MANILA, August 28, 2015— Retired Pasig Bishop Francisco San Diego reportedly had a feeling he had said goodbye to one of his contemporaries that visited him in hospital.
Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias said San Diego was seriously ill but tried hard to talk with him briefly at the Cardinal Santos hospital on Monday.
“He told me ‘Mauna na ako sa inyo’ (I’ll be going now) and then I said ‘Akala ko walang iwanan’ (I thought no one gets left behind?) but he did not answer me anymore,” Tobias said.
“I then told him, ‘Kiko, remember me when you are in paradise,’” he said.
Both canon lawyers, Tobias and San Diego worked together at the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Manila in their early years of priesthood.
San Diego, who had long been suffering from lung cancer, passed away shortly before dawn Wednesday.
Last night, several bishops, including CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas held a Mass for San Diego at the Pasig Cathedral.
Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara said San Diego died of cardiac arrest in his sleep at the hospital. He was 79.
The prelate’s remains lie in state at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Pasig City where he will be interred after a funeral Mass at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 29.
“His last will and testament indicated that he would be buried within three days after his death,” Vergara said.
San Diego became priest in 1963 and was ordained to the episcopacy 20 years later.
In his 32 years as bishop, San Diego had been assigned to at least three dioceses: Palawan, San Pablo, and Pasig.
As the first bishop of Pasig, he facilitated the construction of the bishop’s residence and the improvement and expansion of Pasig diocese’s cemetery.
He also created funds for the retirement plans of the clergy.
“He has been a very fatherly bishop and he’s a great loss to the Church. He has established and [laid] the foundation of the diocese,” Vergara said.
He added that San Diego had been in and out of hospital in recent weeks but was still able to attend the Mass to celebrate the diocese’s 12th year anniversary last August 21.
‘Pillars of prison ministry’
The church’s prison ministry are also mourning over the passing San Diego, who chaired the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC) from 1992 to 2001.
“The ECPPC deeply mourns the death of one of the pillars of the prison ministry,” said Rodolfo Diamante, ECPPC executive secretary.
The bishop, he said, was at the forefront of the struggle to abolish death penalty in the Philippines.
“He also led the calls for better treatment of persons deprived of their liberties,” he said. (R. Lagarde / CBCPNews)