Funeral Mass Homily for Sr Regina (Inday) Bernad by Archbishop Jesus Dosado
30th September 2016
Brothers and sisters, I welcome you all in the name of the Archdiocese of Ozamiz to this Funeral Mass to commend Sister Inday to God’s mercy.
We cannot avoid death. We cannot control death. We don’t understand death and we fear what we don’t understand. In this earthly life we are waiting for the Lord, watching for him to come to fulfil his promises in us. Thus we are also waiting for him to deliver our beloved ones who have gone before us from the fear of judgement, to deliver them from the judgement of their sins, for who indeed has not committed any sins daily?
The house in which one has left it forever will be mixed with occasions of pain and one finds oneself reluctant to move, to stir the air lest one raises the dust of old memories. People will tell you that the pain passes, and you are left with only the “good things” but sometimes one does not find this to be true, nor ever will, until the person we love is dead.
Being Christians we can only understand death from the mystery of Christ’s death.
What terrifies us about Christ’s death is not just that even he, God, died, but rather that we still have to die, even though he died and rose for us.
We cannot avoid death, cannot control it. We don’t understand death and we fear what we don’t understand.
The soul stands back in fear and wonder at what it cannot understand and yet knows somehow it to be deeply true and necessary.
In this earthly life we are waiting for the Lord, watching for him to come to fulfilnkhis promises in us. We are waiting for him to save us from our incessant fear of death.
I too fear death, especially now that I am old. Inevitably I will join Sr Inday on the other side of life. And that terrifies me. Because I can feel the frailty of my body.
I remember reading recently in the Mass what the teacher of Ecclesiastes or Quoholeth wrote:
In your old age the sun is darkened and the light and the moon and the stars and the clouds return after the rain; when the guardians of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent; when the women who grind are idle because they are few, and those who looked through the windows are blind; when the doors to the street are shut and the sound of the mill is low; when one rises at the call of a bird, and all the daughters of song are quiet; when one is afraid of heights and perils in the street, and the life breath returns to God.
Dreadful. We will just go to what the General instruction on the Romans Missal prescribes regarding funerals.
A Catholic funeral is about commending a member of Christ’s family to God’s eternal mercy and asking pardon for any sins. Within this there could be allowed a mention of the deceased’s faith life and how this was made evident in their life, career and friendships. Perhaps mentioning their commitment to the Church in whatever way appropriate.
I really did not know Sr Inday well. I will leave that to her sisters in the Columban Society to do.
I would rather go to the debt of this Archdiocese to her family and the first Columban members.
We all know that Misamis became almost wholly Agalipayan after the Revolution in 1896. Life became very bad for the Recoletos missionaries. They write that they were almost unable to buy chicken from the people. Little by little they left. After 1920 there were no more Recoletos. The towns were served by some Jesuits based in Dapitan or Iligan.
We were told that in Misamis there were only about ten Catholic families. That was the statistics found by the first Columban missionaries, priests and sisters when they arrived in 1938.
One of the Catholic families would be that of Don Anselmo Bernad. Pillar of the Church, they were the ones who welcomed the Columbans.
In front of the Cathedral there is also a marker containing the names of the first Columban Sisters. It is our way of showing our thanks to them. It should be noted that what is dedicated to them is not the marker but the Adoration Chapel.
Another noteworthy fruit of the work of the Columban missionaries are the first priest and nuns from Misamis: Father Miguel Bernad and Sisters Teresita and Regina Bernad and Sister Ancila Daomilas.
Let us thank God for all of this.