MANILA (UCAN): Father Fernando Suarez of the Companions of the Cross, known in the Philippines as a “healing priest,” died of a heart attack while playing tennis in Manila on February 4. He was declared dead about 4pm. He would have turned 53-years-old on February 7.
Father Suarez, who became popular for his healing ministry, was playing in a tournament he himself organised for priests. He had defeated two other priests earlier in the day in a pair of single-set matches, according to his spokesperson, Deedee Siytangco. “(But in the) third game, he just collapsed,” Siytangco said.
Born in 1967 in the village of Butong in Taal town, Batangas province, the future priest went to Manila and graduated with a chemical engineering degree from Adamson University.
After college, he entered the Franciscan Order but left more than a year later. He joined the Society of the Divine Word but was asked to leave after six months.
He was in his late 20s when he met a French-Canadian student who invited him to Canada, where he tried to join Diocese of Winnipeg to study as a diocesan priest. He eventually left and joined the Companions of the Cross, a Canadian congregation founded in the 1980s, and has stayed with them since. He was ordained in 2002.
Father Suarez’s gift of healing first became known abroad and only later in the Philippines. He later established the Mary Mother of the Poor Healing Ministry, a foundation to help the poor.
He visited Hong Kong where he celebrated Mass and conducted a healing service at a jam-packed-to-overflowing Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Caine Road, on 20 January 2008.
Father Suarez was recently in the news after he was cleared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of accusations of sexually abusing minors. The congregation declared him “not guilty of the accusations made against him” in January.