Obituary: +Fray Emilio Loberiza Larlar, Jr., OAR
TO ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE AUGUSTINIAN RECOLLECT FAMILY
Saddened yet full of hope, we relay to you this notice that our brother, FRAY EMILIO LOBERIZA LARLAR JR., OAR, passed away in the early hours of September 13, 2020, a Sunday, at the St. Ezekiel Moreno Provincial Center, Quezon City (Philippines). He succumbed to sudden cardiac arrest, occasioned by COVID-19. He was 80 years old, 59 years of which was spent in the religious life and 55 years as a priest.
Father Emil was born on November 14, 1939 in Bago City, Negros Occidental. After graduating from Lambunao Elementary School in Lambunao, Iloilo, in 1952, he became a Recollect seminarian at the age of 12 by entering, on that year, in the erstwhile Colegio Apostólico (Minor Seminary) de Sto. Tomás de Villanueva in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. Together with his batchmates, he continued his seminary formation at San Jose Seminary in Quezon City until he graduated in 1956. In that same Jesuit-run seminary, he also obtained his AB Philosophy in 1960.
He, and two other Filipino postulants, entered the novitiate in Monteagudo (Navarra, Spain) where they took the Recollect habit on July 4, 1960. For his part, he took the religious name Fray Emilio Larlar de San Juan Vianey. On July 5 of the following year, he made his simple profession of vows in the same convent. Then, for his four-year theologate, he proceeded to Marcilla (also in Navarra, Spain) where he made his solemn profession of vows on July 5, 1964; diaconal ordination on January 10, 1965; and presbyteral ordination on July 18, 1965. He received both sacred orders, including the minor orders, from the hands of the Recollect bishop, Most Rev. Arturo Quintanilla.
As a newly-ordained priest, Father Emil’s first assignment was at San Sebastian College- Recoletos in Cavite City. Here, he was the School Chaplain, from 1965 to 1967, and the High School Principal, from 1967 to 1969. He was then transferred to the Recollect parish community in San Juan de Bolbok, Batangas to be its assistant parish priest for a year, from 1969 to 1970. The next 12 years (1970-1982) would see him living his consecrated life in Madrid, Spain. He was assigned as the chapel in-charge or sacristan of the Provincialate community in Paseo de la Habana, and did apostolate as teacher in Gaztambide.
From 1982 to 1985, he lived and worked in Mexico City (Mexico) as assistant parish priest of the Parroquia Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. The succeeding three triennia (1985-1994) would be a continuing immersion in pastoral ministries, but this time, in the Recollect parishes in USA: as parish priest of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Deming, New Mexico (1985-1988); as assistant parish priest of Parroquia de Cristo Rey in El Paso, Texas (1988-1991); as assisting priest and vocation promoter residing at Casa de San Alipio in Mesilla, New Mexico (1991-1993); and as a member of the newly-established community of Parroquia de San Antonio, also in New Mexico, but he was particularly assigned as parish priest of the St. Thomas More Parish in Chaparral (1993-1994).
In 1994, after 24 years of apostolic works abroad, Father Emil returned to the Philippines where he would spend the remaining 26 years of his religious-priestly life.
From 1994-1999, which covered the transition of the Vicariate of the Philippines and China to being the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno, he was the Local Prior of the community of the University of San Jose-Recoletos, Cebu City, and, at the same time, the Vice President for Finance of USJ-R.
With the establishment of the new Recollect community of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, he was appointed local prior and parish priest, from 2000 to 2003. For the next triennium, 2003-2006, he stayed at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in Bacolod City to be its local prior and the school’s Vice President for Religious Affairs. With the extended apostolate in Barangay Handumanan, he was President of the Recoletos Social Outreach Center (RESOURCE) Foundation, Inc., from 2003 to 2007.
He was appointed local procurator and first councilor of the St. Ezekiel Moreno Novitiate- Recoletos (SEMONORE) in Antipolo City, from 2006 to 2009, and during this triennium, he was also appointed National Director of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity (SARF) and extraordinary confessor of the formands of Recoletos Formation Center in Miranila. Then, from 2009 to 2012, he became the local prior of SEMONORE in Antipolo.
From 2012 to 2015, he returned to the University of San Jose-Recoletos in Cebu City to be the vice-prior of the community and the Vice President for Administration of the university. During this triennium, he was also appointed as Director of the Talavera House of Prayer-Recoletos and Assistant to SARF Spiritual Director for the Visayas Area. But in 2014, the Prior Provincial, in line with the Prior General’s concern for communications “liberated [him] from some of his office assignments and allow him to have more time to translate documents, especially those that pertain to our ongoing formation.”
For the triennium 2015-2018, he was transferred to the Provincial Curia and was appointed one of the official translators of the Province. He was also appointed as the National Spiritual Director of SARF-Philippines. But with the establishment of a new parish community (i.e., Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish) in Project 6, Cubao, Quezon City in July 2015, he was appointed as its local prior. After a year of service here, he was re-assigned to the Provincial Curia. Here he was able to focus on his other ministries as one of the confessors and spiritual directors of the Recollect seminaries in Luzon.
The beginning of the quadrennium 2018-2022 saw Father Emil staying put in the Provincialate House as the local second councilor. He also continued with the tasks given to him previously: as one of the official translators of the Province and extraordinary confessor of the Recollect seminaries in Luzon.
Father Emil, as a religious, has been very observant of common life. He valued silence, togetherness with the brothers during recreation, and punctuality in the performance of duties, particularly prayers in common. He kept his special devotions to Our Lady and the Sacred Heart. As a priest, he was disposed to do ministerial works wherever the proper authority would send him, much like his personal patron saint, St. John Marie Vianey. It was only in these later years that, because of physical illnesses, he was not given much work. Since 2018, the deacon assigned in the community has been designated to accompany him in his apostolate.
However, despite his fragile health, Father Emil would still spend fruitfully most of his free time in his room, doing translation works, in front of his computer. Last triennium, he has finished translating to English, among other minor works, the three-volume opus, with a total of more than 650 pages, of Fr. Francisco Moriones OAR’s “Augustinian Recollect Spirituality.” And just this August 2020, he has finished singlehandedly translating to English the Ritual of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, with a total of around 535 pages in the new layout.
Father Emil has still a lot of pending works in mind. He was also looking forward to celebrating the diamond jubilee of his religious life next year, and be the second Filipino Recollect to do so. But God has far greater plans for him. Far more beautiful yet mysterious. And his sudden demise somehow gave us a glimpse of those, and brought us a joyful reminder about this special moment in the earthly pilgrimage of every consecrated person “as reaching the beginning of that which is eternally new, in which the fullness of truth and love is revealed” (Add. Code 275).
We pray that our triune God who is rich in mercy and unmatched in goodness welcome our brother, Father Emil, to his heavenly abode where, together with the angels and the saints, he will forever rest, contemplate, love, and praise.
In St. Ezekiel Moreno,
Fray Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR
Fray Jose Ernil F. Almayo, OAR