“Natokhang ako ni Fr. JB.”
This is a famous line uttered by people whose lives were touched by Rev. Fr. Juan Bosco “JB” Abellana, Parochial Vicar of the Holy Cross Parish in Caloocan City, who joined His Maker too soon on the first day of July. He was 65 years old.
These people weren’t touched in a bad way as the word is associated with violence. It simply means they were shown Fr. JB’s special kind of tough love that teaches and nurtures one to be a good observant of the Holy Mass as well as a humble and obedient Church servant.
“Pag na-tokhang ka, malamang dapat may natutunan ka after ma-experience mo ‘yan,” revealed Shirly Benedictos, Holy Cross Parish’s SocComm lay coordinator, during a Eulogy held in honor of Fr. JB.
She went on share a story on how Fr. JB would not let go of a chance to instruct a Mass attendee on how to properly receive the Holy Communion, never mind if the communion line would stall. A reprimand is always in order for church servants who do not take their tasks seriously.
She also admitted being intimidated, at first, by the priest. “Kasi talagang pagsasabihan o pagagalitan ka as a server pag may palpak ka during the Mass, asahan mo na may sermon so medyo kinatatakutan siya sa parish,” she narrated. “Pero nung nakausap ko na siya ng personal, doon ko nalaman yung kanyang pagmamahal kay Jesus, sa Misa.”
Ate Shirly said that Fr. JB put emphasis on one’s readiness when serving during Mass. “Sabi pa niya, bakit ka matatakot mag-serve kung handa ka naman or kung alam mo naman ang mga dapat mong gawin?” she added.
But this penchant for the strict observance of the Holy Mass and proper behavior by both parishioners and church servants is just a part of Fr. JB’s colorful character.
Rev. Fr. Abe Argoniosa said that Fr. JB never said anything bad towards anybody.
“He was always very charitable, kind, benevolent in mind and in heart in his attitude towards another person,” he said. “Layunin niya na tayo ay maging faithful and on time pag naglilingkod sa Panginoon, hindi maaring magpabaya sa ating tungkulin.”
Fr. Abe added that his “pag-tokhang” to people is only part of his being a good father and a good shepherd.
FIGHTER, TRUE FRIEND
Michael Acosta of Pagkabuhay Parish considers him a loving father and a fighter. “Para siyang ama na mahigpit ngunit may dahilan,” he said. “Fighter siya kasi basta merong service, hindi mo makikita na nahihirapan, at mahal niya ang taong simbahan.”
Au Roque of San Bartolome de Novaliches and the Parish’s former PPC [Parish Pastoral Council] chair, describes him as “a gentle breeze, very unassuming.”
“Katulad ng sinasabi ng lahat ,when it comes to worship, gusto niya lahat na gumagampan ng tungkulin sa Liturgy ay alam ang ginagawa,” she added. “To the highest level ang pagdiriwang ng Banal na Misa.”
Cecille de la Cruz, also of San Bartolome and former coordinator of the Parish’s Social Services and Development Ministry [SSDM], is touched by the fact that Fr. JB treated her as a friend. She was also witness to Fr. JB’s genuine love and concern for the poor.
“In-encourage niya kaming magsikap para maging matagumpay ang aming ginagawa sa livelihood program na itinayo namin,” she said.
The Bishops Emeritus of Novaliches, namely Most Rev. Teodoro Bacani and Most Rev Antonio Tobias came to pay their respects to Fr. JB and expressed their deep love for him; while Most Rev. Roberto O. Gaa, D.D., current Bishop of Novaliches, celebrated the Funeral Mass on the 5th day of July, according to the Rites of the Roman Catholic Church at the Pagkabuhay Parish.
His resting place is at the clergy plot of the Diocese of Novaliches at the Holy Cross Memorial Park in Novaliches, Quezon City.
Fr. JB was born in Cortes, Bohol on the 20th of January 1959. He was ordained to the Sacred Order of Presbyters at the age of 25.
Coming to Manila after serving in various churches in Bohol and Tagbilaran City, his first assignments were at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish [Project 6, QC, 1992-1997], and Saint Paul the Apostle Parish [Timog, QC, 1997-1999].
He was still assigned as Parish Priest of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Parish in Camarin, North Caloocan City [1999-2006] and the Priest Coordinator for Mandated Organizations, when he was assigned by Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D., the Bishop of Novaliches at that time, here at Pagkabuhay Parish [Bagbag] where he lied in state, in fulfillment of his last wish or request.
During the Second General Reshuffling of Parish Assignments in 2013, he was assigned as Parish Priest of San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish [Tierra Verde Homes, J. Culiat], which would be cut short on June 2016 because he was asked by Bishop Tony to prepare for his renal transplant that will be done on his failing kidneys that year. He was transferred to Our Lady of Visitation Parish [Sacred Heart Village], serving as Parochial Vicar under the close watch of Bishop Tony, for several months while waiting for his kidney transplant that did not happen due to his donor’s previous drug addiction history.
In 2017, Fr. JB was assigned as Parochial Vicar of Fr. Roger S. Positar at San Bartolome Parish to help him in his medical needs and condition. During the Third General Reshuffling of Assignments in 2019, he was asked by Bishop Tony where he would like to stay and he said he wanted to join Fr. Roger in his new assignment at Holy Cross Parish [Amparo Village, Caloocan City] where he served until his last hospital confinement at Cardinal Santos Memorial and Medical Center, and his untimely demise. (Lulu Reclusado-Nario, SocComm DioNova)
Image Source: Jun Magtagnob, Social Communications and Media Ministry