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After the tragic death of a basketball legend  Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, here is a  heart-warming  story on our popular  healing priest, Fr. Fernando Suarez of Butong, Batangas.  He has been cleared by the Vatican on trumped up charges of sexual abuse!

Flashback to Suarez’ story… A barrio boy , he had a normal childhood. He first  realized  that he had the gift of healing when he was sixteen and he prayed over a lame woman he saw in sta. Cruz church. The woman sitting by the church door  and Fernando asked if she wanted to be prayed over. He laid his hand on her head and prayed for healing. When he opened his eyes, he was shocked to see the woman walking away. He kept this gift to himself afraid that people would think his crazy until he was ordained a priest in Canada where he entered the Congregation of the Companions of the Cross.

His superior, upon seeing how strong was Fr. Suarez healing gift, told him he had to share his gift with more people and gave him permission to go back to the Philippines. In his native Batangas, news o his gift of healing spread like wildfire and eventually, reached  people outside the province. Since then he became known as the “healing priest” but he would always heal within the mass and never proclaimed himself as such.

“ My gift of  healing is from  God,” he would always tell the devotees. “I am but his instrument.”

When  he was informed of the 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!”

“Thank you Lord, I am humbled.” He followed up. “I forgive all my detractors, the gossip-mongers, 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”

The clearance from the Vatican of this popular , but misunderstood  healing priest and founder of the Mary Mother of the Poor congregation  has been widely reported in various media outfits and this is simply a follow-up of the happy news for Fr. Suarez’ numerous followers and sympathizers, here and abroad. Everyone of course is overjoyed and relieved that this very dark cloud that hang over Fr. Suarez and his healing ministry for six years has 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. Then  on Jan. 6 of the new year  , 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 if it is done properly in coordination with the ecclesiastical authority of every ecclesiastical jurisdiction.”

Tobias also added that “ this development “ should be made known to “all those concerned, especially the archbishops and bishops of the Philippines and wherever Fr. Fernando Suarez is permitted to minister.”

What does this mean to the followers of Fr. Suarez?

Hopefully that Fr. Fernando will no longer be a pariah in some dioceses whose bishops have refused him permission to offer healing masses even after the invitations of their members and priests. But then again, we, in the past, have witnessed the unjust treatment of these misguided bishops so protective over their “territories.” The oft-repeated reason for refusing healing masses of Fr. Suarez to be held in their turfs’ churches is that “ he did not ask for permission from them.”

Fr. Suarez and his congregation have livelihood , medical, dental projects, and  built chapels and ministered to the isolated communities especially in Mindoro. And  this is where the two altar boys and two former seminarians came from, the backward community called Iling. They accused Fr. Suarez  of sexual abuses. And instead of investigating the allegations, his cleric critics  blew it up  even after Suarez asked to be able to face his accusers. And all these years,  the CBCP officials refused to talk to him. The “shepherds” did not want to go out  and save one lost black sheep!

For the last six excruciating years for Fr. Suarez, there have been no hearings or trials on the part of his accusers nor the CBCP. Just leaked rumors, banning of Fr. Suarez from saying mass in various dioceses on the flimsiest excuses, letters from a few bishops, especially retired archbishop Oscar Cruz to him to the effect that he was no longer a priest! Just like that, they claim he had lost his priestly faculties.

The two minor-age accusers , former altar boys, have since recanted, in writing . They confessed  that they were only forced to make the accusations. Their parents  have also approached Fr. Suarez to apologize and disown their sons’ allegations. But the most recent development in this bizarre case showed that the two older  accusers who wrote a letter condemning Fr. Suarez and his well-known followers  have ‘fled ‘ the country under the “sponsorship” of some clerical critics of Suarez.

Fr Suarez  will be celebrating his 53rd birthday on  Feb. 7 in his hometown in Butong, Taal. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, he will have  his 11th National Tennis Open Championship for priests here and abroad at the Canlubang Tennis Club. This is the sport of his life, tennis and he is quite good at it. His motto with his ministry is an inspiration from his tennis playing, “I Serve!” Now he  wants to moves on and he hopes that those who believe in his ministry will do the same. And he also sincerely prays for his tormentors and asks for  prayers for him and his bishop protector, retired bishop Antonio Palang, his seminarians , priests, and nuns.

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 Butong, Taal, Batangas. This is Fr. Fernando, charitable to everyone, friend to whoever approaches 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.

He was a favorite confessor of Teresing Castillo, the late visionary of Lipa, and she enjoyed his visits to her even on her death bed.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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