In one of the books I have read about death, it was noted by the author that everyone of us has a story to tell. Such a story is unique because it is the story of our lives. Everyone’s story deserves to be listened to and taken seriously because it is his or her own story. To know a person’s story is to understand, even love that person.
The author continues to say that when a person dies, we begin to tell that person’s story. His or her story passes before the eyes of our minds. It is all laid out before us with its joys and sorrows, successes and failures.
Father Emmanuel Sabaya Mijares of the Diocese of Kalibo who just recently passed away has his own story to tell. Indeed, a beautiful story of a priest, who faithfully served his God and His people to the best of his capacity. He may have died at a relatively not so old age, only 63, but I believe he had lived a full life.
I have known him when I was a seminarian at St. Pius X Seminary even if he was already at the Central Seminary of the University of Santo Tomas at that time. When I proceeded to that Dominican University for my theology, he was still there but almost finishing, and in a year or two he was already ordained. It was there that I got acquainted well with him especially his caring and solicitous ways.
Oh, how he would check on us younger Pians (alumni of St. Pius X) for him to know that we are doing well. There was a time when he went to my room bringing along an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the icon he said that has been passed on to younger Pians. I continued the tradition having passed it to either Fathers Butch Abalajon or Onyok Palete. I presume it must have been passed on also to Vic Bendico, now Bishop of Baguio.
During that time, the Ilongo speaking seminarians got together whenever we got the chance. The bondings were a respite from our daily grind. More often than not, Am was there enjoying the company.
Then when I attended Angelicum University in Rome. He was also there finishing his doctoral degree in Philosophy. He too resided at the Pontificio Collegio Filipino.
On that fateful early morning of September 1992, among those who welcomed me the Collegio was Am Mijares. And not only that! That very same afternoon after I have settled down a bit, he brought me to the Vatican, particularly to St Peter’s Basilica. Why he even toured me initially to a “Rome by Night.”
The rest is history so to speak but then “grazie mille” Fr. Am.
You will certainly be missed.*