Missing priest’s protegé renews promise to mentor

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BAYBAY, Leyte, July 18, 2015—A protegé of Fr. Rosaleo “Rudy” Romano, the Filipino Redemptorist priest who disappeared 30 years ago, has honored the memory of his mentor by renewing his promise to live out all that he had learned from him, especially the love for the common folk.

Remembering Romano: The Redemptorist community (C.Ss.R.), of which activist-priest Rosaleo "Rudy" Romano is a member, commemorates the 29th year of his "diasppearance" in a mini outdoor exhibit at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran Church) in Parañaque City, July 11, 2014. (Photo: Edwin Dio Despabiladeras)

Heart and soul

“If he were still alive today, I would thank him for everything he had taught me. I promise Fr. Rudy that I will serve the Filipino people with all my heart and with all my soul,” shared Yoyoy Cala, a cultural activist from Leyte, who first met the legendary priest in 1983, but had heard of him long before.

For his pastoral style in dealing with his flock, Cala compared Romano to Pope Francis, to Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, and to the latter’s predecessor retired Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz

“Fr. Romano wanted to follow in the footsteps of St. Joseph, the patron of workers,” he said.

Be like Romano, Romero

Meanwhile, in a statement, Cebú Archbishop José S. Palma has enjoined priests and religious to make the cries of the poor central to their prayers and not just seek band aid solutions to poverty, following the example of Romano and Blessed Oscar Romero of El Salvador, another champion of the poor.

“I call upon the whole archdiocese to remember these two modern martyrs. Above all, I pray that we would be as brave as Jesus, Blessed Oscar, and Fr. Rudy. May we also go beyond palliative approaches in helping the poor,” the prelate said.

According to Cala, Romano showed his dislike for capitalists in the Visayas by celebrating Mass for unionists.


“With the priest’s inspiration, many labor unions won against these big businessmen because Fr. Rudy served as the animating spirit that guided the laborers, peasants, and the urban poor,” he said in an earlier interview.

He added Romano also became spiritual adviser to known political opposition leaders in Cebu like the anti-Marcos “Inday” Nenita Cortes Daluz.

The Redemptorist missionary, a Waray from Santa Rita, Samar, was “abducted” on July 11, 1985 by suspected members of  the military.

He has never surfaced since.


“Wherever Fr. Rudy may be now, I am sure he will forever remain in the hearts of those who keep dreaming for a free, prosperous, and dignified society,” Cala exclaimed.

“Were he still alive today, he would still be doing what he was doing, righting the wrongs of those in power,” he added.

Recently, the Redemptorist community of Baclaran, Parañaque, joined by ordinary laborers, marked the anniversary of Romano’s “disappearance” in a peaceful rally and an outdoor photo exhibit at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

An entire hall, the Romano Hall, in Baclaran is named in the priest’s memory.

Redemptorists all over the Philippines celebrate July 11 each year as “Romano Day.” (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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