I almost didn’t post this one. It’s a classic near-death story, so classic it verges on stereotypical. It does have a few unusual details, though, so I just decided to go ahead.
Photo: John Mount
“This happened to my father, your lolo, when he was a young man, doing missionary work,” Dad said. “He had been assigned to a parish in Mindanao — Cagayan de Oro.”
I’m a bit hazy as to what “missionary work” means in this context. My grandfather was a priest who belonged to the Philippine Independent, or Aglipayan, Church. The church was founded as a reaction to the Spanish-dominated Catholic hierarchy, which slighted native Filipino clergy and churchgoers. Its nationalistic position attracted a lot of converts.
So I would imagine that my grandfather’s missionary work entailed ministering to an Aglipayan parish, one similar to the Roman Catholic parish that his parishioners had abandoned. Mindanao has a relatively large Muslim population as well; it’s possible that he also proselytized.
At any rate, from what my father describes, his father had many of the duties of a parish priest: saying Mass, visiting members of his congregation, managing the day to day activities of the church.
“One night, he came home quite late in the evening, after visiting with a sick parishioner. As he entered his house, a large black moth flew at him. He killed it. Then he finished up for the day, and went to bed.”
“When he fell asleep, he dreamt that he died.”