Godspeed, Fr. Jonax!

Fr. Jose R. Nacu, M.S. passed away on November 24, 2008
Missionary priest, cancer victim advocate and founder of the Institute of Reconciliation
By Wally Arida

SILANG, CAVITE, PHIL., (Nov. 24, 2008) - After a decades-long battle with cancer, the Rev. Fr. Jose R. Nacu, MS passed away peacefully today, November 24, 2008, in Silang, Philippines. He was the founder of the Institute of Reconciliation and served as its Executive Director to his deathbed.

Fr. Jonax ,as he was fondly called by many throughout his life, was the first Filipino Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette. He was ordained a priest in Fall River, Massachusetts. In 1957, he became the first Filipino Rector of La Salette of Santiago College, in Santiago, Isabela City, Philippines. Many Lasalette missionaries who are serving today today point to him as one of the key people who inspired them to join the priesthood.

He was also an advocate for cancer victim survivors who planted the seed of sharing among cancer patients in the Philippines. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in the early 1980s in Hawaii. Having no family with whom to spend his last days, he came home to the Philippines to look for others similarly afflicted. Thus were born such groups as CanSurvive at the Rizal Medical Center and Aruga at the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital.

But God wasn't quite ready for him yet at that time. He went on with his life and lived with the cancer for about two more decades.

Earlier during the early 1970s in Manila, Philippines, while serving as a parish priest in Tondo, Philippines - one of the most impoverished areas of the country - he founded and served as the adviser of the Zone One Todo Organization (ZOTO), an advocacy group for the poor people who lived in ths slums of his pastoral area. Because of his very active advocacy work, the government of then-president Ferdinand Marcos detained him in prison for two years without being formally charged.

Upon his release, he moved to the United States where he served as pastor and priest for several parishes in Hawaii and California. He spent his retirement years in Moreno Valley, CA where he served as priest minister of the local Catholic parish communities of St. Patrick Church and St. Christopher church. He did this earnestly until his illness made him too sick to serve.

He returned to the Philippines in September 2008 with a dying wish to be laid to rest in his homeland.

Even during his dying days, he worked to make the Institute of Reconciliation - which he fondly called his "baby" - a moving force in the promotion of and education for Peace and Reconciliation. With his passing, the team he left behind will continue the work to keep the dream of this kind and holy priest alive.

As he counted the days to the end of his earthly life, he didn't fear death. He always looked forward to seeing his maker some day. Yes, he suffered from the pain of cancer for the many months prior to his death. But many times he had told those around him that he willingly accepted the pain and offered it to God as a sacrifice for the benefit of the many others he knew who also suffered in their daily lives.

Fr. Nacu lived a full life. His radiant smile, engaging sense of humor and contagious laughter followed him everywhere he went. He was well loved and he was richly respected by all the communities he had the pleasure of serving in his lifetime. He may not be around anymore, but his shadow will always loom large over the countless lives and institutions he had touched.

His life was the sort of legends. And with his passing, the legend of Jonax lives on.

Godspeed, Fr. Nacu.

Eternal rest grant upon him, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him.

Please share below your memories of Fr. Jose R. Nacu, M.S. And please say a prayer for the eternal repose of his soul.


Wally Arida said...

You will be greatly missed, Fr. Joe. God bless your soul.

Julie Bash said...

We miss you, Fr. Jose! You taught us so very much, the love of Jesus is very strong in you. Thank you for sharing His love with us. Now you have gone home to your Lord, good and faithful servant.

Ursula Lyons, St. Patrick's Moreno Valley said...

You were so kind to me when I first came to St. Patrick's. I will always remember how you use to tell about your youth and then look at me and say "you remember that don't you Grandma?" I know you are with the Lord sharing one of your many stories.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful speaker we have lost. His homilies were always something to look forward to. I remember once he was telling us that the Catholic Church was thinking of allowing priests past a certain age to marry.

Father Nacu's response, "I don't know if they will or they won't, but they better make up their minds soon, 'cause I ain't got a lot of time left!"

A joyus man to the end. He will be missed.

Sergio - St. Patrick's

Rene Macabante said...

A great mentor during my high school days in Santiago, Isabela,
Fr. Nacu always taught us to be always reconciled with ourselves and God. I'll miss a great man who even in his deathbed can share humor about himself.
God welcomes back Fr. Nacu. Orare pro eo.

Rene Macabante

Linda Williams said...

Fr. Jose you were the greatest of teachers. Your insight into the holy words of the Lord inlightened my knowledge and my life. Thank you and rest in peace.

Ed Galutan said...

A tremendous preacher, educator, spiritual retreat master and a TUE LA SALETTE. Fr. JOE will surely be missed by those whom he touched and came in contact with............

Polo, St. Patrick Covenant Keepers said...

In my lifetime I have come across scores of men that have left an impression on me. Some for their courage, some for their kindness and others for various attributes that I found a need to incorporate into my makeup as a man. Some men talk a great fight and some men run away but real men, like Fr. Jose, say nothing, and just do the work.

From the first time I heard Fr. Jose give a Homily I knew this man had talked to God and that God had talked back. Fr. Jose put in the time and work to reach out to others, teaching God’s word, and showing by example what a real man of God looks like.

It always made me smile to hear him talk because I knew when he was done there would be a test. He was able to get and keep your attention to share our Lord’s message; he was a teacher first, last and always.

In the past few years, God has blessed me with great role models like Fr. Jose, Fr. John, Tom Balboa and others in this group that I will not embarrass by mentioning. The world is full of hatred, cynicism, and pessimism. It takes champions like Fr. Jose and us to continue to keep the evil one from the door of God’s house.

Fr. Jose Nacu will always be in my thoughts and prayers because he walked and talked like a man of God, and in the short time I knew him he touched my heart. Fr. Jose has left this world in the hands of the people who loved him, and will never forget his smile and twinkle in his eyes. We as Covenant Keepers must continue to do God’s work because that’s what Fr. Jose would have wanted.

Editor @ said...

Eulogy for Reverend Jose R Nacu, M.S.

By Zazu, the niece (read by my sister Yolanda Nacu-Lat at the funeral mass, in Silang, Cavite on December 1st, 2008)

To each and everyone, Rev Father Tante, the provincial head of La Salette, to all the priests and brothers of La Salette, and friends, all present here today, I, Zazu, the niece of Rev Father Jose R Nacu or Jonax (as he is fondly called), together with his sisters, Pilar Brandewie, Teresita Mencias, Lourdes Castillo and brother Ramon Nacu, brother-in-law Ernest Brandewie, and sister-in-law Lourdes Nacu, nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters thank you all for being present here today in celebration of Jonax's joining His Creator.

To almost all of you gathered here today, you all knew him as Father Jonax, the priest. On the other hand, I am here to tell you about Jonax as the son, the brother, the uncle and the lolo.

To his mother Carmen, she endearingly called him, "ang anak kong pilosopo." At a very young age, he was articulate on reasons why or how things happen in life.

To his youngest sister Lourdes, he was Pepito, , the prankster. At age seven, he stuck cottonballs inside the nose of Lourdes for reasons no one knew why he did it. He pasted her treasured stampitas on the wall with rice. It goes without saying that in a matter of time, hungry red ants crawled on the wall to eat both the rice and his sister's precious stampitas.

To his sister Pilar, he was the intellectual who could carry a discourse with her husband, Brandy, a doctor of Anthropology for hours on end.

To the nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters, he was the source of entertainment and fun, who took us to eat out, or put up events so that the Nacu clan could get together and meet faces of relatives that could have been unknown to most of us had it not been for his effort for us to gather together as family.

He was Jonax the chess player, who perennially carried a chess set in the trunk of his car, be it in Hawaii, California or the Philippines always ready to take up a challenge to checkmate his opponent.

He was Jonax, the off-key singer, although he loved to sing folk songs by Peter, Paul and Mary or listened to the Beatles or Enya.

One of his favorite songs is Memory from Cats, which in a way depicted the way he lead his life, to quote:

I must wait for the sunrise,
I must think of a new life,
And I mustn't give in,
When the dawn comes,
Tonight will be a memory too,
And a new day will begin.

As for me, I knew him as Jonax, the dancer. He danced with a passion as he moved his feet,
gyrated his hips, a wide grin on his face.

He danced with or without music,
he danced off-beat,
he danced with his cancer,
he danced with the poor and the meek,
he danced for the oppressed,
he danced to make changes in government and the social system,
he danced in his prison cell,
he danced with the Our Lady of La Salette,
he danced for reconciliation,
he danced with love,
he danced tirelessly in his lifetime.

Today his spirit dances endlessly, effortlessly in our midst.

I dare not say good-bye, just keep on dancing Jonax.

We all love you.

(Aranzazu B Nacu)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for "the gift of faith"... yes,you baptized me, you mentored me, you simply cared!With just being you, you made the big word "Reconciliation", not only a word to preach but a transforming word to live by.
You are so loved, Fr. Jonax.
Sr. Sonia

Anonymous said...

Blessings to the Family, Friends and Colleagues of Fr. Joe. I did not know him, but I knew the name. And after reading this I feel he is definitely a Legend and will always be remembered. May you look upon us and guide us. God be with you. Amen.

Anonymous said...

We have known Fa.Joe long time ago back in Kauai HI in 1985. My husband used to play chess with him, and he doesn't like it if he is losing. We became very close to him. For so many years we lost contact and we found out that he is back in Our Lady of the Mount. He even bless our new home. I always invite them for dinner even in Kauai. I found out later that he died 2 years ago. If I have known that he was in Silang we cound go and visit him, because we leave in Cavite City. Fa. Joe were ever you are, you touched our lives in so many ways. We loved you. LONG TIME FRIEND