Obituary: +Fray Nemesio D. Tolentin, OAR (October 31, 1966-October 2, 2021)
TO ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE AUGUSTINIAN RECOLLECT FAMILY
Dear brothers and sisters:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, … will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38-39)
It is my sad duty to inform you that FRAY NEMESIO DIANA TOLENTIN, OAR died of acute respiratory failure and septic shock caused by Covid-19 infection at the Manila Doctors Hospital in Ermita, Manila at 2:31 in the morning of October 2, 2021. He was 54 years old.
Endearingly called by his friends and confreres as “Father Nems” or “Father Tol” – nicknames truncated from his first or last name, respectively – he was born on October 31, 1966 in Sta. Cruz, Ronda, Cebu (Philippines) to Liberato Tolentin and Tolentina Diana. After finishing his elementary studies at Sta. Cruz Elementary School in 1978, he pushed on to study secondary education at Our Lady Academy run by the Augustinian Recollect Sisters in his hometown. After high school in 1982, he along with two other classmates, entered the Seminario Mayor- Recoletos (now, Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary) in Baguio City where he earned his A.B. Philosophy in 1986. He was among the 13 postulants who entered the novitiate at the Recoletos Formation Center (RFC) in Miranila, Quezon City on April 26, 1986, and one of the 12 who would make it up to their simple profession of vows on April 25, 1987.
At RFC, he underwent the four-year rigorous theological formation (1987-1991) leading to the obtainment of Master of Arts in Theology degree. On June 17, 1990, he joined his 10 companions in their solemn profession of vows at Our Lady of Consolation Parish Church in Miranila. Four months later, on October 20, in this same church, he received his transitional diaconate from the hands of Most Rev. Gabriel Reyes, D.D., auxiliary bishop of Manila. Then, on August 25, 1991, also in the said church, Archbp. Gian Vincenzo Moreni, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, elevated him and seven others to the Order of Presbyters.
Being a religious-priest for a little more than thirty years, Father Nems have mostly been in the school apostolate. Right after his priestly ordination, he was assigned at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in Bacolod City for two months (from August to October 1991). After this brief stint here, he moved to San Sebastian College-Recoletos in Cavite City where he stayed for nine uninterrupted years, from 1991 to 2000, as Dean of Student Affairs. He also handled other offices at different times during these triennia: as Student Assistance Program Head, Sports Moderator, and High School Principal.
For the next six years, 2000-2006, he was asked to live and work at Sto. Tomas de Villanueva-Recoletos Formation House in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental where he was the local procurator of the community, spiritual director of the high school seminarians, and vice-prior of the house. In the school – at Colegio de Sto. Tomas-Recoletos – he was the Treasurer and Property Administrator the whole time. Meanwhile, he availed of the personnel development program by finishing a Master in Management for Educational Administration degree at the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R), Cebu City, in 2005.
After this second and last assignment in the Visayas, he would hop to the National Capital Region (NCR) in Luzon for the remaining 15 years of his life. From 2006 to 2012, he was assigned at San Sebastian College-Recoletos in Quiapo, Manila as Vice President for Business and Finance. In the course of those two triennia, he was appointed READS (Recoletos Educational Assistance for Deserving Students) Coordinator, Director of Scholarship Program, and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Director. While being an administrator, he also enrolled in the doctoral program of USJ-R where, in 2007, he earned the title, Doctor of Management major in Human Resource.
As a break from the routine of school apostolate, he was transferred to the St. Ezekiel Moreno Provincial Center in Quezon City where he served as the vice-prior of the house and parish priest of the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish, from 2012 to 2015. For the next two consecutive administrations, a total of six years since 2015 until his death, Father Nems was again in San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Manila. This could rightly be “the return of the native,” but this time as the vice-prior of the local community and as the 22nd President of the school. At one time during this period, he was also the Director of the Recoletos Law Center as well as the School Director of the Canlubang Campus in Calamba City, Laguna.
Father Nems is known for his versatility in dealing with all kinds of people and situations, a special trait that he must have learned for having been in the school apostolate for most of his religious life. His parishioners also keenly observed that same attribute of a good shepherd in him. He exhibits good leadership skills such as staying composed during heated arguments, firmness in his decision, and throwing full support for every school or parish activity. He gives time to listen to other people’s ideas and also shares his own. Aside from being athletic, he is also musically inclined, even ready to render a song number to add more fun to the program. His frugality and eye for detail define the way he manages both his personal spending, and that of the community as its local procurator or of the institution as its finance officer. Surely, Father Nems will be missed especially by those whose lives he has touched through the love of friendship, or the bond of brotherhood in religious life, or the Word and the Sacraments he has ministered to them!
May the God of surprises who has called our brother, Father Nems, to offer his life pro Deo et Ecclesia (for God and the Church), welcome him with His compassionate gaze and loving embrace to His eternal Banquet.
In St. Ezekiel Moreno,
Fray Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR
Fray Jose Ernil F. Almayo, OAR