MEXICO, PAMPANGA -- A man died in his wheelchair while healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez was celebrating Mass here Monday.
He came back to life 20 minutes later as he was being taken to a hospital, witnesses said.
?I checked his pulse, his neck and stomach. I didn?t hear a beat. I thought he was dead,? Fr. Nap Baltazar told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. ?Nakayupayop na (He was already lifeless).?
This happened during the homily at Suarez?s 10 a.m. Mass, he added.
Baltazar said he whispered the sad news to Suarez.
?Father Suarez said, ?Wala tayong magagawa (There?s nothing we can do).? He made the sign of cross in the air in the direction of the man [who had just died],? he recounted.
The man was already on a stretcher, being loaded into an ambulance. On the way to the hospital, the man?s relatives noticed he had started breathing, according to architect Nestor Mangio, who hosted the healing Mass at the Lakeshore Estate here.
Baltazar said the ambulance turned back and the man was wheeled back ? alive -- in time for Holy Communion.
His relatives gave testimony, sending the crowd of some 20,000 people clapping, praying and shouting with joy, Mangio said.
In the midst of the rejoicing, no one thought of getting the man?s name.
Fr. Jeff Shannon, who belongs to the same order as Suarez, the Companions of the Cross, said the man was in his 50s or 60s.
Two died in Olongapo
Then he and his relatives left and disappeared in the crowd.
Mangio narrated the incident during the 3 p.m. press conference held here Monday.
The Inquirer asked Suarez about the two people who reportedly suffocated and died in the packed hall of the Parish of the Holy Trinity in Olongapo City during a healing session on Saturday.
Deedee Siytangco, who calls herself a media servant in Suarez?s healing ministry, said Suarez was ?not aware? of the Olongapo incidents.
Paz Monteclaro, Suarez?s coordinator in the parishes, clarified that the first man died a day before Suarez arrived.
?His relatives were hoping for a miracle, so they took a chance and brought him there,? Monteclaro said at the press conference.
The second man died outside the Church and away from the crowd, she said.
?He died [far] away from Father Suarez,? Monteclaro stressed. Quoting parish priest Fr. Rey Mangalandan, she said both men were terminally ill with cancer.
?God heals, not me?
Told about the Olongapo incidents, Suarez said: ?I feel sorry for these people and [I?ve] prayed for them.
?The situation in our country is so sad. The poor are deprived of access to health. They?re desperate and helpless. God?s healing ministry gives them a glimpse of hope, gives back their dignity and tells them that Someone really cares,? he said.
Suarez clarified that his ministry was not just about physical healing.
?Healing is holistic and the medium is the Eucharist and prayers,? he said. ?It is God that heals, not me.?
In the same press conference, a woman told reporters she had been healed of stomach cancer since Suarez prayed over and touched her stomach two weeks ago.