Fr. Jeff Shannon (standing) and tennis buddy, Rommie Chan

Fr Suarez would have celebrated his birthday on Feb. 7. He was scheduled to have a medical mission in his hometown in Butong, Taal. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, he had his 11th National Tennis Open Championship for priests here and abroad at his favorite Alabang Tennis Club. Tennis was the sport of his life, he was quite good at it. His motto with his ministry is an inspiration from his tennis playing, “I Can Serve!”

Unknown to many, Fr. Suarez has helped a group of rehabilitated ex-prisoners form a monastic congregation in Davao to help them spiritually. They are now known as the Contemplative Brothers of the Mary Mother of the Poor Foundation.

He has also gathered thousands of food packs for Batangas evacuees even as he and his family evacuated from their home in Barrio Butong. He said masses for those in remote centers without fanfare. This was my dear, dear friend, Fr. Fernando, charitable to everyone, friend to whoever approached him, charismatic and charming with a child-like approach to life and his ministry, a  Marian devotee, especially of Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace of Lipa.

At his wake at Heritage Park, hundreds of believers—Muslims, Christians, Protestants, rich and poor, the powerful and the marginalized, all came to pay their respects. Even President Duterte came as a friend.

A biopic of Fr. Suarez has just been finished and he was able to preview it before he died that fateful afternoon. It will be shown around April. He lies in state until Feb. 15 at the Little Bridge resort in his home town in Butong. Please pray for him and all unjustly persecuted priests.



Source: Manila Bulletin

No comments