Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I Señot Atsobispo as Felixberto Camacho Flores
yan i tiå-ho as Tan Chong Kitå'an

Archbishop Felixberto Camacho Flores, the first Chamorro bishop, passed away today in 1985.  He was just 64 years old, but had serious health issues that went all the way back to wartime conditions he faced under Japanese occupation in Manila where he was studying for the priesthood.

Right after the beatification of Blessed Diego Luis de Sanvitores in Rome, Archbishop Flores went to San Francisco to look after his medical needs.  It was there that he passed away.

Besides the beatification, Archbishop Flores saw many things accomplished before his death.  The elevation of the diocese to an archdiocese; the first papal visit to Guam; the erection of the Northern Marianas as a separate diocese are just some of them.

More than these, he was well-respected and certainly loved by many.  He was considered one of the best public speakers in either English or Chamorro.  He was politically savvy.  He was refined and cultured and very intelligent, yet charming, affable and put the humblest person at ease in his presence.  A biography ought to be written about him.  Chamorros can be proud that he was one of our own.

Being a mere youth, I rarely interacted with him, but I once had to see him all by myself as a 22-year-old, to ask his blessing to join the Capuchins.  I was a bit nervous, for I knew that in his heart (quite naturally) he would want as many young men to join the diocesan clergy as possible, and here I was joining a religious order instead.  But he was gracious and supportive and at the end of our five-minute interview, he said to me, "And now I will give you my blessing."  I rose from my chair, knelt before him, and he blessed me most formally.  I rose again and kissed his ring and that was that.  I was relieved but also honored that he would spare me five minutes.  He honored me a second time attending my first vows as a Capuchin in August of 1985.  Little did I know he would die less than two months later.

I will never forget his inspiring sermons; his dignified air when saying Mass.  I used to attend the Cathedral 6AM Mass on Saturdays just to hear him lead in the singing of the Salve Regina with its accompanying Latin prayers which he chanted ever so well, and then kneeling for the Chamorro hymn "O Señora Nanan-mame" with its plaintive cries for Mary's protection.  What a thrill on special occasions when he would end Mass by saying to the crowd, "And now I will impart to you my Apostolic Blessing" and then break into Latin "Sit nomen Domini benedictum!" "May the name of the Lord be blessed!"

Requiescat in Pace.
U såga gi Minahgong.

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