Pampanga’s oldest priest
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The oldest Catholic priest in Pampanga province has died a week after his 101st birthday.
Msgr. Odon Tongio Santos passed away at around 2 p.m. on Friday in a private hospital here, according to his friend, retired pilot Benhur Gomez.
Santos’ life in the priesthood spanned 73 years. The high points included serving as secretary to Bishop Cesar Ma. Guerrero, converting Aglipayans and Aetas in Zambales province, and working as parish priest of San Vicente Ferrer Parish and Sta. Ana in Pampanga.
Santos also established the laity reform program Cursillo, promoted the Rosary crusade among families, served as chaplain of the Holy Angel University and helped build churches.
He kept his vow of celibacy, promising to give it up “only if there is a woman more beautiful than Mother Mary.”
Rentals from the six houses he owned helped raise his bank account to P4 million but he allocated P3 million for the Archdiocese of San Fernando and kept P1 million for his sustenance.
On his centenary, he told the Inquirer: “I enjoyed priesthood. If I have a next life, I would like to be absolutely a priest again. There were temptations but God helped me through it.”
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