Marianas Variety

Last updateTue, 23 Oct 2018 12am

Headlines:

     

     

     

     

     

    Sunday, October 21, 2018-10:44:07P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Font Size

Settings

‘We lost a spiritual leader’

During some of the CNMI’s most turbulent times, Bishop Emeritus Tomas A. Camacho knew how to be the voice of calm and reason.

Being the islands’ first bishop, the local community also often looked to him for encouragement when days got a little brighter.

As the Catholic Church enters the Easter season celebrating Christ’s resurrection, Bishop Camacho, 84, passed away in the early Monday morning at the Commonwealth Healthcare Center.

Click to enlarge
In this Variety file photo, the late Bishop Tomas A. Camacho, center, is seen with Clarence Tenorio, Sr., left and the late Roman Palacios of Joeten Enterprises accepting donations for families in need in the late 1970's.  Variety photoIn this Variety file photo, the late Bishop Tomas A. Camacho, center, is seen with Clarence Tenorio, Sr., left and the late Roman Palacios of Joeten Enterprises accepting donations for families in need in the late 1970's. Variety photo

Family members, friends and government officials gathered at the CHCC chapel just  hours after Bishop Camacho passed away.

Later in the afternoon, the family and the Chalan Kanoa Diocese leadership led by Bishop Ryan Jimenez held a meeting to discuss the mass, rosary and funeral services for Bishop Camacho.

Variety was informed that  the daily mass which started on Monday night will begin at 6 p.m. and is to be followed by the Rosary, which will continue each evening until next Monday at the Mount Carmel Cathedral.

The funeral mass is scheduled for Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at 11 a.m. at Mt. Carmel Cathedral.

In a statement, Bishop Jimenez said: “With deep sorrow I received the news of the death of Bishop Emeritus Tomas Aguon Camacho, my predecessor, after a long bout of illness.” 

“At the age of 84, he returned to the Lord whom he had served so well throughout his years as our bishop in the Northern Marianas. He has left us, but he will always be remembered for his warm smile and his dedicated service to our church and to the whole of the CNMI.”

Bishop Tomas  was  ordained  the  first bishop  of  the  Northern  Mariana  Islands  on January 13, 1985 and served for more than 25 years until his retirement in April 2010. 

“Since then he lived quietly in his residence at Kannat Tabla, welcoming visitors with his customary graciousness and continuing his service to the diocese he governed so long through his constant prayer. It is easy for us to imagine that the long illness he patiently bore was another part of the lifelong offering he made for the people he loved and so faithfully served.”

“With my brother priests, and the family of the late Bishop Tomas, I humbly ask for your prayers for the eternal repose of his soul and for the comfort of his family,” Bishop Jimenez said.

Governor Ralph Torres says he carries fond memories of the late Bishop Camacho and even in his final hours, his mind was still with the people of the Commonwealth and praying for the betterment of the people and the island.

The Governor in a statement expressing his heartfelt condolences to the family of the Bishop said he will not forget the Bishop because he served as a spiritual guide for him and First Lady Diann.

Torres said he and the First Lady paid the Bishop a visit at the hospital Sunday night and the Bishop gave them advice and prayed for them and the people of the CNMI.

“We were blessed to have him as our first bishop and to witness his love for his people, those from every walk of life, and everyone who calls these islands home. He has served our community as a teacher, a spiritual guide, and a role model to always keep the faith even in the darkest trials and tribulations. He transformed the hearts of generations within our community through his actions and leadership,” Torres said adding the Bishop’s blessings are what he considers his greatest memory of him.

Click to enlarge
Governor Ralph Torres and his daughter, Vaniqa Marie, share a moment with the late Bishop Tomas Camacho.  Contributed photoGovernor Ralph Torres and his daughter, Vaniqa Marie, share a moment with the late Bishop Tomas Camacho. Contributed photo

“Last night when Diann and I visited him at the hospital, he still gave us advice for our family and for me as Governor and said he will always pray for us and the people of our Commonwealth. Even to his last breath, he continued to provide advice and prayer for our family and our people. We are deeply grateful for his love and wisdom.”

“Bishop Tomas was truly special to all of us. He has gone home now to his eternal home in the loving arms of our Lord. He leaves us with the memories he gave us, the great deeds that he did, and the impact he had on every single person who ever met him. Our grateful islands will miss him dearly. Diann, my family, and I join the Commonwealth in mourning the passing of the Most Reverend Tomas Aguon Camacho, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa. Our prayers are with his family, friends, Bishop Ryan P. Jimenez, the clergy, the Diocese, and everyone who has had the privilege to meet and experience the love this man of God had for our people and our islands,” Torres said.

The Governor on Monday ordered that the NMI and US flags be lowered to half-staff on all government buildings, instrumentalities and grounds out of respect for the death of Bishop Camacho until the day of his interment.

In his message, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said the CNMI mourns the passing of his Excellency Tomas A. Camacho, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa.  

He said Bishop Camacho served the people of Saipan for many years before his retirement on April 6, 2010 as Bishop of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa.  

“We will miss him.  His spirit will live on in the hearts of thousands of our residents and his great works will be remembered at every phase in our lives,” Apatang said.

“Bishop Camacho was first a bishop to us, but he was also a trusted friend, a counselor, a healer of many who found themselves in distress, and a remarkable celebrant of holy masses. We will miss him forever,” the mayor said.

Some members of the Legislature also expressed sadness on the passing of the Bishop and expressed their condolences to the bereaved family.

Senate President Arnold Palacios who is a relative of Bishop Camacho said the Bishop’s passing is a great loss to the community as he had touched a lot of lives in many different ways.

The Senate President said they will be submitting a Senate Resolution to pay tribute to the late Bishop.

Bishop Camacho was born on September 18, 1933, to Vidal Palacios Camacho and Maria Aguon Camacho, the fourth child in a family of  eight.

He was baptized by Fr. Jose Maria Tardio, a Spanish Jesuit priest and pastor on the feast day of St. Tomas Villanueva, a Spanish bishop, and he took the name of “Tomas.”