‘The life and death of each of us has its influence on others’

Fr Geoffrey Revatto

As I was preparing to put the obituary of Columban Fr Geoffrey Revatto online I was struck by the words of Fr Donal Hogan during his funeral homily: 'The life and death of each of us has its influence on others' (Romans 14:7). Father Geoff touched the lives of so many people – especially the poor in Negros, I think in particular of the parish of Sipalay which had been without a resident priest for 50 years till he arrived in the early 1950's.

Here was a young priest who grew up on the south coast of Ireland throwing in his lot with people on the south-east coast of Negros, without even the chance of formally studying the Hiligaynon language they spoke. But his life spoke the language of the Gospel.

Father Geoff’s courage in the last two decades or so of his life when he came to terms with an illness that left him in a wheelchair, which he drove skillfully around the corridors of St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, where he had entered as a seminarian in 1943, inspired us Columbans who knew him.

Fr Donal Hogan with Mr Ariel Abella, Ambassador of the Philippines to Ireland (2011)

Fr Hogan gave us an insight into Father Geoff’s courage and patience when he recalled a moment at lunch one day: ‘In more recent times when Geoff was confined to the wheelchair, I remember at lunch complaining about the terrible day’s golf.  Geoff smiled and said to me, “Any day you can play golf is a ‘Good Day!’”  It was so true and made me realize how much I take for granted in life.’

Attorney Francisco B Cruz

In the article in this issue on the late Attorney Francisco B Cruz, Fr Hogan says, ‘For me personally he was a rock of support, always available to listen and then to take up cases that seemed hopeless. He was truly a light in the darkness during those martial law years. He brought a ray of hope to people in seemingly hopeless situations. He was a true friend who sacrificed his life for others.’

These are just two men, among many men and women, of whom St Paul’s words, ‘The life and death of each of us has its influence on others’ are absolutely true, particularly in their lives.

Fr Cireneo Matulac

Fr Cireneo Matulac, ordained 53 years after Fr Geoff Revatto, is a Columban from Mindanao who has worked in Chile and in China. His article in this issue, A Tale of Two Communities, tells us how the death of Fr Rufus Halley, an Irish Columban, in Mindanao in 2001, influenced a Catholic community in China who had never heard of him until Fr Matulac visited and told them his story. Unlike Fr Revatto and Attorney Cruz, he didn’t die peacefully in bed but was ambushed and killed on the side of the road.

Fr Rufus Halley

One of the brothers of Father Rufus said at his funeral, ‘Rufus’s death will influence a great number of people to continue the great work that he has been involved with.’ Among those were the Catholics whom Fr Matulac – ordained the year after the killing of Fr Halley – visited in a relatively remote part of China.

Truly, ‘The life and death of each of us has its influence on others.’