by Jolly Gomez
Fr. Hugh was the priest who turned me on to love for the church and ignited my passion to spread God’s love. He was the one who started Luke 18, Antioch, SYA and Parish Renewal. Like a humble servant of God, he died quietly without fanfare or fuss, in His loving embrace.
“It only takes a spark to get a fire going and soon all those around can warm up in the glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love once you’ve experienced it. You’ll spread His love to everyone you’ll want to pass it on.” – Fr. Hugh Zurat, OFM
This is one of the most memorable songs of any member of the San Antonio youth through the years.
Fr. Hugh Zurat was the “spark.” He served the parish in the early 80’s. I was in my early twenties, trying to figure out my faith in a parish I grew up in. Fr. Hugh Zurat was around the age of Fr. Reu and Fr. Joel today. He was a young parish priest who wanted to make an impact in the faith journey of the parishioners from the most affluent part of the Philippines.
The simplest “spark” was done when he introduced us to the Body of Christ. A concept that we learned in our catechism books but only experienced it in San Antonio through Fr. Hugh. The Parish Renewal Weekends led to so much activity in the parish – the spark became a flame, which is still burning today.
Fr. Hugh was a gifted preacher but his priestly power was in private confessions in which you felt as if you were the only one that mattered to him at that time. I once had a confession with him wherein I expressed my apprehensions in being a parish leader because I was young and inexperienced. His penance to me was to read Jeremiah, which is about a young preacher who had his doubts. “But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone to whom I send you. You must say everything that I order you to say. Do not be afraid of the people to whom I send you. I am with you. And I will rescue you’, declares the LORD.””
This reading has been burned in my heart for life. It was a small spark from Fr. Hugh that has led to an eternal flame of passion and love for our parish particularly the youth. We are now on Weekend 66 for both Luke and Antioch and Weekend 32 for SYA. The “spark” into a flame is passed on and is oh so bright and beautiful.
Knowing Fr. Hugh, his modesty will not want us to say all these things about him. I ask everyone then to honor him by KEEPING THE FLAME. Let us continue to love our parish and the Body of Christ with all our heart, soul and mind.
As published in the October 16 issue of the Parish Bulletin.