This photo I was wanting to post last August to honor the priests in San Ildefonso Parish where I go for my weekend ministry. But since Fr. Ian was not in the frame, I decided against it. But since there’s no way for us to be complete anymore, let me post it anyway.
Last Sunday, January 31, my Facebook timeline was inundated with just two types of posts: (1) Don Bosco feast day greetings and (2) status updates in honor of Fr. Jonil Lalap, SDB who passed on that very day.
Since the feast day of Don Bosco is over, and the wake of Fr. Jonil is still on-going, allow me to just quickly jot three of my fondest memories about Fr. Jonil.
First, he taught me how to celebrate the sacrament of Baptism.
The theory I learned from the classroom found practical application in him. Having been assigned at San Ildefonso Parish in which he is assigned, he went beyond in simply welcoming me to the community, he took it upon himself to show me how the sacrament of baptism is done. He asked me to observe how he celebrated the sacrament.
That was the first and last time I would see him do it.
Second, when he was hospitalized late last year, we paid him a visit. His situation was bad after undergoing the oral chemotherapy. His sister Ate Lea had to help him extricate the phlegm. He could barely speak. One of the prenovices who came with us observed that instead of being mindful about his situation, he even thought of asking how we were doing. Before we left him, he asked for the white board and wrote there for Beng to read “Treat them for coffee.”
In our community Mass last Monday, Fr. Gerry Battad noted of Fr. Jonil’s concern, too, for others. Two days before he passed on, he even asked Fr. Gerry how many students of theology were in Cebu.
Third, Fr. Jonil is known to be a stickler for punctuality. With his bombastic voice, he is famous–or infamous–for reminding the late comers in the congregation to come on time for the celebration of the Mass.
On the very last Sunday Mass he presided in the parish, once again, for the last time, he repeated to the people that they need to be on time for the Mass. This he did despite the faintest voice that he still had.
In the official notice of his death, we were told that he passed on at 4:30 AM.
In Eschatology, I learnt that “Death is a human act;” that it’s an act of final self-surrender. While I have some issues with this idea, it dawned on me that Fr. Jonil’s passing on, in the wee hours of the morning, must have wanted to emphasize his insistence to be punctual for the Mass.
That even before we could wake up to celebrate the feast day of our founder St. John Bosco, he had already been ready to celebrate it, first hand, and most intimately.