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Fr. Hilario Tamona passed away

By Fr. Favie Faldas, SDB

DBTI Makati-Manila, Philippines, 19 July 2019 -- A gentle Salesian, Fr. Hilario (Larry) Constantino Garcia Tamonan (1946-2019) was called by his Creator last July 12 after 54 faithful years of Salesian consecrated life and 45 years of priesthood. During his long years of active Salesian ministry he was involved in a variety of Don Bosco settings, both in the Southern Philippines (Victorias and Dumaguete) as well in the North (Makati, Pampanga, Mandaluyong).The last five years he spent as confessor at Don Bosco Makati. His Funeral Mass was held at the Diocesan Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in Canlubang, presided by the Provincial, Fr. Gerry Martin on July 16, 2019.

During the funeral Eucharist Fr. Danilo Torres, companion of Fr. Larry shared his homily:

When I heard about Fr. Larry’s demise, I was not shocked but deep grief has gripped my heart till the present because I am missing Fr. Larry so much.

From the day I was told of the sad news, I felt like the young seminarian Johnny Bosco who longed to hear and to see his best friend Luigi Comollo who passed away. Every night till last night I was addressing Fr. Larry if I could hear from him where he is right now. I was imagining him already in the beatific vision of God. I would not mind- not even be scared- if he could appear to me even just in my dream and tell me where he is now. Such is the deep feeling of loss I have. I consider him the best friend I ever had. We are almost the same age - he is just three months older than me.

We entered together as new students in the Juniorate which was then at Victorias, Negros Occidental. We were only 12 years old at that time when we entered together as first year students. And we are the only survivors out of the 10 that entered as first year aspirants. We even took up the same shop which was carpentry because that was the only trade available for first year students. The shop head then was Bro. Thomas Orsolin followed by Bro. Luigi Parolin. The rector of the school was Fr. Igino Ricaldone and the priest in charge of us aspirants was Fr. Anthony Battistello, all of happy memory, our brother assistant was Bro. Valeriano Barbero. From then our closeness as friends has grown and developed in the odds and evens of high school, novitiate, postnovitiate, practical training, theology and even in Seminaryo ng Don Bosco Parañaque as formators.

All in all, if I include this year we have been close to one another for almost 60 years- that close! Even in our spiritual and consecrated life we were soul mates. We confess to one another as confessors and penitents very frequently. The most important events in our life are Marian in character. One remarkable thing about him and me as friends and confreres with my other batch mates like Fr. Vic. Cervania, Fr. Emil Santos, Fr. Jaime Carmona, Fr. Melchor Ferrer, Fr. Edgardo Arellano and I see here also Mr. Raul Sarceda is that we are a Marian group. We have learned from our Novice Master, Fr. Jose Carreno during the novitiate to greet each other with “Ave Maria Purissima, sin peccado concevida.” Fr. Larry and myself entered the Juniorate on May 24, 1960, made our first profession on July 16, 1965 which is today the feast of Our Lady Mt. Carmel, ordained to the diaconate on August 15, feast of the Assumption, and ordained to the priesthood on December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception, although I was one year behind regarding ordination because Fr. Larry did his practical training for two years and I did mine for three years. I am not surprised that the date of his burial is today while we celebrate the 53rd Anniversary of our religious profession on this feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Mary to whom he offered his life us claiming him now to be with her in heaven.

Moving from simply citing historical facts to what he has become by God’s gracious and provident design, here is what I would like to say on his behalf particularly regarding his person who offered himself entirely to the service of the Lord as a Salesian priest.

In Matthew 25:21 Jesus says in commendation to his close disciples: “Well done, good faithful servant, you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness. “ With these sentiments the good Lord welcomes our brother Fr. Larry Tamonan to the joys of heaven. Indeed he has been a good and faithful servant of the Lord even in the midst of his excruciating pains, carrying out the tasks allotted to him all the years of religious life. He may not have often been in the limelight on earth, but he was constantly in the radiant beam of heaven. The calling to the religious life is a calling all its own, which may do not as yet appreciate, but which is very precious in the eyes of the Most High. Many are very talented young men when they enter the religious congregation. They could have opted for an enviable career in the world. But they deliberately chose the religious life whether priesthood or brotherhood, because they saw in the religious the vocation to which the Holy Spirit was drawing them.

By the light of divine faith, the religious appreciates his calling and, in the case of Fr. Larry as all Salesians here present do, he looks to St. John Bosco as an excellent model to follow. Don Bosco’s love for the young particularly for the poor and the marginalized was the predominant and constant driving force that led him to give himself completely to the young even if he could not do much in his later years because of his disability. But I am pretty sure that even in that difficult condition he offered it as an act of service for the benefit of the young that he could reach. We know very well how faithful he is to ministering the sacrament of reconciliation to countless people, young and old, priest, brothers and sisters including those in information. Don Bosco’s life was one of conscientious and consistent work coupled with deep prayer, in the sterling chastity of his manhood, in the utter simplicity of his poverty, and in the total obedience to God’s will at every step, as it was manifested to him.

This is the model that our beloved Fr. Larry, has endeavored to live the many years of his service to the Congregation. Let me cite an example that made him very popular within the circle of the Salesians. Within the 60 years of his life in the Congregation, he did a lot with great sacrifice for the good of the Congregation even losing his left leg. We are particularly aware of the fact that he entered into many small time business enterprises not really successful according to the established standard of successful business. Nevertheless he succeeded to a certain extent if only to raise funds. Do you know for what? To support seminarians. He loved the Congregation so much that he wanted it to flourish with fresh blood. Every page of his worn-out diary, which I personally saw, is filled with names, addresses and telephone numbers of people who are very prominent and influential personalities in society, if only to keep in touch with them constantly and solicit their financial support for the increase of Salesian vocation.

In all that he did Fr. Larry worked for God and for the apostolic mission of the Congregation. We are here to bear witness in deep appreciation of his dedicated life and gratitude for his life of fidelity to his calling and the zeal by which he carried out his duty in his many years of service as well as in the loving and enduring patience with which he bore his suffering to the very end of his life.

His life blossomed forth from the deep love he had for the Lord to whom he had given himself in total commitment, as well as his love for his confreres who have benefited from his labors, and the countless souls who benefitted by his prayers and sacrifices that accompanied his priestly ministry.

We ask the loving Savior by this Eucharistic Sacrifice to grant him speed entry into the realm of the Blessed, and eternal rest in the bosom of the Most Blessed Trinity whom he loved all during life and will now and forever.

Allow me to conclude with a quotation from Jean Jacques Rousseau: “When man dies he clutches in his hands that which he has given away in his lifetime.” Fr. Larry you have given away more than half of your life in the service of others in the Salesian Congregation and for that matter no less than the best of your self.

Thank you very much. Now over there where you are, you cannot claim back you have given up. They are of the Lord. He is it who will return it to you as he promised: “Well done, good faithful servant, you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust to you with greater; come and join in your Master’s happiness.”

When Fr. Larry left leg was amputated someone joked him but with respect. He said that on the epitaph where his dead leg is buried it is written: “Here lies in the left leg of Fr. Hilario Tamonan. The rest will follow”. Today we shall lay rest the rest of him. Goodbye Fr. Larry! Till we meet again in heaven."






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