Sunday, January 30, 2011

*235. Father to the Lost and the Lonely: Rev. Msgr. BENEDICTO J.E. ARROYO

HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. The young Candaba-born Benedicto Arroyo as a high school graduate, age 17 . Future chaplain of the National Bilibid Prison and National Mental Hospital. Ca. 1934.

I remember seeing Msgr. Benedicto Arroyo at the Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital sometime in 2004 when I visited a sick aunt. I was with my Del Rosario-Tinio relatives when we chanced upon him in the elevator. The Tinios were related to him by marriage and an uncle-priest, Msgr. Manuel del Rosario, who was a dear friend of his.

In his 80s, the portly father was still at it, in a hospital, no less, ministering to the infirmed and the sick, a calling that he embraced, and which would become the hallmark of his long career as a Filipino religious.

The good monsignor was born in Candaba on 16 August 1917, the fifth child of Dr. Esteban Sadie Arroyo and Adela G. Evangelista. His father was a University of Sto. Tomas medical graduate and he was, at one time, the presidente municipal of Candaba and a co-founder of the Arayat Sugar Central. The large Arroyo brood would grow to twelve children; aside from Benedicto, his siblings included Eduardo, Juan, William, Elena, Caridad, Socrates, Didimo, Sosimo, Aquiles, Africa and Pomposo.

Just like his brothers and sisters, Benedicto attended his primary grades at the local Candaba Elementary School. Bent on pursuing his religious vocation, he entered the San Carlos Seminary for his secondary education, and, upon completion, enrolled at the San Jose Seminary at age 17. He finsihed his priesthood at the height of the war on 20 March 1943, with the Most Rev. Michael Dougherty D.D. as his ordaining prelate.

His first assignment was as Assistant Parish Priest at Guiguinto, Bulacan (1943-46), and after which he was stationed at Tarlac, Tarlac for a year (1946-47). His next post was at the St. John the Baptist Parish in Pinaglabanan, San Juan (1947-55). The next two years of his religious life were spent ministering to the mentally sick, the physically infirmed and hardened criminals as Chaplain of the National Mental Hospital, National Orthopedic Hospital, and New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa.

Fr. Arroyo would prove his mettle during his term as an NBP chaplain. He celebrated Masses, heard inmates’ confessions and celebrated Christmas with his wards. He looked after the spiritual welfare of the inmates, firm in his belief that, like the parable of the prodigal son, they, too, are capable of finding their way back to God. So well-loved and effective was he, that he was promoted to Chief Chaplain and became a Penal Catholic Chaplain Coordinator in 1962. He likewise became a member of the Board of Pardon and Parole and headed the Classification Board of the National Bilibid Prison as its Chairman.

Fr. Arroyo would eventually be assigned to the Parish of San Rafael in Pasay City and become a Vicar Forane of the Vicariate of St. Raphael. Despite his many functions, he found time to become the Spiritual Director of the Maria Coronada movement as well as an esteemed member of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.

The monsignor also loved travelling, and his sojourns have taken him all over Europe and the United States where he has many relatives. He observed his Diamond Sacerdotal Jubilee in 2003 and spent his retirement years at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary. Msgr. Benedicto J.E. Arroyo passed away on 21 September 2010 at the grand age of 93. He is interred at the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, ParaƱaque.

Benedictus Qui Venit In Nomine Domini
(Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord)


Anonymous said...

thank you for your article. i am an grandniece of Msgr. Arroyo.

Anonymous said...

thank you for your article. i am an grandniece of Msgr. Arroyo.