Friday, November 9, 2012

Chronicle of Br. Robin's Funeral Services

The Missionaries of the Holy Spirit of the Christ the Priest gladly share with you all a short chronicle of the religious services of our beloved brother Robert (Robin) Bernabe that took place in Oregon and in California.
First and foremost we want to underline that all the religious services could not have taken place without the help, support and organization of many people.  In a special way we want to point out the outstanding leadership of Fr. Philip Waibel, O.S.B.; Fr. Joseph Betschart, Fr. Paul Thomas, O.S.B, Mrs. Myrna Keough, Fr. Hugo Maese, M.Sp.S., and Fr. Agustin Rodriguez, M.Sp.S. who were coordinating the services. 

The first service was the Vigil which took place on November 7th at 7:30 PM at Mount Angel Seminary in the church of the monastery of the Benedictine Monks.  Some of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit gathered at the entrance of the Church at 4:30PM to receive the mortal remains of our Brother Robin.  We processed with him and laid him at the center of the Church for the viewing.  We were invited by Mount Angel Seminary Community to pray vespers with them.  Vespers were specially taken from the office of the dead in memory of Robin.  Around 6:30 PM people began to arrive to the church for the Vigil.  At 7:30 the church was completely full, and the religious service began with the hymn: Hail Holy Queen which reminded all present there about the faithful presence of the Virgin Mary at the hour of our death.  The Vigil service had two parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Holy Rosary. The passage of the Gospel that was proclaimed was about the Visitation.  It was proclaimed by Father Joel Quezada, M.Sp.S. After the Gospel was proclaimed we heard two reflections about the life of Br. Robin.  One reflection was done by Br. Rito Guzman and the other was done by Deacon Brian Bergeron from the Diocese of Helena. Both highlighted how Robin touched the life of many people with his joy, his love to God, his patience, his simplicity of life, his caring for others and his ever-present smile. After these two reflections, we began with the Holy Rosary.  The rosary had a special touch of the diversity of the seminary community.  It was led by Deacon Bert Mello from the diocese of Fresno, three missionaries of the Holy Spirit, one Friar of the Discalced Carmelites, and one Benedictine Monk.  After the Rosary, Fr. Jose Ortega made some final remarks in which he mentioned that, in the midst of sadness, the death of Br. Robin brought also joy because of the unity and support that was shown in many instances.  The Vigil concluded with a final prayer made by Fr. Joseph Betschart, President-Rector of the Seminary, and with the final blessing done by Fr. Jose Gerardo Alberto, M.Sp.S.  After the vigil was over, everyone was invited to a small reception in the Seminary Cafeteria. We would like to mention that this service and the reception were organized and provided by the Benedictine Monks and Mount Angel Seminary.
The body of our Brother Robin was brought to the House of Studies of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in Mount Angel where he spent the last night in what was his religious community up until he passed away.

The Mass took place on November 8th at 11:00AM.  People began to arrive to the church before Mass for a short viewing of Br. Robin.  The principal celebrant was Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland Oregon.  The Homilist was Fr. Domenico Di Raimondo, M.Sp.S.  There were about forty other diocesan and religious priests concelebrating the Mass.  The Seminary cancelled some classes in order to allow the seminarians, the faculty and the staff to attend the Mass.  It was wonderful to see, once again, the love and support of many people which was shown in a full church.   Archbishop Vlazny blessed the mortal remains of Br. Robin at the entrance of the church, and then the Eucharistic celebration began with a wonderful hymn played and sung by the Mount Angel Seminary Choir.  Fr. Domenico, di Raimondo, M.Sp.S. gave an insightful homily in which he explained that the readings chosen for this occasion were meant to convey hope and faith in the unconditional love of God and in the assurance of life after death. The music of the celebration could not be better.  The seminary choir, directed by Mrs. Myrna Keough, was exceptional as always, and we also had two special interventions: one of the Filipino seminarians who sang a wonderful song in Tagalog, and then the brothers Missionaries of the Holy Spirit sang a song in Spanish. After communion, Archbishop Vlazny did the prayer of commendation for our Brother Robin.  The Eucharist concluded with the hymn entitled For All the Saints while the body of Br. Robin was being carried by his brothers Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.  Once outside of the church, while the mortal remains of Robin were being placed in the Funeral Home’s vehicle, all the priests sang the Latin hymn “Salve Regina”.  Archbishop Vlazny approached the coffin and gave it a kiss.  This was a wonderful sign of a loving pastor who takes care of each sheep of his flock in joys and in sorrows.  After the Eucharistic celebration, we had a reception in the parish hall provided by the parish.  This religious service was organized and provided by Fr. Philip Waibel, O.S.B., pastor of St. Mary, many of the parishioners, and Mount Angel Seminary. 

On November 10th at 10:30AM there was another Mass in memory of Br. Robin.  This Mass was celebrated in Southern California in order to give an opportunity for a farewell to all the people who knew Robin in this area.  A special mention should be made to the fact that Br. Robin’s mother—Mrs. Roberta (Rica)—lives in California, and so this was the opportunity for her and many of his relatives to come and say a farewell to Robin.  Once again, many people showed up to express their pain for the loss of Robin, and their support to Robin’s family and to the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.  The principal celebrant for this Eucharist was Fr. Domenico Di Raimondo, M.Sp.S., and there were several other priests Missionaries of the Holy Spirit concelebrants.  This celebration had a wonderful feature; it was celebrated in English, Tagalog and Spanish, which were the three languages that Br. Robin spoke and the three cultures in which Br. Robin ministered to the people of God in his life as Missionary of the Holy Spirit.  It is also important to mention that besides the biological family and friends of Br. Robin there were also many persons who belong to the Family of the Cross and came to express their support.  After communion there were some people who made some remarks of remembrance about the life of Robin.  Among these persons was Br. Robin’s mother who shared with everyone the sad experience of losing her own husband and now her son both in fatal car accidents.  But at the same time she also shared how she feels the support and the closeness of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and of the many people who got to know Br. Robin.  The Eucharist was organized by Fathers Agustin Rodriguez, MSpS and Hugo Maese, M.Sp.S. After the Eucharist finished there was a reception which was provided by the St. Martha’s parishioners and the family of the Cross.

Dear friends, in the midst of the sadness we have experienced by the loss of our beloved brother Robin we also experience the joy for our trust in the Lord and for all the signs of care and support from you all. Undoubtedly, this tragic event has showed us the many ways in which Br. Robin did good things while he was alive, and how he continues to touch the lives of many people now that he is with the Lord.  We appreciate and are very thankful for all the signs of support and care that you showed us.  There were many phone calls, personal visits, emails, facebook posts, cards, words of consolation, and prayers that have made of this experience an experience of the loving presence of God.  We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to Mr. Aaron Duyck, director of Duyck and Van De Hey Funeral Home, who took care of Br. Robin’s body since the moment of the accident until the day of the Eucharist in California.  Thank you very much, and please be assured of our prayers and gratitude.

May Robin’s soul rest in peace!
“Sumalangiit nawa ang kanyang kaluluwa”

Lucio Galicia MSpS and Manuel Rosiles MSpS