A vigil was held for Br. Robin del Rosario Bernabe on Wednesday, November 7 at the Mt. Angel Abbey Church. Below is the eulogy that was written and shared by Br. Rito Guzman, MSpS.
This past summer I had the opportunity to visit my family in California and as soon as my four-year-old nephew Diego saw me, he jumped out of his seat, ran to me and hugged me. “Uncle,” he said, “how many days are you going to stay with us?” “Two days,” I answered and I thought that was the end of the conversation, but I was wrong. Diego looked at me and in a soft and gentle voice he said, “Can you stay with me for one hundred years?”
As I meditate upon this event, I realize something fundamental in love. Love always longs to endure forever. Love longs to endure forever because it has its origin in the Eternal God. Robin understood this very well. After he had an encounter with the living God, Robin’s desire to love and please God grew each day. In these past few days, many people have shared with us how Robin touched their lives. We are already witnessing the fruits of his life; a life geared towards doing the will of God no matter how difficult it would be; a life guided by a strong faith which made him a compassionate disciple of Christ, a meek and humble servant, a generous brother.
In particular, I have been moved by his example of poverty and compassion with the poor. While he was in California, Robin often visited the homeless and called them friends. Our brother novices have shared how Robin used to talk about his experience every time he would visit the shelter. The stories of each individual touched Robin in a profound way—he loved the poor as much as our Savior loved them. We will remember Robin for his poverty and simplicity of life.
Robin had many dreams in life. In one of his reflections he writes, “I was reared by my grandfather. From a very young age, we shared a dream together. We dreamt of going to the Holy Land. This was a promise he made, and his death in 1997 somehow dimmed that dream.” The second dream Robin had was to return to the Philippines and open a community of Missionaries of the Holy Spirit there. I shared this dream with him and I hope one day we, the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, may fulfill Robin’s dream.
Brothers and sisters, our relationship with Robin has now changed. We wont see him anymore; we wont laugh and joke around like we used to, but this is not the end. Robin will be present in our minds and hearts until we die. Robin understood death not as the end, but as the door to a better world, to a richer and fuller reality of the love of God. When my grandmother passed away two years ago, Robin wrote to me and said, “Rito, again our condolences to you and your family, and I pray that we see in the passing away of our loved ones how death gathers the entire life and witness together, rather than just ends it, in preparation for, as C.S. Lewis says, Chapter One of the Eternal story where every chapter is better than the one before.”
My greatest consolation at this time is that Robin fell in love with God, took up his cross and followed him not knowing where God would lead him. Eight years ago, he picked up his phone and called our Novitiate House. I answered the phone and he told me, “I am interested in a vocational retreat with you guys.” I asked him, “why us?” And he said, “The name of your Religious Institution says it all, YOU ARE MISSIONARIES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
Robin had a special devotion to the Holy Spirit and it was this spirit who sanctified my brother as his missionary. It is time to reap the good fruits Robin has won for his family and friends, for his brother Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, and for the entire Church.
Bro. Rito Guzman MSpS