Sunday, March 10, 2013

Thank You, Fr. Deody Dawis, OSJ

I was four or five years when I first went for vacation in San Jose, Batangas. During that time, I was the only kid in the family, my two elder cousins were living in Baler, Aurora, hence all the attention of my uncles and aunts and grandparents are all in me. My two uncles were working in Saudi and I only know them through photos. One of my uncles have this trademark moustache and we do have same eyes, they say "Indian eyes". One Friday evening, a mass was held in our small chapel and I saw this parish priest for the first time. He had this same moustache that my uncle had and those similar eyes. In the middle of the mass, while he read the gospel, I shouted, "Tito Peter! (Uncle Peter)!" He stopped from reading and smiled at me. I was so innocent that time and I really thought he was my uncle. I asked my grandfather why they always tell me that my uncle is in Middle East when in fact, he is a priest. When I went back to Manila, I even told my classmates in the Kindergarten that my uncle is a priest! Everytime we go back home and we'd go to mass, I always tell my mother that I would only hear mass  when it is "Uncle Peter" who would preside the mass. They kept on correcting me that it was not my uncle, but it was Fr. Deody. I asked, why they look so alike, are they twins? I even asked my uncle that on the phone, when he also tried to explain to me that he is in Saudi and the priest is Fr. Deody. I told him, is he your twin? My family never get tired on explaining to me that the priest is not related to us by blood. However, no matter how hard they try, I still clinged on that belief, why? It is because he never made me feel wrong. After mass, I would run to him and call him Uncle Peter, he would give me his hand to kiss and then carry me on his arms. With these small gestures, I think every kid would really think he is your uncle. Then it was time for him to serve other parishes. I never saw him again. But with his absence, my real uncle came home. I never really felt empty.

Years passed and we met again. This time, I am already aware that he is Fr. Deody and not my uncle. I was so shy to come and greet him because I always have this memory in my mind when I would always call him out loud in the middle of his mass (sometimes even during the consecration!) and tell everybody in the church that he is my uncle. We met again in Marello Cup, a yearly event for all youth of the parishes being served by the Oblates of St. Joseph. I was an active member of the Joseph Marello Youth of San Jose, Batangas and I was usually part of the service committee (we prepared food for the athletes, we made sure what they need on all events are complete, when not, we go out and buy stuffs they need). During our lunch break, I was waiting with my other committee friends for our friend of ours who hosted the Battle of the Brains event, Fr. Deody approached us. As a sign of respect, we asked for his blessing. When it was my turn, he hugged me. I was surprised! Then he said, " you're all grown up now! You were just a kid when I last saw you! I am so happy that you are an active member of the youth organization." I was speechless at first. I never thought and never imagined that he could still remember me. I just remarked, "do you really still remember me Father? That little kid who called you uncle during your mass?" He answered, "Yes, I do. That's why I approached you guys here, I wanted to make sure that my eyes did not play trick on me. How's your uncle? How's your grandfather?" I told him my grandfather died more than a year ago (I was in fourth year high school that time we met, my grandfather died when I was in third year high school) and that my uncle already has 2 kids and decided to start a business instead of going back in the Middle East.

It occurred to me, that he was not just an uncle for me during the time my uncle was working in Saudi, he was also a son to my grandfather. During his service in San Jose, and when he presided mass in our place, he would visit my grandfather and kiss his hand. Mom also said that when my uncle come home, he do visit him and have a little drink with him, and they look really like brothers.

Few days ago, I shared Fr. Deody's nephew's status on my Facebook page. He told us the real health condition of Fr. Deody, which Fr. Deody had been battling for such a long time and would not tell even his own family. That was the time I started to be a bit nostalgic. Aside from the fact that he is little by little preparing his departure, our 25th Cenakulo (Passion of Christ theater play during Good Friday) in San Jose, Batangas would be celebrated this year. Coincidentally, he was the man behind the first theater play. He was the original manager of the theater group. He gave the youth of San Jose something to look forward to do every Holy Week, and for the whole parishioners to watch on Good Friday. He is indeed one great man of God. He changes people and places with his simple ways. 

Today, as I browse through my news feeds, I came upon Bro. Omi's posts and the reality he is trying to tell us, Fr. Deody Dawis has now joined the One Above. It was so heavy in the heart. Hence, I decided to blog and through this, express my sincerest condolences to his family and to the whole Oblates of Saint Joseph community. My mind and heart is so filled with tears, mixed with sadness because he passed away and I am so far away to be able to pay him my last respect and of childhood memories that I will forever be grateful for because he is in it.

Thank you, Fr. Deody Dawis, OSJ for the memories and the friendship. This is better because you are now healed and rejoicing with the One Above. It may be sad that you won't be able to see the 25th anniversary of Teatrong Kumot, the theater that you founded, but we are rest assured that you would be watching the kids and guide them from Above. You will always be my first favorite priest. You will always be my uncle. Thank you very much. You will be missed. You will always be in our hearts. Please send my love to my grandfather, I am 100% sure you'd meet him there and share stories, just like how you used to do when you were still our parish priest in San Jose.

Photo grabbed from. Bro. Omi Intia's Facebook wall.
 photo sig_zps35132240.png

No comments: