San Carlos Bishop Emeritus Nicholas Mollenedo Mondejar, 94, suffered a cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at the San Carlos City Hospital in northern Negros Occidental at 5 p.m. yesterday.
A religious sister, belonging to a diocesan congregation that Mondejar founded when he was bishop of Romblon, was praying the rosary for him by his bed when she noticed the change of color in his face, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said.
“We found him very cold and without heartbeat already, and we called for an ambulance. They tried to revive him before rushing him to the hospital. There he was revived briefly but later succumbed to death,” Alminaza said.
Mondejar was living at the Bishop’s House in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.
“Bishop Nick had been living peacefully and in quiet prayerfulness as he used to be when he was still quite alert. He never gave any problem or difficulty to his nursing aide. He went home quietly in his sleep on Our Lord's day on the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, exactly one year after our Pearl Jubilee as a diocese when the apostolic nuncio to the Philippines visited us,” Alminaza said.
Mondejar laid the foundation of the Diocese of San Carlos as its first bishop and is known for his pioneering work in promoting the tithing system in many dioceses in our country while still bishop of Romblon and of San Carlos, Alminaza said.
He started the St. John Mary Vianney College Seminary in San Carlos City that has produced 41 priests and three deacons in the past 25 years of its existence, Alminaza said, adding that, in fact, one of three deacons will be ordained priest today.
Mondejar served the diocese of San Carlos for 12 years from 1988 up to his retirement in 2000, during which he was able to ordain 23 priests. He promoted a more participatory church through the building and strengthening of the basic ecclesial communities and he truly lived up to his episcopal motto: “Caritas Christi urgetnos”, Alminaza said.
Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, thanked Alminaza for informing him of Mondejar’s death. “I join you and the entire diocese in prayer for him, sure that from heaven he will continue to intercede for the people he so much served and loved,” the nuncio said.
Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla said he and Mondejar had worked together for 7 years in the Diocese of Brooklyn in the United States.*
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