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By Fr. Sylvester Casaclang, SDB

       Manila, The Philippines, 20 January 2023 -- Fr Eduardo was one source of fun, happiness, and laughter among his seminary classmates. But you know, his being humorous was just part of his humility. Actually, Adoy (as his family and friends used to call him) was an exceptionally gifted and talented person in arts, sports, music, acting. And yes, he was smart... but he never once boasted about it... Gifted as he was, he never thought of himself as being better than others. Even if he had a reason to brag, he just went through his being a comic.

       Not too long ago, he was sharing with one of his batchmate priests that he thought he had moved on after the death of his Mother. But when his Father died he realized that his grieving was going to last longer than he could bear. (This could have as well have contributed to his demise) And Christmas this year felt strange for him.

       “This is the first Christmas that I am an orphan." It's hard to explain how much he suddenly missed his father and mother. Even in the parish, it was obvious that the elderly always had a place in his heart. He coped with the death of his mother by doting on cats. At his office, he was alone as if he suddenly missed his mother, so having a cat with him helped. But when the father disappeared, even though there were still pigs and other animals, it was difficult.

       And the same is the grief of the family of Fr. Dudz who have lost their parents and now their older brother. We sympathize with you in these moments.

       Fr. Adoy or Fr. Duds actively evangelized on social media through a blog he called “God’s Tickling.” He explained this title by saying that we live in a "valley of tears." And in the midst of many things that weigh us down, God will suddenly tickle us and say 'smile again.' God gives us reasons to smile in spite of all our pain. That is a moment in history when God's people were in despair an angel comes to tickle us and say "Rejoice," I bring you news of great joy.

       In his postings, he summarized in three words his own Salesian Spiritual Journey with the Lord - the development of his relationship with God and his Word. Read. Reflect. Live. That was his Mantra. Study the Word, Engage the word. Live the Word.

       First, Study the Word: Of late, Fr. Duds gained a reputation that led people to refer to him as Fr. Power Point. He had been using Powerpoint presentations during his sermons. Beyond the name… it shows how he really prepared his sermons.

       When we're still seminarians... he would go all out in preparing for his catechism class for children. He was a catechist par excellence in terms of props, songs, and various tricks…. There are many tricks but Fr. Duds always had a meaningful message to help people know something about Jesus and his saving work.

       In building a relationship of friendship with someone it is important that you get to know the other person more and more…. The more you know something about that person the closer you become. Fr. Duds would ask, “ how can we deepen our people's relationship with God if we do not give them sound religious instruction so that they get familiar with and feel closer to God? We can never really know God but we can help them be open to Him. Humor has a way of disarming people and opening up to others. Couple this with solid relatable religious instruction he could dispose others to help people come closer to God and say "I know God, someone introduced him to me."

       Second, ENGAGE THE WORD:

       If given the chance to study Fr. Duds can easily get a doctorate degree. He’s smart. And he’s diligent in taking down notes. That's why his classmates at the theologate borrow his notes to photocopy when the exams are near.

       But beyond intelligence, he had the gift of making the word of God so relatable to people. Of making God so near and so real…. People should be able at some point in their spiritual development say, “I felt something deep down inside. I felt deeply moved by the hand of God.” “That I feel the hand of God in my life and not once does this hand tickle.”

       We, therefore, need to create that environment of encounter with God, an oratory if you may, often Characterized by trust, peace, and joy… “At some point, we priests have to step aside and allow the person and God to encounter each other. Let's not get in the way. We can't always be in the middle - let's step aside and let God's Spirit take over. We can't always be famous. If a teacher teaches, but the students don’t learn did the teacher really teach? If a doctor treats a patient but the patient does not get healed did the doctor cure it? When we evangelize our people but they do not encounter God personally, did we really evangelize?

       Third, LIVE THE WORD:

       Spiritual writers tell us that the level of contemplation is not about the experience of ecstasy and mystical possessions but of loving what God loves and desiring what God desires and that this relationship with God is transformative. Liking what the young like so that they desire what God desires is not foreign to union with God. Moreover, In Salesian terms, it is a relationship that is transformative. Friendship with the Lord transforms us. It transforms us not only to become better versions of ourselves but to become a unique version of Christ.

       Read the Word. Reflect on it. Live it. – in a life of a Salesian Priest

       Fr. Duds Just celebrated 25 years of his priesthood last year. How did Fr. Dudz define his priesthood? In a very personal way, he pictured his own priesthood as a tailor of souls (cf. his blog). To which we can add “To help people become a beautiful garment for the Lord.” As echoed by St. Dominic Savio. This is significant, knowing that his last assignment was in St. Dominic Savio Parish.

       In many gatherings he would introduce himself “I’m a Salesian priest whose main preoccupation is to serve God by serving the young.”

       And oh how he served... Giving the best of himself for the young. A real Salesian Animator.

       People of Tondo (his hometown) and I guess many other settings observe that Fr. Dudz was someone who could relate with everyone: young and old, intelligent and mentally challenged, the pleasant and not-so-pleasant people. Bukas sya sa lahat ng uri ng tao. During the last Provincial Chapter, the discussion alluded to some ‘naughty’ confreres and ‘naughty’ people in general. The one sitting beside him suggested that could it be demonic possession or personality disorders. Fr. Dudz quipped “if they seem to be mentally ill or mentally ill, like anyone else who is sick, what they need is the care and nurture to be healed.”

       They say a prophet is never accepted in his own native place. I guess Fr. Dudz can take exception to this. Because in Tondo, he is fondly remembered with deep admiration including by those who grew up with him. It will not be easy to forget him. For one thing, it is still his recorded voice that we hear three times a day during the Angelus. But beyond that, it is how he helped people Know God, Love God, and allow God to transform their lives into beautiful garments for the Lord.

       To conclude, let me read from his last blog post on the 17th of December exactly 10 days ago. “While we await the coming of the Lord at the end of time we are invited to welcome Him into our hearts every day. Just as God has been faithful to man God is hopeful that man will patiently strive to remain faithful to him especially when man’s own plans are frustrated and not realized. Let us imitate St. Joseph who in spite of all the incomprehensible events unfolding in his life he was unwavering in his resolve to do God’s will. Let our hearts be open this Christmas so that our acceptance of the baby Jesus be realized in our acceptance of God’s desire and plan in our life.” Just like “little children”.

       Many times, Fr.Dudz would say that our doubt in God springs from our doubt in ourselves. Ang ating pagdududa sa Dyos ay nakaugat sa ating pagdududa sa ating sarili.

       The Gospels have shown how the Apostles were failures and could not be relied on…. And after the resurrection, Jesus continued to believe in them…. Believe in yourself because God believes in you. And as Fr. Duds quotes in his last post "Believe in God who believes in you!" And when in doubt just allow God to tickle you.

       For those who have lived and known him for the past 42 years longer than we have lived with our own families, we know how our riotous get-togethers always end with a happy aftertaste the day after. This time it will be different.

       In just a few months, the Lord took many Salesians. Maybe God will not fail to send. Maybe there is just a lack of response. Fr. Dudz would probably not like that his passing is a reason to be sad this Christmas. Let's not wait for Fr. Dudz to tickle us so that there’s a reason for us to smile this Christmas. Let's look at Fr. Dudz with his parents, Don Bosco, and the Blessed Virgin who enjoys an endless Christmas basking in joy and happiness like no other.

       Until we meet again Fr. Dudz. Regards to all our true friends in heaven, and thank you for living your life 100% a Priest, 100% a Salesian, and 100% ‘God’s tickle’ in our lives.


 

 

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